How to make Christmas, and mayor's race, memorable

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

Happy New Year — 2019! Can you believe it? I don't know about the rest of you, but 2018 flew by for me. I'm proud of some of the things I managed to accomplish last year. My goal for this year is to accomplish even more.

Whether I meant to or not, I have started a new tradition for Christmas. When my children were growing up, every year we would go to the Wisconsin fair. While at the fair, I would buy them a Christmas ornament, which would be engraved with their name and the year. The ornament always reflected something that was occurring for them. When my son was 5 and had just gotten involved in Little League baseball, he got a bat-and-ball ornament. Ten years later, as he began to drive, he got a driver's license ornament. Those little things makes decorating the tree a memorable event.

This year, as I searched for a Christmas present for my daughter, I ended up buying her a cookie jar. She's a Chicago police officer, so the cookie jar is in the shape of a fat cop. Of course, if you going to have a cookie jar, you need a cookie cutter so you can bake cookies that are most appropriate to go inside. I found a guy selling a cookie cutter in the shape of a police officer's hat. So I bought it. He also had one in the shape of Africa. I bought that for me. Since my granddaughter is into being a princess, I got her a set of Princess cookie cutters that includes a shoe, a crown, and a castle. As everyone opened their gifts on Christmas Day, it dawned on me that I could start a new tradition. So from now on, each of my grandkids will get a special cookie cutter in the shape of what is going on in their lives. They will be an inexpensive, yet memorable addition as they bake cookies in the future and recall how their grandmother gave them those cutters.

I'm going to try out my cookie cutter in the shape of Africa during Black History Month. I do like to bake, but having the time to do it always presents a problem. I'm going to slow down a bit and try to do all of the things I like to do (or claim I want to do).

What does your family do as a tradition for the holidays? I think I'm also going to demand that everybody dress up in Christmas gear on Christmas Day. From the ugly Xmas sweater to any kind of clothing with a Christmas theme, it's a good way to help make the day memorable. Even more, we need to take pictures. This year nobody took any pictures at Christmas. And we all have cellphones, which makes it so easy. Without those memories, Christmas 2018 becomes a blur.

Now that Christmas over, the race to become the new mayor for the city of Chicago will be plowing ahead at full speed. Because of the number of black candidates trying to become mayor, the black vote is going to be split in a variety of directions. White candidates know they will need the black vote. Because the mayoral race is nonpartisan, those candidates can't go around declaring themselves Democrats because party affiliation won't matter. So how do white candidates get the black vote? Why they will use the tried-and-tested method that the soon-to-be former mayor used. The Obama Magic!

For some black people, it is the calling card that will send them to the polls en masse. They will forget insults. They will forget indignation. If Obama says a certain candidate is worthy of the vote, a segment of black folks exists who will blindly follow his lead. That is the very reason the current mayor got a second term in office. And if a candidate can't be assured of getting Obama in person to endorse him, then the candidate does the next best thing: The candidate plays the "rename" game.

We had a classic example of it when Bill Daley, brother of Richard M. and son of Richard J., and an official candidate on the ballot for mayor, tossed about the idea of renaming the Dan Ryan Expressway in honor of President Barack Obama — the Obama Express. As if on cue, some black folks went into an agreement tizzy. The various forms of "Who was Dan Ryan anyway?" and "Hell yeah we need to do it!" quickly filled posts on social media. The Obama Magic was working and I can imagine that Bill Daley was pleased with himself for getting his suggestion on the radar.

Me? I didn't like that idea. I think if a Daley wants to be fair in renaming something after Obama, here's a better suggestion: Something in downtown Chicago. A place where fairness and the law (and also the place everybody has to go to when they're running for city office) takes place. It takes up an entire city block where not only citizens can utilize it, but tourists as well. If you haven't guessed by now, it's the Daley Center. Doesn't the term Obama Plaza and the Obama Center have a wonderful ring to it? And as an extra kicker, let's change Maggie Daley Park to Michelle Obama Park. Yay!

Now I know the Daleys won't appreciate or endorse the idea. So let's get support from the other candidates for mayor. When they're at a forum, ask them point-blank, "Would you support renaming the Daley Center the Obama Center?" I guarantee you the majority will sputter before they answer. That would be well worth the joy of seeing them squirm on the hot seat — because the Daley name still holds a lot of sway.

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