Ours is a time that the historians will look back on as complicated, to say the least.
It has been an era of astronomical advances in technology and medicine, and we have seen several nations remove the shackles of dictatorships and oppression. Of course, we have also seen humanity fall back into the tired cycle of racial and religious intolerance — ultimately leading to senseless bloodshed — and there has been a growing divide between the impoverished in this nation and those who are paid to defend and protect them.
It seems that for every step we take forward as a species, we take an equally large step backwards, leaving the pessimistic side in me to believe we will just never advance to a state of peace and tranquility unless a race of sadistic aliens attack the planet and force us all to unite together for a common cause.
Of course, we’ll be back fighting amongst one another about three days later and Donald Trump will...
But I digress.
It is, in fact, the holiday season, and if there is a time of massive waves of good, old-fashioned humanity, this is it. Though people are stressed over money and time restraints, we also tend to search for the warm and fuzzy around us. We park our exhausted bodies on the couch so we can watch heart-warming movies about the power of love this time of year, and we tend to nod hello to each other a bit more often as we walk down the streets.
We don’t just buy presents to cross people off our lists — we search and we think and we search some more to find something that we believe in our hearts of hearts will make that person happy, if just for a brief moment in time.
Yes, we live in a complicated time. But there is always that bit of sunshine breaking through the clouds if you stop and take a good look.
For instance, I came across a story earlier this week about a 7-year-old boy in Ontario by the name of Evan Leversage. A few days before he turned 2, doctors found an inoperable brain tumor in Evan, and he has been battling it valiantly ever since.
But a few months ago, his family learned that Evan would probably not make it long enough to celebrate Christmas this year. The family asked some of their neighbors if they wouldn’t mind putting up their Christmas decorations a little early this year so Evan could get in a few more good smiles. As people tend to do when presented with a situation such as this, they happily obliged.
Then more people in his town of St. George did. And more.
On Oct. 24, according to ABC News, the town put together an early Christmas celebration for Evan, complete with floats adorned with his favorite fictional characters, and the opportunity for Evan to ride in Santa’s sleigh.
This was “the most magical night of his life,” said his father, Travis Leversage. “... To see more than 7,000 strangers line the street for Evan and our family, their compassion really gave me a renewed hope that there is so much love in the world.”
Evan’s situation deteriorated to a point where he was admitted to hospice care on Nov. 4, but his early Christmas did not end there. He directed volunteer firefighters on how to put up a 12-foot Christmas tree, enjoyed a visit from Santa and sorted through mail that he received from around the world, according to the ABC story. The hospice facility said that the local post office informed them that they received more letters for Evan than they did Santa Claus.
The staff of the facility even ran out to McDonald’s to pick him up a Chicken McNuggett Happy Meal that Evan requested, and we all know that’s a pretty big deal for a kid his age.
Alas, Evan Leversage passed away at the hospice facility on Sunday, Dec. 6.
I don’t tell this story to bring you down, or to remind everyone of the frailties of human life. On the contrary, this is a tale I share to highlight the very best of what we can be. Sure, we can walk on the moon and build bridges to cross massive bodies of water and empty canyons, but we can also lift up people to tremendous heights through love and acts of genuine kindness.
The people of St. George got together to lift Evan Leversage’s spirits when he badly needed them lifted, and Evan Leversage lifted the people of St. George’s spirits with his desire to celebrate one last Christmas and to share his gift of youthful wonder with all of them.
I never had the fortune of meeting this young man, nor do I know anyone in his family, but I feel pretty secure in stating that all of their efforts had to make him feel like just about the most important little boy in the world, at a time when he was facing the ultimate challenge. And I’m guessing the people of St. George had a Christmas parade that will live in their hearts and minds for the rest of their lives.
It’s amazing how remarkable the world can really be when you stop and take a good look. For one magical night in St. George, the people didn’t care about elections or ISIS or racial profiling or mounting debt. They cared about making a little boy have a special Christmas.