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Merritt: We all need a little Christmas, right this very minute

I don’t know about you, but I need a little Christmas right this very minute. Heck, I’ve yearned for all things merry and bright for the past couple of years.

Maybe that’s the reason (I hate to admit) why I started watching Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” in October. OK, I’m not addicted to the candy cane characterizations, but I’ve been watching these predictable plots more this year than ever before. At least these shows have a happy ending.

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With the current feelings of political animosity, I believe a different tone has replaced our seasonal spirit. Why else would psychological experts be giving TV audiences tips on how to avoid full-blown arguments around the holiday table?

But enough of that.

There’s an abundance of crime — too sad to enumerate — and our environment is being pulverized by hurricanes, floods, and fires. But enough of that.

In addition, I’ve noticed too many inconsiderate drivers, including speeders, tailgaters, right-hand lane passers and those who don’t stop for school buses. Enough.

I feel guilty about liking the classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” though I’m not sure why. (Recently, the animated children’s classic has come under fire for the story that includes bullying and bigotry.) I always thought the plot illustrated a problem that was solved and lessons that were learned.

And now, I’m guilt-ridden by liking another classic, the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” also blasted — this time for sexist lyrics. Sorry, I’m failing to feel put-upon by what I see as romantic flirtation some 74 years ago.

Enough of that, too.

So, I’m hauling out the holly while thinking of all the good things that surround me and I’m glad to remind myself there are many.

I’m grateful for a healthy husband who has survived three serious health issues and for our two children and two grandsons who have been stalwart in their love and support.

I’m thankful for my old friends, some of whom I’ve known since high school. Others include our associations in our church and our former neighborhood where we raised our children, having established a deep friendship through Little League, school fairs, and watching our kids grow.

Paul and I have shared history with those old friends who know us pretty well and stick by us —despite our flaws — no matter what.

We all need that special friend who listens and supports us faithfully and I’ve got one of those, too, for whom I’m extremely grateful.

New friends took on a new meaning after having moved from our former homes. They filled in the gap of old friendships and we got to know each other — little by little — through neighborhood meetings, social gatherings, and walking their dogs. They stopped being new friends, also sticking by us — despite our flaws — no matter what.

But I know there’s a lot of good in strangers, as well. A spry, 93-year-old friend, who sometimes eats alone at her favorite place, told me that more than once someone has paid for her meal.

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And little things mean a lot, like friendly banter from people who are waiting in a long, holiday line, despite their aching feet. Or, the sales clerk who good-naturedly pumps out a gift receipt for each of some 20 items, expressing holiday cheer as she goes along.

I’m in awe of the number of good things people do by volunteering countless hours for the county’s soup kitchens, food pantries, and shelters.

The scene of woolen mittens and scarves hanging on trees along Westminster’s Main Street last year — meant for those who needed them — is still a warm memory.

Who can resist the plight of the bundled-up bell ringers who stand outside a retail store — usually in the bitter cold — during the Christmas season, hoping to collect donations for The Salvation Army?

I also appreciate the paperman who consistently delivers our paper — through rain, hail, snow and fog — during the wee hours of the morning, managing to toss it from his truck to the edge of our front door.

More recently, a feel-good story emerged on several TV networks about the man who gave up his first-class seat to a young mother who was struggling with her baby (who was connected to oxygen), a diaper bag, and luggage as she navigated toward her economy seat in the back section of the plane.

When the flight attendant told the woman about the kind gesture, the mother was quoted as having said she cried out of gratitude while walking toward the traded seat in the front section of the aircraft.

The list of good things done by good people goes on and on.

At last, I’ve trimmed the tree, filled up the stockings, strung the lights and brightly lit candles are in my windows.

With nine days to go, and a grateful heart, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

I wish you, my faithful readers, all that is good during this holiday season and into the new year.

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