At your service: December 14, 2011

…and then one day you look up and it’s almost here – year’s end. It is difficult to say whether you are glad to see it’s over or sorry to see it go. Where did it go?

This year seems to have flown by (much like the ones before it only slightly more challenging). Much was lost in the wake of storms and flooding, but much was gained in the spirit of community. It is not a tradeoff, but there is something special in the ability of this community to come back time and again. There is good reason to look forward with anticipation.

These last weeks of the year are generally lost in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations: gifts to purchase, decorating the house, working overtime on the job and at home. We are swept away by the seasonal push and lose sight of what it is that we are celebrating.

Nostalgia & sadness
In a time that is usually filled with nostalgia, one can’t help but be a little sad, missing that favorite place that is not there this year. Still, every week brings the good news that something has been restored. This bittersweet season could be the one we remember for the depth of meaning inherent in that “first after” spirit. There is much to treasure in what we do have and in what we have found.

The shopping challenge has led a few more people to make their gifts; it is often the turn we take during times of hardship. But is it not a hardship to receive something made by loving hands. These are the things we tend to cherish all through our lives. My favorite scarf remains the one crocheted by an aunt in her last years.

Those last-minute purchases always nag away at us – the elusive perfect gift is out there somewhere. Even though you may feel compelled to travel for some items, please spend as much in local shops as you possibly can. It has never been more important to shop locally; your business makes a real difference here on Main Street.

It is also a great time to do even a little more than usual for others. When you are at the grocery store, buy just one extra can of soup and drop it off for the food bank. Take one of those little paper “mittens” and attach it to a small something that can go under an unknown child’s tree. Bake two pies and give the second to a neighbor.

I still believe in Santa Claus and feel him nearby this year. The original Saint Nicholas was an extraordinary man who was born during difficult times to wealthy parents, receiving a large inheritance on their untimely deaths. He used every penny he received to help people in his community, to serve the needy and protect vulnerable children. There are a multitude of stories about his antics and recurring tales of gifts mysteriously received on his birthday, December 19.
In the sprit of the season, have fun these last weeks and enjoy being Santa in your own way. His spirit is alive and well in these mountains.