Does and Donts: Dark Days


pdDoes and Don’ts

By Paul J. Doe, Former Editor, Cumberland News

A Columnist for the Grapevine Newspaper

Turning the clock back has our columnist thinking about impending holidays.
The dark days are here and no I’m not talking about the results of yesterday’s elections. I’m talking about last weekend’s plunge into darkness when we fell back off daylight savings time.
Not coincidentally, it also coincides with our annual plunge into greed and begging.
I say “not coincidentally” because Halloween used to be the approved day of begging.
Costumed kids would traipse around the neighborhood collecting bags of treats in exchange for a plea of “trick or treat.”
Back in the day, we used to say “help the poor,” but apparently that is no longer politically correct.
Anyway, nowadays, Halloween just signals the beginning of the “help the poor” season. I’ve written about this before, but I’m going to do it again because it just bums me up.
It’s not yet Halloween (as I write this) but already our mailbox is stuffed with a combination of slick advertising circulars seeking our money to make someone’s life a little happier Christmas morning when they unwrap our gift or equally slick circulars seeking our money to fight (insert anyone of myriad good causes).
Come on.
It was bad enough that in our Buena Vista neighborhood Halloween was held in the middle of the afternoon the week before the actual event. (Kudos to former Vineland Mayor Bob Romano who, years ago, restored the event to its rightful night.)
But now the merchandisers and the charities have gotten in the act and almost completely eliminated the Thanksgiving holiday.
It used to be “Black Friday”—it’s only a matter of time before someone somewhere insists we refer to it as African American Friday, but now the darkness is upon us before we even have a chance to enjoy that extra hour of sleep.
I’m a veteran, a Catholic, a cancer patient, and a senior. I haven’t asked for or gotten any help from anyone.
We’ll make a small donation to Doctors Without Borders, but aside from that all of our giving will remain local, especially the Project Thanksgiving people (more about that in a later column).
If were a rich man ...
One of the local institutions I would donate to is the YMCA.
Early this year I was struggling to try and stay in some semblance of physical shape. My treatments were wearing me out and I’d ruined my knees with years of running so even walking wasn’t much of an option.
A knee replacement was suggested, but I’ve had enough stuff scraped or lasered out of me over the last two years to put me off any elective surgery.
Then someone at my doctor’s office told me about the Y’s Lifestrong program for cancer patients. It included, I was told, a three-month Y membership and enrollment in group classes for cancer patients.
Well, I’m not much of a group guy, but I made inquiries. The Y people couldn’t have been nicer. I got a couple of free visits to try out the pool and I took to it like the proverbial fish.
The new pool is spectacular and the whole place is spotless. I haven’t (and probably won’t) tried any of the other fitness equipment but the swimming has kind of reinvented me.
When you join, you get one of those plastic bar code fobs (like at the supermarket of pharmacy) that you use to access the locker rooms. You swipe it when you come in and they can keep track of how you are doing with your fitness.
The other day I stood there for several minutes trying to swipe in with my Shop-Rite fob.
The desk lady who pointed out my mistake did it in a way that made me laugh instead of feeling like a dope.
I get a good feeling when I go there and it doesn’t get much better than that.
Bad news this week on the food front. Bacon and hot dogs are not good for you.
Sadly, for me, those are the two items at the very top of my personal food pyramid.
Luckily, we went to the breakfast buffet the previous Sunday and I was able to consume a year’s supply of bacon.
Turns out my wife was right all along and I hate when that happens.
Paul Doe can be reached via e-mail at

SNJ Today is a Southern New Jersey news and information source based in Millville, New Jersey that is dedicated to providing current stories related specifically to South Jersey.