Joys of the season


by Frances Edstrom

At David Echelard's Blue Heron Consort performance last Sunday at the beautiful Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels, I ran into Chris Robinson, a local minister and wife of Post movie reviewer Dave Robinson. She was standing next to three large suitcases on the sidewalk. I asked if she were running away from home, but no, the cases were packed with the handbells that the Consort had used (beautifully) in the concert, and Chris was returning them to one of the churches she serves.

We chatted briefly, and the conversation led to our jobs. I said, "It's great to have a job you like, isn't it?" Her face actually lit up when she replied "yes."

Why am I relating this story? Because I love my job, and you are a large part of the reason that I do. I've always like to read, and newspapers were a big part of my reading beginning when I was just a child. (In fact, there is a famous story in our family of the time that I would not let my little brother look at the comics pages as I read them spread out on the living room floor. I'd like to think I was being perverse because I realized he couldn't read, but I was just trying to irritate him. And, yes, he became very irritated, sat on my head and put up a howl. Just as my mother was coming to see what was the matter, he wet his pants, and my hair. I'd like to think he couldn't help it, but whatever, I really like him now.)

I remember years before I ever saw North Dakota reading an article in the Sunday news magazine in the New York Times about a drought there. The pictures were so graphic and memorable "” huge cracks in farmer's fields as though an earthquake had split the earth, men and women in desperate straits "” that when I finally did get to North Dakota as an adult, I was overwhelmed that its green rolling beauty was not the mental picture I had carried all those years.

Newspapers are the poems and novels of the news business. Their news coverage has the leisure to be in-depth, well-written, thought provoking, and it doesn't disappear into the ether when it is replaced by the newest news. Newspaper pictures and stories can be cut out and stuck on the refrigerator, or in a scrapbook, sometimes found years later to evoke a former age.

But what I love most as a newspaper writer and editor is that this business creates a real, solid relationship between the writer and the reader. Wherever I go, I will inevitably run into a person who has read something in our paper and wants to remark upon it. (I even like it when they don't agree with me!) I've met hundreds of people through my job. When I wrote about going through breast cancer, I had the chance to meet other women with breast cancer and hear their stories. At least once a month I chat with someone about hip replacements. After the floods this August, people felt comfortable writing to us about their experiences. But it's not all about our problems. When I announced in my column that I was going to be a grandmother, everywhere I went people told me how lucky I was and how much I was going to love having grandchildren.

Through these relationships I see the love and hope in people; I am encouraged to see the sun shining through the clouds as I realize how brave and resourceful my readers are when adversity hits. Thank you to all of you for giving me this most precious gift. Merry Christmas and may you enjoy the peace of the season.


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