Uh-oh. Only three days till the big guy, that jolly ole red-suited socialist, arrives. Oops. Sorry if I messed up your image of Santa there. I know he's not really a socialist, but rather a kind-hearted fellow who makes our greedy wishes come true.
Fully believing Santa to be even more responsive than a newsroom handed a last-minute coverage request, here is a hastily cobbled together letter to Santa that, for the heck of it, is being shared with y'all.
I know I'm a bit late in getting this written. Look, we journalist types are known procrastinators. We'd be book writers, only the first draft would land on the publisher's desk well after the next 12 versions of the Kindle and iPad have been released. So, instead, we work in the daily newspaper business where we are forced to release our stories into the editors' hands for the next day's publication.
That you're getting this even three days before Christmas officially arrives is a miracle. You're getting it electronically, however, because while it was a cute movie, I don't put much stock in the premise in "Miracle on 34th Street." I'm still waiting on a pair of boots ordered for my daughter in late November and touted as delivered by that esteemed postal organization Dec. 5.
Hey, come to think of it and before I forget, can you add those Jessica Simpson boots (gray, size 7) to this list?
Anyway, this will have to serve as my official visit with Santa in which I enumerate all those things I'm wanting this year.
Not to worry. While I'd love to get a genuine Red Ryder BB gun (I'm OK if it doesn't have the compass in the stock) for nostalgia's sake, that's not what this list is all about. Time's wasting, so here — and in no particular order — are some things I'm hoping you can bring. Or bring about:
* Since you have some sort of magic reindeer dust, I'm hoping you also have something you can sprinkle on people that will make them respect the lives of others. You see, we've had way, way too many shootings around here lately. People killing people they claim to love and then killing themselves. People killing for a few petty things or a few dollars.
* That one might be asking a lot. A whole lot. Heck, there's a long line already formed asking for the same thing, I'm sure, but it's been a rough year here when it comes to violence. If that's too much, how about some other magic dust you can sprinkle over the heads of our elected officials? Not just here in the Lakelands, either. Maybe you could make a return trip when the state legislature convenes in Columbia next month and save yourself some time. They're not all guilty of this, mind you, but they sure could use some common-sense dust from time to time. They could also use some work-together-for-the-common-good dust. Ditto on a number of the various boards and councils on the local level.
Yeah, I know I've thrown a couple of really big ones your way so I'm going to ease up a bit on the next few. Maybe you can pull these out of that bag you carry on the back of your sleigh.
* Let's focus on roads and drivers here. I mean, you're a heck of a driver yourself, coursing an incredible route across the sky, dodging aircraft, the occasional SAM over enemy territories, weaving in-between trees, power lines and other obstacles and circling the entire globe in a single night and without a single report of a wreck. (By the way, who's your insurance carrier?)
My hope is you'd be able to impart some of those skills on drivers down here. You might not need a turn signal on that sleigh, but they're helpful on the roads and highways here. Problem is, too few drivers seem to realize what those things are. It'd make a great gift if you could get these folks in the habit of using their turn signals. Oh, and in general just be more attentive drivers. Seem like every day we hear about wrecks in the mall and shopping center parking lots. What do these people think? Are they suddenly on the NASCAR circuit? Give them the sense to slow down when and where appropriate.
* I mentioned roads, not just drivers. There are some horrendous roads around here that make some of us think we're about to fall into a Florida-esque sinkhole. Seriously, are there subway tunnels under some of Greenwood's older streets? Catacombs? Did some Mexican drug cartel dig a hell of a tunnel and make a wrong turn? What else explains these sudden and tremendous drops of whole sections of streets? Try coasting with your sleigh on Grace Street and you'll get the idea.
Well, I had a few more on the list, but it's getting late and I don't want to come across as too greedy here. Before I close, however, I'll tack one more on. It's kind of a standard item on my year-round wish list. Sort of like Clemson Extension agent James Hodges' annual ode to the crepe myrtles. Could you do something to make those professional yard maintenance crews stop using industrial strength blowers to send yard debris and whatever else is in the yard, on the sidewalks and the roadway's gutter into passing motorists' cars? It's great they do a fine job of making the property look nice wherever they're working, but do they have to sandblast our cars as we pass by? Do they have to launch loose nails and rocks into our autos' paint jobs and windows?
Please don't tell me that's one for the state legislature to handle, OK?
Merry Christmas, Santa. As always, we'll have some cookies and milk on the ready. Oh, and not to worry. I'll remember to turn off the gas logs this time. Sorry about that.
Whiting is executive editor of the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-2522; email firstname.lastname@example.org ,or follow him on Twitter at IJEDITOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.