Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
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My wrapping paper this year is blue with white and silver snowflakes. The ribbon is silver and the gift tags are white houses with the names of who the present belongs to written in silver marker.
Picking out the paper and accessories to match is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. I change the scheme every year but always keep it festive.
Giving gifts is one of my other favorite parts of the holiday. I love seeing the look on someone's face when I give them something; to see them process that I spent the time to get them a present nobody else would think to get them.
One Christmas I told my sister there was something in her stocking she overlooked. She very excitedly went over to check it out and was incredibly disappointed to find out it was a rock.
Look, I couldn't find coal and the role of 'big sister” is to be a menace, right? That was 10 years ago and I'm still laughing about it. But that's neither here nor there.
About a month ago- or maybe two- someone asked me my favorite part of my job. I immediately knew the answer, but I didn't know how to explain it. Instead I gave a different answer, still true, but not the one I thought of first.
I told them my favorite part of the job was the people I meet. While very high on my list, it wasn't exactly the truth. The answer I wanted to give was that my favorite part of the job is the feeling. Sometimes I come back from an interview or an event and have no idea where to begin. Other times I know exactly where to begin.
But when it's all said and done and I see it the next day on the page, sitting on my desk and waiting to be read, there's a special feeling I get. It's bigger than pride or accomplishment. It really is hard to describe.
For weeks I've been trying to think of a memory or a time that would resonate but with the holidays approaching my mind has been preoccupied. Christmas music is on every radio station, the movies are playing consecutively on television. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
I started thinking about my childhood memories and the big one that sticks out to me was reading my favorite book, 'A Snowy Day,” with my mom. It is a small cardboard book about a boy named Peter who loves snow and has the coolest red snow suit you have ever seen.
In the book, he wakes up one morning to find it snowed the night before so he goes outside and plays. He makes a snowman, snow angels, pretends he's a mountain climber and even makes a snowball to put in his pocket to keep. That night he has a dream the sun came out and melted all the snow. When he wakes up, he discovers the souvenir he put in his pocket is gone, but more snow fell overnight. It's going to be another snowy day.
I've always loved that book and not just because the illustrations are wonderful. Just because it was relatable.
All he wanted was to explore all the endless possibilities outside his window. He had the opportunity to try several different things at once. There was nothing he couldn't do or see or explore. He loved it so much he scooped it up to put in his pocket to save just in case he didn't get the chance to experience it again. Maybe that's what I was trying to describe.
The way peter looks at snow is the way I look at news.
I want to jump in head first and listen to what people have to say so I can push the words around on the page and create something worth looking at and remembering. I want to take people places they've never been without having them even leave their chairs. I want to save it and put it in my pocket to share with everyone.
It means just as much to me.
I look at having the chance to write these stories as my present every day. I love getting to listen to what people have to say, what they have experienced, who they have seen or known.
There is a feeling of pureness and goodness and honorability to be the one to get to tell the story to the rest of town. The next day when I come into work and the paper is sitting on my desk, I get excited once more. Just like Peter, I am thrilled to start all over again.
My wrapping paper this year is blue with white and silver accents. It's just the theme I decided on. It will change next year.
But the gift I get from you five days a week is wrapped in newsprint and tied together with stories and decorated with faith that I got it right. There's no present I can open tomorrow or on any other Christmas Day that will ever be as good as this one.