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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.