By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
February 6, 2002
Gift just keeps on giving
Around the neighborhood icicle lights are still dangling from the eaves of a few houses, and artificial wreaths are hanging on in windows here and there.
For the most part, though, the trees have been recycled and the decorations are stashed away in the attic or basement.
Come October or November they will magically reappear as families everywhere prepare for another holiday season.
October? Yes, October. Thanksgiving used to be the harbinger of Christmas. Now Halloween is horning in.
I donıt know this for sure, but if I were a betting man, Iıd wager that the person who puts up his/her Christmas decorations early is the same person who takes them down late.
Perhaps he or she is leaving them up through February 14th, thinking to start a Valentineıs Day tradition.
Putting ıem up is such a joy. Taking ıem down is such a drag. Before is nearly always more fun than after. Thatıs true of just about everything we do, isnıt it? The only exception I can think of is when youıve just completed a successful weight-loss program.
At our house the only reminders of Christmas, 2001, are the love of family and friends and the everlasting joy and peace that we share.
The clothes fit, and we like the styles and colors. So we didnıt have to return anything. The fruit is long gone. Likewise the assortment of cheeses. (The pretty baskets are around here somewhere.) We devoured the fancy and delicious chocolates Christmas day. The beautiful tin of mixed nuts lasted a little longer. The country ham from Tennessee was wonderful just like I remembered it, growing up. The books have been read and relegated to their appropriate places in the bookcase.
Everybody everybody, that is, except Claire, Bill and Heath was so generous. All we found under the tree from our daughter, son-in-law and grandson was a plain white envelope with our names on it. I opened it, pulled out the letter, and began to read.
³Dear Virgil and Shirley,
³This year we could not think of a single thing that the two of you might need or want.²
Oh ooo oo K.
Very perceptive those three. Shirley and I do have everything we need and everything we want. But you would expect your daughter to give you something, right? Right!
The letter continued:
³We have therefore made a contribution to the Jackson County Habitat for Humanity in your honor.²
The rest of the letter is what made it the greatest gift Shirley and I ever received. I donıt think Claire, Bill and Heath will mind if we share it with you.
³We chose this charity because they do such good work, and we hope in some small way our contribution will enable a deserving child or children to have a real home and a better chance to grow up in the kind of homes that you provided for your children.
³We celebrate Christmas, the homes which Mary Beth and the Adams children grew up in, and the home which the two of you have made.²
(I am not ashamed to tell you that I cried (yes, grown men cry) when I read that, and tears came to my eyes as I copied it here.)
On January 8, 2002, Shirley and I had reason to rejoice again.
Anne Homer, treasurer of Jackson County HFH, acknowledged Claire, Bill and Heathıs donation, and added, ³By honoring you in such a wonderful way, their generosity will directly impact the lives of families in Jackson County who need a simple, decent home to call their own.
³Within the next month,² the Habitat treasurer continued, ³we anticipate the completion of our third home and have property ready to begin construction on the fourth.²
I donıt know if the kids gave $10 or $10,000. I suspect it was somewhere in between.
Whatever the amount, it is a very special gift. It means so much to us. Iım sure it means even more to the family unknown to the givers. Maybe that is what Christmas is all about: giving with no thought of getting anything in return.
And maybe Claire, Bill and Heath have started a family tradition. To the family that has everything, give something to the family that has nothing.
Just suppose 1,000 Jackson County families gave $100 each to Habitat for Humanity in honor of someone they love. Thatıs $100,000 enough to build a simple, decent home for someone to call their own. It would help another less fortunate family realize a dream that has already come true for most of us.
Think about it.
Long after all the other gifts are worn out, eaten, torn up, lost or relegated to an inconspicuous spot in the attic, the gift of a home just keeps on giving.
Thank you, Claire, Bill and Heath.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Jackson Herald
February 6, 2002
Itıs all a matter of choice
Choice is a wonderful thing. A right Americans may sometimes take for granted. The choice to say whatever we will whether it be politically correct or not. The choice to read what we will, write what we will and do what we will. Iıll say again itıs a wonderful, beautiful thing because I donıt think it can be said enough. But I do think it can be taken too far.
Flags fly. American families laugh, enjoying each other. In the wake of September 11th, Iım thinking itıs another morale boosting piece by the National Ad Council. The only thing missing is apple pie and Iım ready to join the National Guard. Thatıs how deeply Iım hooked. Then, Iım hit in the face with it. A woman on an exam table in a robe with a smile on her face. A womanıs voice: The greatest American freedom is choice.ı More women now. A swimmer. A grandmotherly lady. Women of every race and age. All smiling. I go from feelings of patriotism to seething anger.
Theyıre taking choice too far. They have been for nearly three decades.
Letıs use the same principle. Even the same intro. Flags. Grandparents. Attractive couple with young children. Then a woman standing with a machine gun strapped to her back, ammunition in a long belt. This, too, is choice. It would be my choice to take the gun and kill whomever I want. I would go to jail for it, but that is the only thing separating the two commercials. In both a life ends.
A country founded on individual freedom is seriously neglecting the rights of its most endangered citizensthe unborn. Since 1973, more than 40 million women have chosen to abort their babies with an average abortion rate of one and a half million per year. Fifty-two percent of those abortions are in women younger than 25. High school and college-age women. I know what itıs like to be a teenager with your entire life ahead of you and to be afraid youıre going to do something that will screw it all up. Or to be in college and so worried youıll fail your next midterm and how much being pregnant would change it all. Finding out youıre pregnant can be scary no matter how old you are or where you are in life. In fact, it can be absolutely paralyzing. When I found out I was pregnant, I was terrified. I wondered whether I would be good enough or strong enough for this little person who would so soon depend on me. I knew I would try my hardest and that would be all my daughter would ever ask of me.
I wouldnıt dare argue that Americans arenıt entitled to choice. I know how attached we all are to our Bill of Rights, but I will argue about when the choice is made.
Itıs kind of like a roller coaster ride, if you donıt mind the metaphor. Youıre standing outside the line entrance, watching others ride and scream at the dips and turns and loops. You get in line. You get on the car and the bar goes down. Even here, you could still get off, but when the car starts rolling, thereıs no getting off. Youıre in it for the long haul even if it means getting sick once you get off. There is no take backs or rewinds in other areas of life, why should there be one where the life of an innocent child hangs in the balance?
Someone said to me once, long ago, that her cousin was stupid enough to have made the baby, and she would be smart enough to keep it. As we were both too young to really understand what that meant, Iım sure she was repeating a conversation she had overheard. But the statement sums up my point rather inelegantly. To abstain or not to abstain, thatıs the choice. A baby isnıt a choice, itıs the answer. And the true measure of a woman is how she faces up to responsibility.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.