A little bit about a lot of things:

• Wishing all of our readers a very merry Christmas in this most unusual and trying of holiday seasons.

Our hearts go out to those who have experienced hardship and loss during this pandemic; at a time when far too many remain dismissive, the virus has taken a devastating, life-changing toll on a tragic number of American lives and families - and those around the world.

Yet the spirit of Christmas is one of hope and renewal, one of faith and trust in something bigger and far more powerful than ourselves.

Faith is many things in our lives. We lean on faith to give us strength during hard times and to press on knowing that better times are ahead. And hopefully we remember our faith during better times as well and give thanks for our blessings.

Sometimes, perhaps, life events shake or test the depth of our faith.

Faith revolves around trust and belief. It cannot be touched or seen, but it can be felt.

Faith can be proclaimed, but true faith must be lived every day.

We are all human beings with human failings, to be sure, and certainly all have our moments of human shortcomings. That is where forgiveness, faith’s companion, comes into play.

Christmas is about many, many different things but ultimately none more important than faith.

Rarely has that been more true than Christmas 2020.

Have a blessed Christmas.

And keep the faith.

• Hard to believe that nearly two years have passed since our community was devastated by the murder of Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh.

The well-liked and highly-respected officer embodied so much of what is good in humanity......a deep love of country, community and family; an unwavering work ethic and determination in pursuit of his dream to become a police officer in the United States; a commitment to treat others fairly and with compassion; and a desire to make a positive difference.

He achieved those dreams.....but tragically never lived to see so many others realized.

Working Christmas night, Cpl. Singh was shot and killed during a traffic stop in the early morning hours of Dec. 26, 2018.....two years ago Saturday.

A vigil for the fallen officer will be held from 4-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 26, at Merced Street and Eucalyptus Avenue. Parking will be available in the DiMare lot at Merced and Highway 33. Those attending are asked to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Ronil Singh is, truly, a hero remembered......

• Simply amazing!

Once again, our generous communities have come through this holiday season to lend a helping hand to those less fortunate.

In how many ways did our communities brighten the holidays for our friends and neighbors in need? These are just a few......

The Newman Senior Awareness/Salvation Army alliance delivered food, including fresh produce, and personal necessity items to nearly 100 seniors in the community.

The Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District provided hefty winter break meal boxes to well over 500 families. The district has gone all out during this pandemic to help provide food for youth (regardless of whether they were students in school) and when the program was available offered free food boxes to the community as a whole. They have definitely gone the extra mile.

The Gustine Unified School District earlier this week sent home seven-day bulk meal kits as well....hoping to distribute those to as many as 300 families. That would represent a total of 2,100 meals. Outstanding!

The Newman Chamber of Commerce/City of Newman alliance spearheaded a drive which provided an abundance of coats, blankets and gifts to more than 50 families and 170 children.....the West Side Theatre was absolutely packed with items as volunteers sorted and packaged for distribution. Pretty amazing!

The same was true in Gustine, where the annual Gustine Lions Club Food Drive/Miss Gustine Toy Drive provided for more than 60 families. Again, the outpouring of community support which made that all possible was nothing short of amazing.

In addition, we know of a number of other clubs and organizations that held food drives of their own for a local food bank or otherwise supported the overall effort to reach out with a helping hand for those in need.

The pandemic has changed our world in many ways.

But the generosity of our caring communities shines as brightly as ever this holiday season, reminding those in tough times or in some cases simply enduring all this alone that they are not forgotten.

Rarely end a column with the same sentiment expressed in the opening line, but will make an exception.....Merry Christmas!

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.