One Saturday while shopping for Christmas bows for our house, we found a section for bows, a section for lights, and aisles and aisles of "holiday" decorations at a major retail store. Now, don't get me wrong. This isn't your yearly complaint about politically correct terms. No, this is a complaint about missing items.

After walking around through the maze of decorations, my wife and I realized that there were no mangers or baby Jesus figurines for sale - not one thing that represented the birth of Christ or the miracle of that day. But you can bet I found every collectible Christmas tree decoration that was made. Oh, wait, I'm wrong - "holiday" tree decoration!

Where are we going as Christians? Every year the media and retail giants dictate what we will buy. And every year somebody takes away a little of our beliefs and faith.

We lose more and more each year. The Christian community in this country just sits back and takes it. Our beliefs and our very right to believe in God are slowly being taken away from us, year by year, inch by inch. Our country was founded under the belief "In God we trust." I trust that God is frowning upon us right now!

Bill Hienkel

North Cape May, N.J.

Give us a break

I can't figure if it was men who don't want to stop to ask directions - or don't want maps or other help when driving - or sadistic people who want to see others squirm while trying to find a bathroom who decided to close the I-295 rest stop in Deepwater ("A welcome withdrawn in S. Jersey," Dec. 11).

Sadists are my bet. I spend my life on this road, and now I will have no place to hit the head. They took away the rest stop at the 50-mile marker and now this one. I travel from Collingswood to Lawrenceville every day for work, and regularly down the southern part of I-295 to go to our second home outside Ocean City, Md. I guess I had better stop drinking - water, tea, soda - while driving on this road.

One question: Can the New Jersey Department of Transportation put directions on the exits so I know how to get back onto I-295 when I have to get off and visit a fast-food joint to take a potty break?

New Jersey gives new meaning to the saying, "Don't drink and drive."

Barb Harbison


Thanks to a legend

Longtime Philadelphians have another reason to be proud. Bobby Rydell, a South Philadelphia teen idol of the early 1960s, has been scoring big in our area and elsewhere with sellout crowds and standing ovations for his immortal masterpieces "Forget Him," "Volare," "Sway" and others, along with a greatly stylized tribute to another never-to-be-forgotten favorite, Bobby Darin.

Seeing him perform in Glenside to a packed crowd inspired dreams of a real-life Rocky-style comeback. Thanks, Bobby Rydell, for the joy you have brought to millions with your great sound and award-winning personality, which has graced our city for decades.

Gerald Fishman


A mission to mentor

As a member of the executive board of the alumnae association of the Philadelphia High School for Girls, I read with interest Sally Friedman's Dec. 13 commentary, "Teen girls still lack self-esteem." In it she reported that a recent study concluded that adolescent girls desperately need mentors and models.

Girls' High, a public college-preparatory high school, has long recognized this as part of its mission. On April 11, the school will hold its 20th annual Career Day, providing an opportunity for small groups of students to meet with women in many professions.

Girls' High is proud of its tradition of educating tomorrow's leaders, and within its walls many alumnae acquired the confidence to blaze the way for others.

Suzanne Fluhr

Bala Cynwyd