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I needed those smiles

Since I’m in the news business, I listen, watch and read a lot of news. Whether it comes from the radio, the Internet, the TV or other newspapers, the news that comes across my eyes and ears is varied — local, state, federal and world. While I would never consider myself a news junkie, I do feel obligated to be informed, and quite frankly, the way a news story is delivered is often just as interesting to me as the content of the story.

As you well know, the news out there is as varied as the people who report it — there’s the good news, the bad news, the fun news, the sad news ... and everything in between. Clearly it’s a kaleidoscope of information, and as a reader, watcher, listener, it’s up to me to take it all with a grain of salt, keep what’s worth keeping and disregard what’s not.

While I know there are many, many good news and happy stories published and broadcast around the world every day, I know the negative ones usually outweigh the positive stories. As we live our lives during some troubling times, the news can often be overwhelming, and to someone who listens and watches and reads as much news as I do, well, it really does affect me sometimes.

In the past week, I’ve consumed stories that made me angry, sad, frightened and absolutely outraged. I could talk about all those stories, but no doubt, you’ve already heard about them. Still, I find myself going to sleep at night wondering how life got so crazy, so deranged, so maniacal. Several times a week, I find myself questioning the sanity of people I don’t even know, as these state, national and world stories play over and over in my mind — some which will, no doubt, stay with me for a long time.

It’s the same thing every week; the list keeps growing. While I’ve often said everybody has the ability to cross that line between right and wrong, good and bad, it just seems as if there are quite a few taking that leap onto the wrong side of the proverbial tracks. It’s very troubling.

And so it was the other day when I had just about had my fill of stories about people who had done some pretty crazy things. I took a couple days off, and I was on news overload — between Time magazine, the morning national news show, a check of CNN.com and a quick glimpse at msn.com too, my head was swimming. I needed a break, so I did what any rational person would do ... I got in my car and headed out for a ride ... in the middle of a snowstorm.

While my brain was fairly preoccupied on the awful, it didn’t take long for those thoughts to subside. You see, the snow that blanketed Bureau County was wet and heavy, and because many schools had closed for the day, what I found was a myriad of children (of all ages — adults too) putting the finishing touches on ... you guessed it ... snowmen.

That’s right. There were tons of them. I saw snowmen of all shapes and sizes. Tall ones, short ones, huge ones, small ones, skinny ones, rotund ones ... it was amazing. There were snowmen with sticks for arms and old boots for feet. Some had on hats — all shapes and colors. Some had scarves wrapped around their wintry necks. Some of the snowmen donned buttons on their bellies. I saw lots of carrot noses ...

As different as they all were, there was one thing that was identical about every snowman I saw. Are you ready for this? Every single snowman wore a smile. That’s right. There were no frowns, no scary snowmen, no crazy snowmen ... just snowmen that smiled at everyone who passed by. A good news snowman around nearly every corner.

And for every smiling snowman I saw, I knew there had to be at least one smiling human face who had put that smile on that snowman’s face ... and for a few moments, everything seemed right with the world.

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