Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

'Happy Holidays’ is taking the spirit out of Christmas

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So far this year, I haven't bought a single Christmas present. I'm waiting to get the Christmas spirit, which is hard because all you see these days are ads for holiday gifts with people saying "Happy Holidays." And it's all so bogus.

Of course, as I'm writing this, Ernie is on the floor wrapping Christmas presents for everybody on his family tree. He says he's just "a Christmas kind of guy." And he is.

But I'm cancel ing my credit card with the big banking company that made the employees at one of their banks in Texas take down the Christmas tree in the lobby because it might make some people "uncomfortable." Well, does anybody care that "Happy Holidays" makes me uncomfortable? So does "Winter Festival." And "End-of-Year Celebration" sounds like a close-out sale.

But, who knows, maybe I'll make a list of stores that still say "Merry Christmas," and do like one of my relatives did every year until he died. He'd take a few snorts and then go shopping on Christmas Eve right before the stores closed. Sometimes all he came home with was an extra-large bathrobe, a hat and glove set with one of the gloves missing and another fifth of Old Granddad he got from a side trip to Howell's Package Store on the Berrien County line. But he enjoyed himself, and that's worth something in this "here today, gone tomorrow" world.

And yes, I know the word "holiday" comes from holy day, which must be why they're having winter festivals in some unholy places.

REMEMBER, THEY CAN TAKE A BOULEVARD TO ATHENS NOW: Medical College of Georgia President Dr. Ricardo Azziz's request to the Augusta Commission to close the part of Laney -Walker Boulevard that bisects the MCG campus to unify it has some folks up in arms. Azziz said his goal is to transform MCG and the region into a health-care biomedical destination.

Currently, however, the school has a long way to go, as does, it seems, his request.

Dr. Azziz laid out a compelling case for MCG, the No. 2 employer with a $2 billion annual economic impact on Augusta, providing

"$100 million annually in uncompensated care for the benefit of the community."

"The university is not as well known as it should be, and, in fact, is having great difficulty recruiting students and faculty and growth," he said. "And obviously we want to grow as the No. 2 employer in Augusta, we need to grow to be able to employ more individuals, take care of more patients and train more doctors."

MCG has suffered from chronic under-investment, a declining number of students and faculty, aging facilities and buildings and a worsening campus appearance, Azziz said.

"Our campus does not look like a university and does not behave like a university campus," he said.

After he spoke, a pharmacist who owns a business on Laney-Walker Boulevard that would be affected by the closure said he didn't expect to lose his business for nobody. Then Paine College professor Dr. Mallory Millender talked about the historical significance of the street to the black community and said they'd already given up Gilbert Manor apartments to MCG and don't want to lose any more of their heritage.

Commissioners received the proposal as information and said they'll await the results of a traffic study on that section of the street.
Sheriff Ronnie Strength said he too wants to see the results of the traffic study but thinks the additional traffic at Walton Way and 15th Street would make an already bad situation worse.
Azziz made his proposal again the next night at A.R. Johnson Magnet School in the first of a series of community meetings, and the reception was predictable.

BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE: The owners of the County Line Club on Gordon Highway came before the Augusta commissioners Monday to have their business license suspended or revoked because they were operating a dance hall and selling alcohol without licenses.

Eric Beale appeared before commissioners along with another fellow. After a shooting around 2 a.m. Nov. 28, officers discovered Beale was supposed to be operating a snack shop only.

The city's License Manager Larry Lariscy told commissioners Beale had voluntarily surrendered his business license and asked that the matter be deleted from the agenda so a revocation wouldn't be on his record.

"They made a mistake, and we were trying not to put a mark on them that would affect them in the future if they tried to do something positive," Lariscy said. "Matter of fact, one of the gentlemen is a student at the University of Georgia."

A few minutes later, Commissioner Jimmy Smith said, "Larry, you say one of these gentlemen is a student at the university? And he don't know he's supposed to have an alcohol license."

THEN IT WOULD RAIN IN THERE LIKE IT DOES IN THE JAIL: During Monday's Engineering Services Committee meeting, City Administrator Fred Russell requested that $2.3 million remaining in the judicial center's construction contingency fund be added to the budget for the new sheriff's administration building.

Commissioner Joe Bowles sought assurance from Russell that there definitely was that much money in the fund to put into the sheriff's building.

"Yes, sir," Russell replied.

"Stake your job on it?" Bowles asked.

"Always do every time I answer a question," Russell said.
Then after thinking about it a few seconds, he added, "We might not have the top floor on the judicial center though."

ANOTHER TESTAMENT THAT IT DOES FLOW DOWNHILL: A pipe burst in the mayor's bathroom on the eighth floor of the Marble Palace on Friday, forcing the closure of offices on the seventh and sixth floors, according to Russell.

EXACTLY WHO IS BEING TAKEN FOR A RIDE HERE? There might not be such a thing as a free lunch, but nobody said anything about free bus rides. An Augusta Commission committee approved Russell's motion to give free rides on city buses the week between Christmas and New Year 's.
Free! Are Donner and Blitzen and Dancer and Prancer pulling these buses with volunteer elves driving ? Otherwise somebody's paying. Is it you?

IT LOOKS DARK DOWN A MUZZLE: I got up early Thursday and rushed to get to the Augusta Judicial Circuit Drug Court's first drug court graduation at Beulah Grove Baptist Church, only to find nobody there to speak of besides the receptionist and the cleaning lady.

The graduation is Tuesday, but undeterred, I went to the regular drug court at the Law Enforcement Center. Failed to see among the crowd there a couple of people I've been following off and on this year, which is not a good sign. Anyway, I ended up at the Christmas lunch in Sheriff Strength's office where I met south Augustan John Hardin, who they say knows everybody in Glascock County and who they're kin to.

Hardin, who's 80 years old, said he used to own two liquor stores. One of them was John's Party Shop, on Highway 56. I asked him if he ever got held up, and he said, "Yes, twice."

One of them occurred one day around noon when a man with a hood over his head burst in the front door and demand ed money.
Hardin handed him $2,600.

"They caught him though, and I got my money back" he said. "The officer came in later with the gun in a manila envelope. The stock was sticking out the end. He asked me if that was the gun the robber used, and I said, 'That wasn't the end I was looking at.'"

A LITTLE TIME FOR LAUGHTER: Later on Thursday afternoon, I went to visit Linda Beazley who's a mighty sick girl but as always, fun to be with. We had some good laughs about the days she was county administrator, then later, city administrator, and I would come to her office. She reminded me of the time I was down in the dumps because it was my birthday, so she bought me a royal blue warm-up suit to cheer me up. When she gave it to me, I was so touched, I started to cry, so she got up and came around her desk and gave me a big hug. And I said, "Linda, don't hug me. If somebody were to see us in here hugging, they'd say we were lesbians."

During our visit, I asked her whether she wanted me to say anything about her in this column, and she said to thank everyone who has been praying for her.

Comments (32) Add comment
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Junket831
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Junket831 12/18/10 - 11:05 pm
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Excellent column! Why the

Excellent column!

Why the free bus rides? I thought APT needs all the help it can get.

As far as MCG blocking off Laney Walker, the city should consider a much larger move and create a health care and college/university zone that would link MCG, VA, University hospitals and MCG and Paine Colleges. Laney Walker, Central, Walton Way, Wrightsboro, RA Dent and 1th could be feeders or connectors. This would allow for expansion of health care services as well as university educational opportunities.

This would enable all communities to benefit from the valuable services provided by these institutions, particularly the less fortunate in the border neighborhoods.

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 12/19/10 - 04:04 am
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Furlough our police officers

Furlough our police officers and take 750,000 from the Sheriff's budget when he already has 38 less officers than 10 years ago and crime is up while at the same time provide for free rides on county busses eating up over 5 Million each year in local taxes -- I actually thought I commission was getting smarter but the decisions they continue to allow Fred to make are pathetic.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 12/19/10 - 06:24 am
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THANK YOU SYLVIA! I am so

THANK YOU SYLVIA! I am so tired of the fake everything during the Chritmas season. Here in West Africa, it is sunny and 85 during December, Jan, and Feb. I have learned that all the decoration is not needed if the spirit is there.

As far as the MCG road closeure goes, we should give them whatever they need to make MCG the best they can be.

Brad

Fish Out of Water
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Fish Out of Water 12/19/10 - 08:55 am
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I'm trying to figure out

I'm trying to figure out which is more sad, the fact that companies won't say Merry Christmas, or the fact that you rely on ads and company slogans to get you in the Christmas spirit.

Riverman1
78386
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Riverman1 12/19/10 - 10:54 am
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Deke has been flushing his

Deke has been flushing his running shoes down the toilet. Now we know who stopped up the library plumbing.

But with all the problems Azziz is bringing up, how in the world did we think for once that Rahn did a good job here as he shifted hundreds of millions of medical education dollars to Athens and left us in this mess?

AutumnLeaves
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AutumnLeaves 12/19/10 - 10:34 am
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Merry Christmas, Sylvia.

Merry Christmas, Sylvia.

getalife
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getalife 12/19/10 - 11:41 am
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Another good article. Merry

Another good article. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Sylvia.

whatmistake
100
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whatmistake 12/19/10 - 12:20 pm
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Mallory Millender believes

Mallory Millender believes Gilbert Manor was part of his community's heritage? Incredible. Somebody needs to ask Millender at the next forum where all his Section 8 buddies will get their free health care when MCG packs up and moves to Athens. Maybe Fred Russell can find money for more "free" bus rides to Athens. God help us all.

mable8
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mable8 12/19/10 - 12:38 pm
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Well, Sylvia, you could count

Well, Sylvia, you could count political correctness as dead and buried; after all, it is simply a matter of adding lace to lies to make it more becoming to the public. Who gives a hoot if they say "happy holidays" as opposed to "merry Christmas" anyway--it's really what you believe in that counts...and no politician or mongrel group can take that away from you. When someone says "happy holidays" I say "merry Christmas" and don't give a fig if they are "offended" because they really aren't; the person just wants to appear that they are following someone else's agenda and are afraid of speaking out. So to all: HAVE A MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS, and this includes all those who might be offended out there!

mary dits
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mary dits 12/19/10 - 01:12 pm
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i know! the war on

i know! the war on christmas- and they keep denying it! people who try to include everyone are the absolute grossest. merry christmas!
"There is no "war" on Christmas. It's a lot bigger than that. It involves more than just one day out of the year. It is, in fact, a war on Jesus Christ. And that war has been being waged non stop by the right wing in this country for at least two centuries. Another shot across the bough was fired this week by Senator Jim DeMint, the half-witted reactionary from South Carolina, when he said that unemployment insurance should be turned into a loan program."
http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2010/12/war-on-christmas.html

mary dits
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mary dits 12/19/10 - 01:18 pm
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p.s. do lesbians really cry

p.s. do lesbians really cry over warm-up suits?

concernednative
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concernednative 12/19/10 - 01:20 pm
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Give MCG anything they want.

Give MCG anything they want. I mean beside Paine College they should be given everything over there.

mary dits
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mary dits 12/19/10 - 01:24 pm
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absolutely. "everything over

absolutely. "everything over there" is up for grabs. why are we even talking about it? i'm gonna go stake out a parcel for myself this afternoon. will rcso be helping remove the natives or are we on our own?

Riverman1
78386
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Riverman1 12/19/10 - 01:32 pm
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I believe the War on

I believe the War on Christmas was started due to faulty intelligence. Seriouly (sort of), I rank the hackneyed "war on Christmas" comments right up there with "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

Riverman1
78386
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Riverman1 12/19/10 - 02:18 pm
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Mary Dits said, "p.s. do

Mary Dits said, "p.s. do lesbians really cry over warm-up suits?"

I'd like to watch........that.

dougk
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dougk 12/19/10 - 09:05 pm
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Ms. Sylvia.....I have always
Unpublished

Ms. Sylvia.....I have always enjoyed your columns and have respected you. I was really suprised that you got caught up in the Merry Christmas-Happy Holidays fabricated conflict. I just assumed you were above that. Watching too much FOX news lately, maybe??

dani
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dani 12/19/10 - 09:36 pm
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Merry Christmas, Sylvia. You

Merry Christmas, Sylvia. You are appreciated.

dani
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dani 12/19/10 - 09:38 pm
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doug, I did see Hannity

doug, I did see Hannity talking about the Merry Christmas issue And I also saw a critique on CNN. I love Christmas and I use Merry Christmas as often as possible. Merry Christmas, doug.

dougk
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dougk 12/19/10 - 09:56 pm
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Merry Christmas. Dani. All I
Unpublished

Merry Christmas. Dani. All I was saying was that it's a fabricated conflict....Sylvia is more savvy than to succumb, I thought.

Candie
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Candie 12/19/10 - 11:16 pm
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I don't understand the big

I don't understand the big deal about Happy Holidays. Like mable8 said it's about what you believe, I'm Jewish and if someone says Merry Christmas to me I don't freak out, I wish them well. But someone wishing me Merry Christmas doesn't mean anything to me. However, if they wish me Happy Holidays I feel included. It's not a war on Christmas or Jesus; it's simply including people of all beliefs. Christmas is NOT the only holiday this time of year, why should only one group have a greeting? Merry Christmas to those of you celebrating Christmas and Happy Holidays to those of you who are celebrating the many other joyful reasons to be with family, friends and community.

dougk
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dougk 12/19/10 - 11:22 pm
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amen, Candie. It's a
Unpublished

amen, Candie. It's a fabricated "war" created and sensationalized by the media.

andrew412
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andrew412 12/20/10 - 02:28 am
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The notion that there is a

The notion that there is a "war" on Christmas is laughable. There is no war, Christmas is not being attacked. It is the biggest holiday in this country, celebrated by the most people in this country. If Christmas can withstand the Roman Empire (which it did), than surely it can survive the actions of a bank branch that is trying a little too hard to be politically correct. If you have ever TRULY felt your faith is under fire by such a petty act, than you must have very little religion to begin with. And to cancel your credit card because of this? Well in my opinion, that's just idiotic. Regardless, it's obvious you know how to pander easily to the religious zealots that are your readers, so good job!

peace4784
111
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peace4784 12/20/10 - 05:48 am
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Christians are the ones who
Unpublished

Christians are the ones who are taking Christ out of Christmas. Jesus is not on any of their Christmas list. Santa is their God and vanity is the Christmas spirit.

Riverman1
78386
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Riverman1 12/20/10 - 06:07 am
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Hey, what's Christmas without

Hey, what's Christmas without a little eggnog and a good fight about why Connie the Clerk didn't say Merry Christmas? Tiimeless traditions. I'm in the Christmas spirit and I'll slap you beside the head if you don't say Merry Christmas back to me.

dougk
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dougk 12/20/10 - 08:21 am
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Funny stuff, Riverman.
Unpublished

Funny stuff, Riverman. Thanks.

Hatfield0278
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Hatfield0278 12/20/10 - 03:43 pm
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I think MCG should be able to

I think MCG should be able to close that portion of Laney Walker that runs directly through their campus. I'm in favor of working to keep MCG here and growing.

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 12/20/10 - 06:07 pm
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Yes, Virginia, lesbians

Yes, Virginia, lesbians really do cry over warm-up suits.

Riverman1
78386
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Riverman1 12/20/10 - 07:05 pm
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Emery, you just want to

Emery, you just want to watch, too. Mary Dits throws out one little line about lesbians and the guys forget all about corruption in Augusta and the TEE bamboozle.

paperwren
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paperwren 12/20/10 - 08:37 pm
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I've always thought saying

I've always thought saying Happy Holidays was a way to say both Merry Christmas and Happy New Year at the same time. I've seen it on holiday cards dating back to many, many years ago. Bing Crosby even sang the popular song "Happy Holidays" in the movie Holiday Inn in 1942. I agree that the Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays obsession lately is a recently fabricated war. I think some of the news/radio stations have created this idea that it is a way of taking away Christmas just so they have something to stir up drama on the air.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 12/20/10 - 09:57 pm
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well Riverman.. at first I

well Riverman.. at first I thought it was a reference to that photo of Austin Rhodes in the Metro Spirit that is like 15 years old or so where he kind of looks like a lesbian

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