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Rose Post column: Christmas spirit more than light show for Spencer resident

By Rose Post

Salisbury Post

You don’t have to ask the people in Spencer who won the Spencer Home Christmas Light Contest.

They know — and will tell you quickly that the winner, Mary Clinding of 425 Long Ferry Road, is a very special lady who lives by the Christmas spirit all year round.

“She has truly gone above and beyond to show that spirit,” says Daniel Almazan, manager of the Emporium.

And as the winner, she’ll receive $100 from the Spencer Business Association, which sponsors the decoration contest, he said, “to show our appreciation for her making our community a beautiful place to be at Christmas time.

“Just the fact that she’s in an area where not a lot of people participated, and she has tastefully decorated her house with lights and wreaths and angels is worth the award.”

And she was thrilled.

“I was very excited about it because I really love Christmas,” she says, and she loves to do things to observe the holiday, “and not many people in this neighborhood do anything, so I decided to light the neighborhood up, and I was real excited because I won.”

But the award really doesn’t surprise anyone in Spencer.

“I quickly realized once I met Mary Clinding that she is a very special lady who lives by the Christmas spirit,” Almazan said.

Clinding turned her home into a family care rest home about 1984, she says.

“I have about nine rooms,” she says, that she uses for that purpose. She’s licensed to take care of six people, though right now she has only four, and all of them have their own room.

“I can’t do as much as I used to,” she adds. “Age brings you down, and I’m 66. That’s not very old, but compared to what I used to do ….

“Well, I guess time just wears on your body. I used to get up and work from sun up to sundown and never get tired, but it can’t work that way now. And I’ve decorated it every year since I’ve been in business.

“I think this — the rest home — is my calling,” she adds.

“I was a registered nurse and worked at Rowan Memorial Hospital for 18 years,” but she’d always wanted to have a rest home.

So she was happy when her uncle and aunt, Marvin and Betty Clinding, made it possible when they moved to South Carolina.

“He came over one day 20-some years ago and asked if I wanted this house. It was run-down, and he said, ‘All you have to do is pay the tax on it.’

“So while I was remodeling, I went to Social Services and asked if I could use it for a family care home, and they said not to do anything before I sent the blueprints to Raleigh. And I did, and they were approved.

“That was about 1983, and it only had three bedrooms. So I added two more rooms. I never had to advertise, and it’s always been full. I did have six people, but now I’ve cut down to four because I do the cooking, the cleaning, everything.”

Almazan happened to meet her when she had just returned from giving boxes of fresh doughnuts to all the doctors who treat patients in her care, and she was taking some to Hospice to show her appreciation for what they do.

And that might be the time she lost her pocketbook in Hardee’s parking lot.

“A gentleman from Concord found it,” she says, “and returned it with all my money intact. I had a couple of hundred dollars in it, and that moved me. I thought it was time to give something back, so I sent him a nice card.”

She was happy she won the Spencer Home Christmas Light Contest, “but it’s time for me to stop getting honored and let someone else get it.”

Not that she’ll stop doing what she does.

“This was the Five Row community,” she says. “I was born here, and I’ve always lived here and I wanted to make it look the best I could.”

Contact Rose Post at 704-797-4251 or rpost@salisburypost.com.

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