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Small Town Christmas — By John Reed

Small Town Christmas
Following a recent trip to Chicago, I’m reminded once again of the differences between urban and rural life…and those who live there.
Cities are great for anonymity. You can literally disappear among the millions. If you want to travel the world, just walk down a sidewalk or take a cab: chances are you’ll hear any language except English.
Small town folks know everyone…and everyone’s business. Multiculturalism has arrived here as well: I can often hear at least three languages spoken in the same place…or at least three different accented versions of English…or Spanish spoken with a Chinese accent!
Not many homeless folks, hobos, vagrants, and the like are found here. We just don’t offer the kinds of services (read “handouts”) they would find in cities. Of course we have charities here too, but we tend to know exactly who needs the help (and why).
The Christmas decorations among the 50-story buildings along Michigan Avenue are magical and impressive. Here we have the occasional homeowner who goes all out with inflatable Santas and reindeer and strings of lights tossed into trees. Our Christmas trees come fresh cut from local farms. Our parade has just one band.
Among the differences there are some universal similarities: dissatisfaction with both leading presidential candidates, blame on both sides of the various conflicts overseas, the usual griping on the price of gas. The same overplayed ten Christmas carols.
But no matter where I am, no matter who I talk to, the spirit of Christmas is alive and well. From newborns sharing the birthdate all Christians celebrate to miraculous lung transplants to years-long family reconciliations, and more.
Here’s hoping all of you reading this experienced a very merry Christmas.

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