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— I love this time of year when we receive greetings from friends and family near and far and catch up on everyone’s news. I also enjoy collecting calendars for the upcoming new year, each with its crisp, clean pages just waiting to be filled with interesting activities. Each blank square represents a myriad of opportunities to live, to laugh, to love, to give. For, as the poet John Greenleaf Whittier reminded us, “Somehow not only for Christmas but all the long year through, the joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you.”

I started the work week as I ended the last one, working to compile letters to Santa that came through our office. It’s always refreshing to read these young folks’ letters with their simple requests and undying faith.

It’s especially heartwarming to see the pleas for “a good Christmas for everyone” and those asking for gifts for siblings, mom and dad, even their pets. Some of those youngsters have a better idea of what Christmas is all about than many of us adults!

Tuesday evening was clear and cold but I drove out to the high school for the annual holiday band concert. I met up with the kids and grandkids at the front door of the performing arts center and got to sit and watch the program with them. Matthew, the youngest, was festive in his bright red Santa hat. He got a bit wiggly before the concert was over but did remarkably well, especially as we focused on his brother A. J.’s group performing.Everyone enjoyed the nice variety of seasonal tunes.

Wednesday started out clear and cold but as the day warmed a little bit Jim went out and loaded the pickup with some scrap aluminum, copper wire and other scrap metal. He strapped my bags of aluminum cans on top and we took a load to the recycler. It was nice to clear out an area under the tree near the cellar and make a little extra spending money. That night I cooked a pork roast, Jim baked potatoes and heated a can of butter beans and we had a delicious meal as we watched the Razorback basketball game.

Thursday morning was a little warmer and Jim went out to do some work on hispatio enclosure. I dropped in about noon at the Arvest Bank for their holiday open house and enjoyed a variety of tasty treats. I savored a second cup of sparkling fruit punch while visiting with Arvest customers and employees, then went by the library to return a book. From there I drove to the newspaper office where I met with our editor and ad manager to be photographed for our annual Christmas greeting. When I returned home I took advantage of the mild weather to burn our pile of fallen limbs. When the fire had died down I went in and helped Jim finish up a pot of oxtail stew for our supper.

I worked at the office a short time Friday morning before picking up a neighbor and driving to the Senior Center for our December J.G.T. Clubmeeting. Sister Nancy and her daughter came to put up our tree and stay with Mama while I attended the meeting and shared in the Center’s Christmas dinner. Aunt Leta and her caregiver came by while I was gone to bring a large bowl of fruit and soon another visitor arrived to deliver a small evergreen tree with snowman decoration from Uncle Holland and Aunt Mary. I also enjoyed receiving cards from a pen pal in California and friends who live west of town.

I took our recyclable items to the collection trailer before breakfast Saturday morning. It stayed cold and cloudy all day so we stayed inside and Jim watched TV while I wrapped a few gifts and wrote some Christmas letters. We visited the kids a short while in early afternoon for Matthew’sfifth birthday party but Jim returned home after he’d opened his gifts. I lingered to enjoy some cake and ice cream and listen to Alyssa read one of his new storybooks.

We made a trip to Southwest City Sunday morning and returned for a late breakfast. After breakfast we drove to Siloam to pick up a few supplies and did a load of laundry when we came home. We watched football games the rest of the evening and I hung a few new ornaments on the tree before I wrote my column.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Opinion, Pages 4 on 12/23/2009

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