Editorial: In the real spirit of Christmas

History has plenty to say about Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, who was born on the Fourth of July in Vermont and along the way to the White House graduated from Amherst College and was then elected governor of Massachusetts.

A man of few words, Coolidge earned the nickname “Silent Cal.”

But we came across these words from Coolidge the other day that pack quite a bit of meaning: “Christmas,” he said, “ is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

Coolidge may not have been one of the nation’s best presidents, but we think his thoughts about Christmas show a depth of character and compassion that deserve to be remembered, if not emulated.

But we don’t have to go far back in history to find examples of people, many in Franklin County, who demonstrate the real spirit of the holiday, that of mercy and goodwill.

Take, for instance, what the police departments in Bernardston and Ashfield did recently. They asked the public to “stuff their cruisers” — with toys that will be given to children who might otherwise not receive any gift for the holiday. In Bernardston’s case, people responded by filling three cruisers worth of toys in four hours. Undertaking such an effort shows another side to these men and women in law enforcement.

Those officers aren’t the only ones to see a need within their community and take action. The Deerfield Police Relief Association donated $500 worth of Big Y gift cards to the South County Senior Center, with the idea that these cards would go to Whately, Sunderland or Deerfield seniors who could use a little assistance in getting some groceries.

And then there are the people who — every year like clockwork — put together some kind of fundraising for The Recorder’s Warm the Children program, contributing to make sure that nearly 1,000 girls and boys in the county have the proper clothing throughout our dark, cold winters.

These are just a couple of examples where people take the message of the holidays to heart. We thank them and also hope that others will get into Coolidge’s “real spirit” and keep it going all through the year.

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