Happy Holidays from CUPE 391 to CUPE 391 and the rest of the Universe

Dear Members

We hope these next few days spent with family and friends bring you joy, peace and relaxation.  Towards the end of next week we will send out our letter of how the year was and what it all means.  There are some successes and continuing areas of concern.  There seems to be a pattern in all of this.  Over the years former presidents and executives have hoped the year past the election, or bargaining or budget cuts would bring a year of rebuilding relationships with the employer and reconnecting with our biggest supporters, the public.  If we work flat out we get 50% of what we want, so make sure you come to the General Meeting, January 25th, 2012, (Robbie Burns Day, another great holiday, albeit another guy being toasted) and let us know your concerns.

This year some of us lost those near and very dear to us.  It alters how we spend our time during these holidays but I am learning that that is a good thing. Christmas was always about my mother.  Huge feasts and celebrations with friends. Celebration of music, light and glorious kitsch.  Much too much money spent on gifts. Some of it wandered into community support.  My mother died January 21st of this year and we lost my eldest sister December 18, 2000.  The immediate family is getting whittled down but is resilient due to help from family and friends.  We thank all of you for your support,  Those of you that have lost loved ones may be feeling the gamut of emotions; anger, sorrow and loneliness.  I am thankful that we have so much evidence of my mum as a “life well lived”.  I have lost my biggest cheerleader so I am only letting go gradually.

My brother and I are spending this holiday season with friends and extended family, some of whom knew my mum when she was twenty-eight, about ten years before I was thought of.  My brother and John Okronog are exchanging seasonal and ethnic insults.  ” Why is the Swedish Epiphany on January 6, and later Hilarymas on January 13, which ends the Christmas season in Sweden?  Because it took longer to find three wise men in Sweden.” Oh ja?” Well, why is Ukrainian Christmas on January 7th?  Because is took longer to find three wise men and a virgin”. These men are about ten and twelve years older than me and reflect the northern culture of mining towns in Canada.  Every new wave of immigration in Canada took its knocks in ways that are fortunately now considered to be not the answer when building strong communities.  Vive la Commission Canadienne des droits de las personne.

My roommate is a Kosovar of Albanian extraction.  She celebrates both Muslim and Roman Catholic holidays as she is secular in practice.  She seems to be able to feast and fast, and dance a lot more than me.  My Jewish relations, the Kronenbergs, used to have a secular approach to their faith but are now spending the Hanukkah holidays in closer communion with their children.  Their history as a people is now celebrated and their faith brought more into practice with the next generation.

My brother, roommate are not exchanging gifts this year.  With mum not with us for the first time at Christmas, we thought we should take our gift money and buy a holiday in Hawaii.  We depart on Ukrainian Christmas.  Two days ago, we received the best expression of the meaning of Christmas.  We received a phone call from a friend in Merrit.  He had a detached retina and was driving to Vancouver General to have it reattached.  He had already been sent to Kamloops and Kelowna.  The doctor in Kelowna said we don’t do that kind of surgery here, what are you thinking of?  Fortunately, he was able to hook him up the VGH eye clinic on the eve of December 22nd.  I paged the doctor at 7 pm that Dave was on his way.  Reid drove him in from White Rock as Dave’s vision was getting progressively worse.  The doctor froze his eye and prepped him for surgery in the morning.  We drove him in, he had a very successful surgery and he is recuperating in the Youngberg residences.  Our Canadian medical system does deliver in emergency surgeries.  Great doctor.  Left his home in the evening to make sure that the operation could wait until the morning.  Reid and I were rather giddy with happiness that we were given the opportunity to help.  Tis better to give than receive, as they say.  But you cannot have my Hawaiian holiday.

However you celebrate, may it bring you pleasure, peace and a safe and happy time!. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and God Jul.  Hardy wait to get into the Lutefisk!

Love to all and to all a good night