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How did your life collide with the headlines in 2007?
Iraq, the subprime crisis, Facebook, immigration, oil prices - 2007 had no shortage of hefty headlines. We'd like to hear about how these and other major news events of the past year affected you. Where did your life collide with the news in 2007?

What's your holiday performance story?
The office talent show, the neighborhood caroling posse, the school pageant ... At holiday time we often sing, dance, and dress as shepherds. Did you bloom in the warmth of your audience's adulation, or freeze up like the snowman you'd rather be building? Did your holiday performance change your life or that of someone close to you?

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Renewable Christmas Trees December 15, 2007E-mail this story E-mail this story
listenListen (real)   
This week we open the Weekend America mailbox, and we hear your thoughts on chopping down Christmas trees, how "Puff the Magic Dragon" could end happily and how horse theft is a real problem in the U.S.

Letters from Listeners
Please stop perpetuating the myth that if you have a REAL Christmas tree you are somehow decimating forests. We grow Christmas trees. It is a crop, just as the wheat grown here in the Palouse country is a crop. We cut a tree. We plant a tree!! Every Christmas tree grower we know does the same.

Also, real trees are NOT a fire hazard unless you are stupid enough to put it too close to a source of heat or if you don't keep it watered.

Mary Storms
Garfield, Wash.

You said one year you went to chop down a Christmas tree, but when the axe hit the tree, it felt like it was holding on for dear life.

I think that is outrageous. Trees are plants. They have no emotions. Now, I am in no way an environmentalist, but I would also like to point out that trees are a renewable resource. If we ever run out of trees, so help me, I'll eat my hat.

I hope I've convinced you to get a real tree.

Andy Walls
Age 12

This was a great story to listen to. My dad was a captain on the USSN Minevet till the end of the war and had wanted to sign up after the war to clean up mines in the western Pacific. My Mom convinced him to come home and start a family. The Minevet steamed off to sweep mines and was sunk when it hit a mine. Many on board were killed. The Minevet was seen as the last ship sunk in WW II.

Paul Lagreze
Colrain, Mass.

Thanks for the story on Puff. It's good to know I'm not alone. I HATE that song and I hate that little Jackie Paper. I'm a full-grown adult, and to this day, go into near panic trying to turn it off when I hear it. In fact I was trying to get to the radio to turn off your program until I realized your perspective. Although some people consider it a silly little childhood song, it became popular during a time of loss in my life and its message that you can't recover from loss was scary for me (as you know it was VERY popular -- it seemed like it was on everywhere we went). Had I known that Puff was OK and that the song gave a message of hope that time might have been a little less difficult. Thanks a lot for giving those of us with Puff baggage a new perspective.

Meg Hatlen Gag
Moscow, Idaho

Listening to your bitterness at the depressing ending of "Puff the Magic Dragon" befuddled me. In my recollection, "Puff" always ended with more than a glimmer of hope. I then remembered that the girls at my summer camp had written an additional verse to end the song on a happy note, and we always sang the song with that last verse. The verse goes like this:

"Then one shining morning, as Puff walked down the strand, Looking down, to his surprise, saw footprints in the sand. A voice said, 'Mr. Dragon, don't you look so sad, My name is Jenny Paper; I was sent here by my dad!'"

I hope that this helps you teach this treasured song to your own daughter.

Ariel Neaderthal
Santa Monica, Calif.

I heard your commentary today about Puff the Magic Dragon and can empathize completely. My son Benjamin, now 10, was traumatized by the song when he first heard it. He was so upset that my wife wrote the following new final verse to the song to give it the ending for which we have all longed.

"Jackie grew up and got married and had a little girl. She could always make him smile; she loved to dance and twirl. Jackie left his toys behind, but he did not forget his friend. He introduced his girl to Puff and Puff was happy again."

I hope this helps you (and your daughter).

By the way, I am concerned about Leonard Lipton. Thinking that we should prepare our young children for our own future demise by subjecting them to depressing songs seems a bit disturbed to me.

Marc Zev
Chatsworth, Calif.

I caught a little of your show on Sunday and heard a bit about a social-club-only vigilante horse thief-catching organization. This particular club has been inactive for decades and was quite a silly group, it seems. Funny story. I am very glad they have no real stolen horse problem in that town.

Unfortunately, while it seems that horse thievery may be anachronistic, it is alive and well.

Ten years ago, Stolen Horse International, Inc. was founded by the owner of stolen horse "Idaho." ( http://www.netposse.com/ ) They have used the net to help find and return many horses to their owners. Many horses have never been found, possibly sold to slaughter houses or just to unsuspecting people.

I have been fortunate and have not had a horse or tack (saddles, etc) stolen. I'm sure the people at netposse.com could fill you in on many details you may be interested in.

I know your show is mostly urban and humor related. A serious bit on real, current horse thieves may not fit your program. However, if you do mention the most unpleasant reality of stolen horses, please understand that this is a very serious and heart-wrenching experience.

Cindy Balogh
Seattle, Wash.