Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Truce



My latest newspaper column, as published and slightly rearranged and annoted by the editor:

Today, on the cusp of Christmas, I can't find it in my bleeding heart to produce a typical rant, despite the need. After all, as I understood it in the mondegreen fields of my early youth, all I need to do to be jolly is to tis the season. So, tis I will.
Fa la la: when someone wishes me Happy Holidays, whether a store employee or otherwise, I take no offense. Same with Merry Christmas. I served in a war; I know something about what war looks like, and, folks, there ain't no war on Christmas. It's business as business: they get to decide their greetings, you get to decide yours. Let's all be happy about that.
Speaking of happy, for the last year and a half my wife and I have been enjoying a new kid on a block in Portland, our grandson, who, blessed with two fabulous parents and a passel of doting grandfolk, aunts and uncles, happens to be (no offense, but I remain committed to the truth) the cutest little guy there ever was. Since he became bipedal, he's a nonstop doer of very important stuff, all over the house. And, as I'd been hoping, he's becoming pals with the family dog, a predictably loveable chocolate Lab. Nothing makes me happier than our more or less monthly trips down I-5 to watch that family happen. A nephew is there, too, and they make for a tight group of good people. Not a hater or excluder among them. Happy, they are, to live their lives and let others live theirs. Notwithstanding the frightening popularity of Trump/Cruz style proto-totalitarian mongering of fear, hate, resentment and war, it gives me a little hope. And I'm happy to have been grandfathered into the era of video chatting, when we're not there.
Unhappily, that big storm blew the top half of our venerable cedar tree onto our house, punching several branches through the roof and into the living space, turning a glass door into shards as it blasted into the room, along with the frame within which it formerly stood. Launched it, really: it flew several feet before ending up where it did, me sitting one room away. Happily, our insurance company found a crew to remove the tree in a hurry, allowing me to board up the hole where the door used to be. Unlike Sarah Palin, I appreciate people with expertise in their jobs. (I don't include my hole-covering skills in that observation, although the guy at the lumber place who cut the plywood to my erroneous specifications was pretty cool, busy as he was the day after.)
We found it possible to live without power, TV, phone and Internet for three days. (Well, not entirely: I hit Starbucks a few times for coffee and Wi-Fi.) Going to bed when it gets dark has an upside, turns out. And it appears that with some science-based trimming the tree might survive. Pretty it might not be for a decade or two, but alive; which is a good thing because I think its roots encourage our bluff to stay where it belongs.
Our neighbors were concerned enough to check on us when it all went down. Having good neighbors makes for good feelings. One of them, an Everett cop, has enough goodness in him single-handedly to counter at least a dozen of the stories we've heard of bad police behavior around the country. It's a job I wouldn't want; I'm grateful there are those that do.
Now that we've had time to observe, let's recognize that same-sex weddings don't threaten our own marriages; let's recall our immigrant roots, and the ways people of all faiths, and of none, have made this country great, even teachers and scientists. And, living through the dark days of Northwest winters, let's rejoice in the knowledge that solar panels haven't sucked all the energy out of the sun! (The Independent: tinyurl.com/redstatescience)
So, Merry Christmas and well-seasoned greetings to all. May we manage, through our faiths or in spite of some versions of them, or simply by the empathy-derived golden rule, to let go of hate and fear of “the other,” if only until the new year.

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