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Published: Sunday, 12/28/2008

The holiday spirit

NORTHWEST Ohio has weathered adversity before. Reinventing ourselves after the heyday of the glass industry, for one thing, has perhaps equipped us to weather the stresses that come with reinventing the modern auto industry.

That's a thought Toledoans need to hold as they ply through the rest of the winter holidays clouded by uncertainty.

No one would have guessed six months ago that at year's end the nation's economy would be fractured and failing in a way not seen since the Great Depression. Jobs are being cut, savings have been deflated, and many of the country's bedrock banks and firms cling to lifelines thrown by the government. We've come a long way from the go-go 1990s. While losses and fears of losses dampen holiday spirits, now is a good time to cling to our true riches - friends, family, work, knowledge, memories.

And though many of us worry about the economic uncertainty, there still is a little bit of a sense of hope in the air. Perhaps some have never taken note before, but it's interesting that the holidays come at the end of the year. Right now, many of us are ready to bury 2008 and welcome 2009. It's true that there are signs that a good portion of the new year will be glum, but turning a new page is always a good thing.

Maybe you didn't get exactly what you wanted on Christmas Day. Or maybe you couldn't give all that you wanted to give. In this economic downturn, that's understandable. Material goods will come and go; their values rise and fall with the seasons. But the real presents of Christmas are the ones we can't hold in our hands. A funny story told to a child. An hour spent with a lonely neighbor. A phone call made to a long lost pal. Kind words on a job, a meal, or a friendship well done. Thoughts about the past that make us smile.

If these are the times that try everyone's wallets, then thank goodness it's only about money. So long as there's a day to be lived, a hand to be held, and time to be shared, these are holidays worth celebrating. Thank goodness that the rest are mere distractions.

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