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Cook column: Wishing you a classic Christmas

Merry Christmas. Anyone reading the paper on Christmas is a loyal newspaper reader. Thank you so much.
A lot of people ask me how the Post is doing these days. We’re OK, thanks to our readers and advertisers. We pulled our belts tight to get through the recession and are hoping for better days, like every other business in 2010.
You are probably familiar with Wayne Hinshaw, the Post’s former photo chief. Wayne retired last year but still does some work for the Post. If you have access to the Internet, you should see his slide show from a recent trip to New York ó a multimedia version of the story that was in Thursday’s Post. Wayne tells a good story.
His presentation can be found at www.salisburypost. com/multimedia/NYCITYChristmasSlideshow/index. html. It’s a Christmas gift from Wayne. It may become a classic.
– – –
This is the Christmas of the jobless recovery, a nice way of saying the economy has stopped getting worse, we hope. Better days are ahead, the experts say.
I sincerely hope so.
One of the biggest frustrations of being a newspaper editor is seeing need and not being able to fix it. We can write about trends and statistics and stir response on the community level. But the people who call or come in one by one are a different matter. There’s not an agency for every problem.
A few weeks ago I wrote about Wilma and her plea for help. She and her husband, a veteran, were behind on their bills and fearful about the future. She had been to every agency she could think of until finally someone suggested she come to the Post. I shared her story but not her full name.
I believe there are thousands of Wilmas out there, women in their senior years with great fears about the future, especially when their spouses become ill.
Wilma and her husband got some help from the Salisbury Community Development Corp. with managing their finances. And a couple of people called me to get more details in order to help the couple directly.
I hope their story will have a happy ending and that they are having a Merry Christmas.
– – –
Presents, chaos and a big breakfast seem to be the constants at our house from Christmas to Christmas. I guess those could be considered traditions.
Necessity is the mother of tradition, sometimes.
One year a relative sent us a bushel basket of grapefruit, something we don’t usually eat at our house. What in the world were we doing to do with it all?
We broiled some grapefruit halves topped with butter and brown sugar and decided we did like grapefruit after all. Our additions negated the fruit’s nutritional value, of course, but we could handle it for a day.
That took care of two and a half grapefruit; we shared the rest with neighbors and co-workers. And we’ve been having grapefruit on Christmas ever since.
– – –
How many times have you watched “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” this year? The movie seems to have been on TV every day since Thanksgiving and maybe a few days before.
I’m not sure who the arbiter of Christmas classics is, but Chevy Chase now populates the holiday TV schedule more than Jimmy Stewart and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” has been made and remade so many times that it’s possible to become a connoisseur. Do you prefer the 1938 vintage or 1999? Who makes the best Scrooge ó Reginald Owen, George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart, Michael Caine or Jim Carrey? I vote for Michael Caine in, of all things, the Muppets version of the story.
But if I could watch only one Christmas movie each year, I’d choose “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the Bailey family. As the years go by, my empathy for the absent-minded Uncle Billy grows.
Where did I leave my purse?
– – –
I don’t have a lot of Christmas traditions to share, just a lot of Christmas memories to make, I hope.
Some of our friends are struggling through serious illness this season. Some have lost family members and are going through Christmas with an empty chair at the table. It makes your heart hurt to think about. Comfort and joy ó that’s what I wish for them.
And for you and yours.
We have made it through another season of great expectations, frustrations and, finally, adoration. Maybe you overate or overspent. Maybe you weren’t able to do as much for others as you wanted. Maybe you’re too distracted by a crisis or loss to really care.
Christmas came anyway, and with it comes the story of hope and faith that has spread all over the world. I hope you saw it in the candlelight of Christmas Eve and felt it in your heart.
Comfort and joy, everybody. Comfort and joy.
Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post.

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