Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Christmas, from my Porch to Yours!

By L.A. Kohl
December 18, 2006
(published in the Dec. 20, 2006 edition of the Bullseye)

I felt the need to stop in the midst of my busy-ness and send all of the Bullseye readers a very heart-felt and genuine “Merry Christmas” greeting. Several of you are so kind to me throughout the year, taking a moment to tell me how much you enjoy reading my article. Some of you even take the time to tell my husband, my children, and my parents when you meet up with them and happen to find out that they’re related to that “Front Porch” lady. Your words of encouragement get back around to me eventually, and I truly do appreciate all of them. And with that being said, I have just a little more to say…

I like life to be peaceful, as perhaps you can tell from the title of my column. However, sometimes I feel a little rebellious…a bit like wagging my finger and yelling out loud. Unfortunately, it even happens occasionally during this wonderful time of year.

Thus, you notice that my greeting to you this week is “Merry Christmas” and not “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays." Call me intolerant if you want – but sometimes I wonder, does the rest of the country care that they offend people of a Christian heritage on a regular basis? Last time I checked, Christianity was still the predominant religion in America – and yet, we’re the ones who are expected to set aside our traditions and beliefs and tolerate everyone else’s religious beliefs (or disbeliefs, as the case may be.)

And thus, gone is some of the most beautiful Christmas music ever written, from most places of business. Gone are such things as bright stars and angels. And gone are the nativity scenes from nearly all public places.

As I log onto AOL each day to check my email, my opening screen welcomes me with little “holiday” symbols – things like gift wrapped packages, snowmen, and some Hanukkah symbol that I don’t even know what it’s called. I have yet to see a nativity scene on there, and furthermore, I’m 99.9% sure I won’t ever see one on there. Why is it tolerant and acceptable to put a Jewish Hanukkah symbol there – but if they put the time-honored Christian symbol of a nativity on their screen, they’d undoubtedly have someone complain that they weren’t being politically correct and tolerant? It’s not the Hanukkah symbol that bothers me – I have a great respect for people of the Jewish faith. It’s the fact that our society has this double-standard that says, “Let’s be tolerant of everyone’s differing believes and religions – except for people of a Christian heritage…we can just ignore their feelings.”

We personally chose not to celebrate Halloween. We’ve got our reasons – and I know a few other people who have similar reasons. But do I walk up to the checker at the store who’s dressed up like a witch on October 31 and say, “That offends me – I think I shall sue your store.” No way – I assume my beliefs are a personal thing, and it’s not my place to insist that the rest of the world cow-tow to my feelings. So, all I want to ask is: why can’t the rest of the world return the favor? Why do there have to be law-suits and threats over such little things as nativity scenes (and even now, as we saw this month in Seattle – Christmas trees!)?

Thus, my Christmas greeting and wish this year includes an encouragement to all of you to lighten up, relax, and show a little respect for others. If you’re Jewish, go right ahead and wish me a “Happy Hanukkah” – I won’t mind. But I hope you won’t mind if I wish you a cheerful “Merry Christmas” in return.

All I ask is that you don’t give me a generic “Happy Holidays” greeting. I won’t sue or anything, but I may pull out my soapbox and give you an earful.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

By: L.A. Kohl
December 10, 2006
(published in the Dec. 13, 2006 edition of the Bullseye)

It’s been stated over and over again in the days following the recent big snowstorm, but bear with me as I say it once more...we haven’t experienced a snow like that in a looonnnggg time! So, is it any wonder that a few unusual sights and sounds have occurred since then? I thought I’d take a moment out of my busy holiday schedule and share a few with you…

For instance, snow cream (or snow ice cream – depending on what you choose to call it). That’s usually a once a year occurrence around here, if we’re lucky. However, after November 30, we enjoyed it once or twice a day for several days. And for you deprived souls who have no idea of what I’m talking about – the next time we get a fresh snowfall, go get a big bowlful of it (no yellow stuff, please!) and just start adding milk, sugar and tablespoons of vanilla until it reaches a taste and consistency that is yummy!

One of the funniest sights here at our place during those first few days was that of a little red-headed, three year old boy snowboarding down our 100+ yard long slope; which, during the rest of the year, serves as a large portion of our driveway – but for now, it’s working better as a slope. For all of you winter Olympic fans, we call him our little Flying Tomato in training. After one exuberant afternoon of snowboarding, he came in the house to inform me that, “When I fall down, I get snow all in my face – it’s SO fun!”

Coming in a close second place to that fun “flying tomato” sight was yesterday morning’s sight of a forty-something year old man on his sled, starting at the top of the “slope” (which now, a week after the snowfall, highly resembles an ice rink.) He wanted to see if he could make it all the way from the house to the highway, with one push-off; about a quarter of a mile all total. The mail delivery lady that happened to be paused on the highway, wondering how in the world she was ever going to deliver our package up the driveway/slope/ice rink, was very happy to see this whooping and hollering maniac come flying all the way to the highway (with only a couple of near misses with a Suburban and a power pole!)

Perhaps one of the strangest, yet most non-eventful occurrences happened on Sunday, December 3rd. It was just a phone call. And since everyone else was out playing in the snow, I took the call, and thus had the unusual opportunity to inform the principal of Rock Bridge High school about the conditions of our roads out here in rural Harrisburg.

They were debating the big question – do we have school tomorrow or don’t we – and since Rock Bridge has a teacher or two out this way, the principal simply thought he would call to see how the roads were in our area. (Trust me, if you knew who the principal was, you wouldn’t be so surprised that he called.) I didn’t think too much of it while I was talking to him, but after I hung up, I couldn’t resist proudly going out to announce to my husband, “Hey, the Columbia public school system just wanted my opinion about whether or not they should have school tomorrow!”

Okay, okay…so I exaggerated that a little bit, but as a stay-at-home mom I get very few chances at claims to fame – so I really have to play it up big when a mere semblance of importance occurs.
Thus, I anxiously await the next fifteen inch snowfall, even though it might be another 20 years in the making. Perhaps by then, the president will want my inside opinion about rural, mid-Missouri road conditions.