Unless you have been in a coma since 2019, you are fully aware that we are currently living through a world-wide pandemic. There is a virus that we all know about that is easy to spread, and easy to catch, and if you get it, it’s a generally unpleasant experience. There are communities and countries that have been hit harder than others by this virus. Governments have given us public safety policies that have caused some closures and restrictions to protect us. Locally here in our province, we have been asked to stay home and not gather with anyone who is not our immediate family. We have been told that 5 people or less is the ideal group size. This is in addition to the other precautions of stay 2 meters apart, wear a mask, wash your hands with soap and water, and when you cannot, use hand sanitizer, and if you are unwell at all, please stay home. My family as a whole has been lucky to remain healthy through all of this, and I hope that you and your families are healthy and safe as well. It’s because we as co-operative people have a concern for our communities that we are doing all that we can to help slow the spread and keep our communities, our neighbors and our friends safe.
I come from a large family. Christmas when I was a child was a loud, noisy morning. The cacophony of children laughing and yelling and ripping packages open is a welcome sound in my home still. However, there will not be a gathering of my siblings and our children in my parent’s house this year. Probably not in your homes either. No matter what your celebration is this solstice, we are not supposed to be gathering. So, what should we do?
The spirit of Co-operation is one of the best parts of living in a province like Saskatchewan. We were the province that brought Canada universal health care and we are the province that will continue to lead the way in taking care of each other. It’s because of our belief in the co-operative values and principles that make us unique. When you value social responsibility and caring for others, wearing a mask doesn’t seem all that hard. When you care about the people living in a senior’s condominium and you deliver a care package of groceries to someone so they do not have to go out, that is showing your concern for community.
As we prepare for whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, please continue to think about all of our community members. When we act in everyone’s best interest, it is also in our best interest!
Here are a few ways to spread cheer and be a wonderfully co-operative neighbor and friend this month, and into 2021:
- Shop locally. Your local stores need your dollars now more than ever. Your co-operatives will continue to provide you dividends when you shop with them. Even our non-co-operative retail friends need local love. The mom-and-pop restaurants and stores really need our support during these times, but they also need them when we are not under pandemic restrictions too.
- Be sure to call a friend who you know is under the weather and offer to drop off, (keeping socially distant, of course), a care package for them. There is so much to be said about the generosity of our neighbors and friends who show us in little ways how much we mean to them.
- Donate online to community organizations who help those who are less fortunate than yourself. When we help others rise, we rise too.
- Shovel the sidewalk for a neighbor.
- Send a plate of cookies to your neighborhood fire station. Better yet, call the local bakery and arrange for a delivery of cookies or cupcakes to them. (Helps the business and the fire fighters at the same time!)
- I know we aren’t supposed to sing in groups, but remember when people were singing on their balconies in Italy and in New York City and it made people feel like they were not alone? Why can’t we stand in our winter coats on the front step and belt out some Christmas carols? Sing the silly ones, like Grandma got run over by a reindeer, or Christmas Monkey, (My favorite actually, it’s about Curious George, google it!)
- Order Christmas cards from Crocus Co-op. This co-operative employs people with mental health disabilities and gives them a place to “learn, work and heal”. The Christmas cards are only one small part of this fantastic co-operative’s directive. They do all kinds of jobs, large and small. If you can hire them, for anything, you should!
- Take some time to sit and just breathe! This all will pass. If you can sit in front of a fire and listen to the crackling of the logs, with a cup of hot chocolate, or a warm mug of tea, you will feel more able to cope and smile again. Don’t have a fire place in your home or in your yard that you can burn stuff? That’s okay, there are lots of virtual fires you can find online or on your television stations.
- A) Use technology to connect. If you can’t see someone in person, try using a video chat. Even just a phone call to hear someone’s voice does wonders to boost your mood. B) Don’t use technology to connect. If you have a window, and your neighbor has a window, go old school, and print a big message to them on paper, and stick it in your window! Confession: I’ve done this. Multiple times. With multiple neighbors. We communicated back and forth for days! It is a real blast, especially if you have children. Kids love sending messages.
- Check in on each other. Please be sure to reach out for support to friends if you are feeling low, and alternatively, if you haven’t heard from a friend in a while, try to reach out and see how they are doing.
If we all show just a little bit of extra Care for Community during this holiday season, Saskatchewan, Canada and the world will come out of this stronger, kinder, and better than when we began this insane journey in January. Keep faith that there are good things coming for us all in 2021! I can send out a teaser that us here at the Saskatchewan Co-operative Association will have some fantastic news for everyone in the new year. There are exciting things happening in our office and the new year can not come fast enough for this little Program Officer because of them!
Have a wonderful holiday season and from my family to all of you, best wishes for 2021 and beyond!