The winter yields a little entertainment

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By John Barnhart

    Once Christmas is over I’m ready for spring, especially after the Christmas lights and decorations have been packed away for another year. When I was a kid, I hated seeing the Christmas tree come down and Mom often joked that I wanted to celebrate “Serbian Christmas.” I didn’t know what that was until I met Oksana, my favorite Russian, and found out that Russian Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7 because the Russian Orthodox Church uses the old Julian Calendar. The Serbian Orthodox Church uses the same calendar and there were lots of Serbs in the upper Ohio Valley area where I grew up.
    There apparently are a few others who hate to take their Christmas decorations down. As I walked down the hall in the county administration building, to go to a planning commission meeting on Jan. 7, I passed the fiscal management office and noticed that office was still fully decorated for Christmas. Perhaps they were celebrating “Serbian Christmas.”
    Another reason I hate seeing the Christmas decorations come down is that, once they are gone, we still have cold, dark, gloomy January to deal with, followed by a cold, dark, gloomy February. These months weren’t bad when I was a kid because a foot of snow falling overnight could mean a one day vacation from school, as well as fun stuff to play in. It seems like, when we were kids, we would stay out riding our sleds on winter days until we were blue.
    Now, all these two months mean to me is two months of gloomy, icky weather.
    January and February also contain some holidays that nobody but bankers and government employees get off. And, not all government employees get them off either. Schools don’t close for those holidays and I often wonder if a good way to determine what constitutes “essential government services” would be to look and see who is working and who isn’t working on those days.
    We had Lee-Jackson Day and Martin Luther King Day this month. The Bulletin office was open on Lee-Jackson Day, a state holiday, but was closed on Martin Luther King Day, making us among the few private sector employees to get that day off. This gave me the opportunity to get a car repair done as the shop I go to in Roanoke, was not closed. The power steering return line was leaking and the car wouldn’t pass inspection until that was fixed. I go to too many police events to be driving around with an expired inspection sticker.
    We have another of those holidays coming up next month. President’s Day combines Lincoln’s birthday and Washington’s birthday, formerly observed separately, into one Monday holiday. This is good because it means government workers only get one day off, instead of two, at the expense of those of us in the private sector who still have to work so we can pay the bills the government sends us.
    At least, while I’m waiting for spring to come, there is some good entertainment to watch. I’m not talking about basketball—sports, for the most part, bore me to tears. I’m talking about the soap opera that’s unfolding in New Jersey concerning a certain rotund governor, a bridge, and some political vengeance carried out by members of his staff. Governor Chris Christie made a good show of getting out in front of a scandal that erupted when e-mails became public that showed that members of his staff, and an appointee, were involved in a lane closure at the George Washington Bridge that caused major traffic snarls in a city, whose “Democratic” mayor refused to endorse Christie for reelection last fall.
    So far, nothing has emerged to indicate that Christie knew in advance about this abuse of power, but “Democrats” clearly smell blood. The Justice Department, which couldn’t care less about the Obama administration abuses of power, is investigating. The “Democrats” who control New Jersey’s legislature have formed committees to investigate this situation. An investigation has also popped up about whether Christie misused federal Hurricane Sandy relief funds for his campaign last year.
    Everybody knows Christie wants to run for president in 2016. It’s going to be very entertaining to watch and see if he can emerge from this mess with his White House hopes intact.