It’s easy to badmouth the North Country.
Lots of people do it. They say we don’t have enough culture, excitement. People here are closed-minded, backward, they say. There’s nothing to keep young people here or lure in anyone new.
It’s not hard to join the commiserating because certainly small-town life doesn’t hold all the opportunities or enticements that a more urban area offers.
But as Christmas approaches, and we start to think about what has meaning in life, maybe we should think a little about George Bailey in the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
He, too, is drawn to the promise of a more exciting life in bigger cities and exotic locales, but he is thwarted at every turn as he tries to get there.
It’s all for the best, of course, as Bailey learns that it isn’t where you are that matters but what you have around you — love, family, friendships, a caring community.
Our editor in chief, Lois Clermont, encountered a couple of circumstances recently from which someone might draw meaning.
While in Albany, she and her husband were at Colonie Center doing some shopping when they stopped to rest on one of the seats scattered around the mall interior. She set down a small bag from Macy’s while he made a cellphone call.
When they walked away a few minutes later, Clermont gathered all her bags but that one, unknowingly leaving behind about $35 in Clinique purchases.
It wasn’t more than a half hour before she noticed the bag was missing and realized right where she had left it. She hurried back to the seat, but the bag was gone. It had not been turned in to Lost and Found or returned to the Macy’s makeup counter.
Fast-forward a few weeks to another shopping excursion, this time in Plattsburgh. Clermont had a cart full of Christmas presents and was in line at TJ Maxx when she reached into her coat pocket and found her store charge card missing.
She retraced her steps around the store and parking lot, to no avail. No one had turned the card in at TJ Maxx. Clermont envisioned having to call the company to cancel the account and all the accompanying hassle of losing a charge card.
Then, Clermont remembered she had stopped in Wal-Mart a couple of hours earlier. She checked at the customer-service desk at that busy store, and there was the card — turned in, the clerk said, by a woman who had found it on the ground in the parking lot.
Now aside from the fact that our editor needs to keep a better eye on her belongings, maybe there’s a little George Bailey lesson in here, though the circumstances aren’t nearly as dramatic.
Certainly we aren’t saying there aren’t honest people in bigger cities — or dishonest people in the North Country.
But we think that our chances of finding more honesty, compassion and kindness around here are better on any day of the year.