Madison County Opinion...

December 19, 2001

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
December 19, 2001, 2001

Frankly Speaking

Reminded of my age
It is happening more often now. I am encountering events that remind me of my age. Most recently, I have been confronted with those magazine covers featuring George Harrison, and a two-word comment from one of my teenage co-workers.
In my lifetime, a quartet of Liverpool lads have formed a band, created memorial music and dissolved. Now, George Harrison, the ³quiet Beatle,² has died of brain cancer. I am three years older than he.
Several of my teenage co-workers found the sadness of my generation over the loss of George Harrison to be somewhat amusing. They had heard of the Beatles, of course. But they knew very little about them. Most of the kids could not recognize the voices of George, Paul, John or Ringo when their songs came over the sound system. But then again, some of them failed to recognize the voice of Elvis.
But the most devastating proof that I am much older than most of my co-workers came when I casually remarked that I was in the Army assigned to Germany when ³The Wall² was constructed. One of the teenage bag boys with a puzzled look on his face said, ³What wall?²
Somewhat startled, I added back the years and realized that an event that is still clear in my memory happened 40 years ago!
So how do I react to these daily encounters with my young, inexperienced, energetic co-workers? Do I envy them their youth and energy? Would I give up everything if I had a chance to go back to that age? Of course not.
I would have to give up all those fascinating things I have learned in 61 years. I would be forced to read the history books to learn about things I witnessed firsthand. I would not be strengthened by the pain that came from the early, tragic loss of my mother, or of my failed marriages. I would not be energized by my modest accomplishments, or encouraged by the support of friends and relatives.
At the same time, I am not ready for retirement. I am still reasonably healthy, alert, creative and driven by a desire to contribute to our culture. I have lived long enough, and learned enough, to be useful. I feel ready to pass on the things I have learned to my younger friends.
That is, if they care to hear what I have to say.
As long as I can find a medium to publish my ideas, and have the energy to write them, I will make them available to young and old alike. It is up to each of you to decide if they are worth reading.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His email address is

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B y Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
December19, 2001

A Moment with Margie

The heart of Christmas
Christmas is for kids.
It seems everywhere I turn this year Iım reminded of that more and more.
When our kids were little, Charles and I giggled conspiratorially and plotted surprises for them, enjoying their delight in Christmas lights and visits to Santa Claus.
They never cared much for the Santa at the mall - instead they preferred the one who decorated his home in lights and homemade figures that told stories and then sat with ³Mrs. Claus² on the front porch night after December night, holding countless children lovingly on his lap, all free of charge.
Yes, that was the real Santa for our kids.
But now our kids are all grown up (or so they think).
And while we may not be grandparents through our own children yet, we are ³pepaw² and ³memaw² to a couple of little ones that we love very much.
Lindsey and Brody are our niece Deserreeıs children, and since her dad (my brother) has passed away, you might say we have ³inherited² them as our own.
When asked if they are my grandchildren, I say ³yes² without hesitation. Because they are, in every way that counts.
Picking out their Christmas gifts is always a joy and ³seeing what Santa brought them² is another.
This past Saturday night while out getting pictures of the live nativity, luminarias and Santa Claus events along Booger Hill and Moonıs Grove Roads, I was constantly drawn to the children and the excitement on their little faces.
Then Sunday at church, the pastor introduced the childrenıs Christmas service as being the very ³heart of Christmas.²
And so they are.
They accept the message of Christmas without question. The wonder and mystery of life is still fresh in them, unclouded by day-to-day obstructions.
That is the only way to experience Christmas and its message, which we need maybe more than ever this year.
And for starters, we can all take a few lessons from the children.
We, as adults ask them to accept what we tell them, even if they donıt understand it.
To me, that is all God asks of us, that we accept the message of Christmas — of Christ — even if we donıt understand it.
Itıs a message of love and of a miracle. In a world where everything else has a ³catch,² you wonıt find one ³but² in that story.
In this weekıs feature story about missionary Tommy Dove, he said one of the greatest rewards of his work is seeing how the message of Christıs love changes people who have never heard it before. They, unlike most of us, didnıt grow up in a society filled with churches and Bibles and a life we have often taken for granted as our right by birth.
Maybe Sept. 11 has helped some of us to see whatıs real and whatıs important and to realize that life is made up of mysteries that are not all meant to be solved, but sometimes simply accepted.
Maybe we should get back to seeing the world the way a child does.
After all, the very first gift of Christmas was a child.
Merry Christmas everybody.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.
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