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From the Publisher's Desk – Gifts unwrapped all year long (Dec. 24, 2014 issue)

Whether you read this column before or after Dec. 25, I hope it is, or has been, a wonderful Christmas for you and your family. It seems the older I get, the less I want and the more thankful I become for what I have.
There is something magical about this time of year. It’s not the gifts. It’s not the Santas on every corner and in every shop of the mall. It’s not the decorations and the lights that make the most spectacular showing.
For me it is the ultimate gift of the Christ Child who experienced life first-hand and offered us all, the greatest gift in salvation through his birth, death and resurrection. That gift is what makes the season magical. My social calendar for December revolves mostly around church activities.
At Erwin Presbyterian, an enormous tree is brought into the sanctuary and decorated. Poinsettias in memory of and in honor of loved ones adorn the wall behind the choir. Beautiful stained glass windows hold candles and holly in their window seats.
All of this sets the stage, but the fellowship and love of the people, made possible through the love of Jesus, is what lights up the season. I love the cantata, Christmas play, candlelight service and gatherings among church people.
This year, after the cantata, we gathered at the home of Doug and Sarah Shults for a wonderful time of delicious finger foods combined with the warmth of hospitality and friends. What could be better?
The last few Christmases have left me with no “wish list.” Of all the options out there, I can’t think of a single thing I want or need. It’s quite remarkable to find myself there. It is also a reminder of how blessed I am.
Now, that is not to say that I wouldn’t like to fix up my backyard, do some upgrades in the kitchen and bathroom or take a trip. But, these things don’t weigh on my mind or show any form of urgency.
For me, Christmas is not found in natural gifts that I can put my hands on. Christmas is in the people around me, the church, the community, the many friends that I have. It is being blessed with another Christmas to share with my mom and go around visiting family, one by one.
I am thankful for the staff here at The Erwin Record. We spend many tireless hours together throughout the year in a hard working, but relaxed atmosphere. I am blessed to have them to handle each capacity that they do here. I worry about each of them as if they were my immediate family. I celebrate their ups and try to comfort and listen when they are down.
They do the same for me. There have been many times this year where they have looked out for me. They endure my corny jokes and tasteless humor as well.
I am thankful for the gift of leading this newspaper for the past few years. What an honor it is to present news to our current readers and document articles for future generations to learn from.
I am honored to write, from the heart, the words in this column each week and find that it touches someone else in the community who can relate to it. I truly appreciate all of your wonderful comments throughout the years. I may hear complaints about the fact that we wrote about this and didn’t write about that, but I never get complaints about my personal views on religion or life expressed here.
I appreciate that, in a struggling time and with a small staff, we can be a profitable newspaper for our owners. For our size, we often out perform the others in our group.
My philosophy has been to care and show that I care. I love our community and I have many friends in our readership. I have truly tried my best to see that we report fairly and unbiased.
I am thankful for the gift of my health. It isn’t what it used to be, but it sure could be a lot worse. I had some sick moments throughout this past year that helped remind me how good it is when I feel good and that I should not take that for granted.
Tuesday night my mom and I shared a meal with family at Choo Choo Cafe. It’s not as easy any more to cook a big meal at home. It’s not even easy to settle on a date and time that will work for everyone involved, but we managed to find the time once again this year.
Christmas isn’t the hoopla it was as a child when all the family would gather at my grandparents’ home. Nowadays I don’t have dozens of unopened gift surprises under the tree. In fact, I am usually along when the gift is purchased, therefore we don’t go to the effort of wrapping it at home.
I don’t have my dear, sweet grandparents or several of my aunts and uncles, who are now deceased, to share in the magic of the season. But, I do have many fond memories to reflect back on. Each Christmas has been unique and each has been special.
I have the moment and that moment is a gift in itself. It is a gift that I may not get to share in quite the same way next year. I don’t want to just brush it aside and rush on to the next thing. I want to stop and be thankful that Christmas is all that it is. The reason for the season is still the same. The wish list has changed and the gifts as well. Now, the gifts I value most are those that can’t be purchased.
Merry Christmas to all.