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Etc.: Post-leftovers
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While you’re pondering what to do for dinner now that the leftover turkey, dressing (or stuffing), vegetable dishes, fruit dishes, leftover rolls and leftover desserts are gone …

Ho-ho-house: Back in my pre-child days, the Grant County Herald Independent used to do a Christmas display contest, with the winner receiving the grand sum of, I believe, $20 (the equivalent of a few days of the house’s electric bill), along with having a color photo of the house in the newspaper before Christmas. Judging was on a Saturday night in December, including stopping at Friedman’s in Potosi (R.I.P.) for dinner along the way, with all the judges, jammed into a Chevy Suburban, getting home really, really late. Judging was a blast.

I’m old enough to remember when white marquee lights were a big innovation. (For that matter, I’m old enough to remember big, nonblinking bulbs that broke or otherwise failed to work if you looked at them funny.) Now, thanks to LEDs and computers, apparently you can buy Christmas lights that will do whatever you want them to, possibly including landing airplanes on your roof if you’re so inclined.

I bring this up to point out that (1) one of my favorite Christmas features is decorated houses, and (2) the readers of your favorite weekly newspaper would enjoy your sharing by emailing photos to Since we have more black-and-white pages than color pages, I suggest you consider photos that will look good in black and white too. If you have a really grandiose display and you have video of it, we may even put it on our website,

Ho-ho-no: Before you read this, let me point out that I enjoy listening to Super Hits 106 of Dubuque and Oldies 94.9 of Madison. But not for the next month while the two stations become All Christmas, All the Time. (And apparently I’m not alone, given that Super Hits 106’s Facebook page says “For those who are not a fan, we understand and look forward to your turning us back on December 26th.”

I’m not a fan in part because of national retail Christmas creep, which starts … when? After Labor Day now? I’m not a fan in part because the number of quality Christmas songs is far smaller than the number of recorded Christmas songs. When Andy Williams sang “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” well, no one else needed to do that song. When the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded “We Three Kings,” no one else needed to record that song either. There have been a lot of Christmas songs recorded by then-popular acts that never needed to be recorded.

(My Christmas music tastes were formed at an early age by the Christmas albums purchased by my parents from that well-known source of Christmas music, tire stores, for $1, which was probably all they could afford given the amount of food their son born in 1965 ate. One album includes the unusual choice of Barbra Streisand singing “Silent Night,” unusual only until you hear it.)

I have more tolerance for those who try do something original in Christmas music, such as The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping,” a non-Christian’s take on Christmas. And listening to Christmas music is preferable to listening to campaign ads. At least you can avoid Christmas music by changing your radio station.

Speaking of (potential) Christmas (gifts): I’ve written before that one of the most positive trends in Wisconsin business over the past decade or so is the growth of Wisconsin wineries (such as Bauer–Kearns in the Town of Belmont and Sinnipee Valley in Jamestown) and breweries (Potosi, natch).

One thing I learned in our story about Sinnipee Valley in SouthWest is a strange inconsistency in Wisconsin law. In addition to sales at the winery, wineries can sell at county fairs (and the Wisconsin State Fair, which has an entire building devoted to Wisconsin-made products), but not at farmers’ markets. That is not the case opposite of, well, Sinnipee; Iowa allows wineries to sell at farmers’ markets.

Farmers’ markets are supposed to be about locally grown food. That should include locally made wine. It’s not as if, on a Saturday morning, drunks are going to stumble their way up to a winery booth to get their latest wine fix.

Christmas gifts of a different sort: The Platteville area might be setting some kind of charitable record this weekend. The listing in The Week on page 1B shows, just on Saturday, the WGLR Holiday Auction, the Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk, the UW–Platteville Christmas Telethon to benefit Wisconsin Badger Camp, the Platteville United Methodist Church Holiday Bazaar to support church mission work, and the Platteville dog park photo fundraiser. Sunday includes the 40th Wilgus Hall Christmas party (story on which can be found on page 1), as well as a fundraiser in Dodgeville for the proposed regional Catholic high school.

These are not only good causes; these are local causes, which means your money goes farther and somewhere where you can actually see the impact. Keep that in mind this weekend.

The Hippocratic aldermanic oath: The Platteville Common Council is expected to decide the fate of the parking-space-rental plan introduced earlier this year in December.

I wrote earlier this year that the Common Council needed to stop making changes to city parking regulations until it could properly evaluate the changes the city has already made this year. The city parking survey might be one way to evaluate; there are others.

Rule number one the council needs to follow is from the Hippocratic Oath used by health care providers, paraphrased in the Latin phrase “Primum non nocere”: First, do no harm. In other words, don’t make things worse. (In fact, that should be rule number one for representatives on any elected body on any issue.)