Well, what a year it has been!
One year ago, I’m sure most of us felt like we had been through a year that we would never want to repeat, but unfortunately 2021 didn’t get any better for many people.
When it comes to conversation topics, the weather now has a companion topic revolving around Covid and the various dramas it is causing us all.
If I was able to grant any wish, it would be that this Christmas is an opportunity for all of us to catch up with friends and family we haven’t seen for too long, and that 2022 is a year without stress and unwelcome surprises.
We definitely want something quite a bit better than this year! Please.
As we farewell this year, it would be customary to think over the positive things that have happened and discuss what we would like to happen next year.
Instead, I would like for us all to think about some of the things we have lost as a community, and to think about how we get them back.
We have lost some of our resilience as a community and as individuals.
Too many of us are too quick to jump to the wrong conclusions, or to take out our frustrations on the messenger.
We have lost some of our goodwill towards others, and in the process feel that it is OK to get angry at people who may be trying to help us.
Just ask shop or hospitality service people what their year has been like and whether they have been abused, as many of them will tell stories of such treatment by others.
Talk to our emergency services personnel and too many of them will also have tales of abuse, both verbal and physical, that they have suffered from as they try to help others.
Even staff in councils throughout New Zealand have experienced such treatment as they go about their duties in the communities they live in, as they try to make those places better places to live.
It appears that, as a community, our levels of tolerance, understanding and forgiveness are at all-time lows.
So as we reflect on the year and look ahead, we know we can expect several things.
We can expect that Covid will continue to throw us curveballs which we need to deal with; we know that there will continue to be a lot of change going on around us; AND we know that we will not be able to do all of the things we would normally do.
But we also know that we still live in a great part of New Zealand, where many people in our community do care and will show generosity when it is needed. We do know that there is so much to be grateful for compared to so many places around the world.
And we do know that we have the ability to improve the lives of others through helping them in a material way, or simply giving them a smile and a friendly greeting as you pass in the street.
Wherever you are and whoever you are with this Christmas, please take care of yourself and the people around you, look for the positive things in life, and I wish you all the very best for 2022.
Gary Kircher is the Mayor of Waitaki