Letters for December 23, 2010

Heavy medal

Ginger Littleton was free to go, her life spared. But this amazing little lady, in a display of courage and compassion rarely seen these days, chose to attack the gunman by swinging her purse at the gun in his hand in an effort to save her fellow school board members. Her attack failed, but the courage it took impressed even the gunman.

The delay and distraction she caused with her brave act undoubtedly saved lives.

Ginger Littleton is a true hero. I believe she is deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award that can be bestowed upon a civilian. Because of her brave actions, there are a few Florida families that are planning holiday festivities, instead of planning funerals.

John Davis

Take the credit and run

My personal view is that the banksters and CEOs are getting downright desperate. I say this because in the last week I have received three offers for credit cards. Anyone who knows me realizes that the banksters have just wasted postage and pissed their advertising money into a cosmic black hole.

My financial situation is optimistically hopeless, and for a bank to give me a credit card shows that they have a delicious sense of humor.

While I do appreciate their noble and kind humanitarian offers, it will be a cold, black, dark day in Hades before I ever agree to a 17.9 percent interest rate.

As it is, if I don’t have the cash for something, I don’t get it. And, obviously there’s a lot I don’t get, no pun intended.

My first thought was to wrap a brick in the enclosed post-paid envelope and send it back to them. But that would be counter-productive and mean. My second thought was to fill out the form and mail it back, but that would be far meaner.

So, I used the envelopes to start a fire in my woodstove so that it would not be a total waste. Thanks for the BTUs, guys.

And good luck with that credit thingy, hope it works out OK for you.

17.9 percent interest, and only 29.4 percent for a late payment.

Such a deal.

Craig Bergland

Trashy Santas

Re “Find moral solutions” (Editorial, Nov. 25):

My first Santa Crawl! Rudolpha and her elf friend in the bathroom promised me a great time. I later saw them with six or seven Santas, nice odds! My friends left without me, so I called others. Do you need a Santa hat? I have an extra! Little did I know that Vailisa would become a true Santa within five minutes of putting on that Santa hat. As we walked among the large parade of Santas, elves, deer, Grinches and what have you, Santa in a bathrobe, hooker Santa, the grim reaper Santa—you name it—we spotted a lady digging through the trash. Busy bee Santa asked if she liked getting dirty. The down and out lady replied that she could make $20 from a night of collecting beer cans. Everyone ignored her, except Vailisa who stopped, hugged the lady, and gave her some money. Vailisa is a single parent of five children and one grandchild living at home. This true-life Santa put the love back into Christmas and gave meaning to this Santa crawl. Obama, are you reading? We need jobs, homes, food, dignity. Next, I saw a well-dressed Mrs. Obama-type in short red sequins fall. About 200 Santas rushed to help her up. Made me wonder where the Santas were for the trash lady and how far are we all from falling into the trash? How many real Santas like Vailisa are out there who know how it feels and how to help?

Victoria Vallis

The sweet story

Re “Adults only” (Filet of Soul, Dec. 16):

OK, I have to weigh in on your Santa column, mostly because many of my friends thought I was crazy when my kids were younger.

My family of origin didn’t have much money, and I accepted this as simply the way it was. Christmas, though, seemed like the one time I wouldn’t have to worry about cost restraints. After all, Santa gave gifts to every kid on the planet, so money was obviously not an issue. I would ask him for things I knew my family could not afford, sure that he could deliver. It was puzzling and disappointing when he didn’t. It was even more puzzling and disappointing when the meanest, snottiest kid at school got what I’d asked for, when I knew darned good and well they hadn’t been good all year. I began to fear that Santa was just like everyone else, and judged our family as lacking, morally or otherwise, because we didn’t have money.

My mom would attempt to explain by saying that the child’s parents bought the gift and just said it was from Santa. That didn’t sit too well with me. Neither did being told that mall or store Santas were actually “Santa’s helpers,” and they were simply called Santa so small kids wouldn’t get disappointed. Someone, somewhere was being lied to, and that bothered me. As I got older, it also bothered me that Santa only delivered to kids who celebrated Christmas. If he truly just wanted to see kids be happy, he’d deliver to everyone, regardless.

I was also confused by toy drives for the poor (nobody said “disadvantaged” back then). If those kids were good, Santa would bring them toys. If he didn’t think they deserved any, why should I? My mom again attempted to explain that this was because their parents couldn’t buy toys, but that made no sense to me. My parents didn’t give us gifts on Christmas, so why should it matter if some other kid’s parent didn’t, either?

When I was 8, I recognized my uncle under the Santa suit at our family Christmas party. I was furious at having been lied to, even when I’d asked legitimate questions. On the other hand, so many things now made sense.

My dad moped for years—I was the youngest, and now Dad felt that “some of the magic has gone out of Christmas,” since the cat was out of the bag. I wondered what planet he’d been living on, where lying created joy.

When I became a parent, I was not about to put my kids through that.

My kids have always gotten one gift each from Santa. He delivers it personally, at the extended family Christmas party. It’s never an expensive item; we don’t tend to give extravagant gifts.

We’ve always explained that anyone who wants to put on the suit, or indeed wants to give gifts without being obligated or thanked, can be Santa. Maybe it’s easier for my kids to grasp because I and many of my friends are actors, so from the time my kids are in diapers, they’ve understood the concept of putting on the costume and becoming a character. They understand that many people, in many different times and places, can play the same character. Maybe they’ve just processed it easily because they know that many different people can, for instance, be a teacher—there are no “real” and “fake” teachers. They know that people can be parents even if they never gave birth to their kids. At any rate, they never had a problem with that explanation. As they got a bit older, we discussed historical figures like St. Nicholas, and talked about movies and books about Santa as an author’s imaginings of what a full-time Santa’s life would be like.

One of our favorite parts of the holiday is buying gifts for toy drives. My kids have always loved helping us shop for other kids. They love getting to be Santa, and they love providing Santa with things to take to kids who otherwise wouldn’t receive any.

My 23-year-old informed me the other day: “I always thought it was weird when kids talked about Santa bringing them piles of stuff.” The other kids, however, always thought it was weird when it would be the first week or two of December, when our family party is generally held, and my kids would already be saying, “Look what Santa brought me!” Everyone was always OK, though, knowing that every family does things differently.

I think we’ve experienced much more joy this way than we would have otherwise.

Sharon Zenz