Off The Press

December 22, 2008

By Kathleen R. Merrill

Kathleen R. Merrill Press EditorKathleen R. Merrill Press Editor

“Peace on earth, good will toward men.” That’s what this season is supposed to be about. Some people think it’s about keeping up with the Joneses or looking or cooking better than their neighbors/family members/friends. Ugh.

I prefer people who, at any time of the year, try to keep in mind that other people need help. And sometimes, it can be something as small as a smile.

I have a friend who tells me on a regular basis, “There’s always another way of looking at it,” no matter what it is. And you can often find that’s true, if you try.

After I’d had two major surgeries in a year and a half, a friend e-mailed me and said, “You know, some crap is always coming to get you.” She didn’t just mean me; she meant that’s how she feels. I laughed hard at the sentiment, because I felt that way right at that time.

However, when I sent that e-mail to a number of friends with a hardy, “Amen!” attached, my aforementioned positive friend wrote back and said, “You know, that means that some good stuff is always coming to get you, too.” I didn’t laugh (I grumbled), but I did appreciate the way she was seeing it, and I try to remember to do likewise.

Finding that positive is what I am referring to, aside from the Christmas spirit, when I say try to spread peace and good will.

I’ve walked to work for more than a week, now that the snow/ice/freezing cold has turned my gorgeous red car into a fairly useless lead sled. (But no, she isn’t now for sale, those of you who keep asking me!)

As I walked this morning, I thought about that good-will phrase. I’m sending major kudos to the   Issaquah Police Department for having the only clear sidewalk on my half-mile hike to the office!

That’s an example of something nice you can do. Clear your walk, or someone else’s, even if you aren’t going to be walking on it. In this weather, when lots of people have to make their way around town on foot, having a safe sidewalk is important.

Bring your pets inside, even if they are outdoor pets. I stopped and petted a fairly frozen kitty this morning, and snuggled her for a few minutes to give her some warmth. Don’t want your outdoor kitty indoors? How about giving her a blanket or inside place (garage? carport?) to get out of the wind and snow?

Do you have elderly neighbors who can’t get out, but may need help with an errand? Or you could shovel their walk. Or maybe just walk over and visit. Taking a thermos of hot cocoa with you would be a welcome gesture.

Do you know someone who can’t get home for the holidays, or didn’t have anywhere to go in the first place? Invite them over for dinner, or share a plate of holiday treats.

Buy an extra grocery item for someone you know who needs it. Or toss a dollar or two in that Salvation Army pail. Or buy an extra item to drop in the food bank or pet food donation barrel at the store.

This morning, as I walked along, I spotted a young man with a really unhappy face trudging through the snow toward me. As he got closer, I smiled my brightest smile and wished him a happy day. Like magic, his scowl disappeared and he broke into a grin and replied, “Hey, thanks. I really needed that today.”

I’m still smiling about that, hours later. Sometimes giving someone a gift gives you one, too. Good will toward men indeed.

Reach Editor Kathleen R. Merrill at 392-6434, ext. 227 or Comment on this column at

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