Henrico County Opinions

Thanksgiving, Part II


As Thanksgiving approached four years ago, I wrote in this space about how thankful I was.

At the time, only three months had passed since the death of my youngest daughter.

I was inspired to write the column, however, because another bereaved parent had said that Thanksgiving is a joke when you are grieving for a child.

After initially agreeing with him, I had to admit that I did have much to be thankful for. And now that several years have passed, I have much more.

Time to give spanking the boot


The fuss about Adrian Peterson has died down in the last month, but the case continues to bother me – and will for some time.

Like a lot of people, I was appalled to hear that Peterson, a Minnesota Vikings football player, whipped his four-year-old with a wooden switch to the point of injuring him.

But that is not what left the lingering bad taste in my mouth, and what discouraged me so much about the whole affair.

What really took me aback was how many people defended him, and how many advocate physical punishment of children.}

An actual holiday spirit


There are three kinds of people when it comes to Christmas – those who love it; Scrooges and Grinches; and those who fall somewhere in between.

The Christmas-lovers are the ones who hum Christmas jingles year round; who start trying out new holiday cookie recipes in July and beginscouring Christmas stores for decorations in August; who love to flip through holiday-themed magazines; who are thrilled when stores hang ornaments in September; who like to wear those jingly, blinking sweaters; and who savor Christmas shopping as their favorite sport. I have even heard of Christmas lovers who go shopping on Christmas Eve – despite having everything on their lists – just because they want to be part of the "hustle and bustle."

Clearly, these people are certifiable.}

School calendar overhaul long overdue


It's a 19th-century anachronism, and long ago stopped serving its intended purpose.

It has failed to keep up with social change, continues to stifle progress, and acts as a major obstacle to growth and improvement.

It makes no sense whatsoever in the 21st century, yet continues to exist because of bureaucratic inertia, resistance to change, and the attitude "we've always done it that way."

It wastes space, time, manpower and – most of all – it results in the waste of millions of young minds.

Yes, I'm talking about our antiquated and inflexible school calendar.}

Modern parents have it soft (or do they?)


By the time my first child was born, I assumed parenthood couldn’t hold too many surprises. Between caring for three younger siblings, monopolizing my neighborhood babysitting market, and coaching youth sports for the previous two decades, I had more experience with children at age 28 than some adults accumulate in a lifetime.

But I was still in for a shock when my daughter arrived.

I never anticipated the bone-deep, sapped-of-all-life weariness I would feel after a day of being home with her (and later her two sisters).

I never dreamed how mentally cruel motherhood could be: how my children would not only dominate my every waking thought, but seize my subconscious and induce crazy, irrational nightmares about them as I slept.
}

Cemeteries: for reverence or recreation?


When the story broke recently about an uproar over an Easter egg hunt in a Norfolk cemetery, I took more than a passing interest.

You see, I spend a lot of time in a cemetery these days. My daughter Lanie is buried at Hollywood, and I visit her grave and walk the cemetery at least three times a week.

I am partial to the place -- you might even say possessive. I think of it as my cemetery, while realizing that I actually share ownership with thousands of area residents, tourists, and descendants and relatives of the interred.}

Cooking for a vegetarian wanna-be

You know your 13-year-old child is truly growing up when he announces his plan to become a vegetarian, effective immediately.

“But you like meat,” I pointed out.

“True. But I don’t like the idea of eating animals.” He rubbed his belly sentimentally. “It doesn’t make me feel good.”

Apparently, meat of the porcine and bovine variety particularly bothers him. And poultry doesn’t sound too appetizing to him either. (Fish we can slaughter at will.)}

Cross-country walker hits the lucky seven

During Memorial Day weekend, I imagine that many of you went to cookouts, ate hotdogs, visited the beach, boated on The River, attended memorial services and rode or walked in parades.

If not for a broken vase and a laceration requiring seven stitches, I might have done the same.

Instead, I spent part of my weekend involved in a personal memorial observance, and in a small, ragtag, but meaningful parade along the streets of Henrico.

My Memorial Day journey began when George Throop of Vancouver, Wash. – nearing the end of his own 4,500 mile, three-year walk across America – crossed the Huguenot Bridge into Henrico County and headed for Richmond along River Road.}

‘Cromagnon Mom’ pleads for higher driving age


Among some of my parenting peers, I am sure I was considered overly permissive in my child-rearing.

I was not strict on bedtimes; I let my girls get crazy dirty, wear jeans and t-shirts and do other 'unfeminine' things. On occasion I even let them listen to rap music, or join me at Legend Brewing for movie night.

But to my own three kids, I was always Cromagnon Mom – especially on the topic of teen-age driving.}

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ComedySportz Richmond, located at 8906-H West Broad St., will present the sixth annual Improv Festivus Dec. 8-10. Festivus features over 100 talented improv comedians celebrating improv in all its forms all weekend long. All beer sales will benefit CJ’s Thumbs Up Foundation. Tickets are $6 in advance and $8 at the door for shows on Dec. 8; tickets for shows on Dec. 9-10 are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. A pass for all eight shows is $40 online. For details, visit http://www.improvfestivus.com. Full text

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