Archive for Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Shouts and murmurs: Holiday lights in different shades

December 8, 2004

Tonganoxie is in the Christmas spirit.

The official Christmas tree at VFW Park was lit last week, accompanied by carols sung by youngsters and Santa riding in on a red 1929 Roadster pickup truck. Throughout town, decorations are appearing in front of houses and on businesses. And downtown, this week, many business owners along Fourth Street are lighting the trees in front of their businesses.

At our house, the elves have not yet finished their work. There is much to do before Christmas Day arrives, complete with all the trimmings and a family gathering.

As children prepare for their church Christmas programs, their halos are being brought up to shape and Christmas roles and the words to songs are memorized with enthusiasm.

And of course, Santa dear will be visiting plenty of grade school classrooms in the coming weeks, giving kids one more chance to voice their wishes.

It's a wonderful time of year for those who can celebrate.

But for those who can't -- those who are unable to afford the celebration, those who can't buy groceries to cook a holiday dinner, let alone buy gifts for their children -- Christmas is not much fun.

Fortunately and thanks to the generosity of area residents, said Jean Person, who volunteers at the Good Shep-herd Thrift Shop and Food Pantry, all but one of the families that had signed up for Christmas gifts had been adopted, and she expected that that one would be adopted soon.

Pearson said the charity is still in need of Christmas baskets -- which would include groceries for a Christmas dinner. Food items such as a ham or a turkey, potatoes, flour and sugar -- whatever it would take to cook a Christmas dinner -- are welcome.

Donors are invited to bring in complete gift baskets -- decorated and filled, or ready to be filled. And, she said, some givers find it more convenient to buy grocery store gift cards, which the thrift shop workers give to the families to buy their own groceries.

Though as of Tuesday, families had been taken care of for Christmas gifts, Pearson said it's likely more requests will come in.

"I imagine we'll have a few yet this week, because we usually do," Pearson said.

The holiday season can be an especially difficult time for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The belief that he or she may have "left this world for a better place" is little comfort when you sit down for Christmas dinner and a seat at the table is no longer filled. Anyone who has ever felt driven to make a Christmas-day visit to a cemetery knows all too well that nothing -- not even the happiest of memories or the brightest season of the year -- can take the place of a loved one.

This year, even in the Tonganoxie area, we have more parents, spouses, children and friends wondering when someone will be coming home from war or other military service. For them, the Christmas Eve television watch for Santa's sleigh takes a giant backseat to world news.

We hope their news is good news, that they get the phone calls that comfort them, and that soon their loved ones will arrive home safely.

Meanwhile, in our little city of Tonganoxie, the holiday season's lights are shining brightly. As they always have. And, we pray, as they always will.

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