Community’s love is best celebration

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 19, 2010

Avoiding the feelings of becoming jaded with the holidays can be a battle.

Holiday marketing messages bombard us constantly.

With each new holiday season, the messages seem to start earlier and earlier. At the moment, the Christmas messages seem to start around the time the Halloween pumpkins get ripe. Commercializing Christmas is commonplace.

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We all feel the marketing push to “buy, buy, buy,” for the holidays.

Too often, it seems, we can get caught up in the process of Christmas and forget the purpose.

Although celebrations made this time of the year date back for centuries, for the millions of Christians in the world, the holiday’s traditions are clear — celebrating the birth of Christ.

Interestingly, though, what would Christ think about our holiday traditions and behaviors?

In the way that He did throughout the New Testament, His answer might just surprise us.

He might suggest that rather than focusing on being a “good Christian” during the holidays — attending church services, donating money to the church and generally “living right” — we look at the way we live and the way we treat one another throughout the year.

Our community, like most, has its fair share of “bad news” but every so often, we hear of an amazing story of kindness and love.

That’s the kind of thing, I think, that makes God look down and say, “Well done.”

A great example of that happened recently in our community.

In short, it’s the story of a homeless stranger and his dog that captured the hearts of a few good and faithful servants in our community.

Mike Norris found himself in Natchez homeless and ill approximately one month ago. He was treated at Natchez Regional Medical Center and his body was mended.

Volunteers at the hospital purchased the man a bus ticket to get him to relatives in Pennsylvania. But Norris’ tiny dog, Paco, was unable to make the trip, staying behind at the home of a caring hospital nurse who loved animals.

Shortly after an article was published in the newspaper about Paco being left behind, volunteers came forward to donate money to help reunite the owner and his best friend, Paco.

On Wednesday, nurse Lyn Latimer flew Paco to Pennsylvania and gave Norris an incredible Christmas gift.

The travel was paid for by wonderfully giving souls in our community.

Because of her good deeds, Norris refers to Latimer as an “angel.”

His description is apt.

Latimer and all of the folks who helped fund the reunion of man and dog are amazing examples of what God wanted us to do — care for and love each other — even strangers.

For his part, Norris was humbled by the gesture.

“I’m nobody, I’m just a regular guy, and (Latimer) helped me with no ambitions of anything.

“It’s amazing. I didn’t think there were people out there like that to be honest with you.”

The story of Paco’s trip to Pennsylvania is completely counter to all the “bad” things that creep into the holiday season. His tale is one of love for a complete stranger.

That’s a heart-warming Christmas story that gives us all hope for a better world.

We can all do well to remember the story of a homeless man, a nurse who cared for a complete stranger and a helpless little dog.

I hope each of you has a blessed Christmas.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or