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Some gifts are given all through the year

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By Lee Helscel

It’s Christmastime and the cultural mix that has become America is caught up in a celebration of life and hope. Not everyone participates – but most do – even those who aren’t very religious. We think of others and what may make them happy – whether it is a special present or the simple gift of food to those who don’t have much.

We think of our neighbors, and more often than any other time of year we may even exchange greetings with a stranger on the street. The traditional sending of holiday cards – Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and others – brings annual news from family and friends.

We are approaching the end of the year as the winter solstice has just passed and another of nature’s cycles is complete. The coming of the new year is only a week after Christmas and the spirit of all the holiday celebrations around new beginnings seem to be shared by all beliefs and cultures.

Its is also a time when, through gifts and other symbolic gestures, we show family and friends that we love them or appreciate how their presence in our lives makes the world a better place for us.

At the Citizen, we have an assortment of friends who make the Corridor a better place for their friends and neighbors. This year’s Christmas list tallied about 20 very individual residents who write regular columns for the approximately 15,000 households we are able to distribute the paper to.

All year long these writers devote a generous amount of time to collecting and composing the goings-on in their neighborhoods. These community columnists work to bring news of social activities, entertainment, fundraisers, personal adventures and milestones to their neighbors.

They help the grassroots groups and organizations promote the dances, potluck suppers, pancake breakfasts, tournaments and charity benefits to make them successful. The organizers and volunteers who work to book the entertainers, cook the grub, and set up and clean up the halls, get a pat on the back through the community columns, as well.

Others write about politics, finance, health and nutrition, entertainment, the library, homeless pets and goodness knows what else. And the specialty writers devote a lot of effort researching their passions. But one of the amazing things is that only a few have ever been writers.

They use their own words, much in the same way they would talk to a neighbor over a cup of coffee. What they cover isn’t directed by editorial board brainstorming or journalistic theory – yet it works.

They give voice to the community as they pass on the news of who is doing what on a neighbor-to-neighbor basis. And in doing what they do, they give part of themselves to the community. Some of what they write is predictable but each week, almost without fail, somebody manages to bring a little surprise to the readers.

So each Friday is a bit like Christmas morning – open the package, search through it, and there is a little surprise for the reader – from one of the neighbors. What they do comes from the heart as all of them share a love of community and a desire to make it a better place to live.

Thank you, one and all, for all the hard work, pride and determination you put into each column. What you give to the community is a unique gift to the community.

During this special season – merry Christmas and happy holidays to all the writers and readers in the Corridor.