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December 24, 1996

Greetings to one and all on this eve of the day when we celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ, the redeemer of all mankind and the blessed son of God our father. As we light the final taper on the advent wreath and ponder the meaning of this holy season, a few special salutations come to mind.

Warmest holiday wishes to volunteers everywhere who go about their duties driven only by a compulsion to serve their neighbors and with no thought of any kind of personal reward. Among many others, we say "thank you," ladies who "do hair" at the nursing homes week after week, providing the residents there with a necessary service. A tip of the hat, also, to those who organize and administer Perry's United Fund, and appreciation to those who contribute financially to this broad-based alliance of charitable agencies.

A salute, too, to both the professional staff and the unpaid workers at the Noble County Family YMCA who provide this community with a unique, healthful facility that refreshes and strengthens our physical and spiritual needs. Here's a round of applause for the sanitation workers who pick up our garbage and trash even on holidays. Likewise, grateful recognition to the young men and women who deliver the newspapers to our door each day, including those early Sunday and weekday distributions by dawn's early light.

Huzzah now to the stockers and carry-out people at our local supermarkets, and a measure of the same for clerks everywhere who greet visitors with a cheery "hello" throughout the year. To the servers and the dish washers at the various places where we dine on occasion, please accept our "much obliged." We pay a special tribute to ALL the underpaid and unrecognized individuals among us because many of them choose those roles as an avenue of service to mankind. Kudos to the diligent and anonymous men and women who handle the innumerable chores needed to keep things going at Head Start, Operation Blessing, the Noble county chapter of the Association of Retarded Citizens, Wheatheart Nutrition Center, Senior Citizens Center, the soup kitchen at the United Methodist church, and other similar functions.

Commendations herewith to our doctors, nurses, medical specialists, technicians, hospital staff members and others in the health care field who do their best to keep us hale and hearty with tender, loving and expert care. Special tribute now to our local representatives of the U.S. Postal Service for their fearless delivery of Christmas cards along with the avalanche of catalogs, magazine subscription solicitations, phony premium prize winner notifications, other junk mail and the legitimate loads of first class mail all year long. Appreciation also to the polite and helpful clerks who sell stamps and otherwise serve patrons at the post office counter.

Overdue accolades to those on school boards everywhere, those men and women who do their jobs because they have a sense of responsibility. Similar recognition to the stressed-out but undaunted administrators and teachers, who face problems of discipline not even imagined a few generations ago. And let us not forget the school bus drivers who also deal with youthful control difficulties as they guide their vehicles loaded with precious cargo along rural roads.

We offer richly deserved praise to the Perry Carnegie Library staff and their resource people, and similar honors to the men and women who serve us at the courthouse offices, City Hall, and -- not to forget -- the meter readers who trudge along streets and alleys while trying to avoid unleashed, angry-looking neighborhood pets. Included also in this adulation are the elected officials at the city and county level, but not excluding all those in public service wherever they labor. May their careers be crowned with appropriate laurels when the time to exit arrives.

Some others have earned our esteem, so let us keep in mind the police officers, sheriffs officers and highway patrol troopers, who day by day and night by night see the seamy side of life that most of us know nothing about. We also celebrate the vigilant men at the fire station who stand ready to serve 24 hours a day, and that includes emergency medical treatment in city ambulances when that is required. All of us now pay honor to those who serve Perry Main Street, the Perry Development coalition, the Chamber of Commerce, and all similar organizations working to move this community forward. Let us not overlook the people of Stagecoach Community Theatre, who deserve curtain calls and SRO signs for their tireless efforts to bring us wholesome entertainment through "live" performances. Enthusiastic encores also to our aptly named Gold Tones for their zestful songs of the season all year round.

Worthy of our holiday honors are the members of the Perry Ministerial Alliance, the countless number of church officers, Christian youth and education workers, Sunday school teachers, choirs and their directors, church staffs, and, of course, the faithful congregations. Employees of the local office of the Department of Human Service and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation look after our needs but are seldom rewarded with a personal greeting. To them, too, "thank you."

Working moms and housewives somehow manage to operate a family taxi service, conjure up nutritious meals, wash and iron our clothes, keep the house in order, decorate for Christmas and other holidays through the year, measure out just the right amount of the precise type of medicine needed to make us feel better, organize a family calendar, correspond with family members (including in-laws) everywhere, soothe our ruffled dispositions when we need it most, and who knows what else -- they deserve our admiration and respect at the very least.

Finally, though this listing is incomplete, we laud a few special folks: Ed and Mary, for being all they are to this community; the fabulous folks in the still-growing Ditch Witch family; the new management team and the men and women who staff The Perry Daily Journal as they strive to bring us an accounting of interesting local happenings; a special thank you from this columnist to my indispensable Roget's Thesaurus; and last, but most assuredly not least, greetings and "thank you" to Northwest Corner readers, whose contributions of ideas and encouragement compel me to keep on going on. To each of you, and to all those not included in this roundup -- peace, health, prosperity and the joy of the season in great abundance.