12/24/11 — Spirit lives: Yes, Wayne County, there STILL is a Santa Claus

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Spirit lives: Yes, Wayne County, there STILL is a Santa Claus

It's famous, the story about the little girl who wrote the editor of the New York Sun to check to see if there really is a Santa Claus.

Virginia wrote that if the Sun said it was so, then she could believe.

The editor's answer, summarized, of course, suggested to the little girl that the true spirit of Christmas lies in the hearts of people who choose, instead of thinking of themselves, to share with one another, to give to those who have less and to count the real blessings in their lives.

He adds that not everything that is believed has to be seen, advising the little girl that there is still magic -- and miracles that defy logic.

So, today, 114 years later, we remind our county that there is indeed a Santa Claus -- and we have proof.

This is the place where thousands of dollars were raised in less than two months to give 600 children a Christmas.

Add to that total the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for charities, individuals and families in need this year. Sometimes, those gifts were large, and sometimes they were accomplished one dollar at a time, but they were all proof that this community understands what compassion and caring really mean.

And don't forget that United Way of Wayne County has reached more than $1 million in donations this year.

All of the above, of course, were accomplished in a year with a sluggish economy.

But that is just money.

There has been plenty of heart, too.

Think about the thousands of people who turned out for Wayne County's Relay for Life this year -- and wiped away a tear for a friend or relative lost to or struggling with cancer. Think about how they were there for others -- to make sure not only would their loved one's memory be preserved, but that they might save another family from going through the same pain. Think of those who shared a moment of grief with a complete stranger that day, around a field of lights, understanding just how fleeting life can be and how God sometimes calls his angels back much too soon.

That is empathy, hope and love, all mixed into one, and that is the spirit of Christmas.

And think of the small acts that occur, unheralded, every day, the volunteers who make sure the needy have something to eat, the drivers who deliver meals to homebound seniors, those who make giving blood a ritual because they know how much it is needed or the busy professionals or retirees who give of their time to tutor a child, to be a mentor or to share a moment with someone who is hurting.

These are examples of that same spirit.

And if we want to look for proof of faith and love, we can look no further than the churches in this community.

There are the big events, the organized efforts to serve, but then there are also the little things -- the number of times a church group will adopt a classroom, a neighbor, a church member or an organization in need. You don't always hear about every one of their efforts, but there are people all over this county whose lives have been changed because of one of them.

They understand that faith is about a whole lot more than just a church service. They are doing the Lord's work one life at a time.

That is the spirit that is at the very heart of Christmas.

So while we might fuss about the hustle and bustle of Christmas, and wonder if anyone really remembers what it is supposed to be all about, we can rest assured, that like that editor told Virginia all those years ago, there are more good people than bad and there is more love than hate in the world. No matter what those who seek to divide us like to claim.

Wayne County is lucky to be one of those places where strangers soon become family and charity and love know few bounds.

So, just as the editor declared in 1897, we state again, yes, the true spirit of Christmas lives on -- in the form or love, generosity and caring.

Let's keep alive again as we move into 2012.

Merry Christmas.

Published in Editorials on December 24, 2011 9:43 PM