For many communities, this Christmas comes in hard times. That’s when random acts of kindness go even farther.
It goes without saying that it will not be Christmas as usual for the thousands of families affected by the mill closures in B.C.
Chatting with business owners along main street in 100 Mile House, the economic woes of the forest industry are being felt first-hand. There are fewer people getting new hairstyles for the Christmas party, not many manicures for this time of year, a little less in the basket than years past.
But sometimes in the worst of times we are our best. We saw that in the Cariboo during the 2017 wildfires, when tens of thousands were evacuated from their homes.
Search and rescue volunteers worked around the clock alongside RCMP officers from all over the province, going door-to-door to keep people informed and offer help. Horse owners from all over the province showed up in the middle of the night with trailers, on their own time and their own dime, to usher strangers’ horses to safety. Contractors sent their families out of danger and stayed behind to work equipment on the front lines.
A crisis can pull us together as easily as it can pull us apart.
Certainly, Kristen Reichelt believes that. She did need a reminder, though, and she got that this week in a most unexpected way.
Kristen has lived in the South Cariboo for 14 years. In August, she lost her grandmother and her grandfather just suffered a massive stroke.
“It has been hard on our family,” she tells me.
She went to her son’s Christmas concert at Peter Skene Ogden high school in 100 Mile on Thursday night. Yes, we still have Christmas concerts in schools in the Cariboo.
Sitting in the bleachers, Kristen found this handwritten note:
A letter to a stranger ⭐
To Whomever It May Concern,
Hi! My name is B. I just wanted to say that I’m proud of you. You got out of bed today, which may sound like it’s a small thing but you still did it. Look at you go! I’m so very proud of you. You’re doing great! I’m really glad you’re here, even if I don’t know you. People really do care about you, but it’s okay to feel like they don’t. At times healing and growing are two very hard processes but you can do it!
I promise things do get easier with time. Take good care of yourself. You got this. I believe in you. ❤
It was just the thing Kristen needed to hear.
“Whoever wrote this, I want you to know that you made my day,” she wrote on a local Facebook group. “I was having a rough day until I found this and your words gave me hope! Thank you so much! ❤”
Yes, sometimes in the worst of times we are our best.
Kristen says she will do something to pass on this act of kindness and hope to someone else. She will also be staying in the 100 Mile area, despite the hard times ahead.
“I think as a small community we have all come together well in light of our hardships since the fires,” she says. “Our economy has made a big impact on everyone in our community but I believe we all have the ability to help each other.”
I think so, too.
So, our Christmas celebrations may be cut back this year, but they will not be the lesser for it.
Dene Moore is an award-winning journalist and writer. A news editor and reporter for The Canadian Press news agency for 16 years, Moore is now a freelance journalist living in the South Cariboo. Moore’s two decades in daily journalism took her as far afield as Kandahar as a war correspondent and the Innu communities of Labrador. She has worked in newsrooms in Vancouver, Montreal, Regina, Saskatoon, St. John’s and Edmonton. She has been published in the Globe and Mail, Maclean’s magazine, the New York Times and the Toronto Star, among others. She is a Habs fan and believes this is the year.
Read Dene Moore’s previous dispatches from 100 Mile House: