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Holidays on the square
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I hope everyone who attended the annual Lighting of the Courthouse on the square had a wonderful time.

Councilwoman Janet Goodman and City Manager Steve Horton were honored as this year's Shining Lights. Both have served Covington for a long time and are deserving of the honor. Also honored were school bus drivers - Joe and Shirley Flanigan, Tina Parker, Sandra Hilley, Pam Ballard, Tina Wynn and Lynda Holmes. They really deserve praise.

The music was wonderful, and carriage rides were available. The firemen roasting marshmallows were a big hit as was Santa Claus in his hut. And, of course, the square was beautiful. We, in Covington, are lucky to have such a place for community gatherings.

The same scene will be repeated, except for the ceremonial Lighting of the Courthouse, on the rest of the Thursdays, except Thanksgiving, before Christmas. If you didn't go last Thursday, try to go on another. Children enjoy the magical look of the square with all its lights, carriage rides and Santa. Adults will enjoy the camaraderie and the wonder of the season.

Last Thursday, the staff of The Covington News handed out cookies and hot chocolate and newspapers.

The editorial staff, of which I am a part, did what we have done for at least the last five or six years. We take pictures of children holding a fake front page of The Covington News in front of them so that their faces appear in a square cut out of the page as if they were the pictures. It makes them look like they made the front page of the newspaper. The papers have various headlines like Santa's Favorite Elf or Reindeer of the Year.

The newspaper posts the pictures online and sends the parents an email so they can find their child's picture and print it. Some are used in the paper. It's all free and a nice Christmas present from the paper to the community.

The news staff has done this for so many years that we have a routine. One person takes the picture, one person lines the children up and holds the copy of the paper in front of the children, and one person gets the emails of the parents.

I am like the midway barker. I stand near the sidewalk and harangue parents to bring their children in for the pictures. Harangue might be too strong a word. Entice might be a better choice.

We all enjoy it and the smiles of the children and their parents light up our faces. Everyone is so festive. I have a good time talking to the children and parents.
When we finished and packed up the camera and front pages, one of the young men from The Covington News thanked me for helping and said he had a hard time corralling children and parents to come and take pictures.

I replied that when you get my age, nothing embarrasses you. Whatever embarrassing that could happen to you has already happened to people my age. We have seen it all and probably experienced most of it.

It is one of the joys, maybe the only one, of old age. You can just plain do what you want within reason, and everybody makes excuses for you or accepts your idiosyncrasies. At least in the South. We seem to treasure and accept those who are different. Look at Atticus Finch's protective attitude toward Boo Radley in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

It reminds me of the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph. The poem is the inspiration for The Red Hat Society clubs. The poem states that when the author gets old, she will wear purple with a red hat and spend her money on frivolous things like brandy and satin shoes.

She says she will gobble up the samples in the shops and learn to spit. She will eat whatever she wants, maybe only bread and pickles for a week. She will hoard strange things and simply enjoy herself to make up for the "sobriety of my youth."

After thinking about the poem, I looked up Jenny Joseph. I felt sure she was a Southerner. But it turns out she is English and the poem was written in 1961. The English treasure their eccentrics too.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at