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Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868

12/11 MI TOWN: Patty Taylor Dutcher

December 10, 2013

I know people so organized that their shopping was done weeks ago. Christmas cards were neatly stacked on the corner of the desk, ready to be taken to the post office Thanksgiving weekend; others are waiting for another payday before they can begin.

Most of us fall somewhere in between.

At our house, the dining room looks like a third world sewing factory, with flannel and fleece piled high. The cat has even more soft places to nap all day. Cards still need to be addressed; and somehow it will all come together just in time for happy family gatherings and good times shared with friends.

Whether Christmas plans include a splendid table set with our best china and crystal or a warm and welcome gathering around the kitchen table, so much depends upon the spirit of the season and in the happiness and good conversation shared with friends and family you love.

Every Christmas season, bazillions of articles are written about how to "survive" the holidays and books appear on the shelves telling us how to manage to get through the days and weeks from Thanksgiving until New Year's Day. All this makes me wonder why one of the most joyous times of the year can create so much stress and chaos, and why we let it happen to us and the people we love, and get lost in the madness of it all.

We can take time to relax with friends and enjoy time with family without turning it into a major production. We can make a big bowl of punch and string popcorn and cranberries for the Christmas tree. We can bake cookies and make candy and share it with our friends and neighbors, and brighten somebody else's day with a smile or a special compliment. If there isn't time for baking and cooking, along with everything else, our local stores have goodies available for every taste and budget.

If this is the first year children are home from college, they'll be eager to share stories about classes, university life and their newly found independence — or they may not. They may want some quiet time to relax, see neighborhood friends and catch up on much needed sleep.

We need to take time away from all the busy activities to think about our families, our friends and our neighbors. It's a good time to count our blessings and share what we can with those who have not had such a wonderful year. Our communities have a long history of taking care of our own, and what better time than now to show that we can — and we will.

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