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The annual Northeast holiday wish list
Written by Kerry Ashmore, Co-Publisher
Posted  12/1/2010
Here’s the annual almost-musical holiday wish list you’ve all been waiting for. Okay, maybe a few of you have been waiting for it. A bit of holiday cheer, mixed up with our own commentary and our best wishes for the season, whether you agree with us or not.

Twelve Hummers Humming: Our oft-repeated call to preserve and expand arts education in the schools. Public officials and educators who push to increase student achievement in math, science and languages say they’re trying to make America more competitive in world markets, and we believe them. However, to the extent this is done at the expense of students’ participation in the arts, it’s false economy. Students who are better able to learn formulas and take tests will do a superior job serving others. To lead, and to make America more competitive, those students must be able to use that knowledge creatively. And nothing can replace the arts when it comes to teaching students how to blend knowledge and creativity.

Eleven Diapers Diap-ing: Increasing the education level of our society requires reaching parents and children from birth on. The long-term benefits of early childhood education have been documented over and over again, but the concept is viewed as too "liberal" to get serious attention from officials who sense a greater reward in limiting taxes than in making sure the work for which we pay taxes actually gets done.

Ten Fords-a-Beeping: An optimistic shout-out to those who appear to have brought the American automobile industry back from the edge of extinction.

Nine J-pegs Glancing: A wish and hope that we in the media will develop and adhere to old-style standards of journalistic integrity—standards our readers can rely on—as we continue to send writing and images into a cyber-world that seems unable to hold its users to any such standards, or to reliably distinguish those who have them from those who don’t.

Eight Trades-a-Bilking: A warning that especially in this busy holiday season, cyber-criminals are finding more and more clever ways to steal information and identities. It’s so easy to tell a child not to take candy from a stranger, but sometimes hard to realize when cyber-strangers are seeking to "confirm" sensitive information we never offered them.

Seven Lawns-a-Trimming: Now is the time to plan those springtime yard improvements that collectively make the Northeast area’s "curb appeal" among the best anywhere. Many thanks to those who consistently make it happen.

Six Fees-a-Paying: We see signs that the long, deep economic recession might finally be reaching an end; but recognize that what pundits are calling the "new normal" might mean that the economy won’t rebound the same way it has after past recessions. We might need to get used to some of our austerity measures for the long haul. With knowledge and creativity (see "twelve" above), we can turn the new normal into a new prosperity.

Five Cold Wings: Thank the restaurant industry for what seem to be larger and larger portions...more for our money. As many people do, routinely take some home for another meal or snack. Our waistlines will thank us, and we’ll get an extra reminder of how much we enjoyed that restaurant meal, which will lead to a sooner-than-later return engagement.

Four Stalling Hurts: It’s so easy to tap out a hurtful message and click the send key. It’s a little harder to stop, re-read what we thought we wanted to send, and communicate what’s needed without the animosity. But it’s worth it. The hurts can last forever, and for the most part, the snarky remarks aren’t nearly as cute and clever as we think they are, in the heat of the cyber-moment. In what is becoming an all-binary world, there are still some advantages to "counting to 10."

Three French Hens (you read it pun this time). A reminder that investigators and authorities continually find situations in which animals are the victims of extreme cruelty as they’re being prepared for human consumption. Cruelty—to animals or humans—has no place in a civilized society. We can all do better at knowing the sources of our food and keeping our dollars from producers who practice cruelty.

Two Nurtured Loves: A wish that you are able to spend an extra measure of time, energy and money on people, things and activities that you truly love.

As we say each year, finish the song any way you’d like. Happy Holidays from all of us at the Northeaster.

Northeaster Opinion