Monthly Archives: December 2013

You Would Even Say It Glows

I admit it. It was the photo that pulled me in. (You must click here to see it… my requests for permission to repost it went unanswered. I blame last-minute shopping.) Back to the photo. Come on, are you kidding me? A reindeer against a snowy backdrop, with candy canes and Christmas lights strung through its antlers? How could I resist putting this on my blog on Christmas Eve?

The tie-in to good deeds, of course, is the animal rescue that followed. Because I now must admit that the reindeer did not purposely festoon himself with lights and ornaments just because he’s so damn full of holiday spirit. Rather, the decorations became tangled in his antlers by accident, after he came too close to a residential area full of seasonally bedecked bushes and trees. (Banff, Alberta, apparently is a festive place.)

And if we’re being completely honest, he’s not even a reindeer. He’s an elk.

The snow is real.

After a Banff resident spotted the poor animal in distress, Parks Canada was called in to help. The elk had to be tranquilized before he could be freed. And in the end, park staff decided to remove his antlers while he was under, to prevent the same thing from happening again. As an insider told me, “We didn’t want all of the other reindeer laughing and calling him names.” (Oops, I’m fibbing festively again.)

And not to worry, the antlers will grow back. Presumably that will be well after local homeowners finally get around to taking down their Christmas lights.

I wish you all the best this holiday season: friends and family, love and cheer, warm food and a bottomless glass. We shall reconnect in 2014.

The Future’s So Bright

What would you do if your four-year-old thought his new glasses were going to get him bullied?

First you’d probably bitterly regret our image-obsessed society for teaching a preschooler that glasses might be dorky. As someone who heard a lot of “Hey, four-eyes” growing up, I feel for this kid. But I also admire his mom, who decided to start a Facebook page called “Glasses for Noah” to help him embrace his corrective eyewear instead of dissolving into tears over it.

And I cheer the 87,000 men, women and young people from at least 30 countries around the world who have posted encouraging words – not to mention photos of themselves sporting their own fashionable glasses – to help little Noah accept his specs.

The best news? All this benevolence has worked its magic. Noah is happier about his new look, his mom has reported.

“Thank you SO much for all of the photos – Noah is LOVING them!!” she’s written (enthusiastically) on Facebook. “Y’all are amazing and we would give each of you a hug if we could!!!”

Oh Noah, how could you think for a second you’re not as cute as a button?

Oh Noah, how could you think for a second you’re not as cute as a button? (FACEBOOK PHOTO)

Spice of Life

My sister runs a country general store in a tiny village outside of Ottawa. Because the population of this place is about a hundred, give or take, the general store is also the community centre, the local coffee shop and the seniors’ hub. If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you know that every face is familiar, you know every family’s address, and you’ve heard every person’s story about a hundred times (give or take).

The other thing about a small town is when you unexpectedly need something, be it a cup of sugar or a chainsaw, you have only two options. You can buy it at the only retailer for miles. Which is bit of a crapshoot. A country general store might sell coffee and canned soup and locally made maple sugar candy and “hug a farmer” mugs, but it probably won’t have that 10-mm ratchet spanner you simply cannot finish your project without.

The second and only other option, of course, is to borrow from your neighbour. If you’ve exhausted both options, you’re sunk.

So my mom happened to be staffing the store on Sunday when a woman phoned in desperate need of two teaspoons of paprika. She was up to her elbows in mid-recipe, and had just realized she had none in the house. Did the store sell it, by any chance? A quick scan of the shelves revealed nothing more exotic than seasoning salt. Even when the woman asked all her neighbours, she came up empty. (Presumably, in this tiny community in the countryside, paprika is considered a rare and precious substance, like myrrh.)

But my mom is a quick thinker and has a kind heart. “I’ve got some at home. Come into the store later and you can come pick it up,” she promised.

My mom called my sister to retrieve the paprika, which she had instructed my dad to fish from the kitchen spice rack and hang on the front door. Then it gets better. What’s the name of the person who needs it? My sis asked. When my mom told her, she replied: “Oh, I know where she lives. I’ll just bring it right to her house!”

And that, my friends, is how it works in a small town. When you have no paprika, when your next-door neighbour has no paprika and when your local retailer doesn’t sell paprika… the store owner hand-delivers her mother’s paprika to your home.

Just another regular day in a close-knit village.

You can always call on me. I make it a personal policy never to run out of paprika.

You can always call on me. I make it a personal policy never to run out of paprika.

Have a Nice Day

Today is December 3, the annual United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities. (What, you thought it was only National Roof-Over-Your-Head Day, National Apple Pie Day and National Ice Cream Box Day?) (I did not make these up, people.) The UN day recognizes the fact that about 15 percent of folks around the world – over a billion people in total – live with a disability.

Every year, the UN day is observed with a different theme. This year’s is “Break Barriers, Open Doors” – in other words, get rid of those pesky stairs and ancient attitudes, and try to be a tad more welcoming to your friends, co-workers and neighbours with disabilities.

It may sound like a good deed to be more considerate, open-minded and fair. Of course it is. But this is one of those kindnesses that will always circle back. A more inclusive community means a better chance that people with disabilities can contribute – by getting an education, by paying taxes, by leading positive change. Not to mention becoming a friend, actually having the opportunity to enrich your life or someone else’s life because there are no barriers at school or in the workplace or in policy or at the local bowling alley.

After all, if a certain Toronto studio theatre were not accessible 21 years ago, I wouldn’t have met the love of my life and given birth to the star of my universe.

If that isn’t life-enriching, I don’t know what is.

Here’s the celebratory card that my above-mentioned universe star made for her dad, several December 3rds ago.

Here’s the celebratory card that my above-mentioned universe star made for her dad, several December 3rds ago.