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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Small Town Blessings: Merry Christmas for One!

I love living in Woodstock! (The "other Woodstock") As I've gone around town the last few days I haven't been wished happy holidays or seasons greetings. No, the clerk at the post office and the cashiers at Sheetz and Rite Aid all wished me a "Merry Christmas." Even a local real estate office wishes me a "very Merry Christmas" on their sign board every time I pass by. There is something so much more human in a small town. We lived in Alexandria for about 38 years and, while it offered many amenities we don't have in Woodstock -- five nearby parishes with lots of daily Mass times from which to choose, many good restaurants, several nearby Malls, and a great choice among grocery stores -- I gladly accept their loss for a less anonymous place filled with real people -- that and all the animals grazing on the hillsides and the wide variety of birds coming to our feeders -- not to mention the beautiful mountains.

But a town filled with friendly, real people was the first thing I ever noticed about Woodstock. I forgot my glasses at the Post Office shortly after we moved and within an hour the clerk called our home. I was just puzzling about where I had put my glasses this time. What particularly impressed me was that she had to use the return address (no name) on the package I mailed to reverse look us up and find our telephone number. It took some effort which she apparently was happy to make. The grumpy postal clerks in Alexandria treated customers like the plague. My challenge there was to get one particular clerk to smile. I usually did by commiserating with her about how difficult it can be to serve the public. Had I left my glasses there...well...they had a lot of customers.

So here I am a few days before Christmas incredibly grateful for living in Woodstock and praying for everyone who is so fortunate to live here and in Shenandoah County. Sometimes my husband and I walk around town, rosaries in hand, praying for all the residents.

Woodstock isn't heaven, of course. With the benefits of small town living also come its downside like the incestuous politics and limited job opportunities. But taken all together, Woodstock is the kind of place the Book of Revelation must have in mind when it warns readers to "flee the cities." You could hardly find a lovelier place to retire.


Phil Dunton said...

All the pluses of small town living that you mention are very true. However, you fail to mention the most critical disadvantage of living in a remote area and that's the lack of first class medical care in an emergency situation. This is of critical concern for senior citizens. We retired to an area near Berkeley Springs, WV and the nearest hospital was in Martinsburg, WV, some 25 miles away. The quality and sophistication of medical care at that hospital was extremely low and the facility wasn't even clean. Many of my friends had vey bad experiences there and swore they would never go back. I have heard from others that the quality of care in Winchester isn't much better. Luckily, we still owned our home in NOVA so we bailed out of WV for that very reason I have lots of friends who have retired in very bucolic places in remote areas like the Outer Banks of NC. I always tell them "you live in a very nice place but whatever you do, don't get sick".

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Woodstock has a hospital, but if anything major happens they transport patients to Winchester. That happened to me when I appeared to be having a stroke which turned out to be symptoms of an autoimmune disease. Winchester actually has pretty good ratings, but I was not happy at all with the emergency room. My experience with Shenandoah in Woodstock which offers limited care is a much more human place. I get my blood work done there every other month and they are very satisfactory on that level also with routine procedures like colonoscopies, etc.

Dymphna said...

On the other hand the last time I was in the hospital in Alexandria I noticed that the only Americans there were myself, my husband and the security guard. The waiting room was not clean and the experience was unpleasant until we got to the ER. In DC at world class George Washington hospital you can expect to can wait for hours while sitting next to drunks, gang members, and poor souls who just wandered in. There are pluses and minuses to everything.