Vintage Christmas card, no date

The Editor’s Desk: The triumph of kindness

For every person who commits a despicable act, there are hundreds performing quiet acts of kindness

I have a play-list of Christmas music on softly in the background as I write, and it is entirely appropriate that “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” has just come up in the rotation, since I have been writing today (and yesterday) about the decidedly Grinch-like actions of the people behind the theft of a boulder of jade from outside the Cariboo Jade Shop in Cache Creek on Dec. 19.

It’s not the sort of story anyone wants to write about — or read about, for that matter — at the best of times, let alone the week before Christmas. The boulder was obtained by that lovely gentleman Ben Roy, shortly after he purchased the shop in 1985, and for 35 years has been an attraction in its own right. How many people have happily had their picture taken beside it over the years? I have no idea, but I wish I had one dollar for each of them, because it would enable me to offer a hefty reward for the boulder’s return to its rightful home.

The theft just goes to show that there are some people who clearly think that the Grinch is an admirable role model, at least before he has his Road to Damascus experience at the tip-top of Mt. Crumpit on Christmas Eve. They’re probably also the sort whose favourite character in It’s a Wonderful Life is the tight-fisted and vindictive Mr. Potter, or who feel that A Christmas Carol goes rapidly downhill once the ghosts start arriving, on the grounds that Scrooge was just fine the way he was, thank you very much.

Yet these people, for all their horrible actions, are very much in the minority: cold comfort to Heidi and Judy at the Jade Shop, I know, but something that we need to keep in mind, which is not always easy. The jade thieves stick out in a way that people behaving with common decency and kindness do not. I wonder how many dozens of people in our communities have, in just the last two or three weeks, quietly donated toys or cash to the Cram the Cruiser event in Clinton or Toys for Joys in Ashcroft, or food to the food bank, or gifts for seniors and elders in Cache Creek, Ashcroft, and Lytton.

Someone put up and decorated the Christmas tree at the Lookout in Spences Bridge. Santa himself paid visits to our communities a couple of weeks ago, and while we know that Santa is magic, he had help from a lot of people on the ground who took time out from their other obligations to make sure the jolly old elf found his way around. This year’s Christmas hampers made their way to the homes of people who need them not because of elves — they’re far too busy right now — but because a lot of people saw what needed doing, rolled up their sleeves, and got it done.

We don’t usually learn the names of the people who do these things, because they don’t draw attention to themselves. I would never have known that Mel Murray and Jan and Burt Mazerall of the Ashcroft Legion were delivering nearly two dozen turkey dinners to people around town who are on their own this Christmas if Vivian Edwards hadn’t written a letter to the editor about it, and I’m a Legion member who lives across the street from Mel (howdy, neighbour, and thanks for doing that!).

“Christmas comes but once a year, which is unhappily too true, for when it begins to stay with us the whole year round we shall make this earth a very different place,” wrote Charles Dickens. He has a point, but while they get a bit more attention this time of year, these acts of kindness and generosity happen all the time. Perhaps we need to do a better job of celebrating them when we see them: not because the people involved want the recognition, but as a reminder of the goodness that exists in this world, and the angels we entertain unawares all around us, 365 days of the year.

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