Toward the end of the year I think it is only natural to think about the year that has passed, as well as the year to come. I generally think about all the very many things I am thankful for, and take more than a few moments to realize how fortunate I am. Actually, being thankful is a fairly constant state of mind for me, and I am very, very aware of how lucky I am and have been.
I am thankful for a healthy family that has supported and loved me throughout my life. I am grateful and lucky to be able to have a gallery that provides me with endless delight and joy. I have more friends than I can count on both hands, and they help keep me grounded and whole. There is nothing that I wish for and do not have. I am blessed and I know it.
I feel like the girl in one of my favorite posters: She’s going to win the lottery and buy a house and a car, a cow and some chickens. Life will be full, and she will continue to smile with her rosy cheeks and her lovely checked apron.
But it would be selfish and foolish and shallow to think only of myself at this – or any other time – of year. I think about the multitude of people who do not have the luxuries I have, and who don’t have very much to be grateful for. The lines at food banks are long, and with winter in full swing in Montreal, the homeless shelters are over-full. I can – and do – help out as much as I can, but at Christmastime it seems the needs are many, and most of them are unmet.
Before I opened the gallery, when my son Giulian was in elementary school, I often volunteered at a local food bank called Share the Warmth. Started by three ladies who were moved to begin collecting blankets and winter coats for the homeless folks they saw around Montreal’s downtown core, their small, grass-roots organization has blossomed into the very best kind of community program. It now offers everything from a full-blown food bank and nutrition classes to programs for juvenile delinquents and recent ex-cons. It has a scholarship program that bears the name of a dear friend of mine, and it helps an enormous amount of people in an area called Point St. Charles. It is a magnificent testament to hard work, determination and the desire to make a difference.
The holidays are a difficult period for many of the people in Point St. Charles. Kids everywhere – even in the poorer parts of town – want the same gifts that children in upper class families dream of. If you live in Montreal, I urge you to think of dropping off food, or toys, or even a winter coat at Share the Warmth or another food bank of your choice. And if you live someplace else, I urge to find a similar organization in your town or city and do the same. I am a lucky girl and if you’re reading this, you are most likely lucky too. At this time of the year, when people are hungry and cold, maybe you can spread your luck around. It would be a nice thing to do, and it just might make someone’s holiday a little brighter.
Here are some organizations that could use your help: