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COLUMN: During this tough time, brighten some spirits and leave those Christmas lights on

In this week's Everything King, Wendy urges readers to put a little sparkle into the lives of others; 'It might well be worth the extra few cents on the hydro bill'

I hate to be a Debbie Downer so soon into a brand-new year, but here I am.

Despite 2020 being so hard for a myriad of reasons, I felt OK most of the time.

Friends and family helped with home deliveries of food and gifts, socially distant visits and Zoom chats.

I can’t say I didn’t have enough to keep me entertained or rather engaged with all the news of COVID-19 and American elections, not to mention Netflix.

Throughout 2020, I had a feeling we just had to get through the year and like by some miracle when the clock struck midnight to begin 2021, things would be better.

But, now we all know, that didn’t happen. Lockdowns are back around the world and getting stricter. COVID cases and deaths are up. There’s no sign of vaccines getting to the general population with any great lightning speed. The United States is imploding before our eyes. The magic of Christmas has vanished as fast as the last Christmas cookie.

Every year, the first three months of the year wear me down. There’s no money and not much to look forward to.

As soon as the first Facebook post shows up with someone proclaiming they’ve taken down all their decorations and gotten the house back to normal, I feel deflated.

The thought of people disassembling all the twinkling lights and boxing up the ornaments makes me sad. What’s the big rush?

I can feel my once full heart deflating like a helium balloon.

That’s why I loved the request made by some city mayors, throughout Canada, to keep our Christmas lights on through February.

It was suggested by city officials in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Bracebridge and Fredericton, N.B., to name a few.

McGill University's Dr. Tina Montreuil is quoted as saying: “Hope is an essential ingredient of resilience and lights can really bring a boost to morale during trying times.”

It might well be worth the extra few cents on the hydro bill.

Psychologists around the globe are warning mental health will be the biggest concern through 2021.

I can feel it in the air. People are starting to lose their good humour.

Patience has never been my virtue and I now feel cranky when I see people not following the directional arrows in the stores.  I used to smile and shrug. Now, I want to glare at them.

I have my fingers hovering over the delete button on Facebook for those who still believe COVID-19 is a hoax, not to mention anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists and Trump supporters.

Sometimes you have to just protect your own sanity from the crazies out there. Who knew there were so many?! It is frightening.

In 2021, I think I will have to do fun, happy, helpful things and do it with intention. Organizer Marie Condo urged us to "spark joy" by folding our underwear. 

Here's my list:

1. Set a nice table, even if eating takeout alone.

2. If I do my necessary work, I get a treat. Like the old days of kids getting a sticker for good behaviour!

3. Crank up the volume on my favourite music.

4. Go outside daily. Walk around the block or even to mailbox.

5. Get dressed each day. Despite the effort, it does wonders for the mood. Underwear still optional.

6. Reach out socially to someone. It will benefit them and you.

7. Keep a routine. Nothing makes me out of sorts faster than having no deadline to work to.

8. Get something accomplished daily. A decluttered drawer, a shower, the floor swept, a craft started...

9. Make plans so when the lockdown is lifted, you are ready for that concert or trip. (Physically, financially, and mentally.)

10. Start the gratitude journal (again) three things you have to be grateful for each day.

As the saying goes: “Your happiness is in your own hands.”

The year 2021 is going to play out the way it will and no amount of worrying will change what is coming. I don’t want a wasted year because I am scared, unhappy or feeling hopeless.

Candlelight. Moonlight. Nightlight. Yes, yes, yes.

Heck, I even felt better when Motel 6 promised to leave the light on for me.

If some joy can come from a few more weeks of bright, colourful Christmas lights — shine on!


About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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