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Gwin Paden: Christmas season was over too quickly

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Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014 12:00 am

I know better now than to start a column with a poem! The format that includes my picture disfigures the quotation so badly it hardly makes sense, and loses the effect of the rhyme and rhythm. Henceforth, better planning!

Here we are at the beginning of 2014, in a really uncertain state of affairs for just about everybody. All we can do is be and do our best and try to weather the storms — and there will be some — of all sorts. For those with faith in a higher power, the thought of protection and reassurance from that source will be a firm support indeed. Abraham Lincoln once said that he was often driven to his knees because there was no place else to go, and we all know the burdens he carried.

***

Christmas seemed to come and go so fast — faster than usual. But still there were the lights and the carols and songs with their uplifting beauty. A special event was the Stockton Symphony’s Christmas Pops concert, with the three Broadway tenors.

My daughters treated me to lunch and the concert, and it was very special, because I had been doubting that I would ever get to a live symphony concert again. My life is much more limited now than when Jack and I had season tickets and could climb to the last row of the balcony where sight and sound were best.

Thank goodness for the rails down all the aisles, because the slopes and steps are hazards to those of us “walking wounded” with bad balance. Atherton Auditorium needs an elevator — it always has. Someone wasn’t planning well.

***

Now comes the poem, William Wordsworth this time, the poet famous for acclaiming daffodils:

“The world is too much with us;

Late and soon

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:

Little we see in nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon.”

What occasioned this quotation was the tempest of shopping around and even on Thanksgiving Day. What is so important about STUFF that we can’t spend a happy day with family and friends, giving a little time for thanks for all that we have already? There are so many in the world who have nothing. Yes, generous charities function well, with money from most of us and cheerful help from fewer of us — blessed be they, but this has to do with our own gratitude and sense of what is really important.

And of course we give Christmas as the excuse for all the mall maladies and melees and madness (real anger). A peaceful exchange of gifts among family and friends is a good thing, even as times change from the homemade gift to the latest in portable electronic push-buttons, but should it be based on really un-Christmas-like attitudes? I hope next year comes back on balance. We can use the intermediate months for practicing.

***

Rich Hanner had some things to say recently about journalism and newspapers, with which I heartily concur. There is something about bringing people, in a neighborly way, the information about what they need to know from within their neighborhoods to within the country and the world. We need to be informed, and the local paper is often the best source for learning about what will affect us most directly.

For example, how many of us put our recycling bins and garbage bins out on the curb for regular pickup when we could have read in the News-Sentinel that pickups, as in last week, would be delayed a day because the drivers had New Year’s Day off, as they had Christmas Day?

Journalism used to be well thought of as an honorable profession, as was law. It’s been a long time since those days. Truth, ethics and honesty seem to be knocking on the door to, rather than being present in, the conference room or the newsroom.

There are always exceptions, thank goodness, and our local paper should not be included with the political toadies that the mass media has become. I always had a lively curiosity in my reporting days, and this, I think, is what keeps new reporters at it. They are always learning something that they want to pass on. But they can also learn to keep quiet until the time is right to divulge an accurate account. A reporter who is trusted by both his/her sources and the reading public is a valued person indeed.

***

I did not realize when I began this piece that it would be so philosophical (preachy?!!) but I’ll stand by it. The garden is really not worth commenting about right now, except that we do need to water because cold is drying and we are already too dry. Sincerely, conserve water in every way, even to using extra ice cubes in the bird bath, and see that your animals are warm and sheltered. If they won’t wear collars, like my cats, Geordie and Oliver, be sure they are chipped.

If you find a stray animal, take it to a veterinarian and have them search for a chip. This may lead to a happy reunion. A trucker brought a sweet little dachshund in to Oakwood and he was able to take the dog to its own home. An equally sweet little Pomeranian wasn’t so lucky. However, the lady who found her planned to keep searching for the dog’s home and was not just going to let her roam.

Blessed be finders who care. If you come across a stray or abused animal, do something to help. Animals depend on us; they need our care and kindness.

***

And one to end with: “A loving heart is the truest wisdom.” — Charles Dickens

As you may gather, Gwin Paden is a former reporter, teacher (Lodi High and Delta College), and WAC veteran. Women in the military are a subject worthy of future commentary!

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