To The Point 12-26-13

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THE CHRISTMAS SEASON IS finally upon us and whether you’re reading this on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day or you finally got some time after the holidays to look through the Vevay Newspaper, let me personally wish you a Merry Christmas.

I don’t know if 2013 has been a good year or a bad year for you. If you’re like me, you can find both good and bad spread over the past 12 months, but at this time of the year, I encourage you to see the positives that happened. It seems that we live in a world today which always wants to see the glass as half empty, but maybe for this holiday season we can turn that around a bit.

With Christmas we always think of children, and it’s important that our kids have a wonderful, magical experience during these holidays.

Here in Switzerland County, Santa gets a big help from Dianna South and the other ‘elves’ that help with the Angel Tree program. These aren’t easy times for many families, and when you’re a parent and you’re choosing between electricity and the rent and food on the table or Christmas presents for your children – it’s a choice that none of us would ever want to make.

But caring and loving and dedicated people like Dianna have decided to help ease that burden. For months they’ve been working and coordinating and planning; making sure that parents who needed some help this Christmas season got that help, and because of it, our children are having a better day.

Dianna is the type of person who will read this and blush because she doesn’t seek the spotlight. She does it because she cares and she’s willing to put that caring into action.

Someone once said, “Imagine how much we could accomplish if no one cared who got the credit”. Well, Dianna South doesn’t care that she may or may not get the credit, and through her selflessness, this community got a whole lot done.

There’s also a lot of food going out of the Vevay American Legion Post, as the I & M Power Plant folks from Lawrenceburg continued their tradition of delivering tons of food to the legion post here, all of which got divided out and distributed to needy families all around the county.

Over at LifeTime Resources, over the past few years I’ve come to learn about a special kind of Angel Tree program.

As I wrote earlier, much of our focus is on children at this time of the year, but at LifeTime, a program is organized to provide presents for senior citizens in this area at Christmas.

There are many senior citizens all around our community who won’t get a Christmas present or a phone call or a visit this holiday season. They either don’t have any family to come and visit; or their families are too busy to come. Either way, December 25th should not just be like any other day for anyone.

I’m betting that each of us knows a senior citizen, or has someone living near us, who doesn’t seem to have a lot of company. They need something more valuable than your present this holiday, they need your time.

I know you’re busy, but find 30 minutes to go over and knock on the door and simply say ‘hello and Merry Christmas’. You’re going to be surprised how happy you can make someone simply by listening to them.

It’s a great gift, and it won’t cost you anything but time.

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As we approach the end of 2013; it’s also strange to think that we are nearing the halfway point of the second decade of the 21st Century. After anxiously awaiting Y2K and all of the confusion that the year 2000 was supposed to bring, suddenly we look into the “rear view mirror” of our lives and see that nearly 15 years in the past.

The tragic events of September 11th, 2001 will forever live in our memories, but isn’t it strange to think that it’s been more than a dozen years since that day?

Suddenly, buying a 2000 car doesn’t seem like such a good deal, because it’s over a decade old now - more if you consider that some automakers are bringing their 2015 models to the showroom.

As for 2013, it has been a year of change for many of us.

Our community has lost some foundational, important and influential people during this past year. To list them is to list everyone, and that will happen in next week’s issue, because – to family and friends – every death brings devastation.

For me, the losses of 2013 start with two people whom I knew professionally and personally.

Many of you don’t know Mary Goode Wallis. Her husband, Don Wallis, Sr., was the publisher and owner of The Madison Courier and also Vevay Newspapers until his passing in 1989. Mrs. Wallis was a kind and gentle and loving soul, the type of person who had the ability to make each person whom she came into contact with feel special and important and loved.

Every milestone here at Vevay Newspapers resulted in a personal note from Mrs. Wallis, congratulating us on our awards or accomplishments, or simply to say thank you for the hard work we put in each week.

She never saw the need to involve herself in the day to day operations of the business, but she was a steady and guiding beacon, not only professionally, but she was the type of person that each and everyone of us should strive to emulate.

She is missed.

If you’re a ‘old timer’ around here and you subscribed to The Madison Courier, then you probably remember Graham Taylor.

The longtime sports editor, and then the managing editor, of The Madison Courier, Graham’s column “On Sports”, was not only a priceless treasure of sports information, but it also set a standard for future generations of journalists to follow. I don’t attend a basketball game that I don’t think of Graham at some point, because he always took the time to mentor the new guys like me (30 years ago), pointing out things that could be better or a quote that should be added.

As great a coworker as he was, he was an even better friend; so, in his honor:

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Here in Switzerland County, 2013 saw the passing of Judy Dickerson, beloved in the Patriot community and all around the county; Vandora Bennett, longtime community correspondent for Vevay Newspapers; Millie Coy, a fixture in Vevay and in county politics; and Mary Lou Chase, whose smiling face greeted thousands of students over the years as they got their lunch each day.

East Enterprise lost icons like Judy Rieman and Janice Furnish. I think of Janice at this time of the year because of her peanut butter fudge; and her home was an anchor of the community on most holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas; and her devotion to former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight always made me smile.

Here in Vevay, we lost Keith Oeffinger much too soon, and a community continues to support his wife and daughters; and just recently Ron Hocker left us – a man of vision and commitment and passion for the community that he loved.

To that list we can all add many more. Not being included here doesn’t make their passing any less significant, or any less painful. In next week’s edition we will memorialize all of those who passed away; but these are just a few of those special to me.

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Since is the last issue before Christmas Day (the dateline actually falls the day after Christmas, but early printing brings it to you before the holiday), I also want to share something with you that has become somewhat of a tradition with me.

For the past few weeks we’ve all been running around and keeping a frantic pace in our efforts to find just the right present for each and every person on our list. We go into stores and our met with “Happy Holidays”, so we don’t offend other shoppers; and, the truth be told – there’s not much ‘happy’ to them at that point.

But on a personal level I always try and take time each day to stop, pause, and remember why we celebrate December 25th. As I always say, for those who may not consider themselves to be “religious” people, it is not my intention to “preach” at you; but rather to simply share the true account of the Christmas holiday.

It comes from a man named Luke, who was a physician, so he was rather meticulous with writing down each specific and important detail.

In the second chapter of his Gospel, Luke shares with each of us the true “Reason for the Season”:

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

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Merry Christmas to each and every one of you, and may the true joy of this season remain with you throughout the year.