Local businesses offer a personal touch with clients

Ellen Emery

My mailing list was updated, stamps for the season purchased and cards obtained (yes, with the word “Joy” across the front!). Before we could begin to write our own cards, we received some.

What joy they brought! This year I have found it more important than ever to keep in touch with friends — especially across the miles. The cards are wonderful, with notes from friends, family photos and the most delightful Christmas letters.

On a bitter cold, Monday morning our mail included a wonderful envelope from a friend in Cape Vincent. Although I have never met this gentleman, I have read his words and we do communicate on a regular basis.

How grateful I was last year to be the recipient of this gentleman’s Christmas CDs. They were marvelous. This year the music included his choir’s recording of the “Messiah.” Amazing.

As I am sure you realize by now, I enjoy music, especially at this time of the year. Handel’s “Messiah” is one our college choir had sung. If I remember correctly one year, some of us joined a community choir locally led by Loren Fountain as we shared the “Messiah” in Massena.

The music of the season brings such joy. I can be overwhelmed by card writing, gift purchases and meal preparations. But when I hear a familiar song played, my spirits are immediately uplifted.

Hearing the song “Let it Snow” even made me smile as the snow was falling last week. Some time ago, I purchased a ceramic gingerbread house, complete with lighted jelly beans edging the roof.

This delightful gingerbread house plays the theme from “The Nutcracker.” At just the right moment, The Gardener pushes the small button at the side of the house — the music of this house always makes me smile and brings joy. And for that I am most grateful.

There have been musical presentations this year. I have not ventured out to watch and listen in an audience but will listen on YouTube. Also on YouTube (and CDs too!) is the extraordinary music of James C. Phillips. His Christmas CD always brings joy.

There is so much about this season that makes life wonderful. I love snow globes — their magical glittery snow swirling on top of Christmas scenes is wonderful. I actually have several snow globes that provide the beauty of a snow swirling over a wintry scene, with a candle part of display inserted in a holder at the top complete with a music box playing.

Candles, shimmering lights and bright colored coffee mugs — all make this time of year special. Take a moment this week and stop and listen — on the radio or perhaps with a CD — one given as a gift has such wonderful meaning added — or perhaps on your phone (I have been told that is how you listen today). Listen: Take time to let the words or notes touch your heart.

I realize there is work to be done, packages to wrap and cookies to bake — and, yes, cards to be mailed. As you prepare, though, I hope you can take a moment and enjoy the beauty of the season this year.


My heartfelt thanks this week to each one who works diligently during the winter months to make sure our roads are clear and safe for travel. There was snow on Saturday. It had been forecast, so arrangements were made and no trips were taken that afternoon.

Throughout the afternoon and evening, we could hear the snowplow passing our home clearing the roadways. There is something both unsettling and comforting as you listen to the plow traveling by our home. My heartfelt thanks to each one who leaves the warmth of their homes in the middle of the night to make sure our roads are safe.

Sunday morning, I had a commitment at 9 a.m. in Massena. I looked at the road in front of our home to see how early I might have to leave (or if I had to talk The Gardener into becoming my chauffeur for the morning!). The road was bare — completely clear for travel. How grateful I am for life in the north country where our snowplow operators are skilled and make sure our roadways are safe for driving after a snowfall.


Pat Evans and the Rev. Judy VanKennen — two extraordinary women who do so much for family, for those in need and each one they meet — celebrate their birthdays Thursday.

Visiting with Pat on the telephone this past year has been such a joy. Pat always has such a positive outlook on life that after time spent visiting, I always feel so much better. What a marvelous example she is — always there for family and grandchildren.

Judy VanKennen is a remarkable woman with such a caring heart. She is so welcoming to each one and makes sure the needs of each are met. Her kindness and amazing words spoken and sung and her marvelous musical abilities touch my heart and always mean a great deal.

My warmest wishes to both Pat and Judy tomorrow as you celebrate the anniversaries of your birth. I hope you both enjoy your birthday.


Last week I mentioned an online ad I had received promoting the adoption of bees. Each purchase of a bee necklace would provide the buyer with a named bee you would adopt.

The proceeds from the sale would be put toward assisting with the survival of bees, we were told. Knowing how many bees are in a hive, I could not imagine adopting a single bee.

I received two recommendations from column readers with both suggesting perhaps a hive of bees could be adopted. I wonder, though, if someone would adopt a hive would they then name the hive and be entitled to receive all of the honey produced by those bees?


“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.”

— Charles Dickens

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