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December 21, 2011     Sentinel Tribune
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December 21, 2011

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SENTINEL TRIBUNE VIEWPOINT Wednesday, December 21, 2011 Page 4 BETWEEN , By Tom Merchant - Sentinel Tribune -- THE LINES Lost in the glitter... The holiday season is coming to a rapid climax with the celebration of Jesus' birth- day on Christmas Day. For the vast majority of Americans, and in much of the western and European world, that is the reason we have a celebration at all. Unfortunately, starting with black Friday and through Christmas Eve day, the focus seems to be more and more on buying that perfect gift for our loved ones and friends, rather than the real meaning of Christmas. I have to reflect on the comic strip Peanuts, especially the Charley Brown Christmas Story. This classic television special started in 1965 and still continues to spread the real message of Christmas. Recently Mark W. Benjamin wrote an interesting op-ed piece on the classic program. He talks about the tow key child's view of the real happi- ness of Christmas. Network executives pooh poohed the idea that an ani- mated show would have a child character (Linus) read from the gospel of Luke (Linus was way beyond his years). After watching it for the first time the CBS executives declared it a flop, they would air it once and consign it to a can, never to be seen again. Were they ever wrong, the show received accolades from all quarters, and CBS promptly ordered four more Peanuts Specials. The show had a unique flavor to it - using a light jazz sound track, no laugh track, and voices of kids auditioned off of the street, it had some- thing special. But the really good part is when Linus says, "1 think there must be something wrong with me, Christmas is coming, but I don't feel happy." Later Linus quotes Luke from the Bible and proclaims, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brownf" Then Charlie Brown harps on the vast commercial- ism of the Christmas season. Charlie Brown goes to pick out a Christmas tree and it is the most pathetic excuse for a tree that you have ever seen! But later all the other characters catch the spirit and decorate the scraggly looking tree and it beams with luster from the true spirit of Christmas. The story reminded me of when our boys were still at home. One time I bought a fake Christmas tree, and set it up. The boys, and best friend all looked at the rather sorry looking tree and proclaimed, "Dad brought home a Charley Brown Christmas tree." Well, with a lot of fluffing, tweaking, and a lot of well placed ornaments, the tree somehow took on the magical spirit of Christmas, and we all agreed it turned out pretty good after all. I hope that each and every- one of you can put aside the glitz and glitter of the season for a moment, and be blessed with the true spirit of Christmas, our Lord Jesus Christ. Have a good week and do good! National Megan's Law Helpline and Sex Offender Registration Tips Program The National Megan's Law Helpline (888) ASK-PFML (888) 275-7365, is available to provide support to communities: on issues related to accessing sex offender registration information; responsible use of information; sexual abuse prevention resources; and accessing crime victim support services. Parents for Megan's Law (PFML) staff provide assistance to the com- munity in accessing their state sex offender registries and prevention specialists provide support to par- ents and community members to assist in their sexual abuse preven- tion education strategies. Certified rape crisis counselors are available to support all victims of violent crime and to provide geographically appropriate referrals. The Sex Offender Registration Tips Program provides the public an opportunity to report registrants who are failing to comply with registra- tion requirements, employment or supervision restrictions or who are in positions of trust where they can access children. Tips can be pro- vided via the Helpline or website at HYPERLINK "http://www.parents-" www.parents- This program is not intended to be used to report police emergencies. Dial 911 or contact your local law enforcement agency directly for emergencies. Agency deputized staff work collab- oratively with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to facilitate the appropriate follow-up action. • • • • • • • • • X • • • • O0 "" Sentinel Tribune . • " Tip Line ." • If you see news happening or have a story • • idea call our News Tip Line. • • 274-6136 or 1-800-410-1859 • • Due to staff limitations we may not always be • • able to respond to your tips or ideas. However we • will do our best to give every call full regard. • Thank you for your help and consideration. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • AI Bat-t:... "Stories from the Cave" Christmas Letter 2011 Dear (Please insert your name here), I'm taking time off from my quest to find peculiar uses for duct tape to pen my annual Christmas letter. Please excuse the stains. They are not drool. I eat juicy clementines as t write. The tasty little cuties help my spelling and get the taste of the potpourri I just ate out of my mouth. I thought it was a snack item. I'm not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. Ie written many Christmas letters when holly berries become grapes of wreath. My first was inscribed with a Ticonderoga No. 2 yellow pencil in a Big Chief notebook while on break from creating macaroni art. Macaroni art is a great gift and a recipient never goes hun- gry. This was during an era when our Christmas lights provided more dead bulbs than a neglect- ed tulip farm and I wore clip-on bowties to church. The Christmas decorations are up at the Batt Cave. I spray- painted all our light bulbs red and green. I just got a free 2012 calendar from the co-op. I'd like to get a few more. That would finish my Christmas shopping, but I'm not putting all my Christmas eggs in one free calendar basket. My wife, The Queen B, and I have been marching through stores like Sherman through Georgia. She thinks she is the boss of me because she is the oldest child in her family while I'm the baby of mine. Babies rule. Our parents had us because they weren't happy with the children they had. Here is a shopping hint. Your loved ones have been giving you hints all year. Even with a list of hinted items, shopping isnl with- out surprises. I saw Mommy cussing Santa Claus. My shop- ping maxim is that you can't have the whole enchilada and a little bit is better than nada. I gave thought as to what to buy everyone. I didn't want a repeat of last year. Oh, I gave some thought on what to buy everyone then, too. On December 24, I thought, 'Td bet- ter buy some gifts." It was just luck that I ran across the perfect shovel for The Queen B. Aunt Hulda can be hard to buy for. Hulda, who is recovering from hip replacement surgery, will get a hula-hoop this year. I got my brother-in-law Clueless Les a GPS so he could find his rear end with both hands. Cousin Clem, struggling with his obsessive-compulsive disor- der, never stops singing, "Jingle Bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells, etc." I bought Clem a used pet rock. Uncle Ox found a couple of surprises under his Christmas tree. His dog hates going outside in cold weather. Ox feels sorry for the people who winter in the south and have to make dirt angels. Ox plays our Santa Claus. His Buick has a bumper sticker that reads, "Ask me about your grandkids." I got Ox an SUV--socks, umbrella, and vise grips. I found the perfect gift for my wife--a receipt from a food store that entitles her to a discount of five cents a gallon on gas. At a time when I miss mem- bers of my family so much that I hug photographs, I've learned to cherish those present, especially those who cook. One brings a pecan pie, her specialty. Another brings the ham, her specialty. I bring my appetite, my specialty. Another brings fruitcake, her specialty bought at Bob's Discount Food Emporium. The cats use the fruitcake as a scratching post. My lawyer, Mel Practiss, sent me his annual Christmas letter reading in full, "After much con- sideration, your contract of friendship has been renewed for 2012. It was a difficult decision. Don't make me regret it. My bill for this letter is enclosed." We put much thought and effort into the shopping process. It took 15 hours to wrap presents that will take 15 seconds to open. After all these words, I can sum it up by saying that The Queen B and I are blessed beyond words. May your credit cards heal quickly and may the holes in your Swiss cheese line up and bring peace on earth, if not everywhere, at least in Congress. Merry Christmas. Your pal, ©AI Batt 2011 71622 325 St. 1-1, MN 56042 Sentinel Tribune Thomas Merchant Junette Merchant Joan Spielman Kiki Hubert (ISSN 8750-3905) Managing Editor Office & Production Office & Production Marketing Specialist Published every Wednesday at Westbrook, Minnesota 56183 Periodicals Postage Paid at Westbrook, Minnesota 56183 SUBSCRIPTION PRICE FOR THE SENTINEL TRIBUNE WILL BE: In the following counties: Cottonwood, Redwood, and Murray $38.00 per year. Elsewhere in Minnesota $42.00 per year. Out of the state $48.00 per year. Canada and foreign countries inquire at the Sentinel Tribune Office. If wrong amount is submitted subscrip- tion will be pro rated accordingly. I II .... --  ..................... "Snowbirds" may put their paper on hold at no extra charge while they are gone, or pay $5.00 extra to have it mailed out of state. Missed copies cannot be furnished because the cost of mailing single copies is about $2.00. Any request for a back copy must include $3.00. Newstand price is $1 .00 per copy. © Copyright 2011 Sentinel Tribune a New Century Press Newspaper Mail Change of Address Notice to: P. O. 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