Good Christmas Morning...!!!!
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An Ozark E-Zine

 At 7am, Shawna sounded the alert that reindeer hooves had been heard departing the rooftop and thus it was time to open presents. So... we gathered in the twinkle-light bedecked living room, enjoying the warm glow of the fireplace, and tore in.

Unwrapping presents is such a grueling task, but sometimes worth the effort and this year there seemed to be more winners than flops. Topping the list of favorites in the "personal gift" category, Shawna got her Karaoke player ("It even puts the words on the TV," she exclaimed.), Josh got a "virtual snowboard" (watching him play with it is a show in itself), Shalom got an assortment of "Sponge Bob" goodies (slippers, flops, etc.) and Adam got a gas grill (yeah, I know, seems too "adult" a gift for this man-child, but it is part of my "grown-up education curriculum" and besides, he's the one that's been griping the loudest that since the old grill wore-out that we never do steaks anymore... so he really just got what he asked for -- ha!!!)

The Yamaha keyboard took top honors in the "family favorite" division and I was the recipient of an illuminated "tabletop water fountain" which is quite stupendous.

And of course the ever-popular "surprise" present from Santa (not really)... we woke up this morning to discover that our water pipes froze last night!!!!

Not to worry about this little inconvenience. It has happened before, and if I had been a truly wise woman I would have remembered to plug in the heat-tape I installed a couple of years ago... but I forgot. However, it is plugged-in now so we just have to give it some time. 

In the interim, we can get water from the hand-pump well in the basement for toilet flushing, but the well water comes with an unclean odor so I'm not too thrilled about using it for anything else. Thankfully, the kitchen started off clean this morning (in itself a cause for celebration) and we always have a couple of gallon jugs of potable water on hand, set aside to replenish the fish tank and as a reserve for just such an "emergency", so I can make coffee, which is really all I care about. Sorta had kinda wanted to take a shower and wash my hair, though. Still, things are not bad at all <grin>.

In Michigan one winter, it got so cold that my water pipes were frozen for 6 weeks. Thankfully, my business was located nearby and I had a full kitchen and bathroom there which was working fine, so again it really wasn't that big a deal. But anyway...

There are still presents waiting to be opened under our tree and we are all contentedly awaiting the departure of the icy-snow and the arrival of friends to celebrate this grand finale. Though of course the kids, being kids, are tremendously antsy and have asked at least a dozen times if they can't just maybe read the notes, but I -- being the Brigadier of our little family -- have of course adhered to the originally agreed upon action plan, insisting that we wait. 

And oh... just at this moment, another "WINNER" has been discovered. It's this silly little hair braiding gadget which I found for $3 at Big Lots and thought it would be worth at least that much to see whether it actually worked... Well, it does work and Shalom loves it.

Now Shawna is sitting next to me, on my unmade bed, showing off her treasure trove. "Look at my wallet, I love the kitty on it! And my fuzzy-fleecy blanket, I love it mom!!!"

Now Josh is dazzling me with his new "magic" deck of cards.

Now I'm sitting here alone... listening to them playing CDs in the living room, hearing them chitter-chatter about their gifts and prattle sibling nonsense amongst themselves. Truly being "with" each other. I am immersed in happy sounds.

Such a nice Christmas morning, and there is still snow.... Such should be the wonder, awe and thankfulness afforded to everyone's life, all eternity long.

(((hugs))) to y'all from all of us....

PS: Patty, still no word from the shipping folks... Guess you are entitled to your money back!!!!! And we sure could use that warm Florida weather you're sending!!!!

Santa's List
In the spirit of this month's editorial theme (see below), the above photo pays homage to our little family, being Patty, Josh, Adam, mom, Shalom & Shawna. We are one happy though rather doofy-looking bunch!!!

Another "holiday honors" recipient  this year is Mary Alice Beer. This darling of the Fairfield Bay community, who authored a series on local nature (Come Walk With Me), is an activist through-and-through. Also a dear friend who guarantees candor, Mary Alice keeps me (and thus you, dear readers) alert to such significant items of health-awareness interest as this little ditty that she just passed along. To Mary Alice and all those like her who show their caring for the health and well being of our shared planet by investing countless hours in educating all of us about the wonders of (and threats to) the natural beauty, wonder, and Godly gifts that surround us, I am humbly in your service.

Human Development and Social Well Being activist, Ken Lake keeps us informed on a plethora of issues, (click here for a look at his latest), which all thread back to having and holding a sustainable measure of collective well-being in life. I love ya, Ken. You are a Gozarks kind of guy!!!

And if you're wondering what all this is about, well...

This year Gozarks has been asked by "the big fellow in the red suit" to compile a list of "good little boys and girls" who have worked diligently all year long in service to some "greater good" while in the process of earning a living here in the Ozark Mountains. In satisfaction of this request, I'm dedicating Gozarks front page this month to fulfilling Santa's request.

Heading my list of unsung heroes is Clif Andrus, the production manager at Jacobs Printery who, while still finding time to be a family man and youth-services volunteer in our Van Buren County community, has always come through for me with top-quality "on time" service that redundantly delivers satisfied smiles to my brochure clients  Thanks Clif... you are aces and I hope 2005 is your best year yet!!!

Next up is Sue Pico, executive director of the North Central Arkansas Foundation for the Arts and Education (NCAFAE). This woman is tenacious in her work to engage children (of all ages) in a greater appreciation of the aesthetic side of life. Go get'em Sue!!!

Another dear heart is Dwayne Knox whose day job is that of Internet guru but who turns into a super-hero when the task list is done, voluntarialy investing his networking skills in support of Veterans For Peace to increase public awareness of the costs of war, to restrain our government from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations, to end the arms race, to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons, to seek justice for veterans and victims of war, and to abolish war as an instrument of national policy. Bravo Dwayne!!!

Also on our prestigious roll-call are Sandie & Tom Cloud (pictured at right), handcrafting proprietors of For Mother Earth in Norfork, Arkansas.

I met Sandie and Tom earlier this year, not long after they opened their (now thriving) storefront, during our mutual service to the Kucinich campaign, and I must say that when it comes to having dedicated one's life to "being the difference we wish to see in the world," I can think of no one who does it with more grace, panache and style. 

As and example of there determined efforts to mix business and environmental/civic activism, their holiday gift to you, starting today (December 1) and continuing through Sunday (December 5), Sandie & Tom will be screening the classic 1942 USDA film, "Hemp For Victory," and offering tantalizing samples of healthy omega-rich brownies, cookies, salad dressing, skin creams and nut butters, plus they will be giving 10% off their wide assortment of Nepalese re-cycled silk caps, beanies, hats, shawls, scarves and gloves, hand carved Indonesian DJEMBE drums (ask Sandie about drumming lessons!!!) and an abundant array of hempen fabrics, garments, and handcrafted jewelry.

"There is one small thing YOU CAN DO to help bring about CHANGE in our world," said Sandie. "Envision fields of hemp cleaning our environment, bringing jobs back to our country and securing a HEALTHY HOME for our children's children's great-grandchildren. While you're in our shop, pick up a FREE copy of HEMPHASIS, the magazine where you'll read about all the progressive ideas of the FUTURE OF HEMP! HEMP is TRENDY, HOT and HEMPENIN'! VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLARS FOR MOTHER EARTH. BUY HEMP!!!"

Anyway, I'll be adding more names to this list throughout December and if there's someone you'd like to see acknowledged here, please send the info along...!!!

In the interim, as always, I'm wishing all of us a life worth living, filled with all those things we prefer, desire, wholeheartedly celebrate and richly deserve to enjoy.

Christine Weiss
editor@gozarks.com

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Photo: Exterior of the Van Buren County Child Care Center building.