Christmas is less than a week away, and procrastinators are just starting to realize they need to shop. Pity the online and brick-and-mortar stores that don’t have what they want because they waited too long to even think about it. The language will be blistering. Do you kiss your mama with that mouth?
In my family, we haven’t done the present thing for years, except for the kids, so that hasn’t been much of an issue. (Do you really want to disappoint a small child?) Instead, we just get together, eat and talk … and tell on ourselves a bit with funny stories. Corey and Mitchell, especially, get us rolling on the floor pretty quickly. Unfortunately, I won’t get to be there again since I have to be at work the day before and day after (if it’s not illness or weather, it’s work).
While presents are all good and fine (especially chocolate), there are things I’d much rather have this year.
🤬 No more Twitter tirades.
The times when a certain someone’s phone has been apparently taken away from him are blissful. No strangely capitalized tweets with weird misspellings (no, Q-anon nuts, it’s almost certainly not a code). No hawking of books or television programs favorable to him or complaining about those that aren’t. No unsupported claims of malfeasance by his “enemies” (still nothing but the same debunked tales on Hillary, Obama, et al.) None of what prompted The Washington Post Fact Checker to add to its Pinocchio rating scale a “bottomless Pinocchio,” a “dubious distinction … awarded to politicians who repeat a false claim so many times that they are, in effect, engaging in campaigns of disinformation.” (The claims must have gotten three or four Pinocchios and been repeated at least 20 times; the president is the only elected official to have met that standard so far, with 14 of his claims.)
I know the president believes that Twitter is the only way to get his message out unaffected by the media, but countless polls have shown that people would prefer the president not tweet so much and that it’s hurting his image around the world (because no one likes a whiner … well, thinking people don’t). Quite a bit of the negative news he decries (and again, just because it’s negative doesn’t mean it’s fake, just as being positive doesn’t mean it’s true) comes about as a result of his tweeting habit. I think we could all benefit from a slow news day now and then, which brings me to …
⏰ Normal passage of time.
When so much news happens in a short period, it makes it hard to remember just when noteworthy events happened. It’s exhausting. Last week I was reading something about self-driving car accidents and was surprised that the fatal Tempe, Ariz., Uber accident happened not last year or the year before, but this past March. I really could have sworn it was at least last year. Vox’s Brian Resnick delved last year into this warped perception of time; psychologists say it’s a trick of our memories in which the more important (or emotional, troubling, unusual, etc.) things that happen in a time period, the more time we believe has passed.
Gosh, it’s not like we’ve had anything like that going on. When was the inauguration again?
Psychology professor Michael Flaherty of Eckerd College in Florida has conducted field studies on the phenomenon and told Resnick, “Abnormality is what they have in common. We pay more attention to our circumstances when conditions are abnormal.”
Abnormal conditions? Why, hardly a peep has come out of D.C. Aaaand there’s Pinocchio …
🤦🏻♀️ People who read without taking out or adding words to change the meaning intended by the writer.
You know, like that “holy” in last week’s column. (“I wasn’t aware the red-nosed reindeer was a holy part of the Christmas canon.”) Maybe Santa, his reindeer and Frosty are holy to some, but most people I know consider Jesus and the angels, etc., to be the holy parts; at least one reader, though, completely missed that.
I’ve sometimes had to toss Voices letters precisely because writers mischaracterized something written in the Democrat-Gazette in just such a manner, usually because they disagree with whatever was written or they just don’t like the author. It’s quite possible that Bradley Gitz didn’t say what you thought, nor did that Bloomberg wire piece, so maybe go back and check before firing off an angry missive. I’d say it won’t take long, but with the way time’s been moving lately …
😡 Less taking offense.
We all could stand to calm down a little, and if we stop viewing everything through partisan lenses, it might help. When we’re more upset about someone saying “happy holidays” than we are about people being killed at work, out shopping, at church or at school, our priorities are out of whack. If you’re offended by someone opening a door for you, maybe step back and consider that perhaps that person is being polite rather than trying to imply you’re incapable of doing it yourself. Sure it’s also possible that the person is a jerk who feels you’re inferior, but c’mon, if that’s the way you want to live your life … yeesh.
There are truly offensive things out there we can be angry about—inequality, injustice, mass shootings, etc.—yet so many that we choose to champion are petty because we are so quick to take offense at the slightest perceived insult. Seriously, people, why destroy your Nike products? They already have your money!
We’ll get to the point that everything offends us. Then what will we do? Looks like it’s panic rooms for all of us. Save me some popcorn.
🎨 Better things to do with time.
Well, at least once it returns to normal. Instead of complaining about the neighbors’ Christmas dragon decorations (which are awesome, by the way, as are feline nativities), we could learn to paint, play the guitar, make mei fun (which is also awesome, especially with chicken) … or maybe counter with some really cool penguin decorations. Rediscover your sense of humor and humanity and just live.
It’s not too much to ask, is it?
There’s one more thing I’d really love, which shouldn’t shock regular readers: words.
I want words that make me smile and think. I want words that have a colorful history, and those from workaday life. Give me synonyms, antonyms, Spoonerisms, malapropisms, mondegreens and eggcorns. Give me more puns than I can handle, then give me more.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to send me the words and phrases you’d most like to bid adieu this year in preparation for Lake Superior State University’s annual list of banished words.
Unless you take offense at that. Wouldn’t want to cause a ruckus.
Before I go today, I must pay homage to a great woman, comedian, actor and director that we lost Tuesday. Penny Marshall was one of those people it was almost impossible for me not to like. No, I still won’t drink milk and Pepsi (which has always sounded disgusting to me, and not just because I’m a Coke girl), but I knew that I would enjoy myself if she had anything to do with a TV show or movie. Whether it was Laverne & Shirley, Big, A League of Their Own, or any of her other work, I would laugh, cry, and feel better for at least a little while. We all need that to keep us from exploding, especially after dealing with cranks and nuts all day.
So that’s one more thing I’d love: For the people and critters I love to never die. We need more like them in the world.