The Willows senior apartment complex in Newhall has ordered residents to take down their Christmas tree. Menorahs have also been banned.
The order came from Tarzana-based JB Partners Group Inc which owns the complex. Needless to say, many residents as well as their families, friends and concerned outsiders are upset.
The reasons according to the company’s explanations is that the company interprets a Christmas tree to be a religious symbol.
Here is my response as a Christian who does not celebrate December 25th as Jesus’ birthday.
We are not sure which day Jesus was born on. That has not been revealed to us from God’s Word. My family and I have never celebrated December 25th as Jesus’s birthday. We did celebrate it as our Granddaddy Morton’s birthday since he actually was born on that date in 1890. (He also died on December 25th, 1974, his 84th birthday).
We have always put up a Christmas tree since we celebrate the holiday secularly. The Christmas tree is a German tradition introduced to the English primarily by Queen Victoria’s husband Albert. Implying that a tree decorated with tinsel and ornaments is a religious observance of sorts is a stretch. The Supreme Court has also ruled in agreement.
So why is the tree being taken down by the Willows Senior Center?
Why can’t they put up a menorah? I’m very confused about that also.
I know there are culture wars going on but can we call a truce with our elderly? If they want a Christmas tree, give them one. If a brightly lit tree makes their long dreary days a little happier, why not?
I speak from experience on this, because I just finished assembling our tree which takes me about three days to put up. Why do I do it? Because my aging parents receive so much pleasure from it. I often catch them admiring it.
My guess is we probably haven’t heard the last of this issue.
A family moving out of a foreclosed house has just experienced one of the worst classified ad nightmares we have heard of. It is important we become aware of this type of situation since many of us are in the process of cleaning out our aging parents’ homes or we’re downsizing ourselves.
It all started innocently enough when the Michael Vercher family from Woodstock, Ga posted the ad on Craigslist sometime Tuesday night. The plan was to give away a few items they no longer needed or wanted. The giveaway was supposed to be in their driveway at the set time of 10 AM Wednesday.
What happened next could have been thought up only by a Hollywood screen writer.
Michael thought he would be getting home from work in enough time to work the “sale” . But when he arrived early Wednesday morning the crowds had already beaten him there and some people had actually broken into his house. The chaos that followed went something like this.
People were grabbing the family’s possessions, even keepsakes, while the helpless family was begging people not to take their things. Some things were returned but most people only continued to ransack.
So how could all of this have been avoided?
Here are 3 main tips for avoiding chaos at a garage sale
1. Give your items to churches or reputable charities and let them deal with it
You will be in complete control and you will be dealing with the experts. These people know how to distribute goods because they do it all the time. They are knowledgeable about how to do it in an orderly fashion and they know many of the tricks and scams some people will go do to get anything free.
Your chances of getting your things to the people who need them the most have just gone up dramatically and you won’t have to fear any dangers such as the ones the Vercher family experienced.
2. Be very careful how you word your ads
The ad the Verchers put out had phrases like ” free yard sale”, “so come down and take whatever you want…”
This is definitely not how to do it. If you extend a seemingly open invitation some unscrupulous people will definitely respond. They will interpret it the way the want to interpret it. Plus, you have to say this does sound inviting. However, breaking and entering is still a crime.
Don’t ever word an ad in Craigslist like that. All they needed to do was advertise the yard sale. Then they could have given some of the items out for free once people got there. The people could have been monitored better and the sale would have ended peaceably with only the designated items leaving the property.
3. Have plenty of backup for your garage sale
It’s a shame I have to say this, but you may need friends and relatives to help you keep an eye out for any mischief making. Shoplifting goes on everywhere. I grew up in retail and I can tell you stories that would make your hair curl. I also know of a garage sale where a family made $400 only to have the money box stolen. That money was going to help pay for their vacation to Florida.
But another reason for back up is things can easily get out of hand. A long time ago our neighbors across the street were having one of their many garage sales. I was appalled to find a carful of people who had driven up my driveway going all over my yard while peeping into my windows. Our houses are somewhat secluded on big lots and there was no way these folks could have gotten us mixed us with the neighbors having the sale.
When I confronted one of the men, he just shrugged and left.
I guess my points are we need to take special care in how we present a garage sale or any giveaway In fact, I would never use the word “giveaway”. Tragedies such as the one the Vercher family has experienced just in the last few days can be avoided. When we venture into the very public world of retail even if it is only for a garage sale, we are going into challenging territory. Be well prepared.
I just saw Bankrate’s list of the 10 worst states for retirees. Of course, my beloved home state of Tennessee was #7. Not to mention most of the south was racked up as being bad for older people who are looking for a good place to spend their senior years.
Paul Gattis of the Hunstville Times has an interesting argument about this. (Alabama made the list too.)
He points out all the states listed were judged on only three criteria. The criteria included the crime rate, number of people over 65 below the federal poverty line and the life expectancy rate.
Here’s my rebuttal.
What about climate? Tennessee has mild winters that are almost pleasant. Not on Florida’s scale of course, but good.
Tennessee does not have a state income tax. It is one of only six states that can make that claim.
Last but not least, it’s really pretty. It has a lot of interesting places to visit, especially in the fall. The small stuff, off the tourist pathways such as Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House in Lynchburg, down the road from Jack Daniel’s. (It’s in a dry county, by the way). You can also visit the Hermitage Plantation, Belle Meade Plantation and Rattle and Snap Plantation if you’re into those. Rattle and Snap was won in a card game; hence the name. Not to mention Gatlinburg, the Memphis Zoo, Chattanooga Aquarium.
There are lots of things for seniors to do in Tennessee even if BankRate doesn’t agree. See the official Tennessee Tourism website.
But then there are other lists out there such as AARP’s. Its list of the 10 Worst States for Retirees is totally different. Most of the unlucky states that made that list are in the North and Midwest.
Maybe it all boils down to where you want to retire. Interesting concept…
The latest craze among senior citizens is the senior citizen flash mob. We have chosen four of the best and most entertaining ones featuring seniors who are as young as 95.
These vids prove our points that seniors can get out in their communities and show the younger people how to have a good time. Keep your eyes peeled next time you’re at the mall, because you never know when seniors will suddenly (or kind of suddenly) burst into song and dance.
The Meadowlake Estates Flash Mob at Target
This vid has been watched over 1,680,000 times on Youtube.
It takes a little stage planning, but it goes off without a hitch. I especially like the senior who continues shopping. Flash mobbing is great fun and it’s entertaining to find seniors getting into a good song.
Union Square, NYC Creative Dance Art Group
This one contains some priceless quotes.
“We are not dead yet.”
“I can still argue.”
“I can say anything and get away with it…”
These seniors certainly score high on the cuteness scale.
Asbury Heights Residents are ‘Dynamite’
Just in case that Halloween party isn’t getting off the ground, you can always bring in the top performers to rev things up a little. This vid features Helen Paracca, 95 and Ralph Hauser, 82.
Senior Flash Mob Indian Style
These seniors seem to be younger than most. I love the reactions of the younger people in the crowd. At first they’re apprehensive as if they’re thinking, ‘I’m not sure about this’. But then the camera phones pop out and everyone, or almost everyone, gets into the song.