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'F' as in Frank

Taking back Christmas

No, this isn't about taking back Christmas gifts that are a size too big or too small.

It's about taking back Christmas. Period.

I think it was theme music played from the third Star Wars film, or perhaps it was a song from the Lion King soundtrack at local school winter concerts, when I finally snapped.

Now it's understandable that school districts have to work hard not to mix church and state during "winter" or "holiday" music programs.

But do they have to go to the extreme of swapping out "We Three Kings" for the Lion King; "Away in a Manger" for "Accidentally in Love" from the Shrek 2 soundtrack, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" for "Hey Ya"?

To their credit, the school programs I heard did have brief religious references. But in this PC world in which we live they dared do little more than that.

At the same time, though, they shouldn't have to move so far in the opposite direction that we lose sight of the season.

What about "Jingle Bells", "Let it Snow" (it is winter, after all)? They seem to have fallen off the charts, even though they don't mention the dread "C" word of Christmas.

Since the staff and kids of our local school districts work so hard to put on a winter program, and since we taxpayers are funding it, shouldn't they be able to perform songs that actually have something to do with winter and, yes, more than a nod at Christmas.

Bottom line, though, it's hard to blame the teachers too much for this state of affairs. And certainly not the students, they volunteer extra hours to sing and play the program arranged for them.

So what can we do?

Even though Christmas 2005 is over, we (the Lower Valley community) can prepare now to take back Christmas 2006.

That's right, this is one of those columns that actually proposes a solution!

Let's talk to the pastors and preachers of our churches about a community-wide Christmas celebration.

Doesn't have to be too complicated, some Christmas songs interspersed with vocal readings from Luke, chapter 2, perhaps.

The key is getting a non-sectarian band of singers and musicians from our local churches to band together under the guidance of a volunteer director.

The performance wouldn't be Baptist, Nazarene or Lutheran, for example, but just a celebration of Christ's birth that's open to the community. It wouldn't even have to be held in a church building, but in some community hall or another.

You know, kind of how school Christmas performances used to be.

I'm no singer and certainly not a musician, though I've been known to play the radio. But I'd be willing to help in some way. Maybe pour coffee or bring cookies, for example.

I think my wife, Joni, would jump at the chance to play piano or sing with a group.

If there's a desperate lack of guys to sing, I maybe could be pressed into duty.

Just let me know.

When there are some takers to help put this on, and willing to spend part of next November and December practicing, I'll let you know.

It may be after Christmas, but here is a pair of stocking stuffers, items of good news, to wrap up my column for 2005:

• Grandview's community awards banquet provided lots of interesting folks to interview.

Kudos to all of them for their community spirit. Like one said, "It's just our nature to not just dip our toe in the water, but jump right in."

• Sunnyside's stockings will be stuffed all year-long with a renewed commitment to parks.

Finding a long-term solution to funding park maintenance and improvements will be a key discussion item for 2006.

But a tip of the hat to the city for getting the ball rolling and stepping up its effort on behalf of parks.

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