Hey, it’s two weeks ’til Christmas and from the constant bleating of news reports 24/7, we all know that the world’s economy is on life support. So, what do we do … dig a hole and hide, or look around us and see what life has to offer? Well, as Annie said, “the sun will come out tomorrow” — in fact, it’s out there now.
It’s true enough that on the national stage the stock market has taken a hit, life savings have diminished and more than a few jobs have been lost.
But walk down Main Street in Bristol, Vergennes, Brandon or Middlebury. Greet your friends and neighbors, stop in the coffee shop or bakery and visit a while, catch up on their kids and family, talk about the recent community event or play, and be on your way into the next store and the next conversation. What you’ll find is that life here in Vermont is still robust.
There is talk about the few layoffs here and there (expected in any recession), but there’s also talk about the expansion of other manufacturers, about new enterprises making headway, about the housing market — while slower — not losing much value. Rumors fly about car dealers going out of business, but they are quickly squelched by reassurances that each is solid and here for the long-term, and, in fact, the incentives the dealers are offering make it a good time to buy. The same is true in the housing market, and it’s true for retail purchases as well: consumers haven’t seen better deals before Christmas in ages.
Perhaps what we need are a few headlines screaming out the good news, such as:
• Gas prices have dropped from $4.19 this summer, to an average of $1.79 per gallon today — saving the average Vermont family more than 65 percent off their transportation bill!
• Fuel oil prices, similarly, have dropped significantly, putting significantly more money in residents’ pockets and negating the fear of catastrophe spread earlier in the fall.
• While the state has seen some job losses, Addison County’s unemployment rate is just a few notches above what is typically considered “full employment” (it’s still under 5 percent) – and that’s a long way from the depths of the Great Depression when unemployment was at 25 percent.
• Our public schools are good, our communities are strong, the ski areas got an early start to the season, and we hear the fishing is still good on Lake Champlain.
So, cheer up.
Put a smile on your face, as the saying goes, and the world will smile with you. That’s doubly true in Vermont’s small communities. When you smile and show a bit of optimism, it’s infectious and it spreads to your friends and neighbors, and throughout the community. And if you take that smile and bring it to Main Street this week and the next and share it with your neighbors, strangers and the shop owners, you’ll be amazed by how sunny it really is out there.
You’ll also feel better for doing it, and you’ll be part of a bigger story with this proposed headline: Good Cheer In Vermont Rebuffs Recession.
Angelo S. Lynn