I have to admit, I get as hyped up about the holidays as the next person, maybe even more so. This Christmas was a special one in my household with thirteen people around the dinner table and half a cow in my oven. I haven’t seen such a crowd in my house since one of my kids last New Year’s Eve party, so maybe eight years ago. It was a joyous time. My house is always decorated to the limit but this year it was appreciated by so many more. The tree was up by Thanksgiving and the rest of the lights and frills not far behind. When it all came down ten days ago, it left my house feeling empty, almost spartan. Oh well, only forty-five weeks until we start all over again.
I suppose I can wait ten months to start pulling out the ornaments. What I don’t want to wait for is the recycling of the Christmas spirit. Why is it saved for only a few weeks every year? Yes, the season can be exhausting. Planning, shopping and coordinating all the parties and celebrations. At the same time, there truly is a peace to the world. Adversaries in an adversarial world stop to smile and wish others a happy holiday and a joyous New Year. Hatchets are buried or at least forgotten for a while. Political foes become old friends. Distant relatives become temporarily closer and strangers become new friends. I personally watched a young man chasing carts in a Wegman’s parking lot stop and wish every customer a “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a Happy Kwanzaa. Not just to a few, to everyone.
What event occurred in this country that has made us so angry, so tribal all the time. Governing was, at its best, the art of compromise. I might not agree with your politics but I can still like you as a person. Stance was an entrance into debate, finding a common ground among varying positions, seeking in the end what’s best for my constituents, what’s best for the country. Now, each opinion, each proposal becomes a personal Berlin Wall where everyone on my side is my comrade and everyone over there is my enemy. Statements like all democrats/liberals are… or all republicans/conservatives are… has no place in political discourse. Not in the country I love.
Christmas is all about love., C’mon Gary, don’t get sappy on us. Really? Think about it. When you wish someone a Merry Christmas, don’t you really mean it? There are plenty of other things you could say, like hello, goodbye or excuse me, that don’t carry with them a wish for joy, a wish for happiness. That is what the “merry” part infers. We don’t ask people their political opinion first, whether or not they voted for this guy or that girl. It doesn’t matter. We wish them happiness just the same. What is it about the season that melts our crusty hearts, opens us up to receiving and giving good cheer?
It is the middle of January. Maybe some embers still burn in our Christmas spirit. What better time to carry the spirit forward? There are so many parts to the human existence. Maybe they are great parents, maybe charitable givers, outstanding in their field, great athletes, thoughtful wives and husbands, exceptional leaders. They want what they view as best for those they love. Why must we judge people simply by which lever they pull in a voting booth?
Think about it. If you were lying flat on your back with chest pains and shortness of breath and pain radiating down your arm and someone from the crowd drops to your side to perform CPR, are you going to stop them and ask, “Say, who did you vote for? I don’t want some damn liberal saving my life.” I didn’t think so.