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Cook column: What’s in Santa’s bag this year?

We’re scaling back this Christmas. Relatives have been forewarned. The pressure to find everyone that perfect present ó or presents ó is off.
Yet, the mind wanders.
If I were Santa Claus and could pull anything I wanted out of my sack, I’d give …
– …. to my friends ó time to read a good book.
– … to my parents and their peers ófreedom from aches and pains.
– … to my husband ó perfect golf rounds.
– … to my daughters ó rewarding careers, freedom from want and even more people to love.
– … to my coworkers ó dynamite stories, breathtaking photographs and knowledge that they’re making a difference in this world.
– – –
Maybe I’m not being ambitious enough. Let’s think really big, beyond my little world.
– …. for all the dogs and cats of Rowan County ó caring owners who recognize the need for spaying and neutering.
– … for people who have invested in High Rock Raceway and former Colortex workers still waiting for that last pay check ó results from property owner David Risdon, not just words.
– … for downtown churches and Rowan Public Library ó copper guttering affixed so securely that no one can turn it into scrap metal and quick cash.
– … for the people who steal catalytic converters ó a job on an assembly line installing catalytic converters on cars … forever.
– … for people threatened by Salisbury annexation ó an ironclad guarantee that they will never become part of the city, so they can stop worrying about it.
– … for the citizens of Salisbury ó reassurance that the city is not the den of iniquity and greed that annexation foes describe. Already have that? Well, you can never have too much.
– … for California billionaire David Murdock, founder of the N.C. Research Campus … never mind. He can buy whatever he wants.
– … for Lincoln Park Pool users ó a new, bigger pool that can accommodate all the kids who want to swim there.
– … for North Rowan High School, 300 more students and a chance to put critics in their place.
– … for Kannapolis Intimidators owners Smith Family Baseball ó a deed to Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium and the millions of dollars they’ll need to get it.
– … for Kress Building owner Joel Goodman, who has restored the downtown building so beautifully ó all the tenants and buyers he needs.
– … to the people who caused gasoline prices to soar to $4 a gallon ó OPEC, speculators, whoever ó a long wait in line to buy something they must have but cannot afford.
– … to people who think the U.S. health care system is just fine, a long wait at a free clinic to get treatment they must have but cannot afford ó say, a severe toothache.
– – –
But I’m ignoring the big newsmakers of 2008, the politicians. Let’s see. What’s in my sack for them?
– … to elusive county candidate Laura Lyerly, who virtually disappeared after winning the primary, an answering machine that can hold even more messages for her to ignore.
– … for U.S. Elizabeth Dole, her name on the Rowan County Airport after the $2 million federal allocation she promised county commissioners comes through. (And amnesia for everyone who saw the “Godless Americans” political ad.)
– …. for the I-85 bridge over the Yadkin River, top priority on a list of public projects funded by a federal stimulus package. The Obama Bridge to a new day.
– … for the veterans of Rowan County, a plan to provide all veterans quality care close to home that does not diminish the level of care at the Hefner VA Medical Center.
– … for former U.S. Rep. Bill Hefner, D-Concord, ó now in Alabama somewhere? ó a plane ticket to Washington so he can testify on behalf of the medical center that bears his name and the veterans who depend on it.
– – –
How about a little bit of Hollywood this Christmas?
– … for Jonathan Blackmer of Alexandria, Va., a buyer for his parents’ burned-out Fulton Street home and the realization that a museum focused on his late parents, actors Sidney and Suzanne Blackmer, should not be part of the deal.
– … to the rundown veterans’ boarding house on Park Avenue that neighbors protested about in a petition, a visit from Ty Pennington and the “Extreme Makeover” team.
– … for George Clooney, another movie script set in a small Southern town with a beautifully restored train station, a lively downtown, a veterans hospital … and lots of Clooney fans.
– – –
Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post.

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