Hanukkah is now in full swing, and Christmas is only days away. We hope that all of you have holidays filled with family, friends and pure joy and love. This is indeed the season of religious celebration, togetherness and humanity, and despite all the headaches and pressures affiliated, we trust there will be plenty of smiles along the way.
And, of course, there are gifts.
We give some. We receive some. And we conspire with others on some to make sure we can come up with the perfect gift for that special someone. Days, weeks and months often consist of planning, saving and buying to make sure we can give those smiles to the people we care for the most.
And as silly as it might sound to the younger people of the area, it is in fact the gift of giving that brings the most joy as we get older. You like seeing someone truly appreciate your gift, and get a great deal of satisfaction yourself knowing you made that person’s world a little happier, if only for a moment or two.
But, no matter how well we plan, or how good our intentions, there are always those last-minute gifts we find ourselves scrambling to obtain. Maybe a quick look at the piles under the tree tells you that someone needs another something or another to even things up, or an acquaintance surprises you with a gift and you feel an obligation, or someone simply fell through the cracks.
However you found yourself in this position, and most of us do, you need to get a few late gifts. Well, it’s probably too late to order it online unless you are willing to sacrifice your savings for shipping costs. And you probably want to avoid the lines and aggravation at the malls.
The solution is simple: Buy local. Check out local shops and restaurants, help the economy and save yourself the headaches.
There was a time in my life when the single most important thing in my entire existence was a Mattel handheld electronic football game.
No, it wasn’t food or water, oxygen or sleep, mommy or daddy. The true meaning of Christmas was far beyond what I could appreciate at that moment, and the only thing that truly meant something to me was the prospect of receiving that beautiful little electronic toy with the flashing red dots that formed some semblance of a football game.
Comparing the technology of that game to what is available today would be like attempting to correlate the intricacies of the iPhone 6 with a lima bean. Perhaps that’s an overstatement on my part — the Mattel game did have a screen, and a few buttons. But, other than that... basically a lima bean with a screen and some buttons.
But it was cool, and my friends had them, so I had to, as well.
Like Ralphie from “A Christmas Story,” I stealthly planted the seeds in my parents’ brains. Of course, what was subliminal in my mind was ridiculously obvious to them, as my strategy consisted of having my friends bring theirs by the house so my father could play with them, and “leaving” random Christmas lists around the house that only had one item.
I figured if I didn’t look like a Christmas glutton by asking for everything, I improved my odds of eliminating some of those pesky underpants and socks that always got in the way of my merriment so everyone could focus on that football game, instead. The pulse in my thumbs tingled with anticipation of receiving Mattel’s little miracle, and I imagined lines of people forming outside my home, simply to catch a glimpse of my prowess at playing electronic football.
I was going to be a game savant, and people would write poems about how I brought the Russians to their knees with my ability to...
But I digress.
The point is, this was that one special Christmas present I longed for above all others in life. Maybe yours was a bicycle, or a Barbie, or world peace, if you’re just being pathetic. Regardless, many of us had the “one,” right?
It doesn’t matter anymore that when I did get it, I was as sick with the flu as I’ve ever been in my life and never got off the couch that day. I played that thing. And then I played it some more. And then I realized that if I faked to the left, and ran to the right, I could score a touchdown each and every time.
Each and every time.
So, yeah, I lost interest in my little brass ring pretty quickly, and it ended up in the pile of “must-haves” that never saw the light of day again, along with my pet rock, Etch-A-Sketch and “Mork & Mindy” lunchbox.
But nothing could possibly take away that feeling of anxiety the night before, trying without much success to fall asleep as soon as possible so Christmas morning would come sooner. Nor could it take away that feeling when the wrapping paper ultimately came off and I saw my precious game in my jelly-stained hands.
Editor’s Note: For reasons unbeknownst to me, I often had jelly-stained hands as a child. It’s not like I really ate that much jelly, per se, so I think the focus has to turn more to hygiene deficiencies at that time. After reading that line one more time, it would seem I’ve crossed that threshold again as far as what I should share and what I shouldn’t. Yet, here I am, and I’m still rambling. Please, forget you ever read this.
As the years have ticked off, I’ve learned that the Christmas season still means a great deal to me. I still love hearing Bruce Springsteen sing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and I still get a laugh or two out of the Grinch. But other parts of the holiday spirit have changed for me.
I now look forward to seeing family more than opening gifts, and I get a little more emotional when thinking of all the true blessings in my life. The financial and time pressures of the holiday make me appreciate more and more what my parents were able to accomplish when I was younger, and I now find myself thinking of them as superheroes, as opposed to sources of electronic football games or people with a direct hotline to Santa.
And I already received my new-favorite gift of all this year in the form of my new daughter. I was lying on the couch the other night with her sleeping on my chest and the lights from the Christmas tree warming the room, and I realized how much our wants and priorities do change. This is way better than that football game, I was thinking.
Of course, that football game never pooped on me. So, there’s that.
Letters to the Editor
CIB: Well-maintained parks important for the Inland Bays
We are all fortunate to have so much public land around the Inland Bays. In fact, there are seven areas managed by DNREC’s Division of Parks within the bays’ watershed, including: Fenwick Island, Holts Landing, Fresh Pond, Delaware Seashore and Cape Henlopen State Parks; and the Thompson Island and Angola Neck Preserves. The benefits to our community provided by these areas are central to the quality of life on the coast.
State parks are refuges, not just for people, but for the plants and animals that live near the Bays. Coastal forests and wetlands of the parks provide clean water and healthy habitats for fish, crabs, turtles and birds.
These lands need maintenance to continue providing such beneficial services. Managing human use of the parks, restoring eroding shorelines and controlling invasive plant species are necessary to maintain these beautiful properties.
The parks also provide access to the water for clamming, fishing, boating, kayaking, swimming or kiteboarding. These activities connect people with the water; they allow young people the opportunity to understand what lives in the bays and how they provide for us. The parks system also provides educational opportunities for those of all ages that would like to learn about the bays.
Delaware has not raised park fees in over 10 years, despite significant reductions in support from the State’s general fund. Entrance fees for the parks are now on average 37 percent lower than nearby states. The parks system is facing an astounding $100 million backlog in maintenance and capital projects.
As the human use and environmental stress to these areas from sea-level rise increases, it is now critical to invest in our parkland. Parkland supports clean water, unlimited recreational opportunities and Delaware’s nearly $7 billion coastal economy. I urge you to support your State Parks and the very fair increase in fees that has been proposed to keep them healthy and accessible into the future.
Chris Bason, Executive Director
Delaware Center for the Inland Bays