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I’ve been blessed in my nearly 25 year-career to be able to meet and write about some interesting people.
I feel it is an honor to be invited into peoples’ homes and lives in this community to tell some amazing stories.
I’ve been writing columns for more than 20 years, which means I’ve written quite a few about Christmas.
As I recently glanced back through previous issues, I saw columns I had written about my love of snowmen, one about hitting Rudolph a couple of years ago, about Santa’s Wonderland and Shop With A Cop.
Each year the News staff tries to come up with a different kind of Christmas story idea. Once, I even interviewed an inmate at the Grant County Detention Center about what it was like to spend Christmas behind bars.
This year, as we’ve done in the past, we asked readers to write or call us with story ideas about their family traditions or how they might celebrate the holidays, which is how I got a call from Betty Hausberger telling me about four plus generations of her family who gather together to exchange handmade gifts.
This tradition has been ongoing for nearly 30 years. Betty invited me to come and experience the event and I’m so glad she did. You can read the story on the front page of this issue.
I made my way to Amanda Eldridge’s home in Crittenden and wondered if I would know any of the women. I was completely surprised when I arrived and discovered that I knew most of them and had no idea they were all related.
They immediately made me feel welcome. As a reporter, I’m trained to observe and then write about those observations. I began “working” the room by taking photos of the ladies catching up on each other’s lives, viewing all the beautifully handmade decorations and simply enjoying being in the presence of each other.
It wasn’t long, though, until they “forced” me to put down my camera and join them for a delicious lunch.
After lunch came the much-anticipated gift exchange. These ladies laughed, teased, aggravated, grinned, swapped gifts and showed me a glimpse of the love and respect they have for each other. It wasn’t about the gifts but all about a family who enjoys being together.
They even showered me with goodies to take home. They really made me feel apart of their holiday.
There are plenty of stories that I write that I don’t really enjoy because they are about people hurting through tragedy or bad times, but that’s part of my job to keep the community informed about the happenings in and around the area, especially when it involves Grant County people.
But, this story was so much fun and those ladies really got me to do some thinking about Christmas.
Christmas really shouldn’t be about all the fancy packages and the most expensive gifts. It should be focused on celebrating the birth of Christ, the best gift we could ever receive along with his gift of forgiveness and salvation.
Christmas should be about spending TIME, not money, with family and friends. It should be about kindness and understanding in a world that doesn’t seem to have much of either at times.
My challenge to myself and to the rest of you is simply to focus on what’s really important in your life and to find ways to help others who are in need and hurting, even if it’s just a kind word or a card that tells someone you are thinking about them.
May Grant County have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.
(Jamie Baker-Nantz is editor of the Grant County News. She can be reached at 859-824-3343 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)