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When I worked the Christmas Eve shift as a copy editor on The Forum, the daily newspaper in Fargo, North Dakota, we selected stories under orders from top management: no bad news on the front page on Christmas Day.

Idealistic young journalists, we griped about this abuse of �the people�s right to know.�

We snarled about those at home for the holiday while we pored over paragraphs and periods. Secretly, we relished our roles as cranky editors. Maybe we thought of ourselves as modern Bob Cratchits.

We always managed to find enough happy news for the people of the Dakota prairie.

And why not? Now I can think of no harm in pausing at least once a year to pay attention to good things. And now I am an editor.

So in this month�s magazine, you�ll find a story about groups that help people get fresh starts to success in life. You can read about gingerbread house traditions. And you should be able to find a good recipe in the results of the Kentucky Living cookie exchange.

That cookie exchange convinced me that, while I may have softened over the decades, I haven�t completely lost my joy of complaining.

Doing my part to help in the cookie judging, I randomly pulled what turned out to be one of the more complicated recipes.

Grrr. I didn�t have time for this. Cherry juice? What kind of ingredient is that? What kind of cherry juice? The directions called for the irritating steps of rolling dough and shaping it into bells.

But my daughter happily volunteered to cream the brown sugar and butter. My artistic wife figured out how to fold the rounds into something bell-like.

I�m sorry, Dani Hawthorne, the judges didn�t choose your/my cookies as finalists. I hope I followed the recipe properly.

As we worked in the kitchen as a family�I even got to take a plate of gingery bells to my mom�I became persuaded of their value, as described by Dani�s explanation of why the Christmas Bell Cookie recipe is her favorite: �It brings back wonderful childhood memories of my mother and me baking them for the holidays.�

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