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Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

The rushing around is over. The presents are unwrapped. And the boxes are emptied.

The anticipation of Christmas has passed, and we are beginning to look forward to the turning of the clock and the dawn of a New Year.

For many people, this year has felt a little different.

There’s a great deal anxiety and stress.

Over the economy.


The uncertainty of the times.

But the cheer and goodwill of the holiday season always prevail.

We come together as a people, as a state, and as a nation in the common wish for peace.

While our desire today seems out of reach, we do not wish it in vain.

It is the struggle for peace and an undying hope that one day it will be possible.

It doesn’t make us naïve or blind to the cruelty and evil in the world.

Instead, it’s an ode to the better qualities of human nature, that despite difficulties and hardships and full knowledge of the impossible, we reach and persevere and work for a better day that we know is coming.

This time of the year, I’m reminded of a famous short story by William Sydney Porter, who was better known by his pen name of O. Henry.

He had a talent for telling stories and a twist for endings.

One of his most famous is “The Gift of the Magi.”

In the story, a young couple – Jim and Della – are struggling to get by.

They’re poor and nearly destitute, but desperately in love.

Della, determined to find the perfect gift for her husband, sells her beautiful hair – her prized possession – so she can buy Jim a chain to go with the pocket watch that once belong to his father.

Jim equally determined sets out to buy Della a set of combs for her hair. But the only thing of value he has is his father’s watch, which he sells to buy Della’s combs.

On Christmas, the young couple exchanged their gifts, each having sacrificed for the other and learning only then about the trade they had both made.

It’s not a sad story, at least not to me. The joy in the gifts was not the receiving, but the giving.

As Porter wrote, “But in a last word to the wise of these days, let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest.”

All around us this holiday season, we see the spirit of those who give of themselves for others.

Like Tom and Kate Chappell who donated clothes from their business to help Maine families.

Or Stephen and Tabby King, who helped to make sure members of the Maine National Guard preparing to deploy to war could be home for the holidays.

Or Dr. Dora Mills, who through happenstance received a call at 6:10 in the morning from a women suffering a rare and chronic blood disorder and receiving chemotherapy. The caller needed information about the flu vaccine.

As you know, Dr. Mills is the Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and the State’s expert on H1N1 flu.

The woman wrote to my office, she said: “This wonderful, wonderful lady took my call, she said she had a few minutes before she needed to get her children to school and wanted to know how she could help.”

The writer continued: “My husband and I went to the Buker Community Center and [were] met at the door by Dr. Mills herself. … She gave each of us a big hug and thanked us for being there. We were blown away.”

In countless ways, big and small, Mainers look out for one another.

I am proud to live in a State where the people give of themselves so freely, and take that extra step to extend a helping hand to others.

Thank you for listening on this holiday weekend. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Happy New Year.

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