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About The independent. (Vernonia, Or.) 1986-current | View This Issue
The INDEPENDENT, December 17, 2009
Published on the first and third Thursdays of each month by
The Independent, LLC, 725 Bridge St., Vernonia, OR 97064.
Publisher Clark McGaugh, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor Rebecca McGaugh, email@example.com
Mentor Noni Andersen
Printed on recycled paper with vegetable based dyes
Letters to Santa shared
We asked Santa if we could share some of the Let-
ters to Santa he received at the Vernonia Fire Hall.
Here’s a selection he sent us.
I am good How old is Santa?
7 old 360X box Bike
I am 8
Please bring us food and me a purple bike
I have been a very good girl this year. I
would like a laptop please. I would also like
a real cell phone, a dress with high heels,
and a pair of boots please. Oh, Polly Packets!
My babydoll needs a crib! Have a merry
Please bring me hunting things
boy building things like bird houses & bird
L. (age 11-1/2)
Unfortunately, there was more than one letter asking
for food. Please help put food on children’s tables, if
you can. And, Merry Christmas to all and a Very Hap-
py New Year.
Out of My Mind…
by Noni Andersen
While thinking about
the various elements that
make the Christmas sea-
son special, I found it nec-
essary to go beyond slo-
gans. Yes, “Jesus is the
reason” works well for
those who find inspired
meaning in the Gospel ac-
cording to Matthew.
But how many Ameri-
cans celebrate the birth of Christ without adding
a Christmas tree or gift-giving?
While growing up, I had opportunity to ob-
serve and participate in the various religious
communities in California’s Sacramento, San
Joaquin and Imperial Valleys. Although ours was
a secular household, my parents never objected
to my explorations of religion and, even better,
my father would discuss religion with me without
being dismissive of others’ beliefs.
So, while developing an understanding of the
importance of faith, however it was expressed, I
also developed an awareness of how rarely peo-
ple fully embrace their stated faith. Faith requires
a commitment that doesn’t always fit into peo-
ple’s everyday lives.
“Peace on Earth” is a frequently used expres-
sion during the Christmas season, although rela-
tively few people rely on Jesus, the Prince of
Peace, to achieve that goal. True pacifism is very
difficult and requires an abiding, unshakable
So, if the birth of Jesus is not the sole factor
for Christmas, what drives some of the other ex-
pressions – food drives, toys for tots and other
generous actions? The season also brings bright
colors during winter’s gloom, glorious music,
gifts and more.
Today, brightly lit Christmas trees are consid-
ered to be Christian symbols, even though they
derived from pagan celebrations of the winter
solstice to welcome the coming of longer (and
brighter) days. Hanukkah, often called the Festi-
val of Light, is a multifaceted Jewish celebration
of victory over conquerors, rededication of the
temple, and the miracle of olive oil that lit candles
for eight days when there was enough oil for only
The basis of gift giving is much easier to ex-
plain because the Christmas story includes the
three kings who brought gifts to the infant Jesus.
That lovely idea has been horribly abused by ad-
vertising that loudly trumpets the “perfect” gift.
Santa Claus, we know, isn’t part of the Biblical
Christmas story. But with centuries of tales about
winter surprises and gifts, no matter what any-
one says, Santa Claus is as real today as he was
Now, after spending a lot of time learning
about the elements of Christmas, I find that I re-
ally don’t care about their derivation. I love the
lights, the colors, the music, the food and most of
all, the spirit of Christmas.
I hope that everyone, everywhere, will some-
day enjoy a world of peace and have a very…