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Blessings on the Run

Steal a minute of mindfulness from cooking turkeys and playing Santa

Blub … blub … blub … blub …    
        That’s the rhythm that tells you your Southern Maryland stuffed ham is boiling its way to perfection. So says Celeste Furey of St. Leonard, hostess of an annual pre-Thanksgiving all-day stuffing party.
    Blub … … … … blub … … … … blub … … … … blub … … … … is too slow.
    Blub, blub, blub, blub is too fast.
    Too fast may well be the rhythm that’s driving you into the holidays.
    There is so much to do this time of year. Bay Weekly is part of the problem because Season’s Bounty, Your Essential Guide to the Holidays, puts it all right up there in front of you. So much fun, so few days! On the first Saturday in December alone, at least 75 opportunities divide you like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I’m juggling six that day with as many pulling at me the next, when what I really want to do is stay home and set up the Christmas tree.
    But gosh! Then I’d miss — just for starters — December 2’s ALS Artisan Boutique, Calvert County Christmas Parade, Open House at the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum, tree decorating at Captain Avery Museum, evergreen trimming at American Chestnut Land Trust, the Arundel Vocal Arts Society and the Celtic Christmas and St. Margaret’s Advent concerts.
    On the home front, I bet you’re pulled, just like me, by cleaning, decorating, baking, menu planning, present wrapping, hall decking, caroling, visiting and receiving visits. I’ve even got ironing antique table linens on my list. (Anybody remember the rules for stiff old-fashioned starching and ironing?)
    Not to mention holiday shopping.
    That’s just the top of the holiday iceberg. Down under are all the feelings we bring to this complex and demanding season. Ask friends and neighbors about holiday plans, and you’re sure to come upon the person dealing with the first Thanksgiving since a mother’s death. Loss and loneliness are hard holiday company. But we’re all receiving them.
    Yes, these are busy times.
    Which is why I want you to give Bay Weekly a bit of your time.
    Will you please slow down long enough to read this week’s feature story?
    Read A Dozen Neighbors Share Their Blessings, and you’ll shift the psychic gear into the holiday spirit.
    Here’s why.
    First, you’ll have to listen. When you’re moving fast, all you’re likely to hear is the sound of the wind rushing past. Blown right past are the qualities supposed to enrich the season: mindfulness, awareness of ourselves in relationship to other people, to our nation’s history and to our sources of spiritual renewal.
    Harken to your neighbors, as we’ve done, and their human voices will hearten you. That’s why Bay Weekly does stories of this sort, asking a timely question and sharing with you the answers. As journalists, we’re supposed to be good listeners; curiosity got most of us into this line of work. Still, stories like this make us renew our powers of thoughtful listening.
    Immediately, we’re rewarded by meeting you.
    Who are you?
    We don’t approach our survey with scientific precision, but we do try for a broad sample. We worked from zip code maps of Anne Arundel and Calvert counties to balance geography, then to seek diversity in gender, age, occupation, race, ethnicity and religion.
    With five or six reporters at work, we do a lot of talking to make sure we’re achieving balance and depth.
    To get depth, we go into our little interview honestly. You’ve got to get in a real conversation to persuade people to get past polite clichés and open their hearts.
    Most of us are quite willing, even eager, to tell our truths. Over many, many years of reporting, I’ve become a believer that if I listen, people will talk, honestly and openly. If they’re making it up, then I’m lucky enough to come on a good storyteller.
    Read A Dozen Neighbors Share Their Blessings, and you’ll experience the holiday magic of good human company.
    There’s still another reason to take a moment out of your busy-ness to read this story, and even better, read it before you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner.
    The simple honesty of these stories is sure to inspire you to count your own blessings.
    Young mother Julia Bennett will remind you how it feels to have a new baby in your life. Lauren Malecki will remind you of the pleasure of home. Nancy Jo Steetle will remind you of the values of everyday kindness. Joe Brotherton will remind you of the rewards of work. Myung Song will remind you of the indomitable immigrant spirit. Nia Olabesi will remind you that our community is nation- and world-wide. Pete Smith will remind you to keep trying. Rich Nieman will remind you of second chances. Alex Lohman will remind you to hope. David Lowe, Pat Mahoney and Clea Macurdy will remind you that life’s sweetness is sharpened by trouble.
    You won’t want to be left out. Who can hear a good story without matching it? I hope you can’t. Because our story isn’t complete until you count your own blessings.
    Tell me yours — and please share your holiday
traditions — at [email protected].

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; [email protected]

Thank you for sharing my message with your readers. You are so appreciated and we are very thankful for everyone at Bay Weekly.