Magical time is upon us

Is it Christmas yet? It is certainly white enough.

We have enough snow to cover Sam from paws to nose, and it was like Santa opening his pack when we heard the news about NRG. Thanks to the efforts of Sen. Cathy Young, Assemblyman Andy Goodell, the OBSERVER, chamber, union leadership, mayor, and the people who showed their support by attending the rallies, sending letters and emails, and making telephone calls, the Governor has finally stated his support for the repowering of NRG. Now we can only hope that the Grinch will stay away and let us enjoy this magical season.

Yet, even with the good things that have happened lately, there are still those who would prefer to play the Devil’s advocate and complain about everything that the good Lord has given them. It is these same people who complain that the city hasn’t plowed their street, but who would prefer to walk in the street or worse yet let elementary school children walk on Lake Shore Drive to school while they choose to cover the sidewalks and street corners with piles of snow from parking lots they themselves are charged with plowing.

It is always amazing to me how the first ones to complain are often the first ones to do the same or worse than what they are complaining about. If you see yourself in these statements, please don’t be angry, just keep the sidewalks clear and stop complaining about those who are doing all they can to do a good job – like the city workers who are out in the weather trying to keep our roads clear and us safe.

But alas, this is a time of celebration. This is a time of wonderment and joy. This is a time to celebrate the greatness of all that we are and of all that we can become because of God’s love and mercy. This is a time to read and re-read the “Christmas Story,” and for making new memories to share and pass along to others. For Christmas is truly a magical time of the year, and to not celebrate this special time with happiness and love would be a shame.

My husband, Richard, tells of stories when he was a child growing up in South Dayton. Those were tough times, times of little money or the comforts we enjoy today. His mother was a woman filled with goodness and laughter, and she raised all five of her children to love with everything they had. Christmas morning would bring Richard and his brother Carl a piece of fruit, a handful of walnuts, some underwear and maybe a toy gun. His two older brothers, Don and Jerry, and sister, Margie, rarely received toys, but were just as happy to open their stockings and to be grateful for the little bit that was inside. There would be singing and laughter as the family opened their meager gifts and shared in a day of celebration; that’s what Christmas is all about. It is not the getting of gifts but the sharing of love and memories.

Today we have taken the practice of gift giving and receiving to a new level. If the 12-year-old doesn’t get his iPad or Xbox, or if the young teenager doesn’t find a new laptop or tablet under the tree one may as well expect a day of sulking and tantrums.

We have forgotten that it’s not the gift, but the thought that counts. Our granddaughter has a saying, “don’t over expect” and boy is she ever right. We have become a society that expects more today than what was given yesterday, and then to expect even more tomorrow.

Yep, we are becoming a narcissistic society, and what’s worse, we are teaching our children to be the same way.

So if this is the season for giving, then maybe we can decide to be less expecting of others and more accepting. Maybe we can look for the good in others, before we take notice of the not so good. And maybe, just maybe, we can remember that it is Christmas after all.

If your street doesn’t get plowed when you think it should, go out and start shoveling your sidewalk. Or better yet, how about helping your neighbor with theirs? If you have to move your car to the other side of the street so the snow plows can get through, be thankful that you don’t live in a community where there is “no on street overnight parking.” If your trash doesn’t get picked up when you think it should, be thankful that it gets picked up at all. To borrow a phrase from Margaret Valone, “don’t get bitter, get better.” It is Christmas!

Here’s hoping you have a great day and a very Merry Christmas from Richard, Sam (the dog) and me.

P.S. My apologies to those of you who expected something more provocative or political; ’tis the season after all.

Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to