Monday, December 22, 2014
     

By PATTIE MIHALIK

newsgirl@comcast.net

The question of the month surely must be: What do you want for Christmas?

I know it's the big question with my family each year.

When my daughters were younger I thrived on surprises. Seeing the look on their faces when I managed to hit a home run in gift selection was priceless.

But through the years I noticed some of those looks of appreciation were fake. I watched the girls open clothing I knew they would never wear, rewarding the gift giver with their ahhhhs!

By BOB URBAN rurban@tnonline.com Memorial Day. It's my favorite holiday weekend of the year. Everybody feels patriotic. The weather has finally warmed up. School's almost out and summer has unofficially begun. Enjoy it everyone. It only comes around...
Here's some mind twisters to help you keep aging gray cells active on a spring Saturday. Don't peek at the answers below until you're finished taking the quiz. 1. Johnny's mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child...
By BRUCE FRASSINELLI tneditor@tnonline.com (Editor's Note: Bob Urban, whose column normally runs in this space, is out looking for a Mother's Day gift for his wife, Mary. Substituting today is Bruce Frassinelli, a Summt Hill native and life-long...
By JIM ZBICK jzbick@tnonline.com Although there was no 24/7 news coverage and no social media outlets for people to offer their personal commentary, the 1912 presidential election offered some cutting edge technology for its day. The race featured a...
By jim zbick jzbick@tnonline.com In depressed times, sports can be a good tonic for lifting the spirits of a community. A good example is in Detroit where the baseball Tigers have been able to lift the morale of a city devastated by the collapse of...
By jim zbick jzbick@tnonline.com Tourism is the second leading industry in Pennsylvania, which is the fourth most visited state in the nation. Groups and officials have long used the natural beauty of our surroundings to promote the area. In an...
An old show business saying states that "It's not over until the fat lady sings." There can be a few different interpretations of that statement, but the one I choose to use is this: This fat lady is singing. My time as a newspaper columnist is over...
Dear Dr. Smith, Our daughter is going steady with a young man. They are both juniors in college, get good grades, and plan to spend the rest of their life together. My husband and I have a few concerns about the relationship. Some of the concerns...
A dear childhood friend of mine reminded me of all the fun we used to have together. We were blessed with a childhood that was full of exciting playtimes, imaginative experiences and creative games. Looking back on those days, it is obvious that our...
My wife, Marie, a native of New Columbus, was talking on the phone to her 47-year-old son (my stepson) and asking him when he was going to have supper and what was on the menu. She underscored her concern over the number of hours he was working and...
With the overriding concerns about bullying in our schools in recent years, it is time for me to 'fess up to being a schoolyard bully when I was a kid. Quite frankly, if someone today did what I had done, he would probably be expelled from school,...
On a recent trip, my son, Paul, and I had just finished one of several of our long philosophical discussions when he turned to me and said, ``You know, Dad, for an old guy, you're pretty cool." I was startled, because I stopped worrying about...
The lack of respect for ancient historical landmarks has angered the Peruvian government along with researchers and others who have a deep respect for the history of the cultures of our planet. One of the world's foremost mysteries, the Nazca Lines...
The Discovery Channel had a special on this past Sunday that brought reality television to a new low. Naturalist Paul Rosolie announced on his two-hour special "Eaten Alive" that he would be eaten by a 20-foot anaconda on television. He supposedly...
There is an interesting video on YouTube that I found several months ago called "Powers of Ten." This was a short film produced by Charles and Ray Eames of the Eames Office in 1977, and it is a fascinating view of our world, the world without and...
(This is a fictional short story from my collection. Hope you enjoy.) "There is no Santa Claus!" 9-year-old Jan yells in Emily's face. "Is too!" her little sister shouts back. "Look, you little brat. I just found a bunch of presents in Mom and Dad's...
Well, here it is. Only 12 more days until Christmas. I'm almost bald from pulling my hair out. I still have shopping to do, cookies to bake, gifts to wrap and gifts to paint. But, 'tis the season to be jolly, so I try to think of things to turn my...
Christmas time. It is a wonderful, magical, spiritual season. We are encouraged to find ways to help brighten and lighten other people's lives in the gifts we give and the deeds we do. A couple of weeks ago I told you a few amazing stories of how...
Some of my most magical Christmas moments took place years ago at my first job at Hess's of Allentown. If you shopped beneath those grand crystal chandeliers at 9th and Hamilton, you know how special Hess's was. Magic and glamour. Fashion models....
One of best parts of journalism is the opportunity to meet people and write their stories. In my opinion, you just can't beat it. Telling other people's stories provides an opportunity to see new faces every day, broaden your horizons and, best of...
It wasn't a typical Thanksgiving. We finished eating a turkey meal, except for Mom. She wasn't eating. Her appetite was fading. I suppose she wasn't feeling well, but I wasn't sure. Communication had become an issue. Mom didn't say much, as always....
By PATTIE MIHALIK newsgirl@comcast.net The question of the month surely must be: What do you want for Christmas? I know it's the big question with my family each year. When my daughters were younger I thrived on surprises. Seeing the look on their...
I have an acquaintance with a husband named Grouchy. No one knows his real name because she never calls him anything except Grouchy and she doesn't mean that as a term of endearment. While she is outgoing and friendly, she always has to go places...
I've always believed there is no such thing as "too old." Life is an attitude, and my attitude is every age is a good one. Plus, I'm a bit surprised to find that the older I get, the happier I am with life. I was always sure I wasn't going to ever...
By MARTA GOUGER mgouger@tnonline.com As of this writing I have received one Christmas card. And I've mailed out one less than that. As recent as four years ago, I would send 50 cards, with a complete letter of all the happenings in our family. The...
By TERRY AHNER tahner@tnonline.com Move over, grinches. Any ill-willed attempts to steal Christmas are bound to fail miserably. Besides, no one wants to be around people who are mean-spirited and unfriendly, especially this time of year. So, kindly...
Our first stop is a tidy house on a steep hill. Carefully I count the six meals we are to deliver here, stacking three of the styrofoam meal containers and three desserts in each bag. The lady of the house answers my knock, and her facial expression...

Claire:

Once upon a time, watching television was for Philistines. The uncultured masses would tune in to watch the latest sitcom every night, blissfully ignorant, while the intellectuals would sit in their ivory towers reading books, or at the very least saving their money for a subscription to a network like HBO or Showtime, where all the "artsy" television supposedly dwelled.

That's how the joke goes, anyway. These days, though, a few shows have me questioning the old adage that television is just for dummies and couch potatoes.

Jim:

Our most faithful fan does not live in Lehighton or Jim Thorpe or Tamaqua, or anywhere in the hard coal region.

No, he lives on the other side of the world. Dan Bloom is a freelance writer and ex-patriot, who resides in Taiwan where, he says, he is "buffeted around by Pacific typhoons every summer." Maybe that's why he worries a lot about climate change.

Jim:

There's an old saying: "They treat me like a mushroom. They keep me in the dark and feed me B.S." I know I'm a mushroom and hope that, at least, I may be a Portobello.

First off, there's the cosmic mystery. Where did the universe come from? If it's expanding, what is it expanding into? These questions give me butterflies in my stomach. I try hard never to think about them. I have butterflies right now. Let's change the subject.

Claire:

Writing down one's dirty secrets and posting them all over the web is de rigueur these days. It's hardly edgy or shocking to read the intimate details of a person's sex life, mental issues, or weight problems.

Heck, not too long ago a woman live-tweeted her miscarriage yup, that means she was writing about it on the Internet literally while it was happening.

JIM:

So Bradley Manning wants to be called Chelsea. I wonder how Chelsea Clinton feels about that.

Fort Leavenworth prison officials say he'll get no hormones and no surgery. Manning's lawyer calls this cruel and unusual punishment and vows to sue.

Advocates of transgender convicts claim (per recent news reports), "Self-castration, suicide and waves of desperation are byproducts of the denial of sex hormones to inmates yearning to switch genders." Sounds pretty grim, doesn't it?

When I was a little girl, I wrote a letter to Santa every year.

I didn't ask for much.

Sometimes I received gifts that were on my list, and sometimes I did not.

I remember one year, the only gift I woke up to was an unwrapped, fully functioning child's typewriter.

My mom was a secretary and a single mom, and that was all she could afford to get me that year.

In case you missed it, the 2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show aired Tuesday causing heavy breathing and heart palpitations for men across America, while causing depression and shattered self-esteem of young girls and women at the same time.

Victoria's Secret sells clothing and fragrance but is most known for its provocative lingerie and ultra-beautiful, ultrasexy and ultra-skinny models, called Angels.

Until that night, I never even knew there was a televised fashion show consisting of supermodels in their underwear and kind of wondered why there even would be.

As much as I love my day job, there are some aspects of it that I absolutely abhor.

At least once a week I end up speaking with a parent whose child has been abused, either physically, sexually or both. I have, on numerous occasions, been reduced to tears and have fought the urge to vomit over the horror stories that these desperate people share with me.

When you hear stories like that, it's really hard to go home and sleep at night.

I find myself wanting to grab some sort of weapon and take care of the pieces of garbage that hurt those innocent children myself.

By SHERI RYAN

tneditor@tnonline.com

For my daughters, I purchased Heathergems jewelry, which is produced from heather stems and manufactured exclusively in Pitlochry.

For myself, I brought home a couple of small bottles of Bruadar, which is a wonderful single malt Scotch whisky with honey, and for my mother-in-law, a simple box of Highland Blend tea from the Edinburgh Tea and Coffee Company.

My mother-in-law, Mary, is a serious and quite devout Tetley tea drinker.

Holiday gatherings from Thanksgiving through New Years can be wonderful and memorable occasions.

They can also be stressful and the fuel that sparks hurt feelings and family feuds.

If you are the one hosting a dinner or party, the bulk of that stress will, by default, land on your lap. While there are things you can do to help reduce that stress, your guests can and should do their part to help things run smoothly.