Driving around Calgary on sheets of ice and in snow, isn’t something that I love to do.  My little Scion slips and slides along the roads – and I hear my father’s voice “shift into neutral”.  I grew up in the Mid-West so I know how to drive in the snow, but it still stresses me out.

Last Thursday I was running late, had a million things on my mind, and was in the car on another icy day in Calgary.  The radio was my only weapon against insanity – and quickly put things in perspective.

Mix 97.7 was running a Radio Marathon for the Calgary Herald’s Christmas Fund.  Even though I read the Herald everyday, work in the sector, and watch my Twitter feeds – nothing tugged at my heart like hearing the voices on the radio. 

Humans are hardwired for stories.  We are pulled in by the drama, we connect to the characters, and we remember the lesson – so much better than if we are thrown facts and figures.  Stories are our history, and they connect us to one another.  There is a time and place for evidence, facts and figures – but there is no replacement for that feeling of human connection.

And if you listen, you’ll soon hear stories all around:

Each year, our family puts together a Christmas Hamper for families in Calgary who need a little extra help.  Unlike most years, this year we’ve actually met the family. 

Imagine if, in your golden years, instead of retirement and vacations you were raising both your adult son and his son.  This is the reality for a family of three, who in many cases, may have been split apart – the grandson taken into protective services, the grandmother unable to care for her son. 

But this family has had the support of Connections Counselling to keep it together. 

This year, I met the father and son.  They were enjoying the day at a Connections sponsored event for families.  Laughing, talking, and engaging with one another – you knew that disability did not inhibit their love.  As I watched them enjoy one another’s company – I was filled with deep admiration for the work that Connections does to keep families together.

This year, as our family puts together our Christmas Hamper, I have the image of that day in my head.  The human connection is so important – we aren’t just writing a cheque, we aren’t just making a hamper – we are gifting to a family who we know, who cares deeply for one another.

Maybe it is just the time of year – admist the traditions, the parties, the family reunions – that pulls at my heart strings.  Quite quickly, these stories of generosity and optimism downgrade my quibble with winter driving.  They put back into perspective the reason why I do this work and the reasons why we need more people to do this work.

This Christmas, let yourself be overcome by the stories and ask yourself how you can become involved.  Leave the ole’ evaluation and metrics hat for January.

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