It literally seems like it was only last week that I was sitting down at this computer putting my Christmas thoughts together. I distinctly recall writing about the annual tradition of sending and receiving Christmas cards. It doesn't seem possible that another 365 days have rolled off the calendar. Until Wednesday, it appeared as this Christmas season was headed somewhat to the dark side, not unlike Tim Burton's “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” The community is being plagued by a series of home invasions and other crimes of theft. While watching a news report on Channel 5 out of Memphis I learned that a high school drama class in a southern Arkansas community put out a Christmas play on You Tube entitled “Gangsta Santa,” in which a couple of hoodlums actually shoot Santa Claus. Some may call this creativity but I find myself scratching my head wondering why youngsters have this type of image imprinted in their minds. My answer was – such is the world we are living in today. Because of the state of the economy, more and more people are concerned with getting the latest bargains on Black Friday than they are donating to such worthy causes such as the Angel Tree Project and the foster children Christmas drive. Sometimes it seems as though we are living in a nation full of Ebenezer Scrooges while the Bob Cratchit's continue to live in hunger, poverty and despair. Then, like a breath of fresh air, Wednesday's Rotary Club meeting turned my thoughts back to the true meaning of Christmas. The guest speaker for the noon luncheon was forced to cancel the speaking engagement at the last minute. West Hornor was left to adlib the program and a fine job he did indeed. “I know we are all depressed and concerned about all the criminal activity in our community,” he said. “But this is the season for giving and compassion.” I took the liberty of paraphrasing here a little bit because I confess I wasn't taking notes at the time but rather taking in the moment. Hornor proceeded to ask his fellow Rotarians to pass on some positive things that are taking place in our community. Despite the community's problems, I came to the conclusion that there are still more good things taking place than bad. The good things just don't get the ink that the bad things do because good is what we are supposed to be doing. Now I would like to shift thoughts here in midstream. Briefly, I would like to recall yet another Christmas tradition from the good old days. While some people today still take the time to elaborately decorate their homes for Christmas, not as many do it as they did back in the early 60s. Money and time are the primary reasons for that. My family and extended family set aside one night during the Christmas season to drive around the community and view the Christmas lights. Some were almost breath taking. The downtown streets in Osceola were saturated with lights including the courthouse lawn. A star, which could be seen for miles, adorned the water tower in the middle of town. The Fairly Clinic had a display that not only moved but also sang a Christmas carol that could be clearly heard when you rolled the car window down on a frosty December night. Of course, the houses ranged from the simple Christmas tree in the window to Santa and his reindeer on the roof. One home was decked out in beautiful blue lights. That tradition continued until some juvenile delinquent decided to shoot out several bulbs with a BB gun and the lights were forever dimmed. Looking at Christmas lights was something that Joyce and I continued with our children and if things work out maybe we can do it with the grandkids. This edition of The Helena World should be in your hands on Christmas Eve, the longest night of the year for youngsters. May Santa bless your household with love as he has ours – and to all my faithful readers, Merry Christmas.