Here are my wishes:
Gift No. 1: Help for small businesses
Now that the banks are paying back TARP/bailout funds, the government should consider cranking up the help to small businesses throughout the land. They are the essence of the American dream and greatest example of entrepreneurship.
Yes, the big guys appeared to be worthy of help, but small businesses need the low-interest loans and the tax breaks to keep shelves stocked and paychecks coming.
Look around Hagerstown, Martinsburg, W.Va., Chambersburg, Pa., and Waynesboro, Pa. -- wherever you go. Small- to medium-sized businesses are disappearing at an alarming rate. We need to reverse that trend in a hurry -- before more coffee shop owners, parts suppliers and dry cleaners give up and throw in the towel.
Gift No. 2: A hero to look up to
Yes, I think parents and teachers are and should be the greatest role models for our children, but let's face it. We aren't on television and we don't average 30 points and two touchdowns per game.
And, we can't be everywhere for our kids. So, please bring me an athlete who doesn't cheat, a singer that isn't strung out or a movie actor who works on his craft and rep as much as he does his tan and his biceps.
I'll keep doing my best to be a good example. Can't others, too?
Gift No. 3: A smoother ride
I can't ask for a new car this year, but I can ask for state and local crews to smooth out some of the bumpiest roads on God's green (and asphalted) Earth.
Some of the prime offenders most in need of your generosity:
Most of the roads in and around Chambersburg (Pa.), East Second Street in front of Waynesboro (Pa.) Area Senior High School, Interstate 70, Pa. 16 west of Greencastle, and the intersection of Bower Avenue and Virginia Avenue in Hagerstown.
Gift No. 4: A treadmill
You know who you are and why you need it. Statistics tell us our kids are fatter and we are setting a bad example. We need to get off the couch, put down the Wii remote and slowly back away. Then start walking forward. It's a win-win for everyone.
Gift No. 5: A GPS for everyone
Wow, there are some seriously challenged drivers out there who need to know where they are going and when to turn miles before they get there. Imagine what a wonderful world that would be! I was a nonbeliever a mere 12 months ago until my sister-in-law, Kayla, and her husband, Rich, enlightened me to the world of Nuvis and Tom Toms. Thanks guys!
Gift No. 6: A big cover
Santa, I want to put a huge bullet- and IED-proof cover over all our troops as they protect us and our freedoms. They need a big cover, smart leaders, daily prayers and support from all Americans -- from the decision makers in Washington to use here in the Tri-State area.
Gift No. 7: Faith
Now don't get your legal papers in a bunch. I'm not suggesting that Chambersburg Borough Council vote to put the nativity back in the center of Memorial Square, but I am asking for people to find something or someone they believe in. If it's God, Allah, Buddha, Yahweh, then so be it.
We all could use a little faith to help us in our daily grind. I know I do. Or at the very least, live by the principles they laid out for us in our dealings for each other.
How about the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. What have we got to lose?
Gift No. 8: Hope
Alright, alright. I ask for this every year, but it's the thing that keeps us going even after we've been run over by a Mack truck. It's what makes us believe our state and national leaders are working on ways to make things better, even if we can't quite see results yet. It's what keeps us strong when we get bad test results, or see our quarterly 401(k) statements. It's the light at the end of a dark tunnel of grief, despair and anger.
Please drop a big handful in everyone's stocking -- naughty or nice.
And my hope for all of you? A merry Christmas, and a safe and happy new year.
Bill Kohler is Tri-State editor of The Herald-Mail. Reach him at 800-626-6397, ext. 7281, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.