Christmas 2017/New Year 2018 Reflections

Written by  //  January 1, 2018  //  Nicholson musings and messages, Reports  //  No comments

One of the delights of the Christmas season is decorating the tree, bringing out the treasured decorations, remembering whence they came, choosing where each one should go and which its neighbours should be. There are old ones and, always at least one new one. So it is with our tree of life, our friendships are its treasured decorations, whether old or new, each with its own special glow, mirroring and enhancing the sparkle of our unique relationship.

Warmest wishes to all near and far Friends –past, present and future – and Family for a New Year filled with achievement of fond dreams, good news, happy surprises, love and laughter in the company of like-minded (or not) friends and family. Above all, wishing you and yours health, peace of mind, and prosperity in the hope that 2018 will indeed be the new and improved version.

We are endlessly grateful to the many, many, friends who help to stimulate Wednesday Night discussions and the content of the website, and to the fascinating collection of people (some of whom I have only met electronically) who participate in various e-mail threads on a vast range of topics. Another source of constant stimulation comes from my beloved Sauvé Fellows, scattered around the world, leading and doing great work, some under dangerous conditions, to improve the lot of less fortunate communities. As always, they inspire and it is a delight to hear about their activities – even better when they return to Montreal for a quick visit!

It has been a somewhat challenging year, thanks to David’s health. We all know that there is no positive outcome for Alzheimer’s, but for a long time, he was on a plateau with no significant deterioration. More recently, the situation has changed; however he still has periods of perfect lucidity and we are blessed with wonderful support from Dr. Howard Chertkow and his team at the Jewish General.

Happily, I continue to work on communications matters with my dear friend, President & CEO Désirée McGraw and her impressive colleagues at Pearson College UWC ;  it has been an exciting year of celebration of the 60th anniversary of Lester B. Pearson’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The Singapore family continue to flourish and in early December, Marc’s dream of a new and different members’ club became a reality with the gala opening of 1880 Although Marc is credited as Founder of the club, one cannot overestimate Jean’s influence, and all while doing her day job as Director of Finance of Singapore’s UWC . Maya and Bo are growing in grace, charm and accomplishments: talented, good students and with great hearts. We loved their all-too-brief Christmas visit.

Meanwhile, Fiona is thriving and BUSY in Calgary as Council Executive Director (aka chief cook and bottlewasher), Alberta & NWT of Scouts Canada. We are very lucky that Scouts HQ is in Ottawa and she always manages to stop by Montreal before or after meetings there.

Jeannette, Joelle and Ryan are the family’s West Coast anchors, equally accomplished and individualistic. The informal title of Jeannette’s recently published paper: Sex hinders peaceful coexistence, raised a few eyebrows, but we assure you, it’s about Botany.

We continue to be very content in our ‘digs’ at Haddon Hall and delighted that the convenient location allows for lots of visits from friends. Wednesday Nights continue unabated.

The highlight of this anniversary year (Canada 150, Montreal 375 and Expo 67’s 50th) for us was the hugely successful première at Place des Arts on April 25th of the brilliant documentary by Guylaine Maroist, Michel Barbeau and Eric Ruel,  Expo 67: Mission impossible , in which Diana had a small part. The true hero of the film was project management – critical path planning – championed by Colonel Ed Churchill.

In Montreal, we complain of never-ending construction with orange cones the symbol of our on-gong misery. While the renewal of our infrastructure could have been managed better (much better!), the replacement of 100 year-old pipes is a worthy goal. We do suggest that current and future politicians be instructed in the joys and efficiencies of project management.

All in all, at a personal level, life is on an even keel, if only it were not under the constant cloud of events far beyond our control.

Dominated by the 45th president, who often appears to be more malevolent cartoon than worthy occupant of the Oval Office, 2017 has been a tumultuous year and in global matters, not a happy one. World leaders and common folk have observed his tweets and actions with trepidation; arm-chair psychiatrists have grown increasingly uneasy; and, in an astounding reversal of political theory, the military are hailed as the protectors of democratic process. Comedians and satirists have enjoyed a cornucopia of stimuli. Our personal favorite, Randy Rainbow  whose  COVFEFE  should be deemed a national treasure.

As I write, the polar vortex has embraced Montreal – and a swath of North America – in its cruel embrace. So extreme that The Guardian noted “Ottawa concert cancellation is proof of concept: it can be too cold for Canadians”.  Many friends have escaped to tropical climates – and some of you live there all year – sending envy-provoking pictures of palm trees, sandy beaches and endless, glittering blue water.  However, among the stay-at-homes are several gifted photographers who remind us that there is also beauty in the landscapes of winter wherein each detail is sharply defined, every hint of color so bright under the relentless sun.

Every year, and arguably 2017 more than most, presents us with similar stark contrasts in our own lives and on the global stage.

We have lost dear friends and family members this year, as have many of you. But we take consolation in the fact that they have died in relative comfort unlike the victims of war, terrorism and mindless shootings, who are nameless unless a grieving family member is interviewed by the media.

We follow with great interest the journeys of our grandchildren and their generation – talented, eager minds with concerns for society;  their very existence bodes well for the world. We also rejoice in the new arrivals of 2017, welcomed joyfully into warm, loving families who will cherish them, providing for their happiness, education and health. Across the world other children are not so fortunate – victims of persecution, war, starvation, disease and poverty. Sadly, in our own country, disease, poverty and lack of education have not been erased, despite the efforts of many organizations and individuals.

One of the national pastimes for Canadians, is complaining that our governments at all levels do either too much or too little, are giving in to pressure groups whose goals are not ours, spend too much (or not enough) of our money … Let us give thanks that we are able to complain – loudly – without fear of retaliation. Citizens of numerous other nations are not so fortunate. And often our complaints are listened to and acted on. If not, voters are mindful of those failures when elections come around. (See Denis Coderre/Valérie Plante)

The decline of print media is a concern, but thanks to the internet and social media, we have access to sources of information that range from thoughtful analyses of global affairs, science and technology to frivolous and fake news. Caveat emptor indeed, but how lucky we are to have the choice in contrast to many other countries where access to social media is limited or banned and ‘choice’ means official sources.

What do we wish for the world in 2018? WISDOM. Courageous leaders who make good choices for all their citizens and the global community. UNDERSTANDING of the relationship between rights and responsibilities. ACCEPTANCE of the diversity of needs and aspirations among the peoples of the world. COMPASSION and the WILL TO RIGHT INJUSTICE wherever it appears. CIVILITY  and RESPECT for differences. KNOWLEDGE  and advances in science and technology used only for the greater good, to combat disease, poverty, starvation and the destruction wrought by climate change. Above all, PEACE.

It’s too much to hope for, but we should never stop trying to move the bar higher, each in our own way.

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