Peace On Earth…And In Our Homes

This week’s Courier Herald column:

And just like that, it’s Christmas time again.  The 2021 calendar is on its last page.  A new year beckons in a couple of weeks. 

In the interim, we have a last mad scramble to navigate supply chain shortages to get presents under the tree and traditional holiday foods on the table.  I am personally still short a few pounds of cream cheese if the usual number of cheesecakes are to be made.

The years of contemplating the Sears’ Wish Book for months while Christmas seems to take longer and longer to arrive are long gone.  I looked around while driving out of my neighborhood a couple of nights ago and realized that many houses have gone full Griswold.

They’ve probably been that way for weeks.  I hadn’t noticed.  My mind has been on many other things.

Such is Christmas too often for us as adults.  Even in a pandemic, when too often it seems that time stopped a couple of years ago, Christmas seems like it arrives with us needing neck restraints. 

Running wide open then coming to a full stop all at once isn’t healthy.  It certainly doesn’t allow for full enjoyment of the season.

True, there is a lot going on.  A lot of it requires our full attention. 

In this corner of the world, usually dedicated to politics, the last few weeks have been a full year.  We have new congressional and legislative maps for the state.  Candidates for Congress and the state legislature have thus shifted their plans.

There are new primary challenges in both parties.  It appears that incumbent Democratic Congresswomen will be challenging each other for the newly drawn 7th Congressional District, while the main event for primary season will feature a former U.S. Senator and a few others challenging a sitting Governor.  As the kids say, 2022’s primary season is going to be lit.

For those who want to look even further ahead, there’s the 2024 Presidential contest – the only race that far too many people focus on.  Presidents don’t fix your potholes, people.

On the Democratic side, you have none other than the New York Times floating Op-Eds saying Biden shouldn’t run again, while The Hill floats the idea of nominating Hillary Clinton again.  Republicans, meanwhile, are hosting their own un-civil war over whether or not Donald Trump should be not only the Presidential nominee, but the one who decides who is a “real Republican” in down ballot races.

These are consequential contests with generational implications.  And yet, none of them will be settled in the next two weeks.

Take a break.  Listen to the music of the season.  Sing along if you like.  Don’t get whiplash trying to cut out the daily dramas while hastily attempting to don a Christmas frame of mind.

Over the next couple of weeks, you’ll likely gather with friends and family to celebrate the remaining holidays on this year’s calendar.  Be present. 

You’ll likely have a discussion or three about the political topics mentioned above or others.  Pace yourself.

If you choose to proceed with mixing politics into your holidays, remember first why you’re there.  Take a good look at the person across the table that you’re talking to and/or arguing with.

They may be young, foolish, and lack your experience and wisdom gained by participating in events they view as history.  They may be young, overly idealistic, and lack the understanding that virtuous intentions often lead to realities that are predictable when substance is sidelined to make way for beautiful platitudes.

You’re not attending a holiday gathering to win a debate.  You’re not going to bend the arc of history by ruining Christmas dinner. 

You’re there, at least in theory, because you love the people that you gather with, and are loved by them.  Show the respect to listen politely, if needed.  If you need to change the subject, pass around dessert (assuming you’ve solved the great cream cheese shortage) or a second helping of dinner.  More chewing is less arguing.

Peace on earth and goodwill toward men and women isn’t reserved for a nativity scene.  It should start around our own dining room tables. May you and yours enjoy the remaining weeks of your holiday season.


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