Up at 5 a.m. to prepare and stuff the 20-pound bird. With bird in the oven, out of the house by 6 a.m. Black Friday shopping has been planned out; coupons have been clipped; we're off! Home by 11 a.m. to begin watching college football and prepare the rest of the feast. This will include several pies, turkey, homemade dressing, mashed potatoes, classic bean casserole, and 5 gallons of gravy. Around 2 p.m., the feast is ready. Gather together to give a shout-out to God, and to watch the end of LSU vs. Southern Miss and Arkansas vs. Missouri. Spend next 10 hours watching Nebraska vs. Iowa, Washington vs. Washington State, Baylor vs. Texas Tech, Boise State vs. Air Force, and Arizona vs. Arizona State. Nod off as needed, eat food as needed, let the roar of the crowd rouse from slumber.

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Harry Kelley, St. Louis Park

• • •

The holidays can make us feel trapped by traditions that dictate what we buy, where we travel and who we see. For those looking for more freedom of choice this season, I recommend scrutinizing how you spend money and what cultures and policies those dollars ultimately support.

Was this gift made in America? How does that store treat its workers? Is my credit card helping finance the Dakota Access pipeline? While such choices may appear innocuous, their aggregate impact can shutter businesses and victimize people both near and far. Or — if we think critically — our choices can help people thrive.

The election has passed, but we can vote with every dollar for the type of world we endorse and wish to promote.

Robert Beets, Minneapolis

• • •

In recent years, there has been a movement that is called "Small Business Saturday." Grasshopper.com states that "[b]ecause of Small Business Saturday more money is going back to local communities. If you spend $100 at a local business, $68 of it will go back to the community. Whereas $43 of it goes back to the community with a larger company when you spend the same amount."

There's really little excuse for not supporting small businesses. Often you get a more personalized response and service when shopping local. Customer service is more sincere, and employees are very responsive to your needs as a customer. I work in a local grocery store, and if you are a regular shopper, it's very likely we know your name.

By supporting small businesses, you also get more honest prices vs. big-box prices. An item request is more likely to be filled by a small store than by a big-box chain that looks at how many people want it. We also need to consider how important it is to keep the middle class around, and, to do that, we must support local businesses.

Cate Adam, St. Paul

Make accommodations, but make sure efforts are realistic

The Nov. 20 letter from Don Lavin, executive director of The Arc Minnesota, was very interesting. I generally agree with what he said. Making "working life a part of their plan" for people with disabilities is important. However, there also needs to be an effort to educate and encourage employers to provide jobs and an atmosphere where workers with disabilities can be successful. Are they willing to do that without segregation? What is happening now is the closing of workshops and therefore the elimination of choices for many lower-functioning individuals.

A quote from the day program our grandson is in states that "[a]t this time, per stated requirements, he would not be able to hold a direct hire job due to his behaviors and job skills." What is he to do if the workshops are not available to him? Do the "Work is Possible" workshops that Mr. Lavin mentioned address the supports that many such as our grandson need and how they will be funded? I doubt the employers will pay for that in addition to the minimum wage.

Let's move forward, as Lavin suggests, but let's not move forward with those who have the abilities and skills for a community-based direct hire job at the expense of those who do not have those abilities and skills. In his role, I would think Lavin would be equally supportive of all individuals with disabilities.

Gene Rossum, Brandon, Minn.

• • •

I read the Nov. 22 article "Settlement lets disabled enter job pool" with interest. Having worked years serving those with developmental disabilities, I can speak to the elephant in the room. Many, many of the adults falling into that category are incapable of holding "regular" jobs alongside those without developmental challenges.

I recall reading an article in the series presented by the Star Tribune wherein one worker lost his job due to his inability to keep up at a processing plant. Can one really fault the manager for letting him go when the productivity of the entire plant was being hindered? Many jobs for which these workers aspire are not in the realm of practicality, some due to the need to be able to do physical manipulations quickly enough, or to remember and perform complex maneuvers and sequences. It's not reasonable to expect businesses to suffer to make exceptions for these workers.

Many must work with "job coaches" in tow, adding an extra person to the mix, which again, the business must agree to. Depending on the complexity of the job and the determination of the worker, it's not unusual for job coaches to end up doing most of the work themselves.

I also saw many people doing piecework at the sheltered workshops and coming home with paychecks of a couple dollars for a couple weeks' work, while others would have a couple hundred.

Obviously, lack of ambition is not limited to those with "normal" cognitive abilities, even though the idea of a "real job" always sounds enticing to everyone. I hope many who truly want to work in the outside world will achieve their goals. I am totally in favor of reasonable accommodation being made, tax cuts for businesses willing to take chances, etc. But the cold reality is that unless a worker can truly be competitive with all their co-workers, jobs will remain limited.

Celeste LaMosse, Northfield

Risk-taking is the gateway

According to a study published in the Nov. 20 Science and Health section, teens who vape are more likely than those who don't to move on to daily cigarette smoking. The study suggests that vaping is a gateway to cigarette smoking. Isn't it obvious, though, that teens who vape are more prone to risk-taking than their nonvaping counterparts? Doesn't it make sense that they, rather than their risk-averse peers, would move on to the more dangerous cigarette smoking? I would hazard a guess that the teens who vaped would have chosen regular cigarettes to begin with if e-cigs hadn't been invented. A more credible study would determine what percentage of teen vapers move on to regular cigarettes over a set period of time. Otherwise, you're comparing apples to oranges.

Esther Benenson, Minneapolis

I saw Warsaw when it was down

A Nov. 20 letter on the beauty of Warsaw caught my interest. In September 1945, we flew the Italian ambassador and family from Naples to Warsaw in a C-46. On the long ride into the center of the city, we were sickened, for as far as we could see it was complete desolation. Arriving at a battered but one-time fine hotel, we had seen no one. While we enjoyed a wonderful steak with fresh vegetables, the grand dining room was empty. Now I know why: Only a thousand or so were in the city. The Polish people are strong and they have "gotten" their city back, perhaps better than ever. I feel good knowing that.

Gerald Sveen, Bemidji, Minn.