Every December for four years, my Canadian forces pilot father picked up Santa at the North Pole in a helicopter and delivered him to the children’s Christmas party at the mess.

Every December for four years, my Canadian forces pilot father picked up Santa at the North Pole in a helicopter and delivered him to the children’s Christmas party at the mess.

Citizen’s Ink: Holidays sharpen our focus on family and community

A Christmas wish for our children be free to be children

I love the December holiday season and the festivals and beliefs it encompasses.

The scents of baking, twinkling lights, tinsel, Christmas music and classic ghost stories all make me smile.

I’m one of those annoying people who insists the outdoor lights and indoor tree go up as soon as possible after Remembrance Day, and I’m grateful that, on the calendar, Canadian Thanksgiving is nicely separated from the Christmas holidays.

I also believe in the symbolism of Santa.

The secular idea of a jolly old elf who slides down the chimney in a red suit to fill stockings with gifts can be traced to both a saint named Nicholas and an 1823 poem by Clement Clarke Moore, A Visit from St. Nicholas.

For me, Santa represents kindness and generosity.

When I was quite young, my family lived in Soest, Germany, near the Canadian brigade headquarters at Fort Henry, where my dad was stationed.

I believed in Santa because every December for four years, my Canadian forces pilot father picked him up at the North Pole in a helicopter and delivered him to the children’s Christmas party at the mess.

As an adult, I treasure the memories of that magical childhood wonder.

The City of Maple Ridge always does a great job of creating a magical atmosphere with the holiday lighting downtown.

I particularly appreciate the beautiful red bells along 224th Street and their history.

This year, the city has outdone itself with Glow Maple Ridge, and the display will remain up until Jan. 5.

RELATED: Glow Maple Ridge will leave you with a warm feeling.

Of course, I look forward to the season for more than the shiny decorations and nostalgia. I love the widespread, heightened sense of family, community and service to others.

Local organizations and volunteers work hard year-round, but the public seems most receptive to their messages at this time of year.

The Salvation Army’s annual Christmas kettle campaign is underway. In support of the Friends in Need Food Bank and the Christmas Hamper Society, on Saturday, Dec. 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue will collect cash, new toys and non-perishable food items at several local grocery stores.

On Monday, Dec. 16, the CP Holiday Train will roll into Maple Ridge at 7:50 p.m. and stop across from the Billy Miner Pub. Volunteers will be collecting non-perishable food for the Friends in Need Food Bank.

READ ALSO: Lessen eco-anxiety by planting a tree.

Charities shine a light on the ongoing needs of the less fortunate in our communities, and acts of giving foster empathy and connections.

This past couple of years, I’ve noted increasing calls for government to take over the role of charities through greater taxation and government-determined fund distribution.

I wonder if proponents have considered what we’d lose with their approach? A lot, I expect, including some of the threads that strengthen our community and mitigate ‘us vs. them’ attitudes.

The holidays sharpen our focus on family and community, and on ways to come together and help and support each other.

A true gift would be to find ways to maintain the best parts past the season.

Author Harland Miller said it well: “I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.”

This year, the Christmas holidays can perhaps offer a reprieve from the increasing avalanche of concerning political and world issues, and a breather from relentless prognostications of doom. It’s an opportunity for a reset before the new year, so we can tackle the challenges with renewed energy and empathy.

Traditionally, at Christmas, many pray for peace on earth. This year, the world also needs a lot more hope and one of my biggest wishes is for our children to be free to be children because we, as adults, are taking seriously our responsibility to protect their future.

During the holidays, looming geo-political issues don’t go away. But for a couple of short weeks, this is a time for family, friends and community.

Happy holidays.

Katherine Wagner is a member of the

Citizens’ Task Force on Transparency,

a former school trustee and member of Golden Ears Writers.

Just Posted

Tyler O’Neill has a shot at making the NL all-star team. (Taka Yanagimoto/St. Louis Cardinals)
An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air traffic at Pitt Meadows Airport returning

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Emiko Nakai will attend Warner Pacific University in Portland, Oregon next year. (Special to The News)
Three SRT Titans earn scholarships

Maple Ridge’s Emiko Nagai, Lucas Hutchinson, and Cade Armour will take talents to college level

Alex Tablada found himself captivated by the stunning beauty of nature recently while walking some trails in Maple Ridge. He had to share the view that befell him of the Golden Ears Mountains. "I have a lot of beautiful photos of this area that I'd like to share regularly in the coming weeks," he shared. (Special to The News)
Day-use passes needed for Golden Ears Park to ensure safety, protect environment

The second phase of its free day-use pass pilot program rolls out June 22 in five provincial parks

ARMS president Ken Stewart and director John Dale on the banks of the Alouette River where the subdivision is proposed. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Maple Ridge hosts public hearing on riverfront development tonight

ARMS, Katzie First Nation and many others oppose subdivision

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

Most Read