We’re coming upon the best time of year – the holiday season. This time of year, I think about all I have and what others don’t have. This inspires the toy drives, the food drives, the soup kitchens and all the Santa Clauses to ring their charming gold bells while they stand next to their symbolic shiny red can.

I’ll feel great once I donate my unwanted clothes; the “how long has this been here” canned food; my time at the soup kitchen; and the pocket change I put in the shiny red can.

Then Dec. 26 comes and symbolizes that the holiday season is over. The thought of giving somehow seems to escape my mind that day and the rest of the year. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s guilty of that. This doesn’t mean I don’t volunteer during the year, but I know I could do more to help. Why is it only during the holiday season that myself and others around the country are reminded to donate their time and material items? Are the homeless and the poor less deserving of all of our time and items the rest of the year? No, they are not.

My solution is to donate more of my time and material goods to agencies that help people less fortunate. I invite everyone else to join me in this endeavor. If the hope is to abolish poverty one day, why not start at home?

Cyndie Smith

Westbrook

Mainers challenged to be green, frugal and simple

We’ve got too much “stuff.” And this crazy, commercial season wants us to buy more.

We’ve got too many cars. Let’s initiate a zero car growth rate. We build or import one – we take one off the road. Easy. Because you and I know who pushes the new cars – it is the crowd that owns Ford, Chrysler and GM stock and owns Exxon, BP and all the giant oil corporations. Now the world wants to be like us. China is buying up any and all available coal mines – anywhere. The Beaufort Sea is now open to both oceans.

And China has a new embassy in Iceland joining all the other “players” – the United States, Canada, the Netherlands and Russia. They are all about to drill and ask questions later.

Have you noticed the midcoast weather lately? Windy and warm. We should be selling God’s gifts to us – sun, wind, tides – and forget the hucksters and yahoos who want to sell us their godless Christmas stuff and new cars and more pipes and gases and even rape our forests and fishing grounds. Hello, Mainers. Wake up and smell the salty air and help all of us to defend this land and sea by being green and frugal and simple.

Robert W. Horne

Boothbay Harbor

Parties should take part in, not own, political process

Voter rights are our most fundamental rights. Recognizing this, President Obama established the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. However, he gave the commission a narrow focus. Hence, it may turn out to be the Presidential Commission on the Preservation of the Parties.

Composed of five Democrats and five Republicans, there’s not a single independent on it. Why not? Independent voters are 40 percent of the American electorate and outnumber any party in Maine or America.

Recently, Ohio independents spoke before the commission as a single group and were given a total of three minutes to testify. These Americans came to speak on real election reform such as open public primaries.

With upward of 126 million Americans not voting in the 2012 presidential election, all ideas should be on the table. Washington could make this a national security issue (except there’s no campaign money in it), but our republic may fall because of it.

On a brighter note, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat, Republican Sen. Susan Collins and independent Sen. Angus King wrote fine letters to the commission. But Sen. King’s letter stands out as a “Profile in Courage” letter.

If President Kenedy had lived to deliver the speech he’d prepared for Texas Democrats, he would have said in part, “Neither the fanatics nor the faint-hearted are needed. And our duty as a Party is not to our Party alone, but to the nation, and, indeed, to all mankind. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and freedom.”

Had President Kennedy lived, I believe he would’ve realized that “the times they are a-changin’ ” and would’ve recognized that the parties should be valued participants in the process, not the owners. “We the people” should own our American election system, not “we the party.”

Joe Pickering Jr.

Bangor

End bear-baiting program, let nature decide numbers

The LePage administration and bear-baiting proponents would have us believe that the cessation of bear baiting would be a public safety catastrophe of epic proportions.

Nonsense. We would expect such falsehoods from the special interest groups that benefit from baiting bears. That government officials also make such false claims is shameful. The simple truth is that as bear baiting has increased, Maine’s bear population has increased.

Bear baiting is nothing more than a government endorsed feeding program that provides tons of human produced food to thousands of bears for the purpose of creating more and bigger bears for sport and trophy hunters. That the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife urges the public not to feed bears while at the same time it endorses this bear feeding program, is both hypocritical and poor governance.

It is ludicrous to call feeding tons of food to thousands of bears “management.” Pregnant bears go into hibernation with more fat reserves and consequently, produce more cubs than they might otherwise. Sows with cubs teach them to find and rely on human foods. Unintended consequences of this misguided program include the feeding of other animals such as coyotes and the possible spreading of disease.

Until now, the accepted paradigm has been that bear baiting is needed to provide for public safety. A paradigm shift is needed to reflect the reality that feeding bears increases the threat to people and property by producing more bears. The bear feeding program should be stopped to allow the population to drop to a more natural level.

Let’s end this bear feeding program and let bears be bears.

John M. Glowa Sr.

South China

Oscar’s restaurant review leaves some with bad taste

We are feeling greatly vexed (and perplexed) by John Golden’s recent review of Oscar’s in the Nov. 24 Maine Sunday Telegram (“Dine Out Maine: Oscar’s New American in Yarmouth”).

Rarely do we come to the defense of a restaurant. After all, culinary reviews are entirely subjective. In this instance, however, to assign a three-star review to a meal that he clearly enjoyed immensely from start to finish makes absolutely no sense to us. His only gripe? The lighting.

OK, so it may be a tad dark to some. (Personally, we found it warm and romantic on a chilly eve.) But shouldn’t a review be, first and foremost, about the food?

Bottom line for us, we are saddened that this three-star review might dissuade diners from experiencing the inventive, delicious comfort food at Oscar’s (not to mention the sublime craft cocktails). We look forward, with gusto, to many an outing on a cold, wintry eve to this bastion of great food and service. (Tip: Do try the truffle buttered popcorn with your beverage of choice to begin your meal – a premonition of the fantastic food to follow.)

One final suggestion: If Mr. Golden prefers a “brighter” experience, why, then, did he not request that the management turn up the lights a bit? Most restaurants are happy to oblige. Further, if he truly wants “bright,” why not dine at a local Denny’s, IHOP or Friendly’s?

Susan Tremblay and Donald Miller

Falmouth