Feliciano, Ives, and Williams can all go to hell

By the time many of you get around to reading this column, the 2013 holiday season will have officially begun.
But my thoughts aren’t quite on the holidays yet. Last week, news outlets everywhere reported on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Amid all the talk of Dallas, book depository windows, and Oswald, I heard Kennedy’s famous exhortation.
“Ask not what this country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” It really struck a nerve with me.
After covering two community forums on drug abuse and suicide, not to mention reading over the case reports from the Sheriff’s office, I know there are many of us who could use a generous dose of holiday spirit — the real kind.
Just a small bit of advice to you readers.
If your last fortnight has been similar to mine, you might want to wait a few days before buying tickets to “Catching Fire,” the second part of The Hunger Games trilogy.
Let me tell you, nothing says “Happy Holidays” quite like watching a movie about the oppression of a tyrannical government on the middle classes and working poor.
Fortunately, it also happens to be a very good movie and, unlike a lot of movies released around this time, it does inspire quite a bit of thought.
Which, to be candid, is exactly the kind of holiday spirit I prefer.
One of the minor tugs-of-war my wife and I engage in throughout the holidays is just how much is “too much” Christmas music.
For her, there is no such thing as “too much.” When she is driving to work alone, the radio is tuned to every Christmas mix station on the band and, for variety, the XM Christmas music channel.
Me? I can’t handle that much holly and jolly.
I have already developed an irrational hostility toward Burl Ives and Jose Feliciano for ever recording “Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Feliz Navidad,” respectively.
The only reason Gene Autry is okay is because I reserve all my remaining ill-will toward Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
It’s a perfectly wonderful song, but it doesn’t quite match the way I like to approach the holidays.
I always thought the song made too many demands on my mood.
The course of these last two weeks has asked us all to digest a lot of information about issues affecting this community. It has posed many questions and laid down some challenges for us all to consider.
But we all know that the answers are elusive. At the Champions forum in the Christian Church, I thought Doug Miller spelled out well his personal sense of frustration that there is no magic answer to the drug abuse problem affecting this region. But he also defined for the community the challenges and long term goals we need to achieve.
He laid it down for us. It starts with the community, not the legal system. By the time he gets involved, its too late most of the time.
But after the challenge has been posed, what perfect timing to take a brief hiatus this holiday season to mull over the ways that we can contribute to the answer.
I think the end of the year should invite that kind of reflection, even if it doesn’t lend itself to making this time the most wonderful of the year.
It is important to celebrate the ways that we are already moving forward and the plateaus we have reached. And personally, I think those quiet moments of celebration are as important as our thoughts for others at this time.
But its also a time to take a breath, enjoy the celebrations, and think upon a new start, not just for ourselves, but in service to our community.
Kennedy had it right. Its not about ourselves and its not about what we can get. It always is about how we can serve.

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