Making a list and checking it twice

December 23, 2008|By BILL KOHLER

Dear Santa,

It's me, Bill. I know it's been a while, but ... huh?

Excuse me?

I'm on the naughty list? Ouch. Oh, you saw that? Whoops!

I promise to be better in 2009.

It's been a tough 2008 for everyone, even you. I hear North Pole toy projections for the fourth quarter are below expectations and the Street is eating you alive. I just hope you have enough orders to keep all the elves out of the unemployment line through the end of the year.

Since I'm on the naughty list, I'll keep my wish list short and sweet.

I don't need any toys (my daughter, though, thinks she wants one of those Wii things. Do the elves make those?). I don't need a new truck and our home is just fine.


This wish list is for everyone and none of these gifts are really all that expensive or require fancy wrapping or bows.

We just need some help down here. Please read my list and check it twice. Yes, most of the people down here have been naughty more than nice and deserve coal more than an overpriced commodity.

o Gift No. 1: Patience

Please deliver some of this to everyone's house tonight. Being a newspaper editor and avid news consumer, I know that people are hurting and anxious for change. It's going to take a while and 2009 might be worse than 2008 for millions of Americans.

o Gift No. 2: Confidence

Santa, the biggest thing we have to fear in a recession like this is fear itself. We need a stocking-stuffer of self-esteem to get us through this winter and into the middle of the new year. We need to go out and spend like we normally would (without being foolish, of course), live like we did three years ago and not hide under a rock.

o Gift No. 3: A thesaurus

If I hear the word bailout one more time, I'm going to stick my hand in a blender.

We are sick and tired of words like bailout, TARP, recession, jobless numbers, economy and Rod Blagojevich.

Bring us more words like cheer, relief, jobs, imports, lower taxes.

o Gifts 4 and 5: Some restraint and common sense

Good grief, Santa, we really need to start using our heads. Curb spending, cut up our credit cards, eat less, exercise more, take a multivitamin, laugh more, slow down on the highway, get a yearly physical.

o Gift No. 6: The ability to give and not care about getting

We really need this, Santa. We need to be more conscious of others and not feel so entitled. My generation and the ones that have followed think we need to have trophies and awards for being on the team or doing our jobs.

Let somebody make a left turn in front of you, go to church more often than just on Christmas Eve and Easter, volunteer at the homeless shelter, help your elderly neighbor shovel her sidewalk, hold the door at work or church for five minutes.

o Gift No. 7: Perseverance

Big guy, 2008 has been a tough year on a lot of us. I lost my dad, parents have lost children, wives have lost their lifelong companions.

Many are fighting disease and illness. Some of our best young people in the country are fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Millions have lost their jobs.

Give us the strength and the patience to get through the tough times.

o Gift No. 8: Hope

Wow, do we need a big package of this when you come down the eight trillion chimneys tonight. Hope is one of those pillars of the holidays. People are nicer to each other and we tend to think warm, positive thoughts about the start of a new year.

Let's hope that glow is contagious and continues throughout the year.

Merry Christmas to you, Santa, and to all of our readers and their families.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 1-800-626-6397, ext. 2023, or by e-mail at

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