When the Waunakee school board adopted its new Holiday and Religious Observances Policy, we here at the Tribune failed to anticipate how it would affect us.

For more than a quarter century, this paper had published letters to Santa from school children, but this year, with the new policy in place, school officials were reluctant to have teachers use the “letters to Santa” prompt for these writing exercises.

And so, without these letters expressing kids’ wants for Christmas, a new prompt was used: “Wishes for the New Year.” For whatever reason, the prompt generated little interest. Anyway, that could be the subject for another column.

Still, with the New Year around the corner, I thought I’d jump in the game and talk about my own.

– Some solution to rising health care costs: Some thought the Affordable Care Act would help solve this issue and guarantee all that all had access to adequate health care. But apparently, it needs more work. Health insurance premiums continue to rise, and still not everyone can afford needed care. High deductibles and costs become obstacles to those seeking basic care.

Other developed nations ensure their citizens have access to health care, but the United States still has much work to do in this area. I know about as much about the reasons behind the high cost of insurance and health care as I do about rocket science, but I can still wish, right?

– An end to the mass shootings: It seems once a week we hear of another mass shooting at a school, mall, synagogue, movie theater or other public place. The obvious solutions include stricter gun control and greater access to mental health providers. Both would be welcome. While law enforcement should be commended for providing active shooter trainings, the preparation is a sad commentary on the state of our society.

– Cleaner lakes: Area farmers, Dane County conservationists and other groups have worked diligently on this. They’ve implemented many creative practices over the years to prevent phosphorus runoff from reaching the Madison chain of lakes. But still, the heavy rains of 2018 resulted in algae blooms and fish kills. The hope is with these practices and the “suck the muck” project at Dorn Creek, lake quality improves.

– A public library all will use: As work on the Waunakee Public Library continues, I envision a place all ages will want to be at not only to check out books and other materials, but to attend programs, workshops and just hang out. The library has some talented program directors and staff who find experts and authors to present. I’ve attended music programs, theatrical readings and talks, and all have impressed me. In its new location with a lovely public space nearby, my wish is it will be a draw for all.

– Continued participation in the community: More Waunakee residents are attending public meetings and community events, choosing to spend time in their own community. Recently, they welcomed Santa when he came to light the night at the roundabout. Events such as the Chalk Walk, WaunaFest, WaunaBoom, Wauktoberfest and many others provide residents the opportunity to see their friends and enjoy this unique community.

Of course, I have other, more selfish wishes – a staffed yacht to transport me to my own Caribbean island for snorkeling, perfect teeth and additional five inches to my height just to name a few.

Hopefully the previous five wishes are more realistic. Their fulfillment could certainly make this country and community a better place to live.

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