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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Boxing Day

Happy St. Stephen’s Day.

Yes, in many countries, Dec. 26 is set aside to commemorate the first martyr of Christianity, who was accused of blasphemy and stoned to death in about the year 34.

In Canada, of course, we celebrate today as Boxing Day instead. Although it was once a day for servants and tradespeople to get a Christmas gift from their bosses or employers, it has these days become a shopping holiday instead.

You’ll notice the many sales and promotions advertised in the newspaper today. Many of them are expanding the concept to “Boxing Week” — six days more celebration than a poor stoned-to-death martyr gets.

And that’s fine. It’s evidence that we live in what is by and large a peaceful, tolerant society.

We are the envy of many around the world, and we should be mindful of our blessings at this time.

Still, you may find that you are stressed out after weeks of shopping. And the masses of people who throng the stores may be causing you grief as you search for the best Boxing Week bargains.

Sharp elbowed shoppers and crammed-full parking lots may be frustrating, but they are evidence that our retail sector is doing well this holiday season.

As are most of us.

But not all of us.

As we move out of the holidays and into the depths of winter, we’re also leaving behind some of the biggest charitable drives of the year. Christmas Cheer and its holiday hampers are hugely important this time of year, but the need isn’t only seasonal.

Perhaps this time of year is a good time to think a little bit about the origins of Boxing Day.

If you’ve just opened mounds of presents —all your gift wishes granted —maybe the Boxing Week sales are a good opportunity to spread the joy to some of the less fortunate among us.

Food banks generally try to stretch their limited resources with healthy-but-bland staples like pastas and rice.

With all the seasonal candies and chocolates on sale now, though, why not take the opportunity to ensure that there are treats available for all?

Clothes — even socks —are also a much-needed item that are often on sale after Christmas.

If you are feeling the traditional Boxing Day spirit, now would also be an appropriate time to think about holiday gifts for workers you may not have remembered to thank.

In our view, it’s too bad that small gifts to people who work for us, like mail carriers for example, have fallen out of favour.

They do triple duty this time of year, bringing Christmas cards and gift parcels along with regular mail and all the holiday flyers.

If you’re lucky enough to still get door-to-door delivery — or even if you aren’t — take the time to appreciate the fact that snow or sleet don’t stay these carriers from their appointed rounds (only CEOs and five-year plans can do that).

Other oft-forgotten winter labourers include the gas jockeys who fill your tank, even when it’s -40 C, and the hard-working cart pushers who somehow manage to direct stacks of 50 or more through the parking lot and into the front doors for your shopping convenience.

There are many others who deserve your thanks — or a quick slip of $5.

Or, in the waning days of the year, why not consider signing up for a regular charitable donation in the new year?

There are hundreds of worthy charities, although we have a soft spot for those that concentrate on assuring free expression around the world (and we suspect St. Stephen might, too).

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 26, 2013

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Happy St. Stephen’s Day.

Yes, in many countries, Dec. 26 is set aside to commemorate the first martyr of Christianity, who was accused of blasphemy and stoned to death in about the year 34.

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Happy St. Stephen’s Day.

Yes, in many countries, Dec. 26 is set aside to commemorate the first martyr of Christianity, who was accused of blasphemy and stoned to death in about the year 34.

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