“Man on the Street” interviews used to be one way journalists gauged public opinion on hot topics of the day. Then social media came along and took the shoe leather out of the equation.

Why? Because suddenly every Tom, Dick and Harriet with a computer, modem and password could talk to the world about anything, anytime of the day or night, without the middleman.

Then there is the cantankerous mood of the country to consider. I mean, with the liberalization of gun laws and everyone packin’ heat, you can’t just confront a stranger on the street and ask a pointed question like, “How do you feel about the water rate increase?” There’s a good chance of being shot.

And so, in the interest of personal safety and all, we used our computer to ask its modem to give our password to the Internet so we could get in touch with hundreds of Chagrin Valley folks to ask a single simple question that would not cause a scene or untimely death. Here goes.

What do you want for Christmas/your holiday/the season this year?

We did not expect the responses. Let’s step back a moment and consider the question.

For the two kids in our house, the answer was always “a pony” for her and “a motor scooter” for him. Ah, youth and its boundless dreams.

But then a funny thing happens. The exciting, glamorous and material desires morphs into more basic stuff like a garbage disposal that works at a safe decibel level. This means we are growing up.

Then one day your family asks you: “What do you want this year, mom?” You, of course, answer, “nothing but your love and my health.” This means we are growing old.

Jill Glazen-Robertson knows all about it and this year she wants the gift of time and, “I want better health for my momma who is going to be 91 in January.”

Shannon Reynolds is still young but understands the value of “having your health.” Especially this year. She wants “for my preemie baby Gwen to come home from the neonatal intensive care unit.”

For years now, the top of Lindy Bryson’s “most wanted” list has been “a cure for our granddaughter Maddie” who has been on a health odyssey for several years. Linda Levi wants the same thing for a neighbor.

Moms never stop missing their kids long after they exit the nest you made for them. This is even more true.

Valerie Mason Bertsch said, “My son is deployed until next June and he only has the ability to text. I would love to hear his voice on Christmas.” Such a simple request.

Missing friends and family is one of the downsides of this season of high expectations. We hope this helps Joe Zdesar tell his “family and friends how much I love and appreciate them.”

No doubt about it, family is at the center of this time of year and none are without loss. Mary Jefferson says all she wants is to have her family back. “I would like for my son to talk to me after more than two years. I love him and my grandson and my daughter-in-law. Being with family is the most important gift I could get.”

Family is on Mary Ann Breisch’s mind as well including “the family of man.” She is asking for the gift of world peace.

And then there are the wishes of Charlotte Anne Brett, Lindsey Griffith and Debbie Blackman.

Charlotte wants to take over this column and Deb wants “more reasonable water bills” not just for her, but for all Chagrin Falls water customers.

“Dear Santa, I would like a buyer for 218 Cleveland St.,” writes Lindsey, a Realtor dealing with a difficult piece of property that has been on the market for a very long time. For her, it’s personal. She and hubby Bill are part owners of the vacant land including one very tall industrial smokestack. It’s known as “the Spillway property.” No doubt, the entire town will celebrate that sale right along with them.

From everyone at the Window on Main Street to all, a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May you get everything you want, and let’s all stay positive on the world peace quest, too.

A veteran reporter and columnist, Barbara Christian has been covering Chagrin Falls since 1967 and is currently responsible for Chagrin Falls village events, government and school board news along with her weekly column "Window on Main Street."

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