Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas - the good, the bad and the ugly

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Another Christmas holiday season is upon us.

In spite of the recent tragedy in Connecticut and the "fiscal cliff" that our president seems determined to drive us over, we do have much to be thankful for.

This time of year has a way of showcasing the good in our fellow men and women.

Area school children were regular visitors to nursing homes and assisted living centers over this past month. At each stop, the smiling faces of residents reflected the joy brought into their facility by their caroling young visitors.

This past week,  a story was relayed to me from a local resident, a long-time area educator. She was visiting a local laundromat due to water issues at her home, when a gentleman entered and began to pass out envelopes to folks doing their laundry.

The stranger handed each an envelope then, unceremoniously, left the establishment. The baffled customers opened their envelopes to find a $100 bill inside. It seems the anonymous good Samaritan was out spreading Christmas cheer, taking to heart the saying, "Goodwill toward men."

There have been several reported instances from around the area of anonymous folks going into the layaway department of stores and paying off the accounts of people they never met.

I have been using up some vacation days this past week. Since I was not working, I decided to do some Christmas shopping the old fashioned way .... actually going to a store to shop, as opposed to ordering online.

The chaos was amazing.

Most of the employees of the retail establishments that I visited seemed to be taking the purchasing blitz in stride. I must say that I was pleased at the smiles on the faces of most workers. What did not surprise me was the shopping-with-blinders attitude of many out looking for gifts less than a week before Christmas.

People were scurrying about in every store, many oblivious that they were sharing the world with others. I saw people stepping in front of others and cutting people off as if their own shopping mission was far more important.

Driving was an even bigger adventure. Of course, far too many people had their cell phone growing out of their ear, one hand on the steering wheel and a glazed look in their eye as they concentrated on what they believed the most important task at hand ... getting to the next stop on their shopping trip, when they should have been worrying about driving safely.

I have mentioned before that I believe that many of us put far too much emphasis on purchasing gifts for Christmas. Sure, we have good intentions and the thought of giving to others certainly cannot be faulted. But, we have been brainwashed by retailers and given in to peer pressure that we need to buy bigger and better each year.

As we head down the home stretch to Christmas 2012, I hope that you will all take the time to sit back, take a deep breath and relax.

Think about what are really the important things in life.

Let us remember the real reason for Christmas. Also, remember that it is a time to spend with family.

I know of several area families who have family members, a couple of them children, dealing with serious health concerns this Christmas season.

I hope that all of you will take a few minutes to pray for those families in need of some extra help, maybe even a miracle, this Christmas.

Many times, the best things we can give others, aren't things we can actually see and touch.

I wish all of you are very Merry Christmas.

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