Christmas Blessings Abound

Merry Christmas, readers!

The countdown to Christmas has begun in earnest and, if you’ve procrastinated, you have only a few hours left today to buy those final gifts for friends and loved ones. The fact that Christmas Eve occurs on a Sunday this year complicates last-minute shopping and deliveries.

But, of course, for religious folks, the true gift of the season is much greater and cannot be bought at any store. We see glimpses of that light in our daily lives and in our hopes for the future.

Amid the darkness that pervades the world today, there are bright spots of human charity, generosity and love. It’s easy to be cynical or to despair in a world where senseless violence occurs on a daily basis, where natural disasters threaten homes and open spaces, where hatred is expressed routinely and where bad behavior runs rampant. One of the little gifts of the holiday season, though, is the ability to look through that darkness and find the good in humankind and see glimmers of kindness.

In the Ohio Valley, we are blessed with good people doing the right thing on a daily basis, quietly and without fanfare. During the holidays, many area residents step up their generosity by sharing their time, talent and treasure with congregations, organizations and other groups that help neighbors in need. Countless numbers of good people, of all ages, aid their communities with unselfish acts of caring and concern.

At the newspapers, we love to share “good news” of people helping their fellow men and women. These stories of goodwill are inspiring, humbling and heart-warming.

After the hustle and bustle ends, everyone could benefit from taking time to reflect on the true meaning of the religious holidays and secular celebrations that occur at this time of year.

When sickness, suffering, fear and poverty threaten one’s existence, it can be difficult, or nearly impossible, to identify any source of happiness. Help is available in our communities but, sadly, more resources are needed to assist people who are alone, homeless or feeling helpless.

Even in hard times, many people do manage to find a bit of joy in their lives and a spark that gives them hope. May we all be blessed with kindness and unconditional love during this season and in the months and years to come.


NBC journalist and “Today” co-anchor Hoda Kotb gave a shout-out to Morgantown this past week while discussing memories of her childhood Christmas celebrations.

Kotb grew up in Morgantown before her family moved to Alexandria, Va. Many people don’t know that her father was a professor of engineering at West Virginia University.

Although Kotb graduated from Virginia Tech, she talked about her love for West Virginia when she served as the keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony at WVU’s P.I. Reed School of Journalism in 2009.


After the final snowflake has pirouetted across the stage in various “Nutcracker” performances, only a few days will be available for dancers and instructors to seek placement in the 2018 West Virginia State Dance Festival.

Officials of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History said directors of dance companies and schools across the Mountain State have until Jan. 5 to submit applications to the division for entry in the statewide dance festival. Dancers’ applications and scholarship requests are due Jan. 12.

The dance festival will take place April 27-29 at the Culture Center in Charleston. Lorraine Elizabeth Graves, former principal dancer at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, will return as lead faculty and adjudicator for the festival.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@