/Check on your friends

Check on your friends

By Emily Stonehouse

It’s no secret that this is the season for kindness. 

The concept of giving – whether it be time, money, energy, or gifts – is the centrepoint for the holidays. 

Last Thursday, I was at Archie Stouffer School, where, just the day before, they made a public call to see if the community had any gently used items they could use for the second day of their holiday market, as the first day had run them dry. 

I watched as car after car unloaded donations for the students to set up. In less than 12 hours, the market was completely full again, and was excitedly perused by kindergarten kids with sparkles in their smiles. 

I watched as the Haliburton Huskies hockey team wrapped gifts at the school. These young men represent a team that unites our town, and it was my first time meeting them in person, and not just photographing them as they skated past a window. They laughed as they got their fingers muddled up in tape and festive paper, all while a 5-year-old squeaked orders to them about proper wrapping etiquette. 

I watched as Compass Learning Centre and Care opened their doors to the community, and welcomed artists and vendors to showcase their work on Dec. 17. The proceeds from the day went back to a local family, who is facing the challenge of a baby born prematurely, and needs support in whatever form is available. 

None of these people had to do any of these things. None of them were obligated, none of them were paid, none of them directly benefited from these actions. Yet, all of them opened up their hearts to others over the season. 

While this kindness is circulating out there; swirling amidst the snowflakes before settling into the community, it’s important to note that the holidays can be a tough time for many. Over 55 per cent of adults identify that they experience some form of holiday depression. Some are cracking under the pressure of the season, whether it be financially or personally. Others are grappling with loneliness. Many experience seasonal depression with the long nights and limited natural sunshine. Everyone experiences this time differently. 

So while it’s heartwarming to find the moments of magic, it should serve as a reminder that not everyone is feeling holly jolly. 

This is why we need to remember kindness. Remember empathy. Remember compassion.

We are a community of support. We show up to those who need us, but sometimes, the ones who need us have a smile on their faces. Sometimes we can’t tell if they need help. Sometimes, they are screaming on the inside but laughing on the outside. You never know someone’s journey, and you never will. 

So, this holiday season, check on your loved ones. Send your family a good morning text. Drop off some cookies at your neighbor’s door. Tell your friends that you love them. Remind someone that they are never alone. If you or someone you know needs additional support, 988 is the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Little acts of kindness can go a long way. Even if it’s just a smile to a stranger on the street, it’s a reminder that you are never alone in this community.