This time of year we feel there is always much for which to be thankful.  We quite enjoy the holiday season with it opportunities to get together with family and friends over delicious feasts, none of which we had to prepare ourselves. We enjoy the opening of presents made all the more special this year with the addition of the Widge to the family. And we delight in receiving holiday greetings from friends with whom, unfortunately, we seem to be in touch only during the holiday season. Thus it is during this season that we always look forward to the mail with great anticipation.

And this year, more then ever before, we also enjoyed the number of packages that arrived on a seemingly daily basis, due in great part to the fact that our Christmas visitors from Ohio shopped online, shipping everything directly to 105 Pioneer Street.

But unfortunately, our great delight in sorting through the mail, not to mention the packages, invariably seems to be dimmed by some errant piece of mail that we quite frankly would have preferred not to receive. And this year, that piece of mail came from the Social Security Administration.

Granted, the missive did not contain any pertinent information that we did not already know. But did we really have to read about it the week before Christmas? And did anyone think we would really buy the fact that: “Your Social Security benefits are protected against inflation. By law, they increase when there is a rise in the cost of living. The government measures changes in the cost of living through the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI has not risen since the last cost-of-living adjustment was determined in 2008. As a result, your benefits will not increase in 2011.”

Now there are many things that we could have said, and if the truth be told, did say, when we read this. And we have been told in the past that food and energy are not included in the CPI. Of course, the price of refrigerators, which we find ourselves not purchasing on a regular basis, having not bought one since 1982, is included. Unfortunately, with the exception of asking what planet those in charge of determining the CPI are actually on, none of what we said when we read this SSA missive was appropriate to include in this column.

We did, however, try to find something we might say in the column regarding this issue. We went so far as to review an e-mail, which we have received several times, entitled “When Insults Had Class” in hopes of finding something appropriate to say.

It should be noted that this particular e-mail claims that “These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words.” And we must say that we quite like the exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor in which she said, “If you were my husband I’d give you poison,” and he said, “If you were my wife, I’d drink it.” However, we don’t seem to be able to make it work regarding social security benefits.

Nor do we think we can use “I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure,” from Clarence Darrow or “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it,” by Mark Twain. Likewise, Moses Hadas’ quote, “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it,” doesn’t seem to fit our situation.

And much as we like Oscar Wilde’s “He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends,” we feel it works no better than does the interchange between George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill which was reported as follows:

“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend.... if you have one.” - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill “Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second.... if there is one.” - Winston Churchill, in response.

We had high hopes that we might be able to use Walter Kerr’s “He had delusions of adequacy.” But since it is something we tend to use on a somewhat regular basis, it too does not seem to deliver quite the punch we were hoping for.

Nor were we able to figure out how to use Stephen Bishop’s “I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.” Of course we have managed to use that one for select Valentine’s Day cards.

And we did give serious consideration to both Oscar Wilde’s “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” and Groucho Marx’s “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.” Both of these, with a bit of work, might possibly relay our thinking. However, the truth be told, we suspect what we really want to use are some of those aforementioned “4-letter words.”

But since that is not within the realm of possibility, we have decided to take the high road and say nothing. We know that such a decision will be difficult for some to believe.

However, we hasten to point out that we really do not have the time to expend describing our feelings about this issue as we are far to busy trying to figure out how to pay our monthly health insurance premium, which has gone up 48 percent since 2008, with our monthly social security benefit, which has gone up 5.89 percent since 2008. All we can say is that it is indeed a good thing that we don’t have to cope with inflation too.

PLEA SE NOTE : Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326, by telephone at 607-547-8124 or by e-mail at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com.

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