Thank you for putting the merry in my Merry Christmas!

 The holiday season has always been a special time of year for me and my family and this season has again been extra special because of each of you, the citizens of this wonderful community that I am so very proud to call home. Because of the friendships made and generosities extended here in Seminole County, I am a very happy guy.
There is not enough space in this paper for me to list the names of the people who have befriended me, accepted me into the community and included me in their lives. Because of your gift of friendship, I am humbled. I am thankful, and most of all, I am truly blessed. God has a plan and I am so very happy to be an active participant in the plan He has for me. This community is filled with some of the friendliest people that I have ever had the opportunity to meet, and each and every day, I meet another person and find another reason to express that statement even louder.
The other night I waited in the newspaper’s office until sunset because I wanted to take a photograph of downtown in all its holiday splendor for the cover of the Christmas Edition. Darkness came and I walked the streets of downtown all by myself.  All the shops had closed and there were no cars on the street. At that particular moment I was completely alone in the middle of downtown Donalsonville.  
Under a starlit sky I had an It’s a wonderful life feeling. The streets, illuminated with light from the street lamps, looked like one of those picturesque images on a holiday postcard. I walked by each shop, gazed in the store windows at the festive holiday decorations and thought about all of the people who work in these shops and walk down these streets. At that particular moment I was completely alone; however, I did not feel alone at all.
I thought about all the smiling faces I had seen at the Christmas parade that had traveled down the very street in which I was now standing. I thought about the people that I see and talk to every day in my adventures in and around Donalsonville and Seminole County.
 I was overwhelmed with a feeling of peace because, even though I was absolutely alone, I was standing in the middle of a street in the center of a community filled with people whom I am so proud to call friends. I felt very much at home.
Thank you for your friendship, and rest assured, I will work very hard each and every day to keep it.
Have a very, merry Christmas!

“Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children; to remember the weaknesses and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and to ask yourself if you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open? Are you willing to do these things for a day? Then you are ready for Christmas!”
– Henry van Dyke

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