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TAKING STOCK at Christmas might help us appreciate our place in the natural world .
PHOTO BY BILL FAVER
Taking Stock At Christmas
BY BILL FAVER
We usually think of the New Year as the time to as
sess how well we did in the past
year and to think about what we
want to do in the year to come. Or
we think of January I as the annual
date to take a business inventory
and see how we stand. Maybe we
are missing some of the real mean
ing of Christmas if we fail to "take
stock" at Christmastime!
Start by thinking about what
Christmas memories you have and
what Christmas means to you.
What are the traditions you feel are a part of the holi
day season? How do you like to celebrate? Do you
want an intimate closeness with those closest to you,
or do you crave being around lots of people? What
music do you like and where do you find it? Do you
expect too much at Christmas, when our fond memo
ries of childhood and loved ones might tend to make
us sad rather than joyful?
We can "take stock" at Christmas by thinking about
the real meaning of a season that for many has become
a commercial extravaganza. Does the gift of Christ as
Christmas mean anything in our daily living? How
does it affect the way we do business or the way we
treat our neighbors? Do we want to share because of
what has been given to us and done for us?
Has Christmas anything to do with how we treat our
natural world? Do we try to understand the necessity
for saving habitat or preserving wilderness to share
with other creatures and other humans? Or do we only
look at what profit might be there for us?
A deep understanding of the Christmas story will
lead us to see the need to care, and the need to share,
as we seek to live in this special place. We can "act
out" the Christmas story not only by staging a pageant
in our churches, but by trying to live the kind of lives
revealed by the Babe in a hanger. Taking stock at
Christmas might help us put ourselves in perspective
and might make us better persons for the coming
Music Opens Hearts To
Wonder Of Christmas
For most of us, music does magi
cally "soothe the savage breast"
This time of year I'm especially
grateful for that small miracle.
The season has a noticeable effect
on people. Most of us are nicer to
each other. We tip better, we gripe
less, we volunteer more readily, we
smile more often, we give more gen
erously. If it could only be Christ
mas all year round
However, we may also cry more,
become angered more easily and
strike out and hurt the very ones we
love, sometimes because we can't
do or be all we think they expect of
December can turn into a giant
merry-go-round, one we don't seem
to know how to slow down or stop.
It keeps whirring us about, faster
and faster, going nowhere. Piling up
all around are all the things we feel
we need to do and want to do ? our
regular obligations plus holiday gift
buying or making, baking, writing,
Sometimes it gets a little over
whelming, especially for the fami
lies whose budgets and wish lists are
far, far apart, or who are experienc
ing other stresses and strains. The
holidays are also difficult for those
far away from loved ones, those
who are juggling pieces of families
broken by divorce, or for whom the
holiday is a time of renewed mourn
ing of the loss of a spouse or other
loved one, or even a job.
Christmas is too precious to lose
in the middle of all this.
We can step back and pause long
enough to set priorities straight and
unskew soured perspectives, making
Christmas not only bearable, but the
true joy and source of hope it was
meant to be.
For you the key to keeping the joy
in Christmas may be quiet time
alone, prayer and meditation, read
ing, worship or spending time with
All of these add to my joy in this
season, but it is the music ? religious
and secular ? that reaches me deep
down inside, that unlocks all those
hard spots and opens me to the full
wonder of Christmas.
So that the music will be fresh, I
make a point of not listening to it on
the radio or elsewhere until about
two weeks before Christmas. It's
hard not to hum or sing my favorites
at work (though they might prefer it
to the coughs, sniffles and wheez
ings of my perennial December
cold). But nothing stops me other
times ? on the road, at the dinner
table, in the tub, even on the tele
Familiar songs like "Silver Bells,"
"Joy To The World," "Away In A
Manger," and even The Chipmunks
singing "I Saw Mommy..." bring
back a slew of memories and set the
stage for new ones.
May the music of the season help
soothe your "savage breast" and
usher in another Christmas season
filled with joy and hope.
?UESI?QLLMi ^ /
Giving New Meaning To 'Hope
BY JOHN SELLERS
In the fast-paced life that we live
today, it seems that each Christmas
season brings more frustration as we
all rush from store to store searching
for just the right gift, finding just the
right decorations for the tree and
planning for just the right party.
Somehow, in the midst of all this
frenzy, we have forgotten what the
celebration of Christmas is all about.
The birth of a child almost 2,000
years ago has been pushed back into
the back of our minds as we scurry
about "getting ready."
We see manger scenes large and
small, wooden, ceramic and plastic,
and remark, "How cute; I'll buy one
for the mantle." But we we really
imagine how a poor couple felt that
night when they were told to sleep
in a barn? Can we share the dismay
that they must have felt knowing
that their child was to be born
Gressette Sod Farms
1-800-444-2993 FLORENCE, SC
among animals in a cold stable with
nothing but a manger to lay him in?
I am sure they were surprised
when visitors called on them before
they had a chance to "decorate the
tree and cook the turkey."
Some of the visitors had no mon
ey with which to "run to Wal-Mart
and pick up a little something," but
they came anyway, because Angels
had told them about this, and a star
had led them. Others, more wealthy,
came and shared a portion of their
wealth instead of buying some nick
How many of us today would
travel this far into a strange land to
see a baby whose parents were so
poor that he was born in a barn in
stead of a comfortable hospital?
"Get real," we would say. "There are
only a few shopping days left and,
besides, we haven't bought him any
Webster defines hope as "a feel
ing that what is wanted will happen;
desire accompanied by expectation."
Just maybe, if we all would "desire
and expect," the feelings of peace
and joy that we experience at
Christmastime would last through
out the year, and these feelings
would give new meaning to the
four-letter word "hope."
John Sellers lives at Sunset Beach.
. zi y,
Owl office & wilt be closed at
3 3tM frridtm, tDec. 24.
We will le-open 5uue&day, flee. 28
SAVINGS BANK SSB
Best Gifts For Children: Education ,
Encouragement And Opportunities
To the editor:
The Christmas and New Year's
holidays are times for gift-giving,
reflections on the past and commit
ment to the future. The best gift a
parent can give a child is a good ed
We can't all be superstars in
mathematics, science, music or
sports but we can earn a respectable
living if we are given adequate prep
aration by our parents, teachers, role
models and life experiences. As par
ents, we like to appear to our chil
dren to know everything and to be
able to solve all problems. In today's
complex world we cannot possibly
meet that expectation but fortunately
there are others to help us.
What we can do as parents,
grandparents and friends of children
is to encourage education, reward
good performance and provide op
portunities for learning experiences.
Most of the time, being a cheer
leader for learning is more important
than being able to help with algebra
homework. Students and their teach
ers respond to interested parents.
Despite the fact that we are busy
providing for our families, we must
take time to get involved in our chil
dren's education. Talk to them about
what they are doing in school, rein
force the relationship between educ
tion and a job, be a "cheerleader" for
your children's education, volunteer
to help in schools, attend parent con
ferences and other parent/teacher
meetings and contact teachers if
your child is having academic prob
Have a merry Christmas and en
joy the new year with a fresh com
mitment to the education of our chil
N.C. Science/Math Alliance
To the editor:
Phew! And just in time for
Christmas the super-melodramatic
conflict between Brunswick County
hysterical citizens and the Martin
Marietta people has reached an ap
parent denouement, thanks to hard
ball politics behind the scenes.
Suddenly there came an official
report from Carolina Power and
Light Company listing threats to the
safety of the nuclear plant opera
tions guaranteed to scare the bejab
bers out of anybody. But surely
CP&L officials, if concerned, would
have (like the good neighbor they
are) notified MM many weeks ago
before the citizens got hysterical.
Then an engineer on the public
payroll of Wilmington contacted the
State Commissar for mining and al
leged that the potential harm to rare
plants and archaeological sites was
sufficient to deny permission to
Doubtless this opinion was pro
duced after some arm-twisting, but
since no such restrictions on land
use appeared in deed or by legisla
tion, such a decision would be ex
post facto law. And the pundits tell
us Communism is dead!
Only one thing remains to be
done by the politicians who rode in
to the fray on white horses to save
their constituents from the evils of
private enterprise. They need to pass
a law prohibiting anybody from
smelling a pole cat at five paces.
Karl E. Brandt
To the editor:
Isn't it good to know there are
people who care and are concerned
for one another, even in the busiest
season of the year?
We want to express our deep ap
preciation to whoever found our en
velope to be mailed to First Baptist
Church, Ahoskie, last Tuesday mor
ning in Wilson's parking lot and
turned it in to the office at Wilson's;
also to the lady in the office who
called saying it had been found and
we could pick it up.
It is people like this who make
Christmas what it is really meant to
be. We wish for you a merry Christ
mas and God's blessings.
Mylan and Ruby Pressnell
Liked NRA Letter
To the editor:
I wish to congratulate and thank
Eric Carlson for sharing with us his
letter to the National Rifle Asso
ciation in the Beacon dated Dec. 1ft.
His letter points out many truths
that are being distorted and covered
up by the national media. Gun-grab
bing politicians are lying to us; they
are doing everything they can to dis
arm law-abiding citizens, especially
any and all automatic weapons.
(This is) the very weapon that peo
ple need to defend themselves ag
ainst a government that no longer
upholds the supreme law of the land,
the Constitution and the Bill of
Rights of we the people.
One good example of government
agents violating American law hap
pened in August last year when
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms agents murdered two
members of the Randy Weaver fam
ily in northern Idaho. They shot
Randy's 14-year-old boy in the back
while he was running away from
them. Then they shot Randy's wife
in the head while she was nursing
her newborn baby, killing both in
The whole story can be found in
the November 1 993 issue of Hunters
magazine. Read it and weep.
Thanks again. Eric, for sharing
your letter with us. I could not have
said it better myself.
W. H. Stanley
To the editor:
I think John Carlisle's theory
about more prisons reducing crime
is ridiculous. He has given us facts
and figures until they come out of
our ears but doesn't come close to
the real problem.
What is needed is more severe
punishment to deter crime.
For instance, how many times do
you see a murderer get life and then
get paroled in ten years or less?
That's no deterrent.
How many are on death row for
years and years? What we need is
more capital punishment and fewer
I'm for public hangings. Now this
is a real deterrent.
This will make the criminals real
ize that crime doesn't pay. Then we
will need fewer jails and more
Edward J. Boycr
To the editor:
We always look forward to Thurs
days when the Beacon brings Lynn
Carlson's colorful columns. More
than once we've come away from
reading her work with a belly laugh
or a tear in our eye.
She has a remarkable gift and we
are delighted to share in it once a
week. We live in High Point, but our
hearts are at our beach cottage at
Sharon and Todd Mommsen
When Taste Matters
Give yourself a gift this season. The / \
delicious taste of Colombo Frozen Yogurt. S
Bring this to store listed. Buy a large serving
of Colombo Frozen Yogurt and get a second
of equal or lesser value Free.
IGood at Shallotte and Southport Express Stops
L*n4 1 p*t cuMothk Noi *o* cash Not vat-d with any other promotion
SetbKMt 4. tyieetittya.
to all our two and four
We thank you for your
patronage and wish you
the very best in the
coming new year...
Dr. Betsy Burbank, DVM
Dr. Brad Kerr, DVM
Erin Ann Kerr
Zachary Johnathan Kerr
Companion Animal Hospital
150-6 Hwy. 130, East Gate Square
Small animal medicine, surgery and 24 HOUR EMERGENCY SERVICE