OPINION: It is true that just occasionally the newspaper can look like a penal colony publication, court news from around the country, wrong-doing and arrests, charges, convictions, appeals, probation, prison, paroles - the whole nine yards, writes Pat Veltkamp Smith in And Another Thing.
But most days it is a journal of record worth the keeping like last week, days of election results and lists of census findings which answer questions as yet unasked.
Like: Are there more people in Otautau or Outram, Tuatapere or Temuka?
But for me the story of the week which has stayed with me still, was the suggestion by the Salvation Army in the south, that we adopt another family for Christmas, a family in need which they can identify for us and link us with, anonymously.
Now some of this we may have heard before, like a brother overseas sending you a Christmas advisory that he has spent $100 buying a part goat in your name for someone poor in Tanzania.
Nice, you think - nice. But this latest idea is so much nicer.
For one thing, you don't short change your only sister sending half a goat to someone she doesn't even know.
No. You make your own sacrifices yourself, small though they may be.
You decide and prioritise and no one need know.
Quietly cut a corner here and trim another there and free yourself from the guilt Christmas indulgence can bring.
Because now we know that there are families living right here in Southland who haven't much for Christmas, not much in the offing as it were.
There are young mothers battling to layby a heap of plasticky junk for their kids and when Christmas comes they miss the last payment and can lose the lot.
Instead of passing on our used junk, do that throughout the year but spend and get something new for Christmas.
Let others see the magic that is in it.
And instead of matching up families and burdening some with gratitude, keep it all anonymous.
That is the beauty of the Salvationist scheme.
They will accept our donation and put it where they know the need is.
Christmas should be joyful for everyone.
The trick is to do it so that those you care for don't know.
Don't burden them with your half goat for Tanzania . . .
- © Fairfax NZ News