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Ellen Emery

The last time I shared my thoughts through this column was a few days before Christmas.

At that time, I noted the wonderful “things” that had brought joy into my life — Christmas cards and greetings from family and friends, the music of the season, candles, shimmering lights and bright colored coffee mugs. All of those things still bring joy, but a Dec. 24 column written by Editorial Page Editor Jerry Moore made me think twice about the importance of “things.”

The column titled “How Does Santa define ‘good’?” was a terrific read, insightful and definitely thought provoking — which I guess is the purpose of an opinion column. As Editor Moore shared thoughts on Santa’s definition of those on the “good” list, he mentioned Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” and Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” It was the quote from the column that expanded my thinking on Christmas joy this year.

As Editor Moore described the story line of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the reader is told: “Christmas joy isn’t about having things; it’s about being together.” How true that statement is, especially this year.

Just before Christmas, The Gardener and I traveled (with our feline friend, Tigger) downstate for Christmas with our family. The last trip southward to the home of our family was in December 2019.

We have visited with our grandchildren and their parents by phone, notes on cards and text messages and delightful moments over FaceTime. How special it was to see one another — the hugs were warmer and tighter than ever before and truly meant more after the lapsed time of no contact.

Hearing the laughter of family and sitting across the table during dinner was the ultimate Christmas joy. How grateful we were that this year that fully vaccinated family members could be together.

Yes, I agree with the statement by Editor Moore: “Christmas joy [especially this year] … is about being together.”

If your family lives nearby and you are able to visit in person, treasure that time. And treasure time spent with friends — safely. We must still be cautious and follow the guidelines of the medical professionals with vaccines, boosters and testing now part of our lives.

I believe that after the last year, we realize how much being together means. A smile through a mask across the seafood counter touches my heart now and a smile through a drive-through window expresses a moment of gratitude, but a hug from our grandchildren brings the ultimate joy.


Sandra, a faithful column reader and weekly “visitor” over coffee, will celebrate her birthday Thursday. I look forward to her column comments (I learned recently that she, too, loves Handel’s “Messiah”) and am now looking forward to visiting together over coffee on a Wednesday morning. She is extremely talented — her flower garden beds and flower arrangements in the community are absolutely wonderful.

Have a terrific birthday, Sandra. Enjoy!


My joy on Thursday was found at the Dunkin’ drive-through window in the Speedway Plaza. With the weather forecast indicating we should stay at home the next few days and my coffee supply nearly depleted, there was a trip to the end of our road to purchase my coffee supply for a stay-at-home weekend.

Earlier in the day, I had been told the coffee I needed would arrive in the afternoon. Perhaps I could stop after 5 p.m., the morning clerk had said.

When I stopped at the window that afternoon, the young woman had my coffee in readiness. It wasn’t her efficiency in filling my order that touched my heart, though; it was her kindness.

The young woman was so helpful, caring and friendly. She went beyond the dictates of her job as she made sure my order for the day was complete.

And for that I am most grateful. Yes, the woman at Dunkin’ on a Thursday afternoon gave me great joy. The north country is definitely a marvelous place to live — and purchase ground coffee.


The young man who pumped my gas at the Speedway Plaza on Thursday morning also was pleasant, telling me to “have a good one” as my car’s tank was filled. As I started to put my window up to leave, this young man wished me a “Happy New Year.”

What a kind, friendly young man. How grateful I am for caring, friendly gas attendants — that always means a great deal.


On Dec. 21, the official day winter began, The Gardener announced the daylight hours of each day would now be longer. (Perhaps you haven’t noticed quite yet since I was informed the daylight only lengthens by seconds each day!) What wonderful news, though! The Countdown to spring has begun.

I actually have a countdown calendar on my iPad complete with hours, minutes and seconds until the arrival of springtime. On Monday as I sat at my computer writing this column, the Spring Countdown said spring would arrive March 20. That date, I was told, would be in 76 days.

I still think the newspaper should countdown this date as it did with shopping days until Christmas. For me, at least a countdown to spring is something to look forward to while the number of shopping days remaining is always a concern.


“Cherish your human connections, your relationships with friends and family.”

— Joseph Brodsky

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