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Published: 12/15/2012

Holiday wishes great and small, bound by universal threads

BY MARILOU JOHANEK
BLADE COLUMNIST

What do you want for Christmas that’s not store-bought? Besides a pay raise, Christmas bonus, unexpected inheritance, or winning lottery ticket, what would you wish for if you had Santa’s ear?

It doesn’t matter if you were naughty or nice. No one can be a walking saint for 12 months. The strain would kill you.

Let’s assume, for the most part, that you are a law-abiding, decent sort. You play by the rules and shuffle through life with more or less.

The older you get, the more your wishes evolve. If you have minors in the household, counting down the days to Dec. 25, your dream is theirs.

When they graduate from grade school to junior high and into high school, your dream remains their desire — within reason. As the year winds down, you wish for patience.

Eventually, health concerns push their way onto your wish list. Watching close friends or family grapple with sickness and suffering is a wake-up call.

As a parent of teenagers, I wish for strength. I mingle with other moms for sanity.

As a journalist, I mix with wishful newsmakers from many walks of life. On a whim, I contacted a few of those in the public eye to ask what they wanted for Christmas. It could be anything from brotherhood to a full-bodied Merlot.

Some luminaries I attempted to reach weren’t sure how to react even to a request about sharing Christmas wishes. They were understandably wary.

It’s been a tough year. Maybe when Gov. John Kasich runs for re-election, he’ll be more apt to share his Christmas wishes for another term.

Bishop Leonard Blair of the Toledo Catholic Diocese shared his wish for “a great and much-needed gift for metro Toledo and the country.” His hope is for “the rebirth among us of a strong sense of community.”

The bishop laments that “many people no longer experience the blessings of faithful participation in a worshipping congregation, or of growing up in a stable, close-knit family, neighborhood, and community.” He prays that “God will bless us with the wisdom and the will to recommit ourselves to our fundamental relationships to Him and to one another.”

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, fresh from a successful campaign season, didn’t hesitate to deliver his holiday dreams.

“Beyond world peace, my mom’s good health, and winning every election for the Democrats, my request this Christmas is simple: Bowling Green beats San Jose State in the Military Bowl and Notre Dame beats Alabama in the BCS national championship game. Plus, more sunsets on Catawba Island and a Barbie dollhouse for my 4-year-old daughter, Reese.”

From Andrew Doehrel, president and chief executive officer of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, came a wish for the New Year: “This may sound a little corny, but we are about to reveal an update to our ‘Redesigning Ohio’ report, which we did two years ago in conjunction with the eight major metro chambers of commerce.”

We recognize the change that has occurred, wrote Mr. Doehrel, but much more needs to be done to transform Ohio into a 21st century leader. “So,” he said, “I would hope for continued innovation in Ohio state government that will lead to continued job growth and business expansion for the good of all Ohioans.”

Tim Burga, head of the Ohio AFL-CIO, penned an ode to wishful thinking that began with “more attention paid to strengthening and expanding our middle class.” In part it read: “I want more insourcing and less outsourcing. I want more economic equality and less disparity between the rich and the poor.”

State Rep. Matt Szollosi (D., Oregon), assistant minority leader of the Ohio House, echoed Mr. Burga’s passion for “continued improvement of the economy in Ohio and across the country; and greater cooperation and civility in politics at all levels.”

The Cleveland Indians’ new manager, Terry Francona, had other concerns. Obviously, he wants to get on Santa’s good side for the sake of better baseball. But his Christmas wish is that “people take a moment to appreciate the important things in life, especially love of family.”

On that score, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) noted that his daughter Emily “is due with her first child sometime this month, so I am praying for a healthy and happy new grandchild.”

Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee is an excited grandpa too: “My Christmas wish is that I will have the opportunity to spend more time with my brand new twin granddaughters.”

Health. Happiness. Success. Universal Christmas wishes. They connect us, differences notwithstanding, on silent nights of reflection.

Marilou Johanek is a columnist for The Blade. Contact her at: mjohanek@theblade.com



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