New year has to be better for many

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Not all gifts come wrapped in ribbons and bows. There is no gift like peace of mind for those who are embattled and bone-tired.
This holiday season, I spent very little time in shopping centers, as my life has changed tremendously of late. I have two kids in college, two jobs, a weary body and a tired mind. And yet, I can say that I am happier – and luckier – than I probably deserve to be.
Thrilled. I am thrilled that I have two children healthy enough to be in college, working hard while pursuing their dreams, heading toward a life’s goal. We worked hard to get them there, and we are extremely grateful that they are on their way.
For the little time that I did spend out there in the crazy world doing some shopping, it didn’t take long to see that there are many people who are unhappy, dead tired, at the end of their proverbial rope.
I watched one woman struggle with a huge stack of coupons while her three young children clamored for a trip over to the toy aisle. I couldn’t help but notice the lightweight coats the children were wearing on what was an extremely cold, blustery day.
Another aisle later, a young man put something in his cart and then punched some numbers into a pocket calculator. He crammed the calculator back in his shirt pocket, and pulled the item out of the cart, setting it back on the shelf.
I talked with an older gentleman who had lost his job just six months shy of retirement. He had been a loyal employee to that company for many years and lost his position with nothing to show for it when his department’s work was shipped out to Mexico.
The company was looking at the bottom dollar, and his years of loyal, hard work meant absolutely nothing.
“It makes a fellow feel pretty worthless,” he said to me.
Stark reality. We all are living with the reality of tight budgets and hoping for lighter days ahead. We are hoping for the day when a worker’s loyalty means something like it should.
Whenever these stressful feelings overcome me, I think of the young men and women fighting a world away and wonder how in the world they are keeping their chins up. I wonder how they find a way to face the horror and fear that they must see and feel every single day.
I also wonder where it will lead and when we will see the end of this war. My heart goes out to the servicemen and women fighting this war, and my thoughts and prayers are with all of their families.
I cannot imagine the concern for the families left behind to wait for their safe return. For those families, and for those serving, I pray for the gift of their safe return in the new year.
And I pray for peace and serenity for those who are embattled and weary. May 2008 bring good things to all.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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