In my country of Canada, December is the darkest month of the year. When I leave home for work it is dark. When I am leaving work for home, it is just starting to get dark. From the website “sad”, it mentioned that 200 years ago 75% of the people worked outdoors, now 10% of the population work in natural outdoor light. For me, S.A.D. or “Seasonal Affective Disorder” is very real, and working in a windowless warehouse, I try extremely hard to keep on top of it. When not working, I am often found to be outdoors as much as possible. And although this is not natural light, I also do enjoy Christmas lights people have put out for others to enjoy. I even alter my driving route coming home to take more and varied lights. With Christmas just around the corner, Christmas lights bring me so much joy.
A couple of weeks ago my home village held a 1st annual tree lighting. It was very well organized, thanks to many hard working volunteers. You could bring an ornament to decorate from home, or use an ornament provided. The firefighters collected food items for the food bank. After we met in the community hall for hot chocolate and treats. There was even a visit from Santa Claus.
My village has been a great place to live and raise a family. We have lived here in the same house for the past 23 years. My children have made great friends. When we meet someone on the street there is always a greeting, whether through a wave or a hello. People really seem to look out for one another. But I know when I talk to people who live in the bigger cities, this in not the norm. I am extremely fortunate.
More and more our culture is becoming individualistic, which means that our society values themselves and their own needs over others. American Vice President Joe Biden has once quoted, “For too long in this society we have celebrated unrestrained individualism over common community.” With a 1000% (or 10x’s increase in major depression since 1945), I am wondering how much our individualistic society has contributed to this. We have lost the common community mindset. I grew up on a family farm, and the rural farming community was so close. We helped each other at harvest time. We met each others need for emotional support. People attended local churches within their own communities, and they were full! It was normal thing to do, and within the church community everyone had that “helping mindset”.
Things have changed so much since I was a kid, and unfortunately not for the better. Sadly many times, many of us do not know who our neighbours are. A person may have people all around them, but still be very lonely. In traditional Amish society in the US, major depression is almost unknown. Why is that? My guess is because they are a common community that deeply supports one another. That and along with them being known for living a much simpler, slower paced lifestyle.
One of my fondest childhood memory was a Saturday night with my dad at the Edgar General Store. My mom would make out our grocery list, and my dad would bring it the General Store and hand it to the proprietor’s wife. She in turn would gather up the groceries while the farmer neighbours would gather in the back room to watch the hockey game on the small black and white TV. Sadly, when supermarkets became the norm, the demise of the local General Store became very quick.
For my mom, she had her emotional needs met through a few areas. Two of them were the local church, and the Women’s Institute. When I was growing up, the Women’s Institute played such a major part within the local community. They had their monthly meetings, but in reality connected far more frequently. They organized local social events such as “Strawberry Suppers”, provided a food booth at farm auctions, and were active if there was an injury, sickness or death within the community. No one “fell through the cracks”, and people’s physical and emotional needs were met. They are not a professional government run agency in the city, but are a group of hard working predominantly non professional women from within the community, and who have a heart for the community. Women’s Institutes still operate within rural communities, but they are really struggling to keep operating, and are having a very difficult time attracting younger members.
In my own village of Hillsdale, there are several on-line communities to help connect people, two of which work on-line and work within the community. It is a huge undertaking to promote a simple Christmas tree lighting ceremony to a village of individuals that for the most part work, shop, entertain, exercise, socialize, play and many times worship in places outside the local community, and pull it off. So it did my heart so much good to see this little village where I live attend in such full force for the 1st annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Neighbours were meeting and introducing themselves for the 1st time. Old acquaintances were reconnecting. It was a very happy occasion. Thank you to the many volunteers. The Hillsdale Community Group, The Hillsdale Fire Association, and others, for your many, many hours you diligently and tirelessly work at, endeavouring to keep our little village connected as a community.
Thank you for reading!
What “community”, such as a running community, church community, social community, or your town or village community do you really feel a part of?
Is short days and Seasonal Affective Disorder a problem where you live?
What changes has there been in connecting your own community….for the better….for the worse?
A summary of Seasonal Affective Disorder with symptoms listed can be found here!