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December 26, 1997

Ah yes. Comes now December 26th, the day after Christmas. No more stress from scurrying around, looking for last-minute gifts, or getting the decorations in place, or frenzied preparations for the family dinner, or trying to compose meaningful phrases for each Christmas card before mailing, or concern that all those gifts will be acceptable to the recipients, or attending the various parties and programs that fill this season, and so on, ad infinitum, ad nausea. It's the welcome lull after the storm in most households. Your own schedule may be different.

Now the shredded remains of gaudy tissue and bits of ribbon litter the floor, toys and other geegaws seem to be everywhere, and attention turns to cleaning up the messes, exchanging the wrong sizes for what we really wear, taking down decorative lights, wreaths, and so forth, and just generally settling back into the pre-Christmas routine. But the day after Christmas is mostly a time to relax, let it all hang out, and enjoy the visits with relatives and friends who we see too infrequently during the year. So, we welcome December 26th and the opportunity it provides for a few moments of relaxation.

In Perry, we have many reasons to be joyful at this time of year. My own informal survey shows that local retailers are uniformly happy with the sale of Christmas merchandise. Without exception, each one questioned happily responded that Perry area shoppers seem to be pleased with the local selection of suggested gifts for the entire family. Seemingly they recognize the fact that traveling to other towns in search of "bargains" is a fallacy because of the additional expense required for gasoline, higher sales taxes, and other incidentals. That's reassuring because our local businesses are really trying to provide the selection that YOU want, and the sales tax money produced here benefits this community, not Stillwater, Enid, Ponca City or Oklahoma City. Thank you to all who shopped locally!

Residents of Perry are uniquely blessed by the mere fact of living here. This is true, whatever the season, but it is most obvious at Christmas. Dozens of local families were recipients of warm clothing, toys for children and other holiday essentials, even including a hot meal, thanks to the generosity of individuals and countless organizations who demonstrated the true meaning of Christmas by sharing their love with some of their more needy neighbors. Much of this was coordinated through the Noble county office of the state Department of Human Services. That agency provided the names and basic information about families who might otherwise have faced a bleak Christmas.

I know many clubs make Christmas baskets an annual project, and for the most part they do it anonymously. Likewise, countless individuals "adopt" a family and provide a complete package of food, clothing and gifts. Many churches have programs for this, and I know that two of them take over the responsibility of delivering Meals on Wheels to Perry homes on Thanksgiving and Christmas so that those who deliver them regularly can have the day off. None of these folks are wanting special recognition for their efforts because they are motivated by the love of Christ, and not by the quest for any glory for themselves.

Several years ago, this newspaper assumed the responsibility of coordinating baskets for the needy at Thanksgiving and Christmas and compiled names of deserving families, but the project became overwhelming and the DHS was happy to take it over. I can still remember the wondering looks of those who received the assistance at those special times of the year, and then the unspoken thanks that came from the faces of little ones who were expecting nothing, literally, for Christmas. I'm thankful we live in small town where such favors are granted and received with equal parts of grace and respect. Merry December 26th, everyone!