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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Small Town, Big Hearts

I think that it's time to start bringing in some good feelings in this blog.  I don't know what it is about this month, but so far December seems to be filled with lots of whine...and I don't mean the stuff that comes in red or white either.

I feel as though there's a lot of negativity in the air, and it's really starting to put a damper on the holiday season.  You turn on the news and there's something terrible happening almost daily.  You read the newspaper, and people are complaining about how the government is screwing them.  You go shopping and you hear people treating retail workers like dirt because they can't get what they want.  And, I'm not even going to discuss some of the flabbergasting comments that one particular presidental candidate seems to be spewing every two minutes. 

I'm telling you, I purposely wanted to use this blog entry to talk about something heartwarming.  Something enlightening.  Something that will warm people's hearts and make people realize what the true spirit of the holiday season really is all about.

And on this - Day #9 of A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR - I want to tell you a story of a little boy from a small town who had one wish.  And although this little boy is sadly no longer with us any'll be happy to know that his final wish came true.

And all it took was a lot of planning, a lot of community spirit, and the ability to celebrate the Christmas holiday two months early.

Yes, that's right.  A whole town moved Christmas back to October because that was the wish that seven-year-old Evan Leversage of St. George, Ontario made when he learned that he might not live long enough to see another Christmas.

The tale goes like this.  When Evan was two years old, his mother got the news that no mother ever wanted to hear about her son.  Evan had been diagnosed with having a malignant brain tumour, and due to the location of where the tumour was, it was impossible to operate on him.

Almost immediately, Evan was subjected to several treatments of chemotherapy to stop the tumour from spreading.  For over four years, Evan fought the disease, and while the chemotherapy treatments were initially responsive at first, it must have been hard for Evan's family to have to watch him try to fight the illness.  I'm sure that anybody who has ever watched someone they love who has battled cancer knows exactly how the Leversage family went through.  Imagine having to go through it when your own child happens to be the person diagnosed with it.

Until early 2015, Evan seemed to roll with the punches.  But by that spring, Evan's condition gradually worsened, and the tumour had spread.  Despite every possible effort to try and extend the boy's life, doctors had told Evan's mother that he would likely pass away by the end of the year - most likely before Christmas came.

I can only imagine how heartbreaking that news must have been to the Leversage family - especially when you consider that little Evan loved Christmas very much.  It just didn't seem fair that the life of a little boy would end just before he had a chance to put up a Christmas tree, open up Christmas gifts, and have the chance to spend one last Christmas with the people he loved the most.

That's where the entire community of St. George stepped in to help.

What began as a simple request to put up Christmas lights in Evan's neighbourhood turned into a community wide effort to bring Christmas a little bit early.

How early?

Well, you know how Christmas Eve usually falls on the twenty-fourth of December?  Well, this year in St. George, Christmas Eve was moved to the twenty-fourth of October.  All the houses on the street were decorated with Christmas lights, artificial snow was created and sprinkled all over everybody's lawns, and a Santa Claus parade was put together so that Evan could enjoy one last Christmas celebration.

That photo that I posted above (courtesy of The Toronto Sun) was snapped at that parade, with Evan sitting next to Santa Claus, of course.  And, the way that the whole community got together to bring Christmas to Evan two months just makes one think about what really is important in life.

Certainly for the people of St. George, they all came together to make one last wish come true.

Because sadly, as the doctors predicted, Evan passed away on Sunday, December 6, 2015 - nineteen days before Christmas.

However, while Evan's death is sad, I don't think that he would want anyone to feel sad too long.  At the end of his too short life, he died very happy, knowing that he was loved, not just by his family, but by his whole community.  In fact, his story touched so many people that it was broadcast in such places as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.  And it was reported that at the local post office, Evan had received more mail than Santa Claus himself did at the North Pole!

The reason why I wanted to talk about this story is to show people that you can have the Christmas spirit any day of the year.  And, I wanted to show people that despite all of the bad news that is happening in the world, despite the negativity and thoughtless comments that are spoken by people almost daily, and despite the doom and gloom of the eleven o'clock news...that a little town in Ontario, Canada managed to prove to all of us that there is still a lot of good in this world.

We can ALL take a lesson from the people of St. George.

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