Sunday, April 22, 2018
News Roundup

Ernest Hooper: This Christmas, keep believing better days lie ahead

I confess. I violated the unwritten rules of Christmas etiquette and started listening to holiday songs well before Thanksgiving this year.

Not a day has gone by since without reveling over Pentatonixís version of Mary, Did You Know, singing Donny Hathawayís This Christmas (off-key) or dancing to *NSYNCís Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. I guess I just needed a little extra Christmas this year, a little more hope and joy.

I have five versions of Sleigh Ride on my playlist. As a Florida native, it would seem that I should reject all the lyrical salutes to snow-covered scenery and wintry wonderlands.

In my mind, however, such chilly odes remind of the warmth we should carry in our hearts during the holidays. The Jackson 5 was right: we should Give Love on Christmas Day.

In Patti LaBelleís If Every Day Could Be Like Christmas and Celine Dionís Donít Save It All For Christmas Day, weíre asked to carry that spirit throughout the year.

And itís those kinds of songs that have resonated in new ways in 2017, a year fraught with division, mayhem and hate here at home and around the world.

Itís remarkable that it was 1967 when Stevie Wonder first sang, "Someday at Christmas men wonít be boys, playing with bombs like kids play with toys." I get the feeling Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump donít have that one on their playlists.

John Lennonís Happy Xmas (War Is Over), Greg Lakeís I Believe in Father Christmas and Darius Ruckerís What God Wants for Christmas speak to the idealistic dream of peace on Earth and goodwill to all men.

These songs contradict the persistent theme of happiness that commercialism fuels. Theyíre not designed to depress. Theyíre designed to challenge. And even though the challenge seems insurmountable, we canít bring about change by shrinking from the colder realities of our lives.

The cynics, sensing we may never achieve such a utopian state, pan such tunes as holiday hokum. They miss the point.

This isnít just the season of joy, itís the season of hope. The holidays represent a time to renew our optimism, even in the face of sinister acts and horrific suffering.

A wise man recently told me joy is not a state of perfect happiness, itís about having enough faith in your heart to keep believing better days lie ahead.

Peace on Earth may not be an attainable accomplishment, but it remains an admirable aspiration. To paraphrase Amy Grant, itís at the top of my Grown-Up Christmas List.

Thatís all Iím saying.

     
Comments
4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —†Four people were killed in a shooting at a Waffle House restaurant in Tennessee early Sunday, according to police, who credited a bystander with saving many lives by wresting a weapon away from the gunman. The Metropolitan N...
Updated: 1 hour ago
District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

Class 9A-8 (higher seed hosts)Tuesday: No. 3 Alonso at No. 2 Palm Harbor University, 4; No. 4 Sarasota Riverview at No. 1 Newsome, 7Thursday: Final, 4 or 7 (depending on who hosts)Class 8A-4 at Strawberry Crest Tuesday: No. 1 Wharton vs. No. 4 Wiregr...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Teen killed in crash remembered as

Teen killed in crash remembered as "always smiling and laughing"

WEEKI WACHEE ó Seth Leathers was on his way to play basketball at his church when he was killed Wednesday in a car crash on U.S. 19 in Spring Hill, according to family friend Laurie Pike.Leathers, 16, was the passenger in a car driven by his friend G...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Members of the Rays organization sent their thoughts and prayers to former teammate Danny Farquhar, who was hospitalized Saturday night in Chicago in stable but critical condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm.Farqu...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Baseball: Bulls edge Knights to even series

Baseball: Bulls edge Knights to even series

After a two-hour weather delay Saturday evening at USF, the remote local threat of lightning finally dissipated.The postseason intensity never did.For the second consecutive night, the UCF-USF baseball series delivered, this time with the Bulls (25-1...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe a path for wildlife across Interstate 4

Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe a path for wildlife across Interstate 4

The original Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition in 2012 was inspired by the how the Florida black bear roamed ó and the space it needed to do so successfully. In 2010, expedition team member Joe Guthrie conducted research through the University of ...
Published: 04/22/18
Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bayís clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bayís clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

TAMPA — Closers.That's what the Lightning looked like as it closed out the New Jersey Devils in five games with a 3-1 win Saturday.Nikita Kucherov's star power blazed again, the defense controlled the game and not even Jersey goaltend...
Updated: 0 minutes ago
Athleticsí Sean Manaea no-hits Red Sox

Athleticsí Sean Manaea no-hits Red Sox

OAKLAND, Calif. – Sean Manaea watched as Marcus Semien fired a ball from short to second baseman Jed Lowrie, turned around, and jumped into the arms of catcher Jonathan Lucroy. History was made at the Coliseum.Manaea no-hit the Red Sox on ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

BOSTON — Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk scored 1:19 apart in the second period, and then the Maple Leafs killed off a 5-on-3 and three more power plays in a row to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 5 on Saturday night and avoid playoff eliminatio...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Marc Topkinís takeaways from Raysí 10-1 Saturday win over Twins

Marc Topkinís takeaways from Raysí 10-1 Saturday win over Twins

* Is it time to take the leap and believe this is the real Blake Snell? He talked a good game this spring and pitched well in his debut, but that rough second outing raised old doubts. But a good outing in Chicago and two dominant ones on the homesta...
Updated: 12 hours ago