'Tis the season of positive thinking
As holiday stories go, it's hard to top the one featured on the front page of our Tuesday paper. Army National Guard Spc. William Dowis made a secret return home from duty in Afghanistan, surprising his 5-year-old daughter Emma Kate in her kindergarten classroom at Pharr Elementary School on Monday .
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The picture is perfect. Emma Kate's face shows pure joy, while her father has a look of contentedness that goes with a hug nine months in the making. The video accompanying the story on our website is just as good, capturing the moment when a little girl gets the best Christmas gift she's ever received. Or likely ever will.
It's good stuff. The type of story that chokes you up a little. The type we can't get enough of during the holidays. Said one poster on our website: "These types of stories concerning families reuniting NEVER get old." Said another: "Wow! That video really makes me smile! Bless her heart!"
Those feelings are why folks of a certain age can't get enough of "It's a Wonderful Life" this time of year. And while many other feel-good Christmas movies are so popular. Sometimes it's just nice to feel good, to be happy no matter what. To enjoy the ending to your favorite Christmas movie, even though it may be as sweet as any candy cane.
We all get enough unhappy news in our lives. From bad traffic to a rough economy to questionable politics, we get our daily dose of disappointment. But this time of year, a lot of us grin and bear the mall traffic, forget about the savings for a little while at least, and maybe try to stay away from Fox News and CNN. Everybody could use a break sometimes. Even cynics need Santa.
So for the next week and a half a lot of us will be on our best behavior. We'll try to see the best in our fellow man, wish peace on earth to everyone and all that jazz. We'll probably be nicer than normal to co-workers (and maybe even our relatives) and maybe do something extraordinary for a stranger (I saw today that one of my Facebook friends had the person in front of him in a drive-through purchase his meal) as we rush home to watch cinematic versions of those same nice acts.
As Christmas and the all-day marathon of "A Christmas Story" fade into New Year's Day, that attitude will fade as well. And when Christmas movies are pushed to the back of the shelf and traffic again begins to drive you slowly but surely insane (thank you HOT lanes), the cynics will once again overpower Santa. And the only red cheeks you'll see are the ones of the irate driver who can't believe you didn't let him cut in front of you.
It's times like that, when exasperation has replaced the Christmas spirit, that it might be a good time to go back to a webpage you bookmarked, and take another look at the picture and video of a little girl named Emma Kate who didn't need a movie to make her believe in Christmas miracles.
Email Todd Cline at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Wednesdays.