As a keen observer of the painfully obvious, I cannot help but take note that Christmas has once again come to Northwest Indiana.
True, the weather is hardly something out of Currier and Ives, yet the rest of the yuletide accouterments are unmistakably in place. Around my neighborhood yard decorations glow with colors not usually found in nature, already the return line at Best Buy looks like a parade of weary refugees, and outside every grocery store Santas ring their bells as if they were going for dog spit gold in the Pavlov Olympics.
I don’t mean to sound jaded, as I truly love this season, yet as our year slowly creeps to its end, I cannot avoid the instinct to reflect on the year just passed. It is appropriate, I think, that Christmas comes just as one year ends and another begins, as it affords us the chance to see where we have come, and to wonder, however anxiously, about what is around the next turn.
This year, I think the close of 2012 leaves us as a nation a bit more weary, and perhaps just a bit more cynical for having gone through the machinations of our national elections. It is said that those who like sausage or democracy should not witness either being made, and no matter our political affiliations, I would guess that right about now that sentiment can resonate with most of us.
Nowhere is this more true than in our corner of Indiana, where political debate has been elevate to the realm of a blood sport.
The convolutions of this year’s political process, and our national obsession with it, have brought into focus some of the divisions within our nation, our communities, and in some cases our very homes. There is nothing like the hysterical rhetoric of our political process to remind us that it is us against them, no matter who the “us” and who the “them” happens to be.
Those things that divide us, philosophically, economically and socially are brought into sharp relief by the often shrill tones of those competing for our votes and our allegiance. While this might be natural and is certainly a historical part of our democratic process, in the end I think it leaves us exhausted, and sadly perhaps a bit more wary of one another.
But then comes Christmas. Christmas, with the promise of Peace on earth. The promise of good will to all people. Perhaps the claim sounds antiquated or naive, yet also refreshingly hopeful.
It takes a message like Christmas to cut through the things that divide us and remind us that while the boat of this world might be leaky, and while we might not agree on the direction in which it is always being steered, at least we are in it together. All of us. The us and the them. The 1 percent and the 100 percent. There is something of promise there, to sooth the weariness of our human propensity to see winners and losers at every turn.
In the words fo the great 20th century philosopher Dr. Seuss, “Welcome Christmas as we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand. Christmas Day will always be, just as long as we have we.” A naive sentiment to be sure, but I like it.
Merry Christmas to Da Region.