Rampant consumerism is devouring Christmas

It's Christmas time in Buffalo again! Happy songs and jingles about Rudolph and jolly old St. Nick have been playing on the radio since Thanksgiving time. Holiday-themed sales papers appear in the mailbox weekly to announce weekend-only Christmas sales where perfect gifts are waiting to be bought. The time is right to get in the holiday spirit and enjoy the season, but right now I feel like Charlie Brown. I can't get over the fact that consumerism is single-handedly devouring what Christmas is supposed to be about. Imagine the difference that could be made if for every dollar that was spent on a Christmas gift, a dollar was given to someone who truly needed it.

Just the other day I was driving home from school and I saw a homeless man pushing a cart full of pop cans down the street. It was bitter cold and the wind was roaring. I couldn't help but be reminded that while this man was collecting cans to make a few dollars for pocket money, people were in department stores spending hundreds and even thousands of dollars on clothing that might be worn twice and televisions so large they require multiple people to carry. I find the whole situation backward sometimes. As a society, we put so much effort into buying that perfect gift for people who live perfectly comfortable lives. But what about those who live with little to no food or shelter during the cold Buffalo winters? Do they not breathe the same air as you and I? Do they not feel the same pain we do?

Just some food for thought the next time you're deliberating between what color North Face will match your wardrobe best. Remember those in need.

Josh Dempsey



Salvatore's is a treat during holiday season

Salvatore's Italian Gardens displays the most extravagant holiday decorations in Western New York. Its careful attention to detail transforms the entire restaurant into a winter wonderland. Salvatore's is a destination for many friends and families.

My extended family celebrated Thanksgiving there this year. The ambience, service, dinner selections and food were wonderful. Bah, humbug, Janice Okun. Why would she be so critical of Salvatore's during the holiday season? The amount of work and effort required to transform the restaurant to provide the public with unparalleled decorations renders the timeliness of her Dec. 9 review "Scrooge-like." Clearly, if she had issues with Salvatore's menu selections or pricing, the holidays are not the time to be critical of this Buffalo tradition.

Bobbi Levine



Shoppers seem to have their own driving rules

It's the most wonderful time of the year for holiday shopping and holiday drivers. It's that dreaded time of year when all driving skills, sense and vehicle and traffic laws go out the window. It seems there are special regulations for holiday shoppers driving through parking lots at malls and big-box stores.

This is the time of year when a stop sign means keep going if no one is around. It also means you can make a left-hand turn in front of me from the right lane when I am already in a turning lane. You know, the one with the big white arrow that indicates it's a turning lane. I drive a red truck, so I'm kind of hard to miss. I won't even touch the subject of a yield sign.

This is the time of year when we all become lip readers and finger gesture interpreters. I get to use those skills when I try to obey that stop sign, traffic signal or turning lane because I'm the stupid one for obeying vehicle and traffic laws. When will I ever learn?

Linda E. Riederer



We should embrace hometown newspaper

I spent Thanksgiving weekend at my brother's house in Erie, Pa. Friday morning, I sat down with a cup of joe and the Erie Daily Times, figuring I'd get details of the Thanksgiving Day football games. Wrong! The only "details" were box scores of the two early games, which I found, incredulously, on the last page of the sports section. There was no mention of the late game.

I was treated to an article on Prep's march to another state football title, Erie's D-League entrant in basketball and a few other nondescript articles that could have been written anytime in the past two weeks, and probably were.

People of Buffalo, embrace your hometown newspaper. Subscribe to it. Patronize its advertisers. You don't miss your water 'til the well runs dry.

Barry G. McNerney



Obama's presidency has been disastrous

A recent letter to this column misled me. What I believed would deal with corporate greed quickly degenerated into another left-wing attack on Republicans, an attack I have heard ad nauseam. Once again it was, "Obama inherited this" and "It's Bush's fault." Really? The fact is, under President Obama and the free-spending Democrats, the national debt has risen more in the last three years than it did during the entire eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. It was a Democratic-controlled Congress that refused to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Then Obamacare was foisted upon the country, with no thought of how to pay for it. We have a bloated, over-regulating government that is strangling small business. The administration refuses to approve a jobs-creating oil pipeline, a gift from our friends in Canada, that would lessen our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. It now appears that oil will go to China. Wonderful.

The Department of Energy wastes billions of taxpayer dollars on failed alternative-energy companies. The Department of Justice ships a thousand illegal weapons to Mexico, but no one in the department seems to know anything about it. And the president tells the American people that we have gotten "lazy." The other day, he said that the American dream was "unraveling." Well, at least he got that right. However, he failed to mention it is he and the Democrats who are responsible for the unraveling. The hypocrisy of this administration is astonishing.

Let me say, however, that I do agree we should stop looking at our country as "red" or "blue." We can re-energize these United States by working together to make certain that on Jan. 20, 2013, Obama becomes a private citizen again.

George W. Radka