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Darts and laurels

Laurels to Santa for going postal. Itís not what youíre thinking. In a story that recently made the national news, Bellevue, Wash., letter carrier Bob McLean was told he would not be permitted to continue his tradition of wearing a Santa suit while delivering the mail on Christmas Eve. Apparently, the Santa prohibition came down after a co-worker complained. Unwilling to let bureaucratic Grinches cancel his Christmas spirit, McLean vowed heíd continue dressing as St. Nick, even if it meant being reprimanded or even fired. Fortunately, saner heads prevailed ó or at least realized a public-relations disaster in the making ó and postal authorities gave their blessing for McLean to continue his special deliveries.

Dart to Christmas shoppers who turn rude, unruly and even violent. The latest episode occurred Friday at a Charlotte-area mall when fighting broke out as more than 200 people waited in line to buy Air Jordan shoes at a shopping complex in Pineville. Police had to be called in to restore order there and at two other regional malls where similar disturbances occurred. Numerous other shopping skirmishes have been reported around the country this holiday season, although fortunately none has been as serious as the 2008 Black Friday stampede that killed a Walmart worker in upstate New York. This is yet one more reason to shop smaller, local stores. You not only save gasoline and avoid lengthy lines; you may also save yourself from being trapped in the middle of a Christmas shopper meltdown.

Laurels to Salisburyís designation as a gold level fit community. The recognition from the N.C. Division of Public Health is especially timely as people begin making their New Yearís resolutions. Perennial favorites are losing weight, exercising more and quitting smoking, and there are many community programs that can offer support and encouragement in all of those areas. Parks, greenways, nutrition programs and anti-tobacco programs donít simply promote individual health; they also pay significant dividends in reducing health-care spending. A 2008 report from the nonprofit organization Trust for Americaís Health found that on a national level, spending $10 per person on anti-smoking, physical activity and similar programs could save $16 billion annually in health costs.

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