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Archive for December 5th, 2007

The View From Here

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

We have a weekly rotation of about eight newsroom staff members writing “The View From Here.” It’s a column that runs in our Relate section every Wednesday with a photo of the columnist. The topic is whatever your heart desires, as long as you write 12-15 inches about it.

This week was my week. Since I am horrid at thinking of topics (and what I do think about I write here) and because I quite literally remembered about an hour before it was due last week, I decided to write about not going home for Christmas.

I wrote it quickly and barely gave it a second thought. In fact, because I took a sick day Monday, I actually forgot it was slated to run today. So when I was at a board meeting and one of the principals told me he loved my story, I was confused. “The one on Monday’s schools page?” I inquired, since it was about his school. “No, the one about Christmas away from home.”

Oh. That one.

At least a dozen people — at least! — at the board meeting alone came up to me and commented on it. From principals to board members to parents and city council members I’ve never even met before. Even my landlord commented on it when I saw him this evening. It was kind of funny.

I wrote the column, you know, about what it’s like to be away from home for my first Christmas, about all the traditions I’ll miss but how some of my friends here are in the same boat, and we’ll help each other through. I guess I never really thought about how universal it is to go through that. I was worried they’d all think I was being cliché. But apparently, a lot of people found it interesting.

Anyway, it was kind of cool (and annoying when I was trying to grab people after the meeting to get their input on the proposals and they wanted to talk about me!) to be recognized and to know so many people read my story. Even though I know they read my other stories, and several people did comment on other stories I’ve written recently, I think this was probably the one that the most people went out of their ways to comment on. Even the publisher said he almost felt sorry for me having to work Christmas. But I guess it’s something most people at some point get to experience.

My past Views have also gotten a lot of feedback. And I’ve heard numerous people in the community say they love the stories where reporters talk about their life because it makes us more human, more than just a name. I know some of the reporters don’t participate in the columns because “putting your opinion out there in any form can only compromise your coverage.” Pshaw, I say. I don’t write about things that have to do with my beat. Problem solved. Then again, my opinion is practically an open book. Or blog as the case may be.

So, for your reading pleasure, here’s today’s “View From Here”:

Not everyone will be heading home this Christmas


On Christmas morning, I will wake up and do something I’ve never done before on that day: I’ll go to work.

I won’t spend Christmas Eve with my family at one of my siblings homes, dining on my mom’s turkey and fighting over who gets to break the turkey wishbone while It’s a Wonderful Life is ignored in the background.

Come Christmas day, I won’t wake up entirely too early to tell my nephews to go back to bed or that they can open just one present before breakfast.

That afternoon, I won’t be there while my siblings and cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandma and grandpa pass gossip and gifts around my grandparent’s living room. I won’t taste a single one of my grandma’s oh-so-thin and perfectly iced sugar cookies this year, nor will I drink a Shirley Temple with my grandpa, the way he prepared them since I was a little girl.

But though I’ll miss the family traditions, I actually volunteered to work Christmas day. Newspapers don’t take holidays, so I knew I couldn’t swing both Christmas andThanksgiving off my first year on the job in this industry.

So I went home for Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday. Our annual gathering at the family farm is a holiday tradition I cherish above all.

On Thanksgiving, every extended family member up through my great uncles who can make it home from out of town comes — rain, shine, blizzard, whatever.

This year wasn’t quite the same because I was driving straight to the farm — six hours to Akron, Ohio, from Lafayette after working the night before. But I made it home. The commute, coupled the fact that I hadn’t been home since summer made it even more special to see everyone.

I knew as I grew up, I wouldn’t make it home for every birthday and holiday or get to keep every tradition I hold dear in my memories.

I also know someday I will have my own family, and I’ll want to share these traditions with them. But more than that, I’ll make new ones.

Though there are a lot of things I won’t be doing this year, I’m trying to focus on those that I will. A gift exchange and Christmas cookies are in my future — just not with my family this year.

I’m not the only person I know spending Christmas away from home. So we’ve decided to band together.

We might not have a genuine dining table among us, and we may be novices at cooking real meals. But we’ll work it out and whip up a respectable Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner. And even if the food sucks, celebrating with friends in the same boat will make up for it.

Watling is the education reporter for the Journal & Courier. She can be reached at mwatling@journalandcourier.com.