Message from the Publisher


Despite the holiday cheer that December is supposed to bring upon us, it can be a difficult time for many people. Seasonal depression, loss of a loved one or job, everyday stress, sickness; all can contribute to a rather dismal Christmas season. Now I didn’t mean to start my message on a sour note, but to bring awareness to the fact that not everyone is living in a “Hallmark” Christmas.

Speaking of Hallmark, I’ve been convalescing after having knee replacement surgery which forced me to elevate and ice my knee several times a day, especially after physical therapy. Although picking up and reading a book would be better time spent, I resort to television and watching Hallmark movies. There are two channels and I end up switching back and forth to catch both shows. If you’ve never watched Hallmark movies during the holidays you’re missing out on an opportunity to live in fantasy land, but also to possibly make you feel good about Christmas and what it means to you.
Every movie basically has the same plot. Small town girl meets big city boy or vice versa; they at first don’t like each other, then they are forced to work together, then they fall for each other, then something happens where they distrust each other, and just before they go back to their separate lives, they find true love under the mistletoe and kiss. You can bet on a tree lighting ceremony, carolers, baking of cookies and a happily ever after ending. The movies are so predictable but at the same time addicting! The sugarcoated story lines are enough to have one’s blood sugar rise, but its fun to fantasize and dream but also think about what Christmas is truly all about. Plus, some of the eye candy in forms of male actors isn’t bad either.

But circling back to my opening comments, not everyone is living in a Hallmark world. This past month I received a letter from an inmate at the Pontiac Department of Corrections. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. With so many scams going around you become overly cautious; but it was rather heartfelt and I wanted my readers to hear what he wrote.
Apparently, Robert (his real name) is in jail for another three years. He did not mention why he’s in jail, only that he has no family, receives no mail, and was looking for a pen pal. He somehow found my paper and enjoys reading it, especially my publisher’s message. He asked for help in placing a “Help Wanted-Part Time” ad asking for someone to be his good friend by corresponding with him on a regular basis. His ad was partial in asking for a “dependable, mature woman” to qualify for a friendship, “no experience necessary”, but I think if I were in his situation, having anyone write to me would be a blessing.

I’m a trusting person and after thinking about it, I did write back to him. He mentioned in his letter that I could ask him any questions, so I asked the obvious. “Why are you in prison?” “Where is your family?” “How did you come about reading my paper?” And I also asked him about some other things he mentioned in his letter saying he was a, “published author, clothing designer, music artist and movie writer”. If in fact he was all those things, why would he be in jail? What could possibly have swayed him to crime? Obviously, everyone makes mistakes and if proven guilty should pay for their crimes, so I’m not judging, just curious. I’m actually anxiously awaiting his reply, if he does at all.

This also leads me to think about all the other lonely prisoners, soldiers, veterans, elderly that go through the Christmas season or even every day not having any contact with people. We are so wrapped up in our own families and lives that we can sometimes forget about others who could benefit from just a note of encouragement or friendly hello. I bet we even have some neighbors who live right on our block that could use a little happiness in their lives right now.

Below is a listing of some great organizations that will help you connect with people who could use stories from home, forgiveness, or just a “thinking of you” note. These organizations help soldiers, veterans, seniors and prisoners. Check one or more out.

Soldiers and Veterans


Seniors and Elderly

Inmates have been turning to since its inception in 2000 to find a pen-pal, legal aid, educational opportunities, employment upon release, counseling, housing options, and so much more. They post profiles, photos, and contact information of inmates and you can choose who you want to correspond with. The website claims research shared on their Why WriteAPrisoner page and the Federal Bureau of Prisons shows that both male and female prison pen-pals who establish and maintain positive contacts outside of prison walls, pursue educational opportunities, and seek normalization through friendship, etc. are less likely to re-offend.

And then there is Robert. I’ll admit, writing to a prisoner wasn’t exactly on my “to do” list, but again, his letter seemed sincere enough to warrant a reply. Will I hear back from him? Time will tell. I’m still contemplating whether or not to place his “ad”, but I am printing his name and address for my readers. Wouldn’t it be nice if he received a few cards and letters before Christmas with a friendly hello? Who knows; maybe a lasting friendship is in someone’s future. Send cards and letters to Robert Lucas M15372, P.O. Box 99, Pontiac, IL 61764
For as the bible tells us; …For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers you did it to me.’…

Here’s wishing everyone a joyous and happy holiday season no matter what or how you celebrate. May you all experience even a small part of a “Hallmark Christmas” and have all your dreams and wishes come true.


Barbara J. Piltaver, Publisher
People & Places Newspaper