So here it is - the last column before Christmas and the last for 2008. Time to get in a Christmas stocking full of various bits and pieces, enjoyable, I hope.
Down in the toe there is usually something tasty and enjoyable that gives balance to whatever else may be above. In this Christmas stocking, it is a recent conversation I had with Lisa Harp, and the wonderful things she is doing to help struggling students learn. She deals with them one on one, and takes all factors into consideration, physical, emotional, intellectual.
What I think is really important is that she wakens them to the realization that they have an imagination and teaches them how to use it. Too many children get only the products of other people's imaginations - TV, movies, electronics of all sorts. Reading is the way out of this wilderness. I encourage all parents, grandparents, child care people, etc: GET YOUR CHILDREN READING. It is the greatest gift you can give.
Next is a little package of fall memories of trees I can't put a name to, but Joyce Harmon and Vern Weigum surely can. They are medium-sized trees with rather heart-shaped leaves which turn all sorts of harlequin colors, and when the wind blows, they fairly twinkle. They are all over town. I know they are not liquid ambers! A memory of a twinkling harlequin tree is a gift to cherish.
Now some little tidbits from here and there, like a Whitman's sampler box of candy. From a little book called, "The Comfort of Cats," these gems:
The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated. - Mahatma Gandhi.
"I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being." - Abraham Lincoln.
If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you have men who deal likewise with their fellow men. - St. Francis of Assisi. (St. Francis was writing several hundred years ago. Had he been writing in our time, he would have included women as well as men!)
And from a little book of readings called, "Forward Day by Day," these gifts that are not the kind generally included in a Christmas stocking, but add a special kind of comfort:
"Faith offers us a foundation for withstanding life's storms, not a haven where storms do not happen."
"The difference between chaos and creativity is that creativity has a norm to which it returns. Chaos does not. Be creative, not chaotic."
We are going forward toward a Christmas which may not be all that warm and happy for too many of us, and into a year of great unknowns. The gifts we all need are kindness and compassion, and the assurance that it will all come right in the end. I hope for these for all of you. Merry Christmas!
Gwin Paden has had her finger in a number of community pies since arriving here in 1957, including teaching, news reporting, and involvement in numerous organizations.