"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." -- Norman Vincent Peale
Christmas symbolizes hope, oneness and harmony, sharing and helping others. The year 2020 saw life get harder, though our solidarity also grew stronger. While restrictions were in place and rules had to be followed this Christmas, there was no dearth of community spirit and of helping others. Stories of Hope interviews Mary MacLellan, who has been a District 1 Councillor in Antigonish County for 28 years, and we asked her about what gave her hope this Christmas.
Christmas is the time of the year when families and communities come together to celebrate. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is not possible to travel that freely this festive season, but it should not take away the spirit of the festival. "This Christmas is very different, and I have been asking everyone to follow rules. That is very important," said Mary. Her grandchildren, who are in Halifax, could not come to visit her, but Mary put up decorations for Christmas and spent time with close family.
Mary, who leads various community-based efforts and is a member of many volunteer groups, said that "looking out for people who are less fortunate" gives her hope. Amidst livelihood and food security concerns, Mary said many local volunteer groups are working to help the needy and are strongly supported by very generous people in the town and county.
Mary is involved with many Antigonish area organizations and is a member of the Arisaig Community Development Association and worked with a very dedicated volunteer committee to organize a hike on the Eigg Mountain Trails to raise over $2,000 to support their community projects.
Another community volunteer group that Mary is a member of is the Arisaig Community Hall. Through a very successful ticket draw, Mary said the group raised over $11,000 to support an accessible washroom in the hall. "There was terrific support from the entire community and beyond," she said.
Mary said many small businesses are struggling to survive, and this is going to be a key challenge in Antigonish. "We are fortunate to not have serious cases and deaths. People have been following rules and long-term care homes and hospitals have instituted programs to keep everyone safe, said Mary noting that hopefully "everything will return back to normal after the vaccine."
Mary, who has been a teacher by profession, urges students to make sure rules are followed. She said that dedicated efforts have been made by StFX to ensure safety. "StFX has done a great job."
"I understand the concerns of people as students return after the winter break. But most students are cognizant of the rules. I see them wearing masks and following social distancing. Covid-19 testing is also in place by StFX," said Mary.
"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall" – Nelson Mandela