Positive vs. negative

My kids and family have heard this line a thousand times, maybe more: Everybody has a contribution to make.

Try as I do to sound positive and talk the way people do today, that line is usually a sarcastic response to something negative. Examples abound: people cutting into lines, aggressive drivers, immature patrons having a meltdown and even family drama from time to time. The point is everyone (generally) has the option to contribute in a positive way or a negative way. It’s a choice.

That choice to be a beacon for others has never been more difficult and it’s going to get even harder in the weeks ahead. Much has been made of mental health and raw nerves – it is as if many people are on edge around the clock. We need to steel ourselves for our own well being and that of friends and neighbours.

Even long-standing friendships are now being impacted by the taking of sides on issues like government regulations and mandates. Can it just be said that we all need to get along? Can we just try that for a few more weeks, even if it turns out to be months?

Close to 18 months ago I had the privilege of doing a eulogy for my cousin. It was a tough one and I suspect there were more than a few surprised at the degree of emotion involved. After a quick hello, one attendee mused that he never knew much bothered me. The events and circumstance of that day did, and these days certainly do, too. It’s bothering me a lot.

This week we traded the Advetiser’s staff Christmas Party at the Elora Legion for a takeout-style meal. Individual containers overflowing with turkey and all the trimmings were accompanied by separately packaged desserts and sides. We made the best of this year and it could go down as the best Christmas meal ever.

People distanced and got in the spirit. Some took part in a Secret Santa and many have enjoyed the extra fun things we have tried to do, including a trivia contest each week, ugly sweater day, decorate your cubicle day and so much more. Everyone is trying their best to make the most of our time together in this challenging year.

Most years we have door prizes and staff endure my state of the union speech, followed with a toast to my dad, who started the company 52 years ago. This year it was just a quick letter and a little surprise for each and everyone.

As I walked away to isolate in my office, I’m not sure I have ever been as glad to hide behind a mask. This COVID-19 is starting to bother me, as in really bother me.

I still recall in March when everything seemed to collapse overnight, I asked only one thing of our news staff, and that was to be a little more understanding of their subjects.

We weren’t about to give out a free pass or ignore critical news, but this was not a year to make things bigger than they needed to be. It would be a critical time to use judgment and a dose of compassion.

Feeling much like Santa, I too have been keeping a mental list this year of who has been naughty or nice. Everyone has a contribution to make and these very local people did.

Thanks go to most of our local politicians; there was no road map to navigate COVID and they somehow managed to work their way through, aided in great part by their local CAOs and staff.

Mr. Scott Wilson, Wellington County CAO, personified leadership from the start of the pandemic until now by ensuring county staff and the public they serve were safe and well.

Save Our Water, despite a pandemic, stayed on message, looking to the future well-being of our community.

Various service clubs and community partners went to Plan ‘B’ and hosted smaller events in aid of others.

Churches found ways to practice their religion safely and kept their faith alive.

Here4Hope and mental health advocates cared for others.

Hospital workers, emergency service providers, long-term care workers and public health staff dealt with incredible challenges and showed dedication and empathy to patients and their families.

Chambers of Commerce and BIAs were a strong voice for safety and delivered the timeless message about shopping local.

Schools across Wellington safely opened their doors to learning.

Often in these types of lists late on deadline day an obvious group or person is inadvertently missed but there is one final name to add: Ervin C. Bauman, whose thoughtful missive was among those that graced our letters pages last week, is a humble man with a message of hope.

As we wait for brighter days ahead, make the choice to be patient and as good to others as possible. Everyone has a contribution to make.