Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Can We Please Leave Christmas Alone?

I am compelled to write this article in the defense of Christmas. In the past several years, in one form or another, the Christmas holiday has come under attack. I haven’t figured out yet why this keeps happening, because I am quite sure I awake every morning in the land of the free. Let’s look at some examples.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside - although not actually written as a Christmas song, it was quickly adopted as such because if it’s Winter theme. The song was written in 1944 and is a duet sung between a man and a woman. Though both parties want the night to continue, the woman argues that she should go, she should say no and what would the neighbors think. All the while the man suggest she stay because the weather outside is less than desirable.

In 2018, seventy-four years after it was written, the song was removed from radio station playlists among pressure from the #MeToo movement which suggested among other things, that the lyrics contained suggestions of date rape. Thankfully, a victory was served to both the song and to Christmas when public pressure put the song back onto playlists.

Poor Rudolf - It’s bad enough that Rudolf was not allowed to play in any reindeer games at first, but now groups are offended about “Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” because Santa Claus and others early in the special are displayed as bullies. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a Christmas special and has been a beloved favorite for more than fifty years. When you watched it and determined that it was chock full of bullies, is that the moment that you turned it off and headed to the solitude of your social media account? Because if you watched the entire show, you would learn that Rudolf and some other bullied friends that he made along the way overcame bullies and guess what? Rudolf saves the day!

What’s In a Name? - Christmas has been around for a long, long time. The first recorded celebration of Christmas happened on 25 December 336 in Rome. Now, there are a number of countries that do not celebrate Christmas and there are a number of religions who celebrate some other traditional festival. Some examples include the Jewish who celebrate Hanukkah or Pagans who celebrate Yule. The United States is one of the many countries that celebrate Christmas and have done so since its birth as a nation. Prior to 1819, Christmas was celebrated in many different ways or not at all depending on which village or community you lived in. Much different from today, it was based mostly on religious values from the old world. But early in the 19th century, old Christmas traditions were combined with new American influences and Christmas was reinvented in the United States.

In the past several years, different groups have been having their way with requesting, and receiving radical changes to Christmas because it offends them or goes against their religion. From removing the nativity to changing the name of a town’s celebration and even demanding that the word Christmas be expunged. We have to remember that different peoples and religions have a different way of celebrating this time of year and that’s alright.

Let’s Be Real - If no one has said it yet, welcome to America. America is a melting pot, a country where people from all over the world immigrate to seeking religious, economic or personal freedoms and a host of other reasons. Here in America, we have such freedoms. Some of these freedoms we enjoy include Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Expression.

What this means is that you can immigrate here, become a citizen and practice your religion and traditions without any issues that you may have had to deal with from the country you ran from. And we are okay with that. If you celebrate Kwanzaa, fantastic! If you celebrate Solstice, Fantastic! Even if you celebrate Festivus, awesome! No matter what you celebrate, it is yours to celebrate as you wish.

Here is what is not okay. It is not okay to demand the people around you to change things about Christmas because it does not suit your religion or tradition. It is not okay to demand television shows or music to be canceled because you do not agree with the content. We have become this society where someone, somewhere decided that it is less trouble to just please everyone with these erratic requests. This is not true. It is much easier to leave traditions in place and tell the small group of upset people that they can make adjustments to suit their needs. For example, if you do not want to see Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer or hear “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” then you have the amazing freedoms afforded to you that allow you to change the channel. And I understand some of your frustration. I am offended by any radio station who starts playing a 24/7 stream of Christmas music as early as November 1. So what I do to combat this is change the station, or listen to a CD or even a collection of MP3 files of my choosing. I’m not going to protest and write letters demanding that these businesses re-write policy because there are people who appreciate what they are doing. If you are offended by the town’s Christmas Festival and you demand it be changed because your religion does not celebrate Christmas, then I’m sorry that you are offended, but the Christmas festival should go on as named.

America was here first, the country was founded with Christmas on the calendar. And for more than 240 years, people from different traditions, religions and walks of life have lived together and celebrated how they wanted, and Christmas was never affected. So it is not okay to demand that Christmas be changed or otherwise altered in any way to suit your traditions or beliefs. When I see you during the season, I will wish you a Merry Christmas. If it offends you, simply smile and keep walking by because there is no need to be offended. It takes much more effort to be angry and it gets you nowhere. Now, excuse me while I go deck the halls while singing Jingle Bells.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Being A Good Human Being

Hello Nation and all of the ships at sea! You know, this particular greeting was similar to the one that my father said many times addressing emails to the family. He would say “Boys & Girls and all the ships at sea”. I later learned that the great columnist Walter Winchell coined the actual phrase as "Good evening Mr. and Mrs. America from border to border and coast to coast and all the ships at sea. Let's go to press." He used it at the top of his radio broadcasts. So I will use my own take on it, should that be okay with you.

At the end of each episode of The Joel Michalec Show, I use a sign-off that goes somewhat such as this, “Be good to one another and if you’re out and about, pick up three pieces of trash”. Why I do that is to promote well being. Somewhere in the past twenty years, something has gone very wrong with our society. We’ve become more vain, more disrespectful and we’re making a mess of our planet. I am amazed, no, I am furious every time I notice that someone had the audacity to throw their fast food rubbish out of their vehicle into the street. Asking people to be kind to one another and pick up after themselves is no being a jackass, it is simply asking one to be human.

Imagine what a simple act of kindness could do. Holding a door open for someone entering as you exit seems like such a simple thing to do, yet think of what could happen if the next person passes it on and so forth. Think of the possibilities if we all acted kind to one another and not to mention how much less energy it takes to be kind. It takes a lot of energy to be angry. As for picking up after yourself, why would you not? I cannot imagine what your own home might look like based on your behavior out and about. I have seen parks and beaches just littered with garbage. This past summer, driving past a beach town rental home on a Saturday morning, on display was the evidence of a crazy night before. Strewn across the lawn were hundreds of the red SOLO brand cups and beer cans. All I could think of in that instant was the image of the American Indian from the TV commercials in the 1970s, standing in a field of trash with a tear running down his cheek.

So, as I say each week, be kind to one another and if you are out and about, pick up three pieces of trash. Remember, you can subscribe to the program at and a new episode drops every Sunday!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Joel Michalec Teaches Driving Laws: Stop Signs

What I find even more disturbing than the fact that I see dozens of people disobey stop signs on a daily basis, is that the first search result on Google when entering "stop sign law" is an article that discusses ways to FIGHT your way out of a ticket for failure to stop! I do not know what has happened in society that there is a great need to disobey traffic laws but I wish that I knew what everyone was in such a hurry for and is it worth the potential life-threatening dangers to get there?

What the law says:

Whenever a yield sign notifying drivers to yield the right-of-way has been erected, it shall be unlawful for a driver of any vehicle on the highway whose traffic is regulated by such a sign to fail to yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching on or from another highway or merging roadway or to a pedestrian legally crossing a roadway. If required for safety to stop, the stop shall be made at a marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection. Any such driver having so yielded to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another roadway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard or to a pedestrian legally crossing a roadway shall not enter into, upon or across such roadway or highway until such movement can be made in safety. (See citation 1)

What Joel says:

This is from the Delaware Code Title 21 but I am sure that every state has a very similarly written law regarding stop signs. If we break it down to its simplest form. the sign states in all caps, S-T-O-P and it cannot be more clear if it wanted to. Your failure to stop at the intersection first and foremost shows that you  have no regard for others around you. It makes no difference whether or not you can see that there is no one around, which in many cases that is what I see. People assume that no one is around and bolts right through the intersection. The sign says STOP. That is the law of the road. The law does not state that you can choose whether you will stop or not. The law is no t open to discussion and it contains no ambiguity. It says STOP. So STOP!