In the newspaper business the holidays come way to early but they are over in a flash and here we are at the end of another Christmas season. Sitting down at the computer on the Friday before the final weekend I am trying to think about a message that I could send our readers this Christmas. What could I possibly say that hasn't been said a thousand times in a thousands ways?
We all know what the holiday means and we all celebrate it differently. I have seen over the years that the Christmas season either brings out the best in people and, unfortunately the worst. Memories of difficult times, including poverty, deaths or tragedies often take a front seat during this time of the year. Many people who struggle with depression or extreme sadness seem to feel more pain and further despair during the holidays.
But on the other hand, people who relish the holidays with happy and joyous memories, family gatherings, gift giving and the understanding of the true message of the holiday seem to shine and glow like Rudolph's nose during the holidays.
Just after Thanksgiving I started to think about typing my annual Christmas letter that I send out, but first I built a fire and curled up under the freshly decorated tree and reread 30 years of those letters to myself. I believe I have only done this one other time. I started writing these letters, or holiday greetings back in 1972 when I was a newlywed, attending college in northern Montana.
As I sat there under the twinkling lights I reread 30 years of my life, which took me through multiple jobs, homes, feelings and experiences. It was as though I was reliving many of those moments, like when my sons were born and how proud we were of their first steps, their first day in kindergarten, graduation from high school and the time we won the best decorated cake at cub scouts. It reminded me of the homes, the towns, cities, communities and homes we lived in. I always put in a paragraph about my travels and I reread the one about the summer vacation to Hawaii, my work in Russia and the numerous camping and hiking adventures. Although I didn't write as much about it, in more recent years I whined about aging and losing hair.
Between the paragraphs I was also reminded of the sad times, like the year my mother passed away and just this August when my brother died at such an early age.
Christmas has really become a time of reflection for me, a time to reflect back at the memories of the years gone by, but also a time to reflect ahead to those moments I still have to look forward to. I try to remind myself that its not what I have lost that matters, but what I still have to look forward to.
My sons have grown up and are living lives of their own. I have left towns and cities and relationships. I have lost loved ones and jobs and opportunities. But then we all have.
As I watched the snow gently fall on the trees last Monday evening, I was filled with gratitude and thankfulness of the many gifts that I have in my life. My Christmas letters are off, shopping is done and I am enjoying the final days of the magical season. I get these feelings of extreme gratitude through my job, relationships, and friendships.
The stories I have written this past year may have been just stories and part of my job, but they are etched in my mind and heart forever. People like Thelma and Marie, the elderly ladies I wrote about last week; the family who adopted the little angel; Danny and Patrica Blanton, the young aspiring artists; Sandy Sowell, the lady from Florida who was back here in town several times and the horseback riding we did; and one of my favorites, Caecilia Hansen who received her American citizenship at 92 years old. This list could go on and on because I have associated with hundreds of people from the two counties in numerous meetings, groups and committees. Christmas to me is about people, about love and respect and opportunity, about laughing and helping and reaching out trying to make a difference.
Just as the original story tells us, Christmas is about a new birth, a new day that will dawn tomorrow and a new tomorrow filled with changes, challenges and hope.
Season's Greetings to all.