Dear friends...many of us treasure holiday traditions. And It seems to have become a tradition for us in this column to share our Christmas gift wishes and hopes with our readers. In fact, each year we receive a number of requests for extra copies of our annual holiday column. This year we want to continue this tradition of sharing our list of gift wishes. But first, we want to thank our many readers for their holiday greetings and for their thoughtful comments sent to us throughout the year. You are very special to us and your greetings and comments are deeply appreciated.

"Tis the season" as we say. and we share our wish list and special thoughts to each of you and to others along the way. The brisk wintry season is at the threshold and the crisp temperatures are knocking at our doors. But the cold breezes on the outside are moderated by the warmth of peoples' hearts on the inside. This is a season to rejoice, to renew contacts with friends, and to bring joy to those who are in need of friendship's generosity. To be sure, there is the normal hustle and bustle and last minute things to do. For children and for some adults, the waiting time seems to move so slowly, and for others, the time seems to move too quickly. But, on the face of it, most of us seem to enjoy the busy holiday spirit.

As with the lives of many of our friends and neighbors, young and old, there is the feeling of anticipation. And then, there are some in our midst who at this time of the year seem to feel the burden of loneliness. And yet, you know, one never really needs to feel alone. There are many around you and near you who are waiting for that special greeting of warmth just for and from you. Most of us, if not all, have experienced at one time or another, the "joyous ups" and the "lonely downs." We know the joy which comes from giving and we know too, the need to receive the gift of a friendly human greeting. We know the pleasure of helping to fulfill the cherished needs of others, as others have so kindly done for us. Will you join us in this holiday "gift wish" for others?

For the children, we ask that they be given a gentle hand of encouragement and reassurance. And especially, may they feel a special nurturing hand of love and human support. For the teenagers in our midst, we ask that they be given a special measure of virtuous attentiveness and value-laden guidance so that they may know the dignity of sharing hope and possibility thinking. For the adults in our midst, we ask that they be given strength, patience, perseverance, love and foresight so to be a source of principled guidance for our children and young people and serve as exemplified role models of virtue. For those who are grieving, may they find comfort in the warm memories of their loved ones now past and so appreciate how rich they are that their lives were joined if for only a short time. For those who are lonely and feel forgotten, we ask that they may find the joy in giving warmth and cheer to others and thus, both the giver and the receiver will be abundantly blessed. And to those of our neighbors who have suffered the ravages of fire, water, wind and natural disaster, we ask that their lives may be put back together and that their hopes may find enriching fulfillment.

For all those who, with such genuine dedication and unselfish commitment, serve our community in numerous ways, we extend "grateful appreciation." And especially to our local hospitals, the law enforcement agencies, fire department, ambulance and emergency personnel, human service volunteers, other first responders and care givers... may each of them know the warmth of sincere gratitude felt by an appreciative and thankful public.

For the men and women of our armed forces who sacrificed their lives for us, we are supremely thankful and our hearts go out to their loved ones. To the men and women of our armed forces who are sacrificing to defend freedom and to restore liberty, we ask that they be given a special measure of encouragement and support and receive a special "thank you" from a grateful and humble people. And to the leaders of our Country, we ask that they may be blessed with the insight, virtue, and discernment of wisdom, so to have the character and the determination to effectively lead a willing, dedicated, and thankful people.

To all, it is our hope that truth and justice may prevail in a world free of tyranny and tension. May the year 2009 be filled with joy and may PEACE prevail and freedom ring out for all to hear. This is a joyous season of giving. For the yesterdays are a precious memory, the tomorrows are another opportunity to give, but TODAY...ah yes today... that is a special time when we can share the gift which lasts for all seasons. Dear friends, Merry Christmas is our wish and a Happy New Year is our hope. And that is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE

Sincerely, to ALL of YOU from the two of us.