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Starting 2020 on a note of gratitude


Here, in our first issue of 2020, we’ve decided to be optimistic — it’s a new year and a new decade — and look at what we have to be grateful for.  

First, on our list, is the ongoing, amazing generosity of this community.  

On December 30, we witnessed the entire young staff, as well as the owner, of City Cinema in Newport volunteer their time on a Monday morning in the midst of an ice storm to make a great day for a nine-year-old boy dealing with cancer.  The theater’s owners, Lisa Robinson and Erik Lawson, provided free popcorn and drinks to everyone who attended the Make-A-Wish event, and gave a free showing of Jurassic Park.  

That’s just one example of many.  People, often without much themselves, donate to causes like Warm the Children, which gives winter clothing to needy children, or Key Auto’s drive to provide necessities and comfort items for children who are abruptly put into foster care, or E.M. Brown and Son’s Boots for Barton.  There are community meals for those spending the holidays alone.  Gift baskets go home to those who maybe can’t afford a holiday meal, or Christmas gifts for their children.   Law enforcement collects and distributes gifts for needy families.

Holiday generosity abounds in an attempt to make life a little easier, a little more joyful for someone else.  

But it doesn’t stop there.  One of the organizations we admire most is the Halo Foundation, which helps people dealing with cancer, and for whatever reason, so very many families deal with cancer these days.  With few questions asked, the Halo Foundation sends a check, to help with the expenses that cancer patients have to deal with besides formidable medical bills — loss of income, transportation, medicine, lodging for family members who want to be near their loved ones while they’re being treated. 

Joshua House, based in Irasburg, works to help the poor and the homeless, as do churches, which also operate food shelves. 

And then there is the simple kindness of neighbors, who deliver casseroles to the sick or injured, put people on prayer lists, shovel snow, provide rides to doctor’s appointments, or simply check in. 

Much is made of the political divisiveness of this country, but we believe that’s largely a contrived construct of politics.  In a small place, neighborliness beats ideology.  We’ve never heard anyone say, you’re a Republican and I’m a Democrat, so I’m not going to bring you chicken and biscuits while you’re laid up. 

There have always been a lot of reasons not to live in the Northeast Kingdom —  the weather sucks, winter is too long, until recently there was a job shortage, and even now the pay is bad.  There’s not a lot of cultural diversity, not a whole hell of a lot to do for younger people, though there is a vibrant community of musicians and artists. 

But what we’ve always had, in addition to a beautiful landscape and rugged, creative, and individualistic people, is family, friends, generosity, and the kind of neighborliness that transcends a disgraceful political climate. 

So going forward, let’s remember all the ways we are unified in a world that seems bent on emphasizing differences.  Let’s all remember how much there is to appreciate about each other and this place where we live.  — T.S.

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