How are you? I hope things aren’t too cold up there at the North Pole. Give my regards to Mrs. Claus and the elves, whoops, I mean the little people.
I realize it’s been a long time since I’ve written, 1972 to be precise. Belated thanks for the slot car racetrack, bicycle and snowmobile! Best Christmas ever!
I also know it’s a little late in the season to be writing, but this isn’t about me. It’s about my friends and neighbors here in Shasta County. Remember how the Grinch stole Christmas from the fair citizens of Whoville? Well, having just moved here two years ago, I’m not quite certain, but I think the same thing has happened here!
So, without further ado, here’s my Christmas list for Shasta County!
1. A heaping sackful of self-esteem. Sadly, some folks here appear to be obsessed with turning Redding (our major town) into a “world-class city.” If they could just feel a little better about themselves, perhaps they’d be happy just being who we are. It may take more than one sack. A sleigh full of sacks, perhaps. Maybe two trips.
2. A heavy-duty tarp large enough to cover the Redding Big League Dreams Sports Park. Unfortunately, some dreams don’t come true (not your fault) and we’ve had to resort to painting faces in the grandstands in lieu of the nonexistent fans who never came to watch the nonexistent pro sports team. I’m thinking if we could get a big enough tarp, we can cover the stadium and move all the homeless people in there to keep them out of the weather.
3. If you can’t find a big enough tarp, a minor league soccer team would be nice.
4. As many cases of hard liquor as you can carry. That will keep potential drunk drivers at home instead of terrorizing our highways and roads this holiday season.
5. Jobs. Our unofficial unemployment rate exceeds 20 percent. Our high schoolers leave just as soon as they graduate because there’s no work. We once had a burgeoning medical marijuana industry, until the county supervisors and the sheriff killed it. Slipping some of those aforementioned cases of hard liquor down the chimneys of the county supes and the sheriff might work wonders!
6. Precipitation. You’ve done a great job so far this holiday season—it’s snowing as I write—but we’re going to need a lot more of the wet stuff to get us back on track. Filling Lake Shasta to the brim should do the trick.
7. A real newspaper. Perhaps you haven’t heard yet, but the East Valley Times went out of business last week. Now the people of eastern Shasta County have no way to find out what’s going on at their school board meetings. It’s true we still have a daily newspaper, but we don’t really talk about the daily newspaper. Maybe a website?
8. A flatbed trailer. Six months ago, I wrote this story about how some jerks dropped off 10 decrepit, rusted-out cars across the road from one of my neighbors. Well believe it or not Santa, even though I called the county several times, those cars are still there, haven’t moved an inch! You supply the truck, we’ll provide the labor.
9. High-tech lab equipment. As I mentioned the kids around here don’t have much to do, so they’ve resorted to blowing themselves up along with entire neighborhoods making something called “butane honey oil.” I have no idea what that is, but I understand it can be manufactured far more safely with something called an “extractor.” You can binge-watch “Breaking Bad” on Netflix for some ideas.
10. Peace on earth and goodwill to everyone.
11. Lots of salmon and a gigantic fish ladder. As tough as the drought has been on all of us, the fish have been nearly wiped out. If you can fill the lake up as I asked and build a giant fish ladder so the salmon can get over the top of Shasta Dam, well, that would make a lot of people very, very happy. Not to mention the salmon.
12. State of Jefferson t-shirts all around!
That’s it for now, Santa. I know some of these are big asks, but I’m telling you, we’ve got big trouble here in Whoville. You’ve been really good to me, I don’t need a thing, but if you could at least bring those homeless people in from the cold, that would be awesome!