Looking forward with hope to the New Year

It’s difficult to believe yet another year is about to come to a close. The old saying certainly seems to ring true – time appears to go by faster as a person gets older!

This past year certainly brought much in the way of news — locally, provincially, nationally and internationally.

Locally, this past year has also seen major infrastructure projects in Red Deer from roundabouts to highway construction on the City’s south side to the health and wellness centre on the Red Deer College campus.

Provincially, Albertans are bracing themselves for the implementation of the carbon tax.

Not much is known as to how it will really impact businesses and families, but it has not be a welcomed change in an ongoing sluggish economy.

One of the biggest things internationally was the election of Donald Trump who went from being the most unlikely of candidates last year to becoming president-elect.

Not many would have ever thought that this would happen, but it did. As the defeated Hillary Clinton said, Americans owe him an open mind, so we’ll see what happens as the New Year unfolds.

Of course here at home we are still in a recession that has seen major job losses in the oilfield sector which has also had a trickle down effect into other industries as well.

We can only hope that 2017 brings stability in this area, however, with all of the different perspectives and opinions, it is hard to know what will really happen.

But despite these challenges, when we look around us, Canadians should take time at the dawn of a New Year to consider how blessed and fortunate we are to call this nation home.

There are hardships to be sure, but what we endure compared to what many face puts things into clear, sobering perspective.

It brings to mind an image circulating on the Internet. One side of the picture shows emaciated children with their hands extended, presumably reaching for food. The other side shows frazzled Christmas shoppers with shopping carts loaded up with every gadget imaginable.

The words ‘Define necessity’ underline the images. It’s a powerful reminder of what matters.

In spite of the spectrum of events that 2016 held, New Year’s Day, as it does every year, brings with it a sense of optimism.

It gives us the feeling of having a fresh start, adding to the sense that whatever hardships may have been endured, there’s reason to press forward with hope.

That hope for a better year ahead is all the more poignant this New Year’s with the drop in oil prices and a rather unstable economic outlook.

Meanwhile, it’s also great to see how Red Deerians band together to lend a helping hand.

That’s always abundantly clear during the recent Christmas season, too. And whenever there is some sort of crisis, you can always count on the generosity of local residents to help ease the pain.

Time and again, we in the media hear about how helpful local citizens are to others in need.

This was especially true this past year as agencies were feeling the pressure even more and numbers overall were higher in terms of people who needed assistance in one way or another.

Knowing that we have a community that consistently steps up to help does offer a kind of tonic for frazzled nerves in today’s constantly changing world.

Strength does lie in that sense of community, and that’s something we can count on in 2017.