Left Justified: Christmas presents

The Christmas spirit has bitten me hard. I want to give expensive presents to all my friends, family, weird cousins, acquaintances and people whom I meet on the street (well, maybe not everyone here on Seventh Street). Christmas is a time of giving, and I hope you can find the resources to give to your heart’s content. And remember those who need it the most—the poor, the destitute, the homeless. If you can’t give directly, then give through your favorite charity.

And with all this giving going on, I’d also like to receive. Usually, the Christmas presents I get are a letdown (until I look into the heart of the giver and realize the love behind it). So I’d like to make it easier for my friends and relatives. Here is a list of what I’d like for Christmas:

What I’d really like for Christmas: a new president!

Also, I’d like Santa to bring the troops home from a peaceful Iraq and a rebuilt Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden in chains (remember him?).

On a slightly personal note, I’d like to see permits given to the Total Health Awareness Team to move into 201 Seventh St. and be the neighbor of a wonderful new fair trade store.

I wish that developers in Rockford would combine affordable housing with “fair market-rate condos” and use tax dollars only to help the poor out of their rut. Rich developers shouldn’t get tax dollars for wealthy people’s homes. If so, I wish rocks in their stockings.

Environmentalists should receive more land set aside for future preservation. When the Winnebago County Board works on its holiday gift list, let them put more prairie into the forest preserves, and give fewer roads to the developers. Farmers should be paid to protect their wetlands, and parking lots should be taxed per square foot, especially if it isn’t being used.

I hope everyone gets a fair-traded gift from the new Fair Trade store now in exile at 623 Seventh St. Volunteers are keeping the store open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Also, some area churches have fair-traded items on sale. “Fair traded” means the producer, usually in Third World countries, gets a fair price. This is not to be confused with free trade, which means most of the money goes to large corporations, and sometimes slaves in prison camps make the products. I think we all hope and pray that every person in this world will someday enjoy a fair chance at life. I hope Wal-Mart goes the way of Ben Franklin stores.

I also hope that the City Council gets home rule and that taxpayers get tax relief, and the citizens of Rockford get more services.

I especially hope the children of Rockford schools receive the best education with the most enlightened instructors surrounded by the latest educational resources.

In my personal stocking, I would like some new peace buttons and bumper stickers. I would also love some local Rockford history items, especially those related to tobacconist and former Park District President Fay Lewis. He lobbied for a better jail, human rights, and hosted famed attorney Clarence Darrow on his trips through Rockford.

I hope to give some decent presents to my family and friends. Of course, I’ve got a great source; the Fair Trade store is right next door to my office.

And I wish for you the true spirit of the season: that the light that is now waning might grow in your heart and shine upon us all.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Dec. 14-20, 2005, issue

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