Tag Archives: Christmas

Chef Joey – always in style! … Home for the Holidays … to make Gingerbread

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Text and photos by Chef Joey

Home for the Holidays – that seems to sum up what everyone wants, or thinks is the best, or so the song says.

But what exactly is “home”?

According to Webster’s Dictionary it is a “domicile” “House” “workplace” and even a “Habitat,” say where fish return home to spawn. Even they have a favorite spot!

Where ever it may be, home is a place of grounding, whether it be an apartment, a house, rented space or even a nursing home. One needs to have a place of one’s own. Nothing is more important than that, especially during the holidays.

This is one of those holidays that reaches into the depths of our memories, the Santa Claus watching us all year, the Elf on the Shelf scampering around to new hiding places. All this cerebral fun, combined with transferring the “Home” into an ornament filled room, awash with lights and color. And there has to be some heirloom decoration that comes out just for this time period.

Holiday trees are plentiful on many corners, having grown for the last 10 or so years to be cut, transported, marketed and sold for $15 to those who dare take the chance it will last the Holiday. Others prefer the safe “fake” tree …

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… that stands just as majestically as a real one, but does come back year to year and eventually becomes an heirloom itself. …

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On a brief note, because of space constraints, Europeans generally decorate a fir branch in their homes to celebrate the solstice, when fermented beverages from the summer were ready to consume and animals were slaughtered and stored for winter meals. Three tops were used to save the rest of the tree. Early decorations were edible items as well – dried apples, cookies etc.

My European grandmother would place a branch on the mantle in the dining room and decorate it with a few ribbons, and a candle ended up there. Simple and yet elegant.

The common thread for all these definitions is, of course food. Even the fishes have to eat! We, however, have cheese dips, even cheese Christmas trees! …

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… cookies …

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… cakes and favorite meals …

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Gift swapping, too. People in homes run by caretakers have the advantage of enjoying continual celebrations. Work places always have some kind of holiday party and private residences are always cozy. Christmas recipes tend to indulge more the sugary side. Confections seem to go very well with this holiday.

Cookies go back to the Middle Ages when spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg made their appearances. Cinnamon cakes, nutmeg beverages and various ginger cookies and cakes started appearing.

Ginger and Gingerbread Men and Gingerbread Houses

Surprisingly, most gingerbread items have changed very little since then, right down to the molasses that was cheaper than sugar. The birth of the “Gingerbread Man” was for Queen Elizabeth the 1st, who had the cookies made for her favorite advisors. Giving a cookie became the thing to do because in medieval times it was hard for working people to procure dried fruits and nuts, and when they did it was for an important event like Christmas. So the making of cakes and puddings would be the priority and hard to share. So using your butter and lard to make a batch of cookies or cakes was less expensive, therefore people would share a “cookie” or a cake with friends and neighbors during the holiday season.

Now we have gift cards.

One time I painstakingly made a Gingerbread House for the holidays, as my parents were coming to the states from France to visit me. They came into my house directly from the airport. I showed them my Gingerbread House, all proud – it was complete with frosted shingles and gumdrops!

My mom said, “Oh how pretty” and ripped a corner off the roof and ate it.

When I protested, she said, “It’s ginger bread – use cardboard if you don’t want people to eat it. You make cakes and cut them. What’s the difference?”

Good point. I got over it.

Germany had a lot to do with confections, but mainly breads. The French had cakes. This being New “England,” we have Christmas puddings and English-like holiday treats. Of course, immigration has brought holiday traditions for families to America, and no shocker, they all involve food!

Whatever your tradition, I hope you enjoy it in a happy, healthy way and celebrate with others if you can – it makes for a nice time. Our common thread? We are all still kids at heart!

Gingerbread

Here is a gingerbread recipe that is quick, easy and tasty. It takes less than one hour to make and can be served warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

2 cups flour

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp nutmeg *you can use allspice

2 tsp for cinnamon cloves and nutmeg blend

½ cup melted butter

¾ cup molasses

¼ cup water

1 egg

1 cup whole milk or buttermilk for thicker bread

Heat oven to 350 – grease a 9 x 9 pan or cup cake liners (6).

Mix all the dry ingredients together, add the butter and molasses to a bowl and sift in the dry ingredients (everything up to the butter from the top).

Stir, adding water.

Mix the egg and milk together, add to your batter, mix well and pour into the pan or tins.

Bake 30 minutes or so for cake and 15 to 18 minutes for cupcakes.

Test with a toothpick for doneness.

Remove from the oven – let stand – turn the cake out on a cooking rack, cut into pieces and serve!

Enjoy!

Is it Christmas yet?!

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

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Today, Rosalie, after donning her Santa cap to watch the WFD fire trucks snake up her Ward Street and Richland Street …

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… shouted from her 4th floor – yes, FOURTH! floor! – apartment: Another sad footnote to our lives here! … THERE REALLY ARE TWO AMERICAS! My America cannot make enough money to buy the crap houses we rent for exorbitant amounts of $$$ here, in our inner cities. The heroin, the guns! The garbage! Our people are suffering! … These neighborhoods weren’t like this a generation ago – these houses, these streets, were spring-boards to the middle class! I remember!

Rose looked to great minds for answers:
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The minds were mute.

American workers need a living wage! Rose cried. FIGHT FOR $15! she shouted, fists clenched. AMERICANS NEED FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE SO WORKERS CAN LEARN NEW SKILLS TO GET GOOD-PAYING JOBS! she said.

But just look at the local politician who is running for Worcester mayor next election cycle, arguably the city’s most up and coming political up-and-comer: caustic, racist, race-baiting, hate-spewing, Turtle-Boy blog-promoting and all around asshole Michael Gaffney. Mike Gaffney! God help my city!

And on a much bigger canvas … The new president of the United States is Donald Trump!  DONALD TRUMP!!! MADNESS! MADNESS!!!! Trump, like Gaffney, is an insult to the working class. A death knell for all Worcesterites/Americans. But Trump and Gaffney get people on their side, get working class folks’ votes because they exploit their fears, their anxieties around a multicultural Worcester/America that is different and beyond their comfort zone. These two politician-creeps work that vein … demonize immigrants, women of color, the disenfranchised. They whip up discord and hatred to garner votes. All an act …

– from Stephen Colbert

Because it is all about power – or better yet, feeling good about themselves, boosting their, believe it or not, LOW SELF ESTEEM!!!!

That’s right.

Donald Trump is lying when he said he had a “great” childhood/youth. He had a shitty one, thanks to Daddy Fred Trump.

From Colbert:

Closer to home, Mike Gaffney also had a shitty childhood – we hear it was God awful deprived. Now this Man-Boy, who deep down loathes himself, wants us Worcesterites TO LOVE HIM BY VOTING FOR HIM, a la Trump. So he can love himself! Finally!!!!

Do not do this, Worcester!

Or America.

First step: IMPEACH TRUMP, or find some Contitutional-loophole to get rid of him!.

Step 2: VOTE ANYONE BUT GAFFNEY FOR MAYOR OF WORCESTER. LIKE THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA and lots of Americans did with president-elect (!!!!) Trump, we cannot make the mistake and dismiss Gaffney as a cynical nut job who could never be mayor of the second-largest city in New England.

He could do it…win … and make Worcester a mean, racist place where children hide in corners – just as he did.

Do you want to see Turtle Boy blogger Aidan Kearey, Gaffney’s mouth piece, in Worcester City Hall, in OUR mayor’s office, as Gaffney’s Chief of Staff?!!!😖😖😖🚒🚔♨♨🎃🎃

We’ve got Breitbart in the Oval Office.

It’s no big jump to Turtle Boy in the Worcester Mayor’s Office.

Worcester, do not discount these two devils: Michael Gaffney and Turtle Boy Aidan Kearney could do it.

Holiday helpers – always in style! … From the American Cancer Society

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Road To Recovery Program Offers Free Rides For Cancer Patients and Flexible, Rewarding Volunteer Opportunity For Drivers

American Cancer Society Seeks Volunteer Drivers In Massachusetts This Holiday Season

Volunteering for a cause you believe in should be a rewarding experience for you, your family and your community, not another chore added to your already packed to-do list.

The American Cancer Society in Massachusetts this holiday season is asking residents all over the state to consider lending their time to the Road To Recovery program, which provides free rides to anyone going to cancer treatment appointments.

The flexibility of the commitment and easy online scheduling of rides accommodates drivers from all backgrounds, but the satisfaction of connecting cancer patients with life-saving treatments is the real benefit, many say.

“Road To Recovery gives drivers like me a chance to help patients get to vital appointments,” said Roger Medeiros, of Braintree, who began volunteering with Road To Recovery nearly 10 years ago, soon after he lost his wife to cancer. “I’m retired, so I don’t care about the time or distance, and it really helps me feel useful. Everyone is so appreciative of the rides.”

Volunteer drivers with Road To Recovery donate their time and use of their vehicles and sometimes provide encouragement and support.

Passengers may not own a car, can’t afford the extra gasoline or may be unable or too ill to drive.

They might not have access to public transportation or have no family members or friends who are able to postpone work or other activities to drive them.

In Massachusetts last year the Road To Recovery program provided 6,209 rides to 384 patients, but hundreds more ride requests went unmet because of a lack of volunteer drivers.

“I spoke with a man once who was paying for taxis from his home in Wareham to his treatments in Brockton,” said Medeiros, who also volunteers at the American Cancer Society’s Framingham office. “One woman I drove had previously taken public transportation from Fall River into Boston for her appointments; getting there was OK, but coming home was difficult because she was exhausted.”

It is estimated approximately 37,000 Bay State residents will be newly diagnosed with cancer this year, and getting to their scheduled treatment will be their greatest concern.

To volunteer, you must have a valid driver’s license, a safe and reliable vehicle and proof of automobile insurance. Drivers must be 18 years of age or older and have a good driving history. They arrange their own schedules and can commit as many or as few hours as their schedule allows. The American Cancer Society provides free training to drivers and conducts criminal background and driving record checks.

To learn more about becoming a Road To Recovery volunteer visit www.Cancer.org/volunteer.

Chew on this!

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Lilac chewing on Cece! 

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Cece, after escaping Lilac’s maw. (they’re pals – they play together! Cece often has the upper paw!)

THE HOLIDAYS ARE UPON US!!

Get your holiday goodies at Unique Finds Antiques and Vintage gift shop – 1329 Main St. – Worcester!!!  At the corner of Main and Henshaw streets – convenient parking in back!

OPEN TODAY … MONDAY, TUESDAY – 7 days a week! 

… ’til 7 p.m.  

Their prices can’t be beat!      pics: R.T.

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Rose got this jacket and the bird pendant (below) at UF!

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Cece and Bob

Such cute holiday decor at Unique Finds!

I visited Unique Finds Antiques and Vintage gift shop, 1329 Main St., today. They had such adorable holiday stuff on display. All for a fa la la la la!

They’re open 7 days a week!

’til 7 p.m.

BEST PRICES IN TOWN!

pics: R.T.

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Cece!!! What are you doing here??!

The nitty gritty holidays in my neck of Ward Street…

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Rosalie’s Ward Street, 11/16/2016.   pics:R.T.

By Rosalie Tirella

This year the holidays, here on Ward Street, the street I’ve lived on for almost four years, will be family-focused, spiritual, fun …  and laced with used syringes and cum-filled condoms. Don’t forget the broken beer bottles and a brick or two, wrapped in silk scarves!

This Thanksgiving our sidewalks are teeming with the stuff of addiction and lust … and violence. Last year we had the drug house next door – Heroin Depot, manned by tight-lipped 22-year-old guys (all business) with guns and Mercedes and Lexus SUVs.  When the stateys and the WPD Vice Squad, wearing their bullet proof vests and their guns, their German Shepherd dogs by their sides, finally made the bust, a machine gun was removed from the premises – along with the usual thousands of dollars in cash and (of course) bags of heroin. One of the guys, once annoyed at my neighbor’s son, cooly flashed his gun to show him who was boss – in front of the man’s three-year-old boy.

This holiday season things feel decidely tamer. These days, my downstairs neighbor, when entering our building at night, has had to walk past – more like navigate through – people sitting on our front steps enjoying the orgasmic heroin high. No big time killers running a lucrative drug biz – just your run of the mill junkies – floating high above Ward Street, as high as the giant moon, to get to a better, oblivious place, having shot up their smack minutes ago. They did this openly and they did not give a damn if they were on private property and my neighbor had to trip over them to get to her apartment. Every time this has happened my neighbor has said nothing. She puts her key into  our front door lock, opens the front door to our building and heads upstairs.

The next day she finds the junkies’ used syringes by her car, in her parking space in our teeny parking lot by our building. Along with used condoms. Which makes me think someone prostituted her/himself to get the smack and shot up IMMEDIATELY afterwards. Because that’s addiction for ya. It decimates your self respect. People fucking on our sidewalk for heroin or in (ha!) the St. Mary’s (aka Our Lady of Czetchowa) precious parking lot (see my previous posts) or sadly, for me, in the entrance of the church’s separate, stand-alone shrine to the Virgin Mary – the same shrine that I, as a little girl,  and my late mom, would visit what seems like centuries ago, to light a candle, say a Hail Mary, and admire the prettiness of Blessed Mother and all her accoutrements: the flowers around her, the rosaries laid at her feet, the votive candles all aglow, set in big metal, V-shaped candelabras, pointing to heaven. She still looks pretty …

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… only now she’s behind bars, protected from the neighborhood, cut off from the people, the people who need her most. This was once a quiet, neat Polish immigrant enclave, now my neighborhood is a hot bed of drugs and guns with police driving through our neighborhood at all hours, sirens blaring or pulsating or silent – depending on the emergency – you get to learn the nature of your emergencies here on Ward Street without even having to read the newspaper or look outside your window!

But most important, my neighborhood is filled with so many beautiful kids and adults who do the right thing EVERY day. Who come out and greet the day and garden in their small front yards, try to play with their brothers and sisters in the church parking lot (fat chance!), walk their dogs (the quiet proud white pit bull and his owner come to mind), drive their grandkids to school, walk to the packie down the street not for booze but for chips and soda. The forgotten Americans that president-elect Trump is supposed to save. The man who’s gonna save America’s inner-city neighborhoods, singlehandedly it seems.

I epecially love the old Polish guy, the last stalwart from the old Ward Street, who lives next door in his neat trim little home with concrete cherubs in his front yard.  Almost daily he solemnly sweeps his street corner – no matter how crazy the neighborhood gets. It’s a ritual for him. I love to drive home at the end of my day and see him outside, head down, work clothes on, sweeping up the flotsam and jetsam near his sidewalk curb with his antiquated, broom/dustpan combo. It’s metal and must be about 50 years old! What stories his dustpan could tell! It’s seen it all: from gum wrappers to bullet casings, from cigarette packs to syringes, from a beer can or two to unsheathed, translucent condoms, in all colors and textues!

The morning after the junkies use our front door steps as a shooting gallery my downstairs neighbor, using her shod foot carefully pushes the junkies’ syringes into plastic bags and disposes of them (I hope in the City’s yellow boxes ); we (cuz it’s my ‘hood, too) pick up paper scraps and beer bottles (I recycle them). One feisty gal pal even lectures the slobs who have the temerity to throw their garbage out their car windows onto Ward Street RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER. Out of her front yard she runs! DO YOU WANT ME TO THROW THAT FUCKIN’ BOTTLE OF WATER BACK IN YOUR FUCKIN’ FACE?! she yells, in her raspy, cigarette-scraped voice that barely conceals her heart of gold. When my gal pal told me the story she said the offending slobs looked dumbfounded when she pounced on them, a little afraid at this late middle aged woman on a mission … they quietly picked up their crap. Really, my friend, retired from a factory job, scolds folks who litter and dump  – like an exasperated mom. Everyone in our neighborhood knows she keeps us all – our entire neck of Ward Street – looking good, sometimes even pristine!

But the next day – or hour! – comes, and someone decides to dump a mattress box spring in the back of the church parking  lot – their old jersey barriers be damned. Or some sweet beautiful 17 year old kid doesn’t like Doherty High School and quits school and finds friends who get high and that seems to be the solution, for the moment. And we add him to our list of neighborhood problems even though he is young and beautiful…

No one here hates the offenders. They make us feel sad…about us, the neighborhood, about being poor and still trying to live in dignity … about the human condition. But the beat goes on. We know that we have to stay on top of things here – always – to keep the ‘hood fairly safe and clean, but that as soon as one problem is solved, one box spring mattress removed from our street, another problem/mattress will be thrust upon us. So we live our days, cherishing the little things …

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… and hoping for a Christmas miracle.

Unique finds at Unique Finds Antiques and Vintage gift shop! …

… located at 1329 Main St., Worcester … (Webster Square area – at the corner of Main and Henshaw streets)

OPEN TODAY – MONDAY! – and TUESDAY! …

and every day until 7 p.m.

Shop here early for your holiday finds! – pics:R.T.

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Rosalie, last week …Unique Finds also sells tee shirts, jackets, coats and boots …(not this tee, though)

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Joy to us all!

By Edith Morgan

In the midst of the mad race to the end of 2015, I want to take a few minutes to wish everyone  a  joyous holiday season: it seems that from Halloween on, it is a mad rush to get to the end of the year. We barely get the spooks and goblins and  costumes put away for another year, when already Thanksgiving is upon us and then there is no real let-up until we sink exhausted into winter in January.
 
Thanksgiving is followed by the eight days of Hanukah, then Christmas, and then the New Year, with “First Night,“ and then the Chinese and Vietnamese New Year, and the Cambodian New Year in April. And somewhere in between Christmas and the New Year, Kwanzaa takes its seven (I think) days. And it is hard to remember what year each group is celebrating – the Jewish year is 5776, the Chinese around  4712, the Cambodian year is 2559. I have not yet researched the numbers for the Hindu, Moslem, or other years yet. 

Also, different groups celebrate according to a different calendar – some follow the lunar calendar, while others have their holidays determined by historical or other criteria while most Christians follow the calendar mostly in use in America and Europe … the Eastern Orthodox Churches have their Christmas about two weeks after December 24th.
 
But whenever the celebration is, we all seem to have some sort of celebration and end-of-year festival, and we have some time for getting together with family and friends.

It is a time when we exchange greetings and notes with people whom we may only remember at this time, but whom we may have known for years. In this very mobile society, and in this very large country, so many of us are so far apart. And travel is expensive and time-consuming, so we traverse the miles using media. Of course, since the advent of Facebook and cell phones, and Skype, we are able to communicate almost daily (sometimes several times a day, for kids), so it is almost like being there.
 
For me, real, face-to-face interaction is still the best. The phone and computer rely so heavily on words, that we miss all the subtle messages that emanate from a living person in our presence. And sometimes I fear we are losing the ability  to “read” the signals coming from others – that takes years of practice to achieve!
 
So, for this holiday season, let’s spend more, real time really together – talking, listening, exchanging ideas and stories instead of spending ourselves into debt buying a lot of things we do not really need. This might be a good time to get to know our neighbors better – maybe carry a dish of cookies or home-made fudge to them, and personally wish them a great new year. 
 
And of course this is the time to reflect on the past year, and to resolve to do some things better – to learn something new, to make new friends, and to come closer to being the person we should be.

Joy and, above all, PEACE to all this holiday season!

Be there! Monday! Memorial candle-light vigil for Worcester’s homeless …

Remember the Homeless Persons Who Have Died at event, Monday, December 21
 
An event to remember those homeless and formerly homeless area residents who died over the last year…
 
Homeless Person’s Memorial Day is an annual event commemorated in more than 150 cities and counties across the United States on the first day of winter.

Building on the theme of “remember, hope, and heal,” the event will feature a ceremony honoring the persons, homeless and formerly homeless, who died in the past year.

The event is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend.
 
WHO: Homeless advocates, service providers, homeless and formerly homeless persons, religious leaders, concerned citizens, city representatives
 
WHAT: Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day candlelight procession and memorial service
 
WHERE: Candlelight Procession begins at Community Health Link’s HOAP, 162 Chandler St., and ends at Mt. Sinai Church, 63 Wellington St.
 
WHEN: Monday, December 21:

Candlelight Procession: 5:45 p.m.

Memorial Service: 6:30 p.m.
 
Advocates, service providers, homeless and formerly homeless people, religious leaders, and concerned citizens will honor the lives and dreams of homeless men and women who died this year in the Worcester area.

More than 35 homeless and formerly homeless persons who lost their lives this year will be remembered. Since 1990, groups such as HOAP’s Consumer Advisory Board have hosted National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day events across the country on the first day of winter to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness and to remember our homeless citizens who have died. 
 
Amy Grassette, one of the event’s organizers, said: “We use this occasion to call on all our fellow community members and all Americans to recommit ourselves to ending homelessness. While we seek economic solutions for our country, we cannot forget our most vulnerable citizens.”
 

Hurrah for humans!

By Edith Morgan

I ‘ve just completed a three-week battle with my computer, which decided to “freeze up” at random, when I am in the middle of doing something on it. That would not be such a bother if I had not, like many  of us, come to rely more and more on its various talents.

I got seduced by its speed, the fact that I could reach so many people simultaneously and instantly, and in the convenience of my own home. For messages that do not require privacy, or that are not  unique … it was a great tool for research and for keeping in touch with far-away friends and relatives. 

But something was, and is, missing – all the speed and immediacy still can not replace a living, breathing, thinking human being!

Everywhere I go I see that humans are being replaced by machines. Call your doctor, your bank, any of the great multitude of bureaucracies we have to deal with, and it is almost impossible to reach a sentient human being, who could answer a simple  question – one that is not included in the myriad choices that the computerized nit-wits have presented in the never-ending loop of repetitions you get when you call. 

Therefore, I am always overjoyed when I call the Worcester DPW number and get a live person, who always directs me to the right department, or assigns me a number for the task they are going to perform. And they DO perform it!!

The de-humanization of everything commercial – in the name of saving money, I suppose – is probably partly responsible for the rage that some people feel in dealing  with these creations, which sit uncomprehending and blinking away as you try to make yourself understood.
 
But while we have been removing the human element from so many places where it is needed, we have granted human status to other entities, which are not capable of the moral, empathetic and reasoning behaviors that distinguish a real human from some other type of creation.

We have really gone over the cliff in this area: we have endowed corporations with all the rights (but none of the responsibilities) of a human being; and we have also given the human attribute of speech to … yes, MONEY!!! So we now live in a country where money talks, corporations are people, and a fertilized egg is a person. Yet we can not bring ourselves to stop killing those who disagree with us, and we continue to spend $100 or more for munitions, for every $.01 we spend on peace.
 
So, as we celebrate the birth of  one we call “the Prince of Peace” is it not time we consider what we are doing – and really invest in peace, in human beings – real, live, viable, fully developed human beings and their families and neighborhoods? Is it not time to treat each and every one of our fellow humans as truly made in the image of God, and therefore not to be so easily labeled and “removed”?

How about trying the way of those whom we worship and admire – the way of ALL who preach peace, humaneness and caring for each other?

As we enter 2016, is it not about time to live and think differently?