At this time of the year, our early ancestors may have greeted you with...Happy Cristes maesse" and "Frohe Weihnachten." But for us, we want to wish you a "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays". We thank our many readers for their holiday greetings and best wishes. Also, we extend grateful appreciation to so many of our readers for their outpouring of thoughtful comments received during the past seven years that this column has been in print. Your generous words, suggestions, and expressions mean much to us!

The following holiday thoughts are tempered by the background of this columnist who was brought up during the great depression years of the 1930's in the rural farm hills of western New York. We did not have a lot materially, no one did; but, what was abundant was the sharing of friendly greetings with one another. Most of us did not have the latest cloths or designer "whatever." However, one thing we did learn was "of the things you wear, your personal expression is the most important."

Today, the brisk wintry season is at the threshold and the crisp temperatures are knocking at our doors. But the frigid wind on the outside is 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 so quickly. But, most of us seem to enjoy the holiday quickened pace and we would not have it any other way.

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 who seem to feel the burden of loneliness. Many of us empathize with those who are full of joyous anticipation as well as those who feel a bit on the nostalgic side of remembering times past. Most of us, if not all, have experienced 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 touch. 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 our holiday "gift wish" for others?

For the children, we ask that they be given the gift of 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 special guidance for our children and young people and serve as exemplified role models of virtue. For those who are grieving, our hope is that they may have the gift of comfort in the warm memories of their loved ones 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 alone, we ask that they may find the joy in giving warmth and cheer to others and thus, both the giver and the receiver 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 gift may be 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, law enforcement agencies, fire department, ambulance and emergency personnel, human service volunteers, other first responders and care givers ... may each of them know the gift of sincere gratitude felt by an appreciative and thankful public.

Our Christmas gift wish list includes 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 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 insight, virtue, and discernment of wisdom, so to have the character and the determination to effectively lead a willing, dedicated, and thankful people.

And so, from our home to your home, we are reminded of these words "Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is a mystery, but today and every day hereafter is a gift. We value each passing day and we treasure the many friends and acquaintances we've met along the way. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Holiday greetings to ALL! And that is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.