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December 24, 1998

'Twas the night before Christmas, when desperate but procrastinating husbands frantically search for a store that's still open so they can select the one and only gift they have to buy…when Grandma and Grandpa scour closet shelves for those new toys for the grandkids which they stashed last summer in a safe but now forgotten location…when Dad struggles desperately with all the myriad parts scattered over the carpet as he tries to put together that item with the "Some Assembly Required" notation in small print...when you remember that you failed to send a Christmas card to dear Aunt Fanny...when frazzled housewives finally shut down the kitchen and try to relax before the family arrives from over the river and through the hills...when all of us turn our thoughts toward Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas future.

The music of this season is so wonderful and inspirational...it should leave no doubt in anyone's mind about the hand of a divine being taking part in the works of mere humans ...mortals, even the geniuses, by themselves do not have the capability of creating such glorious sounds, but the Master's leading helps them to produce the magnificent Christmas carols and traditional hymns of praise...a personal favorite is the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's "Messiah," but there are so many more to savor.

I hope your Christmas is bright in every way. The true meaning of this season tends to become lost in the gifts we exchange, but those are just symbolic of the gift each of us has already received through the birth of Jesus Christ. Nothing can equal that, not the biggest package with the most beautiful wrapping and ribbons. Ponder that as you give thanks for the bounty of this life. Reflect on it all year long.

Citizens of our town have much to cause rejoicing...like, a stable economy and our major employer, the Charles Machine Works, Inc., the very model and essence of a beneficent neighbor. How do you say "Thanks" for something like that? Add to that our fine and diverse churches with their dedicated leaders, schools, medical facilities, honest and capable authorities in local government, and a forward-looking business community, and we see a panoroma of excellence that makes our life enjoyable.

So, on this Christmas Eve of 1998, we embrace one another and express our love for the beautiful elements of the season, and the magnificence of the blessings bestowed upon us despite our unworthy nature, and most of all for the One whose birth we now celebrate. Merry Christmas to all!