Astute Observations

That’s the spirit!

It’s the holiday season. The most wonderful time of the year! Thanksgiving, Christmas (lapsed Catholic), and New Year’s Eve, the trifecta of goodwill, if you will. It’s the time of year when family, friends, and loved ones gather together to celebrate the simple pleasures of togetherness and hopefulness. Peace on earth, charity, and goodwill toward men; turkey and stuffing, chestnuts roasting on an open fire; folks dressed up like Eskimos; The Herb Alpert and Tijuana Brass’ Christmas Album — these are a few of my favorite things.
     For me, it’s the time of year when I connect with those closest to me, remember those that have passed on, and celebrate the near and dear ones. It’s a busy time of Ornaments gigs and parties and rushing here and there. It is also a time of reflection and resolution. To put it succinctly, it is a time of gratitude. It is also a time of belt loosening.
     But this year, there has been a Grinch trying to wrap its tiny, grubby little fingers around my hopeful, holiday heart. An orange-faced, windsock- for-a-haircut, jaw-jacking, loudmouthed, ill-mannered, sexually harassing, ignorant, bullying, insecure 70-year-old man-child Grinch.
     Now wait just a minute, Hags. Politics? Really? Yes. Absolutely. Shockingly, the astute observer has an opinion on the topic.
     Normally I treat this column like a party. Politics and religion are off the table, but what else is there to write about this November?
     For the record, I am registered as independent because, like Groucho Marx and Woody Allen, I would never join a club that would have me for a member. Thank you. I’m here all week. Try the sturgeon.
     If you read the paper, watch the news, and especially if you use social media, you, like me, realize that our country is in a panic. By the time you read this, we will have narrowly escaped disaster or fallen into the abyss, depending on where you’re coming from. For many, no matter the outcome, it will seem as though the very fabric of our republic is at stake. Or is it?
     In my short lifetime, there have been many panicked, abyss-peering moments that we have stared down and come through as a people: the Cold War, Vietnam, Nixon, Watergate, Weather Underground, punk rock, Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iran hostage crisis, Jimmy Carter, gas crisis, Ronald Reagan, fern bars, Bill Clinton, W, terrorist attacks, Wall Street, and let’s not forget Milli Vanilli or acid-washed jeans. The list goes on and on. For me, this list conjures childhood memories, screaming headlines, dinner table discussions, arguments, and the TV news reporting impending doom nightly at 6 and 11.
      And yet, our republic did not crumble. We made it through. I believe our country has made much progress in the last 40 years. Forty some years ago Roe v. Wade was being decided. Women won.
     Marriage equality was a pipe dream, as was medicinal and decriminalized marijuana. How about Colin Kaepernick sitting out the national anthem and not getting kicked out of the NFL? Free speech and peaceful protest won that day. I could go on but I’m running out of inches on the page.
     This election has held up a mirror to the dark and ugly parts of our society. Hate, bigotry, racism, homophobia, and ethnocentrism are anti-American. They are anti-civilization, and they make it very hard for me to enjoy my eggnog and mistletoe, damn it.
     Have we no hope? Will Santa bring only coal this year? Perhaps clean coal? To this I say, “Humbug!”
     I believe that our better nature will guide us through this uncertain time. I believe that the same holiday spirit that fills our homes at this time of year is the true American spirit. Charity for the least among us, a joyful vitality, a celebration of family and community, peace on earth and goodwill toward men — these are the ideals that will carry us through this temporary darkness.

Happy Holidays! See you next year!