Many people, several of them community leaders, also talk publicly about how fortunate Crookston is to have a daily newspaper, but it's likely that most of the people who say such things don't subscribe to that daily newspaper.

    ’Tis the season of coming up with lists, like this one, of my wishes and hopes...

    – I hope our cardinal couple return to our backyard soon. They've been almost daily visitors to our feeders for several months a year for the past three years, first showing up around Thanksgiving, but it's been more than three weeks since we've laid eyes on either the male or the female.

    There's some kind of myth or belief that if a cardinal visits your property, you are somehow blessed. That apparent blessing is magnified if the cardinal's visit coincides with the Christmas season. It's sort of an impractical notion to hang your hat on, but who’d shun a blessing? Plus, now I'm plagued my this nagging little troll in my mind who wonders, if we're blessed when the cardinals are around, what are we when they decide to leave?

    – I hope people vote in record droves in the 2018 mid-term election, the 2020 presidential election, and every election after that. It's funny, for a nation that seems so bitterly divided and so up in arms about every issue from tiny to gargantuan, less than half of us bother to vote. And that's just how the people in power want it to be. They want people to be apathetic, to give in to the notion that their single little vote won't make a difference.

    But just to be sure, just in case people feel empowered enough to cast a ballot, Republicans in power have passed and keep trying to toughen laws to make it more difficult for certain people to vote, because minorities and the disadvantaged typically don't vote for Republicans. Republicans in power cite voter fraud as the reason they're trying to pass all these laws, but their reasoning is the biggest fraud.

    – I wish more people would buy a print subscription to the Crookston Daily Times. When you do, you get unlimited free access to our online edition, too. Everyone talks about supporting Crookston businesses, but it's like people don't see the local, daily newspaper as a business that needs support to survive. It's like they see the Times as some type of community institution that's always going to be here. Many people, several of them community leaders, also talk publicly about how fortunate Crookston is to have a daily newspaper, but it's likely that most of the people who say such things don't subscribe to that daily newspaper.

    East Grand Forks and Thief River Falls, cities that many people like to think are bigger and better than Crookston, have weekly and a twice-weekly newspapers, respectively. We publish five times a week here, plus our free weekend publication, the Valley Shopper. How important to you is that Crookston distinction? Give us a call, 281-2730. We’d love to hear from you.

    – I wish my fantasy football lineup would get on a roll one week earlier, as in when it counts during the playoffs, and not a week later, when I'm eliminated and my roster's domination couldn't be more meaningless.

    – I hope DirectTV’s current marketing campaign, in which the satellite TV provider claims it’s been better than cable TV for many years and uses cable TV subscribers who suffer willingly and happily to make its point, is running its second and last commercial. The current one shows oddly creepy people freakishly celebrating things like losing their groceries through the bottom of wet bags, getting a nightmarish haircut, walking into a turnstile that doesn’t open, being squished on a packed subway, and dumping hot coffee all over your chest on purpose. This commercial came on the heels of one showing other weirdly creepy and semi-repugnant people celebrating banging your head on an attic ceiling beam repeatedly, chugging sour milk, sleeping on a bed of poison ivy, getting a paper cut on your tongue while licking an envelope, and getting your arm stuck in a vending machine.

   Every time I watch one of these commercials, I feel like “Wesley” in the classic 1987 Rob Reiner film “The Princess Bride” when he’s hooked up to “The Machine” in the “Pit of Despair” and has years of his life sucked out of him when Count Tyrone Rugen releases the water.

   UPDATE – HOPE ALREADY DASHED: This week, DirectTV released its third “People who like cable TV also like...” commercial, which depicts euphoric reactions to opening a shaken can of soda that sprays your face, getting your airplane seat kicked repeatedly by an obnoxious little kid sitting behind you, getting rammed in your legs and back by a shopping cart in the store checkout line, sitting on a wad of sticky gum, and walking into a glass door while carrying a plate of food.

    Wesley quietly weeps when Count Rugen shuts off The Machine after subjecting him to its agony for only a few seconds on its lowest setting. Wesley’s screams of pained horror in a later scene – referred to as “the sound of ultimate suffering” – when Prince Humperdinck cranks The Machine to its maximum setting, can be heard for miles around. With these DirectTV commercials, I’m approaching “ultimate suffering.”

    – I wish Twitter wasn’t so indicative of how high we can soar as people, and how low we can sink. One 5-minute scroll through my feed has me at one moment bursting with hope because people can be so compassionate, creative, hilarious, and brutally honest. Then, a minute later, I can’t help but think that in around 20 years, Mother Earth will wonder, “Hey, where’d all those humans go?”

    We still have some time to turn it around, though, and we seem to be at our best during the holiday season, so let’s start now. Bill Murray, as redemptive network TV exec “Frank Cross” in the 1988 Christmas film, “Scrooged,” says Christmas Eve is a miracle because “for a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the type of people we always hoped we would be.”

    We need to be those people now, and going forward. Nothing less than our best will do.