Christmas story points us to

It is a clear indication of the state of our society when I have to preface a column about what I am thankful for and how the spirit of Christmas is very important to our nation this year with the following statements: I can say in my nearly 60 years on this earth I have never seen a more contentious time. And that includes the unrest of what we often refer to as the ’60s.

I am thankful we have moved through this particularly bruising election cycle. It has been difficult for all sides. Most people seem to feel unhappy with the result. This seems to be the case whether they are supporters of the president-elect or not. Those who supported Hillary Clinton are unhappy with the result, and those who supported President-elect Trump are unhappy with the criticisms. We have moved through the election and are in the process of inaugurating Mr. Trump. We must be happy about that.

I am thankful the family of Lisa Muegge and their friends chose to continue the Feast of Plenty that happened on Thanksgiving Day. From our perspective, the day went on without difficulty. That is not to say the preparations were easy or the work of the day was easy. I think it was made more difficult for the memories of Lisa. And yet we all felt her spirit shining down on us.

I am thankful for the Muegges allowing BackPacks of Hope – Greenfield to make the Feast of Plenty our single largest distribution event of the year. This was our third year. We continue to distribute more backpacks every year as word continues to spread that we will be there.

I am thankful for all those who contribute to BackPacks of Hope through the year and as we prepare for the Feast of Plenty. I am thankful for Keely and Brandon Butrum, who for the past two years have contributed their time and vehicles to getting us from the World Renewal International building to the Hancock County 4-H Fairgrounds. I am thankful to the school and other groups who help us get ready for this event. I am especially grateful to the staff and students of J.B. Stephens Elementary School for collecting supplies for us. This was the single largest contribution of items in our history.

I am thankful for our police officers around the country who put their lives on the line daily for our safety. I happen to believe we have some of the finest here in Hancock County. All of them seem under attack right now.

Many people see the end of Thanksgiving as the beginning of the Christmas season. What does this mean for us, and how can we use that meaning to move forward to a perhaps more peaceful New Year? And how can we look to the beliefs of other faiths to reinforce we are really one people?

I believe the celebration of the birth of Christ is largely about peace. His birth is about hope, and with hope comes peace. The birth of Christ is about calm and the hope we can calm one another in this time of strife.

Many find other messages in the birth of Christ. My hope is that we can take these messages into the new year and begin the process of healing so we might continue to be the great nation I believe we are. Like the Feast of Plenty, it will not be easy. And I believe we have in all our diversity the means to make it happen.

Jim Matthews is a long-time resident of Greenfield. You may share your comments at