It was the best of times. It was the worst of times

Right now, that may sum up the life of someone you know or will come in contact with later.

It could be the worst of times due to the political overload we continue to work through as we deal with government shutdowns, disagreements and our country's future.

It’s also hard to say it’s the best of times with this cold weather beating us down along with a flu bug that just won't give up.

But, looking at the best of times - it offers us a chance to spend more time together, especially with our children, since they are spending less time outside and sometimes less time at school.

Of course, they enjoy being at home. They think it’s the best of times, until when they find out they could get out of school in June if they miss very many days of school.

For those of us who use LP to stay warm, it’s definitely the worst of times, even though the price is much lower than in past years. We want everything to stretch as far as it can and cold spells don’t help.

If you know someone on a fixed income and they are struggling to stay warm, let’s try to make it the best of times for that person.

Perhaps that means offering them extra blankets, a warm meal they can’t afford or checking on them periodically.

This time of year, we also need to pay extra attention to those who could suffer depression.

If you aren’t familiar with the signs of depression, Yahoo! Health offers the following early signs and symptoms -

Sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings; feelings of hopelessness; crying episodes; increased agitation and restlessness; fatigue; loss of interest in activities; lack of concentration or details; trouble making decisions; sleeping too much or not enough; poor appetite or overeating; expressing thoughts of dying or suicide; and persistent pains or headaches.

Let’s help to make someone’s worst time a "best of times" during these long stretches of cold weather.

***

Football is about to come to an end for another year. (Yeah! or Boo!)

Did your team make it to the big game on Sunday? I know a few Vikings fans who would give me a big "NO!" Well, we at least have the distraction of the “over the top” commercials to look forward to and the chance to eat like its Thanksgiving or maybe the halftime show, which I doubt will be as memorable, with Justin Timberlake, as it was that night with Janet Jackson.

I have to say I still believe the game won’t be as memorable as the discussion leading up to the actual game.

Die-hard football enthusiasts can tell you exactly how many days before players report to training camp.

Oh well, there’s always next year Packers, Vikings, Broncos, Colts, Rams (insert your team) fans.

Now it’s time to wait for those four words that remind us spring will be here soon - “Let’s play some ball.”

*****

As we continue to struggle through the final weeks of winter – how about trying to brighten someone’s day by celebrating, next Wednesday, Feb. 7, “Wave All Your Fingers at Your Neighbors” Day.

This is a day we celebrate our ability to communicate with a wave of our entire hand, not just one specific finger.

Wave to everyone because this day is about taking time to put aside your differences with neighbors or anyone you have had a conflict with and just say “hello."

So, open your fist, raise your right hand and begin to shake it, because today is all about being friendly.

You can even be extra friendly by waving with some noisemakers or by whistling at someone you like.

Maybe you’ll even discover that person you didn’t like or thought you didn’t like was actually nicer than what you thought.

*****

“A congratulations and ‘break a leg’” to the members of the Osage, Riceville, St. Ansgar, Forest City and West Hancock High School speech teams for qualifying to compete at the state large group speech contest this weekend at Decorah High School.

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