Thank you, Russell

While unfortunately the election was unsuccessful, I greatly appreciate your support in bringing me within 12 votes of a 51-year local politico. My campaign message of bringing aggressive competition and savings with tax dollars came close, and I hope it brings about ideas that our new trustee board, and future trustee candidates embrace. I will continue to be at meetings and encourage others to attend as well. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to meet more neighbors and fellow residents and hearing your stories as I campaigned this year.

Losing an election is certainly not a reason to celebrate, but I say at least personally, it’s a time to show gratitude despite the outcome. November of 2021 for me is a grand thank you to you voters for your support and confidence, but an even bigger reflection of gratitude for what this election may be forgotten about which are our precious political freedoms. While this November I looked to celebrate a possible win, I regardless always celebrate and show gratitude to the religious and political freedoms afforded to me by the sacrifices my grandparents afforded to me by fighting and fleeing Soviet Hungary 65 years ago.

The U.S. is a precious idea and place, where liberties are given to us by our God. This holiday season, let us be grateful to those who allowed us our liberties. I wish Matthew Rambo and Jim Mueller all the best in leading our township for the next four years.

Christopher Hare

Russell Township

Embrace truth

I expect I’m about to be called a grinch, or a scrooge, or worse, but here goes. I don’t believe it’s good for children to be taught the myth about Santa Claus.

Why is it important to so many parents that their little ones continue to believe a lie? We don’t call it a lie, but it is. It’s a big fat one, and I believe that this grand deception has a definite and negative effect on our children’s perception of truth.

Most of us have likely struggled to some degree with the hypocrisy of teaching our children to always be truthful, yet feeding them a line about Santa. We fear the day we’re going to have to own up to our duplicity and wonder how it will affect them. It has to be, at the very least, a huge disappointment, and if a child is fed a steady diet of fanciful and fun but false stories, i.e. Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, he will be more susceptible in later life to swallowing all kinds of spiritual nonsense. Or, he may be so disillusioned because of the abuse of his trusting heart that he won’t want to believe anything.

Why do we take a risk like this with our children? Why do adults, who were deceived themselves, insist on perpetuating this myth about Santa Claus? We keep it alive as if Santa embodies everything that is good and to abandon the myth would mean the loss of all love and joy and innocence.

The New York Sun editorial writer who penned the famous “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” confidently asserted that, “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist.” And, “how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus!…There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.” Really? We need to believe in a lie for this life to have joy and meaning?

Wouldn’t children benefit more from knowing that there really is someone who knows everything about every child and loves every one of them? Maybe we like Santa because he gives but doesn’t make any demands on us. Santa doesn’t discipline or allow trials in our lives to teach and refine us. Nobody wants those things for Christmas, or anytime, but they come with the package when you’re dealing with truth.

But how do our children approach the truth about God when they learn that what they’ve believed for so long has been a lie? Will they totally abandon the idea of absolute truth as so many have nowadays, so that truth is relative and then nothing really is true at all?

Santa Claus is here to stay, I’m sure, but this Christmas, and every day I have with them, I am passing on to my children one of the greatest gifts Santa, or anyone, could ever give: a love of truth.

Caroline Smith

South Russell

Thoughts of school days

Renewed criticism of the public health benefits from wearing masks in school causes me to reminisce about my K-12 education in Chagrin Falls.

My fourth grade year started in 1956 and ended in 1957. That year, President Eisenhower sent federal troops to ensure an education in Little Rock for students denied access to high school because of their race.

One day, our fourth grade teacher invited a local historian to talk about Chagrin Falls.

Among her artifacts, the historian included a photograph of a large, en-robed gathering of the Ku Klux Klan, meeting on what is now the sledding hill of the South Chagrin Metroparks. I don’t remember the discussion, but her purpose must have been during a period of racial reckoning to expose fourth graders to the presence of the Ku Klux Klan 30 years earlier in Chagrin. In the mid-1950s people still spoke publicly “fer em or agin em.”

My 11th grade English teacher book-ends memories of 1963-1964. That school year saw the assassination of President Kennedy, the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and in 1965 the Voting Rights Act. Much of this English class was spent discussing politics. Between discussions of literature, this teacher fervently criticized legislation he thought impaired personal freedoms. It took me years to understand where this proselytizing would lead me.

Preserving personal freedom must be the rationale for opposing public health mandates in our schools. A parent certainly has the right to send children to a private school for religious, curricular or health reasons, or as parents did in the Deep South to promote segregation.

During my school years, people of color were strongly discouraged, if not prohibited, from using the rec center swimming pool. To provide an alternative opportunity, a pond was dug on the Bentleyville side of South Franklin Street, across from the Park. An artesian well filled it with what I remember to be muddy water. Over time the water would clear, but it still would be a mud-bottomed pond.

We might pretend these things never happened, but these experiences cause me to wonder: If I were asked to speak to a classroom about growing up in Chagrin Falls, would these experiences be appropriate for discussion?

Or should I limit my reminiscences to Mrs. Griffith’s fifth and sixth grade ballroom dancing classes at the Masonic Lodge, after which on the ground floor we would enjoy a vanilla Coke drawn from the soda fountain at Standard Drug while listening to “Rockin’ Robin” on the jukebox?

Every time I enter Lowe’s Electronics Store, I remember when that space belonged to Standard Drug, and how I enjoyed its soda fountain. But I have moved on.

Stephen G. Thomas

Moreland Hills

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