Looking at the empty seats at a junior hockey game in Slave Lake can make you wonder if the good old days are ever coming back.

Someone will say, ‘the good old days weren’t really that good.’

That may be true, but neither are all changes for the better. A new world is evolving; we’re in the middle of it, but none of us have ever been here before. We don’t know how it’s going to turn out, and that is probably good, because it allows us to hope for (and maybe believe in) the best.

In the meantime, the nature of community keeps changing. As noted, people don’t show up for hockey games the way they used to. Nor do they participate in curling bonspiels the way they used to. The COVID pandemic is an added monkey-wrench, but even before that, participation was dwindling, in those and other things. COVID accelerates what was already happening – which is people finding their communities more online and less in the actual, physical place in which they reside. Online shopping is part of this, and it makes for big challenges for people running some businesses.

How do you fit in? How do you make a difference? These kinds of questions are always swirling, as society evolves.

Some things, though, we can rely on. One of them is an upswing in charitable giving around Christmas. It’s something solid people can do that does good for others and helps the givers feel good about themselves. It reinforces that old feeling of community that seems to be getting lost. We are part of something special and in spite of all the things that divide us and irritate us, it works as well as it does because people are willing to do unselfish things for each other. Long may that continue.

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