Captain’s Blog: Stardate twenty-five, twelve, two zeroe one two: I have experienced many Christmases. Sixty-eight of them in fact. Each one with it’s own unique persona. Each one having left it’s own distinct and magical signature on 68 pages in the logbook of my life.
Mrs. Canada has experienced many magical and distinct Christmases as well, and we have shared many special ones together. However, one Christmas out of the entire onboard cargo will stand out forever to us, bright and inspiring like a glorious beacon radiating from the lighthouse of our souls, guiding our ship through tumultuous storms, past the rocks and reefs of life’s oft outrageous fortune.
That most unique of all Christmases for us is the one just passed. Christmas 2012. The reason? Mrs. Canada says it best:
On Christmas morning the Captain and I started the day by giving. We headed out to Vancouver’s downtown eastside to give to those less fortunate. The homeless. We packed sandwiches and toques. It was a very interesting experience handing out our two sackfulls of homemade sandwiches and head warming Canada toques to the homeless.
Each person we greeted was so thankful and wished us a Merry Christmas. Us, who have so much more than them. Even the ones we had to wake up, sleeping in doorway corners. They were startled at first and then just so grateful. Huge smiles greeted us every time. It was a very humbling experience for us. A small bit of comfort offered unconditionally which not only warmed those to whom it was offered but us as well, over and over as each sandwich and toque was handed out.
It was the beginning of a new Christmas tradition for us that will continue.
It was a most moving experience for the both of us. Pithy seasonal sayings like “it is better to give than receive” and “cast your bread upon the waters” immediately spring to mind, not because they are topical, but because the words and meaning are TRUE. We now knew them to be true.
As we now reach life’s off-ramp at the end of the 2012 highway and get ready to take Route 2013, the scenery for us will be a little different. Call it an awakening, call it an epiphany. Call it a mystery solved. Each and every one of us is on this planet for a reason and how we interact with each other determines who and what we are as human, spiritual beings.
We are given choice and that choice is either to take for granted the benefits and privileges we have been given or to be grateful and feel compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves. We all seek immortality and the only way to achieve true immortality is to be remembered in a good way. And the only way to be remembered positively is to serve your fellow human beings without any thought for recognition or reward. You do it selflessly. In the words of a lofty sage: “fortunate people often have very favorable beginnings and very tragic endings. What matters isn’t being applauded when you arrive – for that is common – but being missed when you leave.”
Our odyssey amongst the homeless was a true Christmas experience. We met people in doorways huddled under blankets and shopping carts. We met people shivering on street corners. Gifts were exchanged between us. Mrs. Canada and I offered material gifts to them and they gave us all they could: warm thanks, with dignity, and words of sincere appreciation. These were no longer faceless human beings we might otherwise have dismissed as we hurried by as we went about our busy lives. For Mrs. Canada and I receiving the words Merry Christmas offered honestly to us by these folks was like a benediction. Never, in all the Christmases we’ve experienced have those two words meant so much to us.
Yes, it is better to give than receive. Perhaps we are our brother’s keeper after all and as we now depart 2012 and commence navigating the unchartered waters of 2013 let us all be thankful for our blessings and feel compassion for those not so materially and emotionally blessed. The Roman statesman, philosopher and orator, Marcus T. Cicero said, 50 years before the birth of Christ: “as you have sown, so shall you reap.”
A brand new year is upon us. Out with the old and in with the new. Let us take nothing for granted. The universe is watching.
In the words of American singer-songwriter Brad Paisley: Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.