In Our Community
Christmas time is a wonderful time of year. Especially during the golden days of radio. I can think of many radio series that brought laughter and warmth into the family home.
Take, for example, the time Jack Benny played Santa Claus for the children of Phil Harris and Alice Faye. Of course the girls knew that Mr. Benny was the fake Santa and laughter ensued throughout the broadcast. Another time when Ozzie and Harriet were so proud of the radio/phonograph they had for each other for Christmas. But despite that one gift to each other, they decided in the end, that something more personal should be given to each other.
Probably the greatest radio broadcast of the time was A Christmas Carol performed by Lionel Barrymore. A Christmas Carol was brought to CBS by Lionel Barrymore on December 25, 1934, and each year the Charles Dickens classic became a listening must for millions. Barrymore’s portrayal of the miserly Scrooge was as flawless as anything radio has ever produced. For his first performance, he was supported by Beatrice Lillie, while Alexander Woollcott served as master of ceremonies. In 1935, with the death of Barrymore’s wife, his brother John took the role. Orson Welles played Scrooge in 1938 when Lionel became ill. But the following year he was back, in Welles’ own Mercury Theater, for a full 60 minute production with Welles as narrator. On December 23, 1944, Barrymore did the story in 30 minutes as part of his regular Mayor of the Town series. Many listeners and critics considered A Christmas Carol the greatest yule story ever done on the air. Until his death on November 15, 1954, Barrymore, with almost clockwork regularity, captured the essence of “the grasping, clutching, conniving, covetous old sinner, Ebenezer Scrooge.
Listen to am 1370 KDTH’s Big Broadcast on Sunday nights from 6 to midnight during the Christmas season and you will hear many Christmas radio favorites especially A Christmas Carol with Lionel Barrymore.
Whistleblower Act Doesn’t Work
The Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 was designed to hold employees accountable, investigate allegations and protect whistleblowers from retaliation, including from supervisors, at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
It isn’t working.
The VA’s Office of the Inspector General investigated complaints from June 2017 until August 2019. The OIG discovered that:
— The Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OWAP) often farmed out investigations instead of handling them in-house. In 2,526 cases it sent investigations to other departments that weren’t equipped to handle them.
— It failed to protect whistleblowers’ identities, which resulted in 51 cases of whistleblower retaliation.
— OAWP butted in with investigations into areas that weren’t within its scope and ignored some of those it should have handled. It was supposed to refer criminal cases to the Office of the Inspector General, but did so only 38 times.
— It didn’t provide clear written guidance or training for personnel. More than a year after it started, the OAWP still didn’t have a way of identifying errors and ensuring that the work was not biased. Additionally, it didn’t get all the facts, including witness statements, in each case.
One case was investigated in a way that was likely intentionally retaliatory against the whistleblower by a supervisor who was apparently a social pal of someone high up in OAWP. The whistleblower (and others) had previously complained about the supervisor. The whistleblower was never even interviewed, and the others were hesitant to report allegations because of the social ties of the two senior staff.
— Many cases took over a year to close. Discipline or penalties were random and subjective. Evidence was withheld. In cases of whistleblower retaliation, the whistleblower was forced to agree to having his/her identity revealed.
Where is the incentive for those who want to do the right thing to come forward?
© 2019 King Features Synd., Inc.
Have a Merry – I mean – Joyous Christmas!
It was Christmas Eve, just before the first of three Christmas Eve services. There were sconces lining the two side walls of the sanctuary that contained small tea light candles. We had a faithful deacon who took it upon himself to light these candles each year. Using a long lighter, he reached up, tilted the lighter into the frosted glass holders to light the wick of each tea light candle. This particular year we decided to switch to battery operated tea light candles with an LED light in a plastic flame that made them glow like the real thing.
The problem was that no one had told our faithful deacon of the change. He had made it around to all the sconces, having successfully lit every one! Clouds of black smoke billowed up from the sconces and large amounts of stringy black soot wafted through the air, settling on every surface in the sanctuary, including the pews where, in a short time, a crowd of people would be sitting, wearing their Christmas best. Some churches have the aroma of incense when you enter the sanctuary, but what we smelled would never pass for incense!
We quickly opened all the windows to clear the air in spite of the frigid winter temperatures outside, and grabbed gobs of paper towels to wipe down the pews. Somehow we managed to clean everything up and had our Christmas Eve services.
No Christmas is going to be perfect. We wish each other a Merry Christmas, but all that happens leading up to Christmas and Christmas itself does not always produce a merry attitude. Being merry means being happy, and happiness depends on what’s happening; but there are almost always things happening that are not good.
There’s a better word than the word merry to use in the Christmas season and every season, and that’s the word joy. The angel, in announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, used this word, telling them that he had good news of great joy.
Sometimes people lament that they’re not going to have much of a Merry Christmas because they can’t afford to buy gifts or because of something else that’s made their circumstances far from ideal. Yes, circumstances can take the merry out of a Merry Christmas, but circumstances can’t rob us of the true joy of Christmas! The joy of Christmas has already been delivered to us, some 2,000 years ago, at the very first Christmas!
Happiness and being merry are emotions. Joy is more a state of being. Happiness depends on what’s happening. Joy results from accepting the gift of God’s presence with us (that’s what one of Jesus’ names, Emmanuel, means: “God with us.”). Joy comes from leaning on His guidance and help to get through the difficulties. Joy is ours when we hold on to the hope that He’ll ultimately work everything for the good as long as we hang in there with Him! This is how we can have the joy of Christmas, and have joy at any time and at all times!
I’m probably going to be wishing a lot of people “Merry Christmas” out of habit, but if I catch myself I’m going to say “Have a joyous Christmas” instead. Folks probably won’t catch on to the difference, but it’ll be a good reminder to me!
“But the angel said to them [the shepherds], ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savor has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’” (Luke 2:10-11)
Five Myths About Medicaid’s
I wrote this column in 2019 just after the celebration of the birthday of Jesus and the start of a new year began with busy future activities. How many of us are already planning ahead for future family celebrations? Well, I’m sharing just a part of Christmas of 2018 with you.
My home is a three-bedroom ranch style house built in 1970. We reared three children in this house. It has the normal wear and tear of an older property. But it’s mine. And every Christmas I get to share it with a family of at least 13 individuals. This year it consisted of 11 adults and two children, plus one mature cat and a newly rescued, precious dog, named Jewel. Needless to say, bodies often bumped into each other but it was still wonderful having everyone together for the seasonal gathering.
Actually, for two wonderful days the kitchen and living room was our communication bridge. We all shared conversation of laughter and joy. But, for me the joy of seeing my two great-grandchildren playing and enjoying their new territory at G-G’s house was the frosting on the cake, so to say.
Finn, the five-year-old, had been here before but Ezra, the two-year-old had to be shown by his big brother the ropes of playing at G-G’s house. Yes, out came the toys not seen for a while. And this was all before the boys had opened their new Christmas toys.
I guess just about everyone could share tales of two little boys just being boys. Ezra was an explorer. He spotted a white dish on a small table and even though he could not see the chocolate candy in the container, up goes one tiny hand and out comes a fist of candy.
Naturally, a parent came to adjust the amount he was allowed to eat. And the candy dish was moved to a higher level.
Both of the boys love to wrestle with their Grandpa Tom. Finn has more experience and plans ahead with his strategy of out wrestling grandpa. Little Ezra comes at a run and dives right into the action often landing on his head or face. But, he keeps going on with childish glee and boyish laughter. Where do they get their energy?
Yes, folks, this is a saved memory. Do you have a special Christmas memory? If so, share it with someone else and then ask them to share a Christmas memory with you. Bye.