Here are some of the things I’m wishing for this Christmas.
1. I wish more cars had working turn signals.
It’s amazing how many vehicles lack working turn signals. You see it at intersections, as people switch lanes and as drivers pass other vehicles on the highway.
My unscientific guess is that half of all cars are affected, even new, expensive ones.
It’s either a national scandal or half of all drivers won’t bother to comply with even easy, painless laws.
I admit it might be hard to use your cellphone, steer, drink and use the turn signal all at the same time. But you would do your fellow drivers and yourself a favor if you would give it a try.
And if the Christmas spirit strikes, an even bigger gift to fellow drivers would be to put down the phone and drink and focus on driving.
2. I wish more pet owners understood that not everyone is as enamored with their dogs and cats as they are.
3. I wish every state in the nation required government officials at all levels to fully and publicly disclose financial incentives that are provided in the name of economic development.
The notion that companies demand secrecy is balderdash. If it’s a good deal, company and public officials should be happy to disclose it and discuss why it makes sense for that community or state.
4. I wish someone would “fix” voicemail.
Specifically, I’m talking about those voicemail systems used by businesses and government agencies that seem designed to anger and frustrate callers who try to navigate them.
5. I wish people wouldn’t get riled when they hear other people speaking a different language.
It’s worth remembering that Spanish was spoken in what would become the United States long before the British showed up.
Historians think the first Christmas church service in what would become the United States likely was a Catholic Mass in Tallahassee, Florida. The holiday would have been observed by Spanish-speakers, including explorer Hernando de Soto and those traveling with him as he was encamped in the area between October 1539 and March 1540.
And in El Paso, Texas, historians say Spanish conquistadors, led by Juan de Onate, held a Thanksgiving celebration with the Manso tribe in April 1598. That was decades before the Pilgrims and Indians in New England sat down for their Thanksgiving meal.
Our nation has a long history of multiple languages, not just Spanish, but German, Italian, Polish and others, including the many native American languages spoken before Europeans showed up on the continent.
6. I wish more people appreciated how good they have it.
Over the past 50 years, the air we breathe and water we drink have gotten cleaner.
Air and road travel are safer, with the number of highway accidents dropping from more than 50,000 in 1980 to about 36,000 last year, although there are more drivers on the road now.
Crime rates also are on the way down, while survival rates for cancer are up.
Around the globe, poverty and hunger rates are in decline.
That’s not to say that as a nation and state we don’t have challenges and important work to do. But as we hear the fear-mongering that is especially loud and strong during election years, it’s worth remembering the good stuff.
Julie Doll is a former journalist who has worked at newspapers across Kansas.