In just a few days, it will be Christmas. Whether I’m with my family or not (and at this point, unfortunately, it’s most likely I won’t be), I always think of our Christmases together.
It’s not the gifts that I remember. Sure, there was my first bike, and the training wheels that only lasted two days before I demanded they be taken off. If my brothers could ride without them, then I should too. Come to think of it, that’s also how I learned to read. And there was the Spirograph, Shrinky Dinks, Lite-Brite (with the creepy clown on the box), Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine and other toys I played with till they wore out.
But gifts were never the focus of our Christmases.
Once we were all grown up, we pretty much stopped exchanging gifts, understanding that other things were more important. There was, instead, the warmth of family love and the belief in better things to come. There was the food, of course (Nanny Kaylor’s Red Velvet cake on Christmas Eve, or the soup, chili, and chocolate pie at Nanny and Grandpa Terrell’s Christmas Day), and the prayers Uncle Charlie always offered before dinner. And humor, no matter which side of the family we were with, because if someone was going to laugh at you, it was often less painful if it was family. We knew where everybody lived, after all, and were more than happy to pull a few pranks.
What do I wish for this Christmas? More than anything, I’d like peace—peace between nations, religious denominations, political parties, and any other perpetually ticked-off groups. Find ways to get along, like … oh, I don’t know … acknowledge that we’re all (well, mostly) human, and that few people actually embody the stereotypes attached to certain labels, and judge people on their own merits (or lack thereof, as the case may be).
I would also love a return to reality. For some people, it seems that provable facts and evidence don’t matter anymore; what matters is how they feel about something (or how they’re told to feel by those they admire, especially if those people they admire undermine sources of information they don’t like … not that anyone, like maybe in the Oval Office, would do that).
When we can’t even agree on basic facts, there’s no hope for productive debate. Not that there’s much of that going on right now, anyway, with all the insults, faulty logic and “nah, you’re wrong”-flinging with no discussion of why someone is wrong (other than just being part of the opposition). I was terrible in debate in high school (I suck at extemporaneous speaking, and I only won one match in competition), but I never would have won any match at all if I didn’t provide evidence for my case, instead resorting to name-calling and “nuh-uhs.” It’s not like I was debating 5-year-olds on the playground. Though the guy I beat was kinda whiny …
I’d like to return to a reality where we listen to each other, don’t seek out offenses to complain about, where we can agree on proven facts, and where we don’t feel the need to spin conspiracy theories or redefine words if something isn’t turning out as we would like. A reality where we recognize the difference between opinions and news, that undermining a free press is dangerous to our freedoms, and that responsible journalists don’t campaign for approval from those they cover; they do their jobs without favor to anyone.
If we must live in an alternative reality, I’d like one where premium chocolate (none of that fake flavored stuff) has no calories and is freely available, and where those we love (human or animal) never die. Sure, it might get a little crowded, but we’d have all that chocolate to soothe us.
Lastly, I’d love to have a world where people don’t take every tiny thing so seriously that they forget to laugh. Humor is important not only in its value as a stress reliever, but because it often reveals deeper truths (and we know how I feel about truth). Not everybody gets every type of humor (I, for example, speak fluent sarcasm and word nerd while many don’t; toilet humor, not so much), but surely everyone needs to laugh every once in a while to maintain some semblance of sanity.
Unless you like being one of those people whose face will crack if you smile. My debate opponent was one of those …
A reminder to Arkansas Democrat-Gazette readers: We need your letters! Any time of year when we have a lengthy holiday period tends to be lighter than we’d like on letters, so we need your help to fill the pages. And since we in the opinion section are also having to work further ahead because of those holidays … well … it can get a little tough.
Please, if you haven’t had a letter published in the past 30 days, send something shorter than 300 words, and we’ll do our very best to get it in. As usual, please remember that statements of fact are checked (there’s only me doing that, so it takes longer), and don’t call specific other readers idiots, or call someone a criminal who has not been convicted of a crime. No, being unlikable is still not a crime.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the holidays, especially as we get closer to Christmas and New Year’s Day. And don’t forget to send me your thoughts on words you’d like to see go away. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our form, and I promise not to stick coal in your stocking. This year, anyway. I make no promises for 2018.