House Call with Carol Hughes

Christmas is a season for hope and optimism

With an increasingly uncertain world it can be reassuring to circle back in on the simpler things in life that offer us comfort. With that in mind, bring on the Christmas holiday season and the festive celebrations that allow us to concern ourselves with friends and loved ones.

For many, Christmas is the only time of the year they might touch base with people with whom they are no longer in frequent contact with. A card, message, or phone call to wish someone well over the holidays can maintain friendships and remind people they remain in your thoughts. While some might feel pressure to reach out, for most the holidays offer a perfect reason to be in touch.

This is also a time of year when communities come together. Santa Claus parades, annual Christmas dinners, and other events offer people a chance to touch base with neighbours and celebrate together. It is also a time when so much good is done to support those amongst us who find themselves in need. The army of volunteers who undertake various drives for food, presents, and more should be commended for all they do to keep our communities rooted in the values we share by helping the most vulnerable among us.

Circling back to the beginning of this piece, world events have created the most uncertain global political climate we have seen in many decades. Some parents are now finding themselves having conversations with their children reminiscent of those held during the height of the Cold War. With that in mind, the Christmas message of peace and joy is more pertinent now than it has been for a long time. But amidst the concerning events there is always hope.

This week I hosted a reception on Parliament Hill to recognize the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICan) and executive director, Setsuko Thurlow. Setsuko is a survivor of the nuclear bombing in Hiroshima, Japan who now lives in Toronto and through her work with ICan, played a key role in having the United Nations adopt a landmark treaty outlawing nuclear weapons.

Setsuko was just 13-years-old when the bomb dropped that would forever change her life. Her dedication to peace and nuclear disarmament has moved many people to join her in these efforts. As we celebrated ICAN’s achievement, Setsuko was in Norway accepting the Nobel Peace Prize with other members of the organization, but the room was full and there were many eloquent speeches and even a 95th birthday celebration for long-time activist, Murray Thomson, who is also an Order of Canada recipient and a recipient of the Pearson Medal of Peace.

The event reminded me that although many forces beyond the control of most of us can make things seem bleak, there are also many among us who go about everyday trying to make the world a better place. That work many not always capture the spotlight, but inspires and makes a difference too.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!