I LOVE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. In this darkest time of the year, they make the whole city glow. But last weekend, as I drove for Operation Rednose, I gained a whole new appreciation for the festive tradition.
There is nothing like driving around Kamloops at 3 a.m. with a car full of drunks in the backseat to realize how wonderful Christmas lights are. Finding one’s way in the dark, down unknown streets on ice and snow is difficult at times. Every house looks the same, and none seem to have house numbers.
But suddenly, from the backseat, one of the Operation Rednose passengers would chime “it’s the house with the red lights,” or “just look for the blue lights.”
Christmas lights may be to celebrate the season, but they also provide an amazing way finder at 3 a.m. in the morning.
As much as Christmas lights make the entire city look more festive, they are beacons that make every house stand out and look different.
It would be easy at this point to draw an analogy to where we are now, in the darkest of political times, on the looming impeachment of the president of the United States. Trump and his band of bandits’ actions dominate the news cycle and make cynics of us all.
To counter Trump, one only has to look locally to know that there are people who shine light.
There’s the incredible Katherine McParland, the founder and manager of A Way Home, a group dedicated to ending youth homelessness. She has inspired and mobilized local, provincial and national community members to find housing, employment and supports for homeless youth.
There’s the articulate Bill Sundhu, a human rights lawyer who has worked for justice in Kamloops, Tunisia, and The Hague. His advocacy has ensured some of the most vulnerable have had a voice. He helped to ensure the voice of Zofia Cisowski, the late mother of Robert Dziekanski who died by RCMP taser, was heard. He’s helped re-establish an independent justice system in Tunisia.
There’s Brenda Prevost, housing and operations manager at the Centre for Seniors Information on the North Shore. Her long term advocacy has ensured that there have been resources, activities and funding for seniors in Kamloops. The Brock Activity Centre provides meals, dances, bingos and classes for seniors.
There’s Jarrett Schill, music teacher at Brock Middle School. The students he leads produce amazing music. As important as the music is, he also mentors them to gain personal confidence, responsibility, and teamwork skills. He dedicates countless hours outside of class time to allow students the opportunity to perform to appreciative parents, and community members.
There’s Ken Gillis, chair of the Thompson Nicola Regional District. Through his leadership, the TNRD keeps a steady, even keel. While there are many hazards like wildfires and flooding that face the district, he’s helped ensure the district is prepared. It is no small feat to be the political leader of the region larger than the country of Denmark or Switzerland.
This is by no means a complete list, but just a sampler of the incredible people who shine light locally.
Christmas lights don’t have to be on every house to make an entire street look wonderful.
Even in the darkest days, a few small Christmas lights make the journey easier for everyone. Even in the darkest days of politics, there are people shining light to make the world a better place.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.