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Posted: October 22, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Smile: Change comes, eventually

Well, I've done it, and I never thought I would. I've held onto a beloved pair of shoes long enough that they're back in style. They didn't get much wear when I bought them some years ago, so I was loathe to toss them. But, hey, now I can step out in them and look a little bit fashionable without spending any money. It's really not my way, however, to keep around shoes or clothes unworn for a year or two. I go by the edict that those possessions, if not worn in that span, should be passed on and replaced with something more current. Don't you just know major retailers met long ago in a dark clothes closet and came up with that idea!

What we have here is proof-in-hand that some things do change. Just wait long enough.

On the other hand, it's feeling these days as if we're permanently consigned to a period of time that's never going to change. Fall? Where is it? Daytime temperatures are just now beginning to cool, but not enough for most of us to have moved summer clothes to the back of the closet. It's past the middle of October and the leaves haven't even turned! What gives, Mother Nature?

And talk about the economy... Well, better not, it's just too dismal. Other parts of the country are seeing some minimal rebound, but Georgia's not even close to coming out of the recession, much less Newton County. We were fueled by a high-flying construction industry for years, and when the housing market collapsed, so did that industry and the jobs it supported. These are jobs that have simply gone away. What's to replace them?

But wait, here's some trending-positive news: Newton County's Chief Appraiser, Tommy Knight, says he's noted an increase in the number of foreclosed homes being re-sold by banks to new owners. Last year, only about 60 percent of them turned over, but this year, the banks are selling at least 75 percent of their holdings to new buyers. "It's the first positive sign I've seen," he told me. "We've got to get people back into the market."

Knight says property values in some parts of the county have stopped their drop, while some areas continue to decline in value. You can't call that balance, but it's a change in the right direction.

At this point, even a smidge of good news might suffice, but is it enough to turn around a general sense of listlessness and a feeling that we're adrift at sea without an oar? I walked into a friend's business this week, and her plaint was a simple one: "I know times are hard, but I'm just ready for everybody to start feeling happy."

Amen, and if we can't find a reason to be happy this time of year, we might be called hopeless. Take Halloween. Is there anything more fun than the silliness of it all? Americans are poised to spend more than $6 billion this year on Halloween costumes, but the simplest one comes in the form of a sheet. My husband donned one with eye cutouts one year and tried it out on a small nephew of mine. We haven't seen him since. Then take Thanksgiving, which gets short shrift in the span between Halloween and Christmas. It's America's favorite holiday for visiting with family, and at least once a year, we are reminded there still are plenty of reasons to be thankful. Someone worth quoting opined that if we only say one prayer, let it be "thank You." And Christmas ... what's more warm and fuzzy and joyous? If you're in the doldrums, my advice is to put on your silly hat, give in to these seasonal moments and, as Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Barbara Morgan is a resident of Covington with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics. Her column appears on Fridays.


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