The gift of gratitude - The Orca

The gift of gratitude

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Jody Vance: How to make even the hardest Christmas hater’s heart grow three sizes.

Today’s Middle will bridge the gap from the Christmas fanatics and the Ebenezer Scrooge set.

Impossible you say? Allow me to break it down.

The UnChristmas Bah-Humbug types are those appalled at the appearance of holiday decor at Costco in August, scoff at businesses who dare to decorate before Remembrance Day, and roll their eyes at the all-Christmas music station.

It’s tough for many people to stare down December when Christmas overload hits. One need not be a hater to fall into the Scrooge category while revellers and their love of Christmas hit overdrive.

Then there is the other end of the spectrum. You know at least one — they’ve had the “six months ‘til Christmas countdown calendar” flipping since June 25th, their Instagram is jammed with opulently decorated trees and houses with a gazillion lights. Ornaments with no meaning beyond the colour palette from Pinterest.

It’s all as tough as tinsel for Scrooges to swallow.

The polarizing sides of the holiday season can get messy in that it misses the mark on the magic.

We can likely agree that at its best, Christmas is about giving. When we take a moment to appreciate our privilege and look around, we find gratitude in simply living in a great country.

How about we thank those who stand in harm’s way to keep us safe and free?

With that in mind, here’s a solution we can all get behind. It’s called “Write to the Troops.” It’s as simple as a key stroke, or even better putting pen or crayon to paper.

It’s a simple way add some seriously good karma to your Christmas or Hanukkah. The Department of National Defence (DND) will take all well wishes and thanks from Canadians, but kids’ notes and pictures are always a big hit. Think specifically about newer recruits — how difficult it must be, away from family over the holidays for the first time.

It all costs next to nothing, an envelope and a stamp to deliver priceless Christmas joy. Let’s do it!

Three very important details:

First, send only correspondence. Resist the urge to send items of any kind as this will see your envelope returned to sender. Your words are the care package.

Second, you can note on your envelope addressed to “Any Canadian Armed Forces Member” a specific location like Syria or Iraq — find out those details at

Finally, “Write the Troops” has a looming deadline! For letters to be received by Forces members overseas by Christmas, all mail needs to be received at the base – not sent from you – by December 9th.

So, grab your postcards, greeting cards or letters only. Get postage on it. Get it in the mail stat.

Here’s the address:

Any Canadian Armed Forces Member
P.O. Box 5004 Stn Forces
Belleville, Ont.
K8N 5W6

When the clang of the old-school mailbox acknowledges your efforts, imagine a serviceman or servicewoman opening your envelope, knowing you took the time to express your gratitude. What better present could you possibly give?

The magic is in the giving and receiving of thoughtful and gracious gratitude from strangers.

And, who know? You may suddenly find you hate tinsel a little less.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.