Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

There was a time when not having my children at Christmas would have devastated me. But this year sitting by the fire with Rick and the dogs sounds just fine. There'll be bread in the oven and crab in the refrigerator and Christmas 2009 will be memorable in its own way.

When your children are grown and have partners, holiday visits are often split between families. My sons were here for Thanksgiving. It's their favorite meal and it never fails to bring them home. My youngest son and his wife decided at the last minute to make the trip from Salem, even though Dana had to be back at work early Saturday morning. They arrived Thursday with my then-3-week-old granddaughter just as I was putting the turkey in the oven. My early Christmas gift was holding Kayla while she slept through Thanksgiving dinner and feeling her baby breath on my face.

I thought long and hard about what to give her this first Christmas. I chose a music box with a ballerina inside that twirls in front of a mirror-I had one just like it when I was a little girl. And I got her the Nutcracker Suite CD so that in a few years when we go to the ballet together she'll be able to hum along with Tchaikovsky!

Last week I rushed through projects of baking cookies and framing

family photos to mail so I'd have time for the holiday ritual I like

best: writing Christmas cards. Every year at this time I turn the pages

of my worn address book to find friends from grammar school, high

school, college and past jobs in other cities. I write to friends of my

mother's and mothers of my friends. E-mail would be quicker and

certainly gentler on Mother Earth, but a handwritten note sent via

old-fashioned stamped mail is one Christmas tradition I can't let go of.

And now there's just one card left to write. To you, dear reader.

Once a week for two and a half years I've shared my tales with you.

We've become friends. You stop me at the grocery store to tell me how

something I've written made you laugh or made you cry. You never

complain, well, except for the lady who was upset because I wrote about

fresh Bandon cranberries that she couldn't get. But then I brought her

some and she was happy.

Thanks to those who called to see if I was OK when my column didn't

run a few weeks ago. You were genuinely concerned about my well-being

except for the guy who asked if I'd run out of things to write about.

Truth be told, a virus attacked our home computer and by the time the

issue was resolved I was just too tired. And I thought you wouldn't


Seasons greetings to new friends like the Winters-Webb family who've

invited me to the October harvest at their cranberry bog. And to Jon

Parmentier whom I spotted playing guitar at the Soroptimists' holiday

bazaar and boldly asked to entertain us at The Triplicate's holiday

potluck. Without hesitation he said yes and charmed us with his music

for over two hours. Thank you, Jon.

I'm told that no one knows what a publisher does. Besides writing a

weekly column, my work this year has been focused on keeping this ship

steady as she goes. The talented and dedicated crews at the office and

at our printing plant have made personal sacrifices to ensure we stay

afloat. Business partners have stepped up, too, and shown their support

in many ways. To you-readers, colleagues, partners, friends, all-I send

thanks and appreciation. I wish you the kind of radiant joy I feel when

I'm holding Kayla Grace.

Reach Michele Thomas, The Daily Triplicate's publisher, at 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.