We can help others survive with dignity

We can help others survive with dignity

By LIZ THOMPSON, DAY BY DAY
Published: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 10:21 AM EST
Suburban News Publications

Winter is upon us. Most trees have given up their leaves that we have raked and blown to their various resting places.

At the base of one of the barren rose bushes was a shock of red. Looking closer, I saw it was one of those pesky maple tree upstarts. It had two large leaves that were a brilliant red. I wondered how it had survived my weeding.

We are all survivors, in our own right. We are not so different from the baby maple tree tucked in the corner of my garden. Like most people, I want to do more than merely survive — I want to thrive and enjoy the life God gave me. I want my days to count for something in the short time I am here. Days blend into days, and before I know it, another year is gone. I look back on the spent months without regret, but think of important tasks left undone.

As another Christmas time draws near, we are decorating our homes and shopping for the special people in our lives. Even though the politically correct saying is “Happy Holidays,” I say “Merry Christmas.” I want my year to end with meaning.

I will bake and share because doing so reminds me of my roots. My mother, grandmothers and aunts baked their special cookies at Christmas. I will knit gifts because the women in my life did the same, and now my daughter and granddaughter are doing the same. While I prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, I will keep my spirits light. Frenzy should not enter my days. Time spent with loved ones will hold joy.

When the gifts are opened and we are stuffing the wrappings into garbage bags, the cookies are all eaten and we have a week of leftovers, what’s next?

Today, there are neighbors left wanting for necessities in a time of almost unprecedented unemployment and other unforeseen circumstances. Jesus started in a humble dwelling being born in a stable surrounded by barn animals. Christmas is a season of hope.

Many people open their hearts and use their resources to help others. The blowing snow reminds us, too, of the need for warmth. In Grove City, Wieging Chiropractors is collecting clothing for a family in which the grandfather is raising his five grandchildren. Pinnacle Dental is collecting coats for the needy — one family of seven purchased a table full of coats instead of exchanging gifts. The YMCA crochet class made warm hats and scarves for the needy.

In Delaware, Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church adopted Woodward Elementary School. They are purchasing basic clothing and shoes these children need.

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church collected money to purchase 518 coats for children in need at Highland Elementary on the Hilltop and in the Hilliard school district. A Girl Scout troop made 30 hats, a woman in Michigan made more than 300 scarves and others donated warm accessories to go with the coats.

Unfortunately, the needy may always exist. The good news is we can make a difference when one by one we act with love. We can give people hope to survive with dignity. Just like the upstart maple tree in the corner of my garden.

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Writing serves as solace

Writing serves as solace over decades
by Liz Thompson

Published in Suburban News Publications, May 6, 2010

Memories are potent. Experiences with others help form who we become in life.

In March, I spoke to fourth graders at Grove City Christian School about what it is like to write for a newspaper and to be a writer. They had read “The Landry News” by Andrew Clements.  I read it, too, and recommend it for any age. The students were delightful, inquisitive, polite and funny. It was time well spent.

Why did I become a writer? Seems like I was always writing, making up new words to old songs, or imagining the “what ifs.” I simply love to write, read, and let my mind run with ideas. Libraries are my friend.

Recently, Dee Weaston Standish, a friend I’ve known since about 1956 in Westerville, reminded me of the name of the children’s book author our Girl Scout troop met; Ellen Snavely, author of “Shoes for Angela.” She lived one block from my home on Lincoln Street. I recalled sitting in her living room, listening to her and knowing I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.

I went online to see if I could buy her book and for $50-$75 I sure can.

Steven C. Smith lived down the street from me in Westerville and I vaguely remember him as tall, with white hair and a ready smile. He published a 92-page book of poetry, “Life as I See It” and I read it from time-to-time growing up. There is no date of publication in the book but I still enjoy reading his thoughts.

After 28 years as a secretary, typing and organizing other people’s ideas, I’m taking time to put my own ideas in print. In 1998, I wrote my first column for Suburban News Publications.  I learned from then Commentary Editor, Cliff Wiltshire how to hone in my thoughts.

Then as a copydesk typist at SNP, I was again typing other people’s ideas and was gleefully hooked on reporting – telling other people’s stories; my favorite writing.

Marty Rozenman, Editor during my stint at SNP, taught me journalism. When I told him I loved reporting, and added I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do something so fun; he said it was amazing people pay us because we know how to put coherent words into sentences and stories. Marty was there during a turning point in my life, cheering me on. He still is.

My one grandmother had a wall of books in her home. My father read constantly and now both parents are avid readers. English teachers in school encouraged me. One does not need to hear to read and since I lost all my hearing by 50, books were always a solace for me; an escape, if you will.  My writing became another way of communicating.  

These people, and many others, remain in my life. The memories are woven into who I have become.  I doubt the Snavely’s, Smith’s or Thompson’s, of this world, write to become famous. I thinkthey have the itch to write and share their thoughts; something to pass on, to make this life better.

God inspires me with a desire to pass on good news. Until those words circling my mind come to a halt, that’s what I’ll do.  My granddaughter, Elizabeth, writes beautifully. The circle remains unbroken.