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From feeling pathetic to grateful with a little perspective

Thom reflects on the positive aspects of a COVID Christmas
For Your Consideration

“The desire for a more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”

I, unfortunately, did not pen that lovely little gem. It was best-selling author Mark Manson in his 2016 book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

Sometimes I wish I was that clever, which kind of proves the axiom, doesn’t it?

Of course, it is much easier to intellectually embrace such a concept than it is to emotionally assimilate it and, by Christmas Eve, I was more than ready for a break from our pre-Christmas rush specifically and 2020 in general.

LAST WEEK: A banner year for the English lexicon

I vowed to completely unplug from work specifically and the news in general. And I did, for four glorious days in a row.

I would rather have been in Lethbridge with my grandkids, but there, I did it again, didn’t I?

What I found was that in accepting that negative experience, there was, in fact, plenty to be grateful for.

First of all, four glorious days off in a row put me in mind of poor old Bob Cratchit beholden to the nasty old Ebenezer Scrooge for even one day off.

While A Christmas Carol is a work of fiction, Charles Dickens was adept at capturing the essence of the times. It was not uncommon in the early-to-mid nineteenth century for people to work extremely long hours. Estimates peg the work week between 60 and 70 hours for the common worker.

That didn’t start changing until the labour movements of the late 1800s and early 1900s and Canada didn’t even adopt the 40-hour work week until the 1960s.

MORE FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: Under trying circumstances may we all find peace and gratitude

When I tuned in to Zoom on Christmas morning to virtually join the grandkids, I thought about reports in The Interior News from the time of the Spanish flu pandemic. The response to that public health crisis was very similar to the current circumstance, minus Zoom, Facebook, Netflix, internet, indoor plumbing, phones, clean heating fuels, no promise of a vaccine etc.

It is arguable they were better off without at least a couple of items on that list, but I was grateful nonetheless for the relative ease of my life.

Having all that free time on my hands, I also learned how to play “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on my guitar. If you’re not familar with all the lyrics of this song, look them up because it almost seems like the songwriters presciently thought, ‘they’re really going to need this one in 2020.’

But when Hugh Martin and Randy Blane wrote the song in 1943, they were in the middle of a world war.

For all our current trials and tribulations, at least we’re not in the middle of a world war.

Finally, although I had felt a little pathetic buying ingredients for Christmas dinner for one, they were readily available. I had a fabulous meal with leftovers for round two on Boxing Day.

Many, many things to be grateful for indeed.

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Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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