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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Let's trade gore for goodwill

Posted 12/23/15 (Wed)

Those of us who are journalists often times get absorbed into the gory details of uncivilized behavior on and around the Christmas holiday.

There’s usually two or three Palestinians that are shot by Israeli police, or a crazed gunman takes hostages in a hotel in Peru, or worse yet, terrorists light a hotel on fire in Papau New Guinea.

Closer to home we have issues too, poor road conditions, a house fills with carbon monoxide or thieves make off with Christmas presents.

There’s always this kind of stuff going on. News continues to happen and it doesn’t differentiate between Christmas Day and a routine week day.

Yes, we often see it as important for tomorrow’s newspaper, but we should be focusing on something else altogether.

In spite of the news that sells advertising, there are a lot of good things going on in the world at Christmas and maybe we, the media, should pay a little closer attention to them. If just one or two news articles would be about goodwill instead of chaos and destruction, it might convince a “fence sitter” from going out and doing a dirty deed against humanity.

Consider the bell ringers at the Salvation Army. They are out there in all kinds of weather, sometimes bitter cold weather, ringing a bell for donations.

These people are volunteers and aren’t getting paid by the Salvation Army. They do it out of goodwill.

When you see somebody like Hillary Clinton serving Christmas dinner at a soup kitchen, it’s all for show and tell. When you see Marines doing it, you know they’re there because they want to complete their mission of cheer and goodwill at Christmas .

Think about the children and how much of a task it is for them to put on a Christmas play in front of an entire church congregation? It’s a big deal to them and takes a lot of work. It’s something that rarely gets recognized, nor do the leaders who coach the young children into pulling off a flawless performance get recognition.

Think of the sickly old lady who has nobody else and bakes batches of cookies for the local police who are working on Christmas.

It never gets recognized by the news media, but would make for a great feature article.

You may have seen a recent article picked up by the Fargo Forum and KFGO radio.

National Guard lieutenant Eric Jungles has been sleeping in a tent on a Fargo boulevard for the past three weeks while a homeless veteran sleeps in his condo.

This is the second time Jungles, who is 31 years old, has done this to raise awareness and raise money for homeless veterans, not just in Fargo, but in all of North Dakota and Minnesota, where he grew up.

He strongly believes there is an issue and it needs to get fixed and somehow this doesn’t surprise me. Jungles was one my troops when our National Guard unit was activated in 2006. He was always volunteering for the difficult jobs.

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Somehow Christmas has morphed into something other than it should be. We’ve forgotton why we celebrate Christmas and maybe we should pull hard on the reindeer reins and reconsider our justification for Christmas.

Shopping is good. We all like to exchange presents at Christmas and even as we age as adults, we still love to receive presents.

Shopping is good because retailers need that boost in revenue. It’s a big time of year for them and sometimes necessary to keep their doors open year round.

Shopping is good because it makes us feel good that we have a purpose in spending our money. Retail therapy they call it.

But I want to remind you that when I was a little kid in the late ‘60s, there was a great Christmas celebration for about a week leading up to the holiday.

When I got into college in the 1980s, I wrote a column much like this one about the commercialization of Christmas creeping into the Thanksgiving holiday.

This year, a trip into Minot just before Halloween indicated to me that Christmas is now visible in stores before Oct. 31.

That’s over the top like the British would say. We don’t need all that “fluff.” Everyone knows we’re going to purchase gifts for family and friends at Christmas. What are retailers afraid of, brand X getting the sale?

Let’s just remember why we celebrate Christmas. It’s “Goodwill  to all,” like it states in the Bible, not chaos, destruction or retail supremacy.