Ah, yes, the joy of the Christmas season in our area of rural America, with several small cites, hills, valleys and lake plains. In our southwestern region of New York state, most everyone knows their neighbors, and neighborly they are! There is a concern for each other, and a joy in sharing ... sharing whatever is needful, be it goods, services or greetings. Therein is the joy of this holiday season!
"'Tis the season!" The brisk wintry season is at the threshold and the crisp temperatures are knocking at our doors. But the cold breezes on the outside are moderated by the warmth of peoples' hearts on the inside. This is a season to rejoice, to renew contacts with friends, and to bring joy to those who are in need of friendship. To be sure, there is the normal hustle and bustle and last-minute things to do. For children and for some adults, the waiting time seems to move so slowly, and for others, the time seems to move too quickly. But, on the face of it, most of us seem to enjoy the busy holiday spirit just as it is.
As with the lives of many of our friends and neighbors, young and old, there is the feeling of anticipation. And then, there are some in our midst who at this time of the year seem to feel the burden of loneliness. And yet, you know, one never needs to feel alone. There are many around you and near you who are waiting for that special greeting of warmth just for and from you. Most of us, if not all, have experienced the "joyous ups" and the "lonely downs." We know the joy which comes from giving and we know, too, the need to receive the gift of a friendly greeting. We know the pleasure of helping to fulfill the cherished needs of others, as others have so kindly done for us. Will you join us in this holiday "gift wish" for others?
For the children, we ask that they be given a gentle hand of encouragement. For the teenagers, we ask they be given a special measure of attentiveness so they may know the dignity of sharing hope with others. For the adults in our midst, we ask they be given strength, patience, and love so to be a source of thoughtful guidance and serve as exemplified role models of virtue. For those who are grieving, may they find comfort in the warm memories of their loved ones now past and so appreciate how rich they are that their lives were joined, if for only a short time. For those who are lonely, we ask they may find the joy in giving warmth and cheer to others and thus, both the giver and the receiver will be abundantly blessed.
For all those who, with such genuine dedication and unselfish commitment, serve our community in numerous ways, we extend "grateful appreciation." And especially to our health providers, the law enforcement agencies, fire department, ambulance and emergency personnel, human service volunteers, other first responders and care givers ... may each of them know the warmth of sincere gratitude felt by an appreciative and thankful public.
For the men and women of our armed forces who sacrifice their lives for us, we are supremely thankful. We ask they be given a special measure of encouragement and support and receive a special "thank you" from a grateful and humble people. And to the leaders of our Country, we ask they may be blessed with the insight, virtue, and discernment of wisdom, so to have the character and the determination to effectively lead a willing, dedicated, and thankful people.
To all, it is our hope that truth and justice may prevail in a world free of tyranny. May the year 2014 be filled with joy and may PEACE prevail and freedom ring out for all to hear. This is a joyous season of giving. For the yesterdays are a precious memory, the tomorrows are an opportunity to give, but TODAY ... ah, yes, today ... that is a special time when we can share the gift which lasts for all seasons. And so ... throughout our neighboring hills, valleys, meadows and lake plains ... may the glorious resounding of neighborly voices be heard with a Merry Christmas to ALL, and to ALL a blessed New Year!
Dr. Robert L. Heichberger is professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Fredonia and distinguished professor at Capella University. He is an award winning author. All of the past columns can be viewed on www.fromourperspective.net/ Send comments to: Rheich@aol.com