Thank you, God, for these gifts — in 250 words or less:

 

You, life, the afterlife, love and marriage, my wife, children, grandchildren, family, loving parents, friends, good neighbors, good people, health, food, shelter, clothing, the USA, the founding fathers, the greatest generation, our defenders, free speech, all rights, this newspaper, education, mentors, memories, a career, retirement, farmers, medical care, public services, public servants, scientists, engineers, lawyers, social workers, businesses, managers, technicians, office workers, construction workers, assemblers, restaurant workers, truck drivers, charities, immigrants, electricity, fuel, spring, summer, fall, (even winter), heroes, music, movies, ideas, philosophers, my critics, infrastructure, inventions, challenges, humor, patience, smiles, water, heat, air conditioning, gyms, snowplows, sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, night, religions, clergy, answered prayers, unanswered prayers, joy, generosity, forgiveness, beauty, games, chess, silence, noise, softball, baseball, spring training, football, basketball, museums, books, magazines, words, translators, clean air, travel, mountains, seashores, flowers, birds, variety, tools, computers, calculators, money, laws, choices, volunteers, tradition, imagination, color, nannies, teachers, custodians, sociologists, accountants, homemakers, cruise ships, tours, zoos, trees, nature, comedians, fun, nostalgia, phones, stores, classic cars, new cars, transportation, ice cream, carrot cake, granola, bananas, chocolate, peaches, apples, blueberries, strawberries, popcorn, rain, sunshine, appreciation, dictionaries, thesauruses, erasers, keyboards, backspacing, grammarians, journalists, editors, smoke detectors, pharmacists, soap, plumbing, plumbers, dentists, workers everywhere, holidays, hope, fairness.

 

Oh, no. I need 250 more words. Maybe you didn’t read all of the above anyway. No matter — as long as you started to at least mentally make your own list.

Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park

MINNESOTA’S ECONOMY

Oh, but it’s not all sweetness and light

A Nov. 25 letter echoing the good news of Minnesota’s awe-inspiring unemployment rate of 3.9 percent unfortunately missed the full U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report showing that the total unemployment figure is 9.2 percent (see BLS U-6).

However, we can take some kind of pride in buying sports stadiums for billionaire team owners at a rate that puts the rest of the nation to shame. So I don’t mind a property-tax rate that is four times what another family member pays in Colorado for a big house on a golf course. And I’ve become very skilled at dodging most of the “irregularities” of our road surfaces. Surely, we are leaders in this arena, too.

Jerry Kassanchuk, Golden Valley

 

IMMIGRATION

‘Secure the border’ sounds like a slogan

The Star Tribune has published letters recently that state the need to “fix the border security” without specifying action. We know that in Texas most of the border does not have a border wall — from Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge and Bentsen State Park to Laredo, hundreds of miles without a border wall. There are no roads along the Rio Grande, only thorn bush and rattlesnakes. Even so, the Border Patrol is doing a good job in finding those who have crossed the river illegally. About eight years ago, then-President George W. Bush came to the border area in Texas and said that the border had been secured. So, what needs to be fixed? After all, the Border Patrol rounded up thousands of kids this summer. Perhaps it’s Congress that needs to be fixed.

Paul Johnson, Elk River

 

JEFF JOHNSON

Constructive, dignified after his election loss

I found the article about recent gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson returning to his previous life and responsibilities to be both interesting and moving. I did not vote for him, as I found myself more in agreement with Gov. Mark Dayton and voted to re-elect him. However, I am very much in agreement with how Johnson is handling his after-election return to the Hennepin County Board and to “civilian life” generally. He is moving forward in a positive, constructive manner. There may be some other opportunity in the future, whether it be a different election or that he assumes a leadership role in a different organization, in which I could easily see myself lining up to work with him.

Thank you, Mr. Johnson, for your intelligent, civilized approach. I wish there were more like you in both parties.

James Nastoff, Minneapolis

 

NATIONAL SYMBOL

Turkey competed, my tail feathers …

We were told in the Nov. 21 Star Tribune (“Turkeys gone wild”) that the turkey almost became our national symbol — losing to the eagle by the margin of a single vote. Not quite.

The vote to adopt the Great Seal — with an eagle supporting the shield and the motto on a banner in its beak — was a simple up-down, yes-no vote, and it was adopted by a wide margin. There was no competing seal with a turkey.

The design went through several stages as four sequential committees worked on it; a design including a turkey was never among the contenders.

Franklin’s famous letter, in which he commented that the turkey was really a nobler bird and might have been a better choice as a symbol for the nation, was written nearly two years after the seal had been adopted.

So the idea that the eagle won out over the turkey by a single vote, and that Franklin was miffed because he had championed the turkey, seems to be the product of revisionist history. Better storytelling, perhaps, but short on accuracy.

Dale Hammerschmidt, Minneapolis

 

HOLIDAY GREETINGS

Being inclusive is the Christian thing to do

I would say that a Christian who greets others with the greeting of “happy holidays” in this season is actually being more Christlike by being polite and inclusive than if he or she were to insist that the proper greeting in this season is “Merry Christmas.” This is the season of Christmas for Christians. It is not the season of Christmas for many other people, though for many it is a corresponding time of holidays.

Being inclusive and polite does not diminish the extent to which Christ is in the life of any Christian. I would contend that it instead shines the light of Christ through the Christian.

Happy holidays, my friends!

Thomas Fauskee, Minneapolis