Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts

When I was a little girl, a threat of a lump of coal in my Christmas stocking was enough to keep me, and most kids, on good behavior, awaiting Santa’s visit.  A lump of coal may not be considered environmentally friendly these days, but the spirit hasn’t changed.  Rewards and punishment are still factors for children during the holidays, but my annual list of candy canes and lumps of coal apply more to adults than their offspring.

Candy canes for all the health care workers who labored so diligently during the Covid-19 crisis of the past 22 months.  Lives were lost, but many lives were saved because of the care by medical professionals at all levels.  With the Omicron variant sweeping the globe, their expertise will be needed once again.

Candy canes for non-profit organizations who provide so many services to our community.  ServiceSource, which provides opportunities for adults with disabilities, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary in Fairfax County.  Wesley Housing provides affordable housing options for persons who meet low income thresholds. Bethany House helps with housing and counseling services for women and children victims of domestic violence. The Culmore Clinic provides medical services to uninsured residents, and helps connect them with medical homes.  The Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA) operates the Child Development Center, a furniture ministry, a food pantry, and helps distribute public and private funds to help with rent, utility bills, and other needs.  You can support the work of these fine organizations with your own year-end, tax-deductible contributions, as I do.

Candy canes to the many Health Department staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines were available, and operated clinics that worked smoothly to vaccinate thousands of people every day at the Fairfax County Government Center. Initial doses and boosters are still being given there. 

Multiple lumps of coal to people who still won’t get vaccinated against COVID-19, and help save lives, including their own.  Believe the science, folks!

Candy canes for free summer concerts in the parks, which returned for a shorter season this summer after the entire 2020 series was canceled because of the pandemic.  Concert-goers enthusiastically came back, and the performers were equally happy to be in front of live audiences once again.  Plans are underway for the 2022 concert season.

A lump of coal for drivers who speed on local streets, and who fail to stop at stop signs, and red traffic signals.  I am disappointed that this item appears on my list year after year, but driver behavior appears to be getting worse, not better.  When I learned to drive, a stop meant the wheels stopped turning and you could feel the entire vehicle come to a full stop before proceeding again.  Those lessons stayed with me.  Whether in your own neighborhood or someone else’s, exercise caution and come to a full stop when you see that big red octagonal sign.  It’s the law, and it also is a sign of neighborliness and responsible citizenship.     

Finally, as I noted last year, candy canes for FCNP and its readers. Without you, a weekly column would be just a bunch of words on a page; with you, it can be a community conversation.  FCNP covers local news like newspapers used to do, giving voice to various points of view, and highlighting local joys and sorrows with celebration and heartache.  FCNP also supports local small businesses, and vice versa, and that deserves a candy cane, too!

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]