Last Saturday marked one of the days I look forward to each year.
Although it was cold and rainy outside Wal-Mart, I joined various other members of the Thomson Rotary Club to help fill the red buckets for the Salvation Army.
That's right, it was bell-ringing time again.
It'll be a few weeks before we know how much Saturday's efforts raised, but it was great to see the generosity of people. Some people had already walked to their cars and came back just to give. Others sent their children with handfuls of money.
And there's still time for you to give if you didn't make it out on Saturday. The Salvation Army - and many, many other groups, if you'd prefer - are grateful for your charity all year, not just at Christmas.
Speaking of charity, McDuffie Mirror readers helped some kids at the local Boys & Girls Club have a very merry Christmas. When all the gifts were delivered late last week, the wishes of nearly two dozen children had been fulfilled through the 2005 edition of The McDuffie Mirror's Angel Tree.
Thanks to everyone who adopted one of those angels. Your generosity is just one of the millions of reasons I love the Christmas season, and I'm proud to call McDuffie County home.
While many of you are anticipating Christmas this week, I'm already in the post-Yuletide mode. Since both my parents are working on Christmas day (Yes, the "crippled" Old Man returned to work this week), the family decided to Christmas a week early - continuing the tradition of a fish fry.
It's amazing the memories a day like that can bring. This year, it wasn't so much the times my grandparents spent Christmas Eve night or the days we spent opening presents. Instead, it was the great "Freezer Stews" my grandfather used to make.
As a couple of us stood around the fish cooker Sunday, we reminisced about Boww - my granddad - and his concoctions, which often included everything from turtle claws to skinned squirrels. And to think I was queasy at the thought of eating mullet roe Sunday.
(Since Christmas came a little early for me, one thing did get delayed in the holiday shuffle. Those Christmas employee pictures I mentioned last week will have to wait until next week. But they're coming - even if it will be a few days after Santa's stop.)
If the holidays have snuck up on you too, you've still got a couple of options. Don't forget about the local Easter Seals ornaments and commemorative plates available at the Chamber of Commerce.
And my personal favorite this year, custom wine labels from 1810 Country Inn and Winery. If you haven't seen them, stop by, have some lunch and check them out.
One more thing, a tip of my hat to the late Richard Pryor. He was one of the first comedians I ever listened to, and certainly one of my favorites.
His spirit was fueled by the smiles he gave and the laughs he spurred.
He celebrated his 65th birthday Dec. 1, and posted a message on his internet bulletin board. He just wanted to make sure people knew he was still around, and said his wife was convinced nothing could kill him.
"Not drugs, not the fire, not the heart attacks and not even her!" he wrote. "She says I'm gonna outlive everybody!!"
He was right. In the hearts, CD players and mp3 players of his fans, he will be immortal.
Merry Christmas everyone.
And God bless each one of you.