Whistler, the best place on Earth 

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This is traditionally a time when we think of family and friends and the relationships we have in our lives — well, at least most adults do: the kids are thinking about what is under the tree.

Many people are thinking about the charities they support and the good they can do with their donation dollars, others donate hours to causes close to home in order to make a difference.

This year will also be the first Christmas a Syrian refugee family spends in the resort. I am hoping it is filled with new friends and great memories. It can be heartbreaking to be away from the only home you have known at Christmas.

And what an amazing snow season it is shaping up to be — dare I say it's like the old days?

But finding the Christmas spirit this year is a little more difficult than usual. While there is no doubt that Whistler is the best place on Earth, other places on this amazing planet we call home are seriously suffering.

Aleppo comes to mind, of course. The shocking and heart-wrenching war has left most thinking people horrified and feeling rather helpless — hard to be merry and bright understanding that this conflict is continuing on the same Planet Earth.

But perhaps now is the perfect time to think about the tragedies and the threats that face us all and commit to doing something about it.

Whistler boasts the most amazing cross-section of talented, creative, hard-working, inspirational and eclectic people anywhere.

There are any number of amazing local and world-famous athletes who call Whistler home — so many it's hard not to take them for granted. But we shouldn't. They bring a depth of character to our hometown that cannot be imitated. It makes us authentic.

But it is not all about sports. Whistler now boasts an arts scene that is about to burst out of its bubble. We have visual, sculpture, mixed media, dance, song and so much more.

But wait, that is not all, no, that is not all.

What about the totally incredible people who are not only great community partners, but also challenge us to look outside our own little box? There are many in this category, as there are in those above — too many to list — but all of them deserve a nod.

Take, for example, Playground Builders and Bikes for Humanity — they really do make us all better. Playground Builders, which builds, on average, 20 playgrounds a year in the world's toughest regions, was founded by Whistler resident Keith Reynolds in 2007, with some help from his friends. To date it has built 145 playgrounds (www.playgroundbuilders.org).

Truly, truly amazing.

Bikes for Humanity, which was started by Whistlerites Pat and Brenda Montani, has moved its centre of ops to Vancouver after the Montanis decided to retire from this amazing program — but not before they were awarded the Governor General's Meritorious Service Medal earlier this month.

The bicycles are used to get goods to market, for nurses to get to countryside clinics — something that we are just discarding is changing lives. Since 2005, over 60,000 bikes have been sent to Angola, Namibia, Uganda and South Africa.

We also have amazing local organizations in the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program, Zero Ceiling, The Get Bear Smart Society, Whistler Blackcomb's Habitat Improvement Team, and so many more.

I can't even imagine the good deeds done by our community that we know nothing about. I can't imagine the amazing experiences and life lessons that members of our community have had. But I would love to know, because I would love to share them with others who live here, especially our children.

Let's pat ourselves on our collective back, Whistler, as we celebrate the holiday season this year.

There is still much to do to keep the Earth, and indeed Whistler, the amazing place it is. This Christmas think about giving yourself and those you love the gift of action — get out there and help organizations who make a difference both at home and in the world.

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