Dear editor,

Now is not the time of year to take things for granted . . . as we all know. The holidays bring to mind many happy memories, but also a few sad memories as we remember our loved ones who have gone before us. However, some people, without thinking, attempt to take those memories away.

For years . . . at least 12 years . . . an ornate iron plant stand stood in front of our home holding a green gazing ball filled with colorful Christmas lights, welcoming friends to our home. This was no ordinary plant stand; it was one that held the largest, most beautiful Christmas cactus in the entryway of my husband’s childhood home. His mom was an avid gardener with quite the "green thumb," and she and "Dad," along with the Christmas cactus always greeted us as we entered their home. What a wonderful memory!

This Christmas season we no longer have that plant stand, nor the Christmas cactus, nor the gazing ball, nor the colorful lights because someone took it upon himself, perhaps with the help of a friend or two, to steal this symbol of "welcome" at Christmas, this symbol of joy in our lives. We hope the individual(s) enjoy the gift of Christmas which was taken from our home and we will continue to celebrate the lives of Mom and Dad Kinnunen, and we will remember to hold dear what is important this season. By the way, Mom Kinnunen would have been 107 this year and Dad Kinnunen would have been 108.

Merry Christmas and happy thoughts to you all this wonderful season of the year!

Fran and John Kinnunen

Fairfield Glade, TN

Dear editor,

I am particularly concerned about affordable health care.  My husband spent twenty years in the USAF in such places as Alaska, Viet Nam and Korea earning the excellent healthcare we enjoy. 

However, many of our loved ones are struggling: My 64-year-old sister works two part-time jobs and is still paying off a $1,200 medical bill from last January; our 20-year-old grand-daughter attends school part-time and works as a server at $2.13 per hour — no insurance; our daughter has a pre-existing condition and is uninsurable (due to the merger of two airlines she lost her job of 13 years and has COBRA, at $850 a month, only until Jan. 1); her husband is self employed and cannot afford insurance; my best friend is a realtor in Las Vegas and has taken on such tasks as pet sitting, airport shuttles, shopping for shut-ins, etc., to survive; our son served in the U.S. Navy for five years and is in the construction business in Baltimore, MD.  We all know what has happened to that industry. He took such jobs as stocking the bar at the VFW to survive, but obviously lost his health care when his boss went out of business. I know many of our neighbors in Fairfield Glade are very fortunate to have excellent benefits from the VA, but it isn’t like that across the country. None of these folks are on welfare, illegal immigrants, minorities, nor not actively seeking employment with benefits. What do we say to them?

I fear that those who are so opposed to the health care options cannot put the situation in perspective — perhaps they do not know anyone like the six I mentioned. If so, I congratulate them but ask them to remember that not everyone in the country had the benefit of working for a large entity for 30 years, with a great package upon retirement. Surely many of their children, in-laws and grandchildren do not have job security and do not expect to work for 30 years for the same firm. 

Wyonne Morningstar

Fairfield Glade