Natchez blessed with many gifts

Published 11:52 pm Saturday, December 23, 2017

All of the Christmas preparation ends today: Christmas Eve.

The Christmas season usually causes us all to pause and consider the blessings we have as well as the wishes we would like to come true.

Make no bones about it, our community is blessed deeply. Sure, the Natchez area has its share of problems, but it’s also uniquely gifted as well.

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Believe it or not, we have some amazingly talented people here, many of whom run businesses.

It’s human nature, it seems, to focus on what’s wrong with the world around us. That’s what drives countless conversations.

Rarely do we stop and focus on the good things or what’s going well in the world around us.

Often, we remember the worst service we have received in a local business, but barely notice the best service, let alone recognize it publicly.

When is the last time you told a complete stranger that they were doing a good job at something?

I don’t think it’s just me that gets too hurried to stop and pay attention to the things that matter, or should matter.

Over the last two weeks, while my daughter Anna and I were doing some last-minute gift buying in town, we came across some folks who deserve some recognition for working hard in their businesses and trying to put the customer first. We also ran across a few who didn’t, but let’s focus on the positive.

In no particular order and with the acknowledgment that Anna had specific types of gifts she was seeking so we didn’t make to a number of local businesses that may equally deserve such recognition, here’s our list:

The Zerbys — mother Brenda and daughter Bethany — and their staff at Moreton’s Flowerland always have a smile and a friendly comment for customers.

Across downtown, the Shorts at Darby’s also are equally busy yet approachable. Dennis even tried to get Anna to laugh a bit by trying to sell her a small gift can of unicorn poop. Fortunately, Anna wasn’t interested.

Jonathan Wood and crew at the Old South Trading Post would win most customer-focused business in my book. Their friendly approach is so different that even Anna noticed. After some of the workers there volunteered to walk out with us so we didn’t have to carry our bags, Anna asked, “Why did they do that, Daddy?” The nice gesture was so out of the norm as to seem foreign to her.

We had equally good service from Natchez Market No. 1, our regular stop for groceries, whose staff is always friendly and interested in helping.

Truly, the area has some good business owners. And I, for one, am thankful for each of them.

A coworker last week asked me, “What do you want for Christmas?”

I jokingly said, “World peace.” But as I thought about the question later, I think what I seek for Natchez specifically would be, “community harmony.”

In thinking back on the past year, our community is quick to divide along lines of race, class, economic means or any other divisor.

But we do not come together and work through our problems often enough.

That’s a shame because it holds us back.

I hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas tomorrow and that we can all remember the reason for the holiday isn’t about the stuff we buy or anything material but about the gift of a small baby who changed the world.
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or