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Shall yourselves find blessing

Last week’s school shooting in Connecticut has left a sombre pall over the holiday season for many people.

The emotional aftermath of that tragedy — 20 children and six staff shot at the school and a mother killed in her bed — recognizes no national borders, no political or religious affiliations.

It isn’t only Americans who must grapple with the complex issues of gun control, mental health and school security. There is still room for improvement in this country. This holiday time of year doesn’t lend itself to political protest, indepth research or hotly contested debate.

But those who have the good fortune to take a few days off from work, spend time with family and friends, and eat great meals can use this time to reflect on how to help others.

Out of the Cold shelters in the region are seeing record numbers this year. People on social assistance are worried about cuts to their benefits that could bring them one step closer to homelessness. This community does a great job of pulling together during the Christmas season for food hampers, gifts for children, winter clothing and all of the volunteer hours that go along with making these things happen.

But it’s also important to extend goodwill in smaller ways. Find a patch of common ground with someone with profoundly differing views. Drop off a coffee or shovel the driveway for an elderly neighbour. Extend patience and good cheer to the beleaguered people who are working long, busy hours in the retail and service industries. A kind word or a generous tip would make their day brighter.

The trick is to carry the feeling of gratitude, generosity and goodwill beyond the holidays. Being mindful and kind to others is a habit we could all learn to extend to Boxing Day and beyond.

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