“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.” What Santa would put into the stockings always was the question. A lump of coal? Or something nicer, like a candy cane? When A Visit from Saint Nicholas was written, furnace coal was a primary source of heat, not unlike the coal-fired power plants of today. At a national conference in Kentucky, a leading coal producing state, one of the giveaways was a shiny lump of coal. It seemed much different than the coal I remembered as a little girl, when a delivery truck would pour coal through a window chute into a basement holding area. That coal was not shiny, and left a lot of black residue on the floor, and on one’s hands. Lumps of coal don’t appear in holiday stockings anymore, but coal and candy canes are appropriate for the following list.
• Lumps of coal for the current administration in the White House, for making the past year one of chaos and despair. The slogan “Make America Great Again” seems to have ratified a “Make America Hate Again” atmosphere, starting at the top. I long for the intelligent, thoughtful comments of a president, regardless of party, on behalf of the nation, instead of the narcissistic, and barely grammatical, rantings of the current White House occupant.
• Candy canes for Dan Sheehy, Gail Coleman, Dan Aminoff, Rose Chu, Kate Walter, and Marie Monsen, who were honored this year by various groups for their outstanding service to the community.
• A candy cane also for Frank Vajda, who retired this year after more than 15 years as the Fairfax County Park Authority Board member from Mason District. Frank oversaw countless park projects and park bond referenda during his long tenure.
• Lumps of coal to thoughtless drivers, who speed through neighborhoods like a NASCAR training session. Those speed humps on local roads are the community’s way of saying “slow down and pay attention. We live here.”
• Lumps of coal also to anonymous posters on blogs and other Internet media. Trolling just gives permission for others to join you in the moral morass you’ve created.
• Candy canes to the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation that underwrote the renovation of the Little League field at Mason District Park. Now named for retired Nationals catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, the new field gives today’s kids, and tomorrow’s, a quality place to learn the fundamentals of the nation’s pastime, build teamwork, and celebrate community values.
• A lump of coal to scam artists who prey on vulnerable senior adults, trying to cheat them out of cash and property through a variety of schemes. The Silver Shield campaign educates seniors and their families about scams at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/familyservices/older-adults/fairfax-county-silver-shield-anti-scam-campaign.
• And finally, candy canes to all those Mason District constituents who volunteer in the community, through PTA, civic associations, faith communities, the parks, at hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, and so many other organizations. You help make Mason District and Fairfax County a great place to live, work, play, learn, and worship.
This season, why not find your volunteer niche, and join in! Happy Holidays!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.