A (Not So) Simple Wish List

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Written by Steve Wong

Merry Christmas, dear readers, but alas, my only gift to you this year are these words, which may or may not be worth very much during this especially hectic time of the year.

So, if you have all your shopping done, gifts wrapped, meals planned, and friends and relatives sorted by “naughty” or “nice,” take a break and read on. Otherwise, read at your own risk of wasting time that you could have spent finding snail mail addresses for Christmas cards.

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In reality, these words are being written (past deadline, of course) just two days after Halloween. I haven’t even tossed this year’s Jack-o-lantern on the compost pile, and yet here I am trying to  think Christmas-y thoughts worth sharing. Every year, I swear I won’t even think about Christmas until Thanksgiving, and every year, I fail because my Scroogey intentions are inherently flawed.

The people who have their act together have been shopping and wrapping throughout year, taking advantage of sales as they happen. By refusing to think about Christmas until after I make turkey carcass soup, I have doomed myself to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday — and all of the other sales between now and the mall’s closing time on Christmas Eve.

Yes, I have been guilty of guerilla shopping on Christmas Eve.

So here is my attempt to make amends for not planning Christmas… My Christmas Wish List…

Who is president of the United States of America? Hillary or Donald? We all know by now, but at deadline for this column, the election was a week away. Whoever is president, I wish for him or her the wisdom to understand and the power to change the desperation that many Americans feel. Rich or poor, black or white, man or woman, young or old, there is the undeniable feeling that we are fighting a losing battle on most fronts, be they economic, social, political, health, education, domestic, foreign, or just the faith that tomorrow will be a better day. Lead the way wisely, and we will follow cautiously.

All you Millennials, I want you to have the understanding that you, too, one day (if you live long enough) will be older, more conservative, more cautious, less likely to understand the latest technology, and, yes, less judgmental. As Baby Boomers, we know all too well where you are coming from and where you are going. There’s not much we can do about it, but we truly wish you the best. You are the hope for a better tomorrow.

Mom, I wish for you no hospital stays this year, less insulin shots, shoes that fit, and more visits from your friends and relatives. I’ll see you next weekend — I promise.

The Tryon Daily Bulletin, I wish for you a windfall of sustainable advertising. Newspapers have been taking a beating ever since the Internet became the focus of our attention. According to Google, most adults spend an average of about 20 hours a week looking at a computer screen. (I’m way above average!) I give to The Tryon Daily Bulletin my respect for staying the course, rolling with the punches, and allowing me use all the clichés that I want.

My wife, Kathy… I will continue to give you all that I have. It may not be much, but it’s all yours. You have my appreciation for dealing with a less than perfect husband.

To my daughter, Allyn, who is giving the Peace Corps two years of her young life, I give you my admiration for making the world a better place. I miss you terribly and count the days until you return.

To my son, Adam, who is a computer programmer in Portland, Ore., I give you my admiration for taking a stand for what is right. I only hope you stand closer to home in the years to come.

To the One Percent, I think you should give the rest of us at least 50 percent of your wealth. If you are that rich (one percent of the people control more than 50 percent of the world’s wealth), you have more money than you have days left to spend it. Do some good… pay off a young person’s college debt, make a mortgage payment for the chronically unemployed guy, pay off an old person’s hospital bill, buy a turkey for the kid on the street. And if you say money can’t buy happiness, let me sell you a boatload of unhappiness at below wholesale prices.

And to anyone who just isn’t in the Christmas spirit, I wish for you that magical moment when all the cares of the world are set aside, allowing you to believe there is hope.

Do whatever it takes. Watch again “It’s A Wonderful Life,” read aloud “The Night Before Christmas,” watch a YouTube video of kids unwrapping gag gifts, drop pocket change in the Salvation Army’s kettle, invite an old friend over for coffee, stand in your barn and wonder about the birth of Christ, give a stranger a gift (no matter how small) and not take credit for it. Do whatever it takes, but have a Merry Christmas, darn it.

If I can write this Christmas column while eating leftover trick or treat candy, you, too, can look deep inside yourself and find something worth celebrating. •