Tis The Season

It’s that accursed time of year again–Christmas.

Other holidays come and go but are not really accorded their own season. Traditions, yes, but not an entire campaign, a full-court press of decorating and cooking, movies, shows and music. And it all begins before the Thanksgiving dinner is fully digested.

This year, somehow, everything but making the gravy fell to me.

It’s a good trade-off for the Holiday decorating, this year, which while writing this I have managed to dodge. No garland, no reindeer, no wreath, no lights, no knick-knacks–nothing. But no tree yet, either, and because I own a truck that’s not something I’ll be able to avoid.

Of course, the best part of Christmas is not any of this gimcrackery but the company one keeps. You make plans, and plans change, so that sometimes there is a randomness to the Holiday crew. Someone suddenly couldn’t show, say, or somebody new or unexpected appears.

But enough about Central Casting.

This Holiday Season what I project upon most people is peace. I can’t in good conscience project it upon everyone because, let’s face it, there are some bad people out there and there are others who need to be held accountable–and unless and until that accountability arrives there should be no peace. It’s not my call to make–it’s theirs.

But upon our fractured, tribal and fragile electorate I project peace. Upon the most needy amongst us I project peace.

As they say in other parts, as-salaam-alaikum. So peace, too, upon the “others” in our midst.

Funny thing about them “others.” If I remember properly a certain president of ours promised to build a wall along our southern border and make the “others” pay for it. Instead, we saw a caravan–as it was called–make its way northward right up to the fence, where it was met with, and dispersed by, the deployment of tear gas.

Obviously, we can’t let thousands of people into the country willy-nilly. Just because they’re refugees and charge the border en masse does not confer a right of entry. Conversely, the optics of lobbing tear gas canisters at women and children is somewhat less than savory.

I don’t have the answer. Hell, I’m not even positive I have an opinion–and this is an opinion piece. But I do know we can do better. I just don’t know yet exactly how.

I know that to be the country we want to be–which is to say true to our history and our ideals–there has to be a better mechanism to legally admit some of these people. And I know that if we want to be the country we are–which is to say, largely, a service economy–we have to admit some of these folks.

Our youngest son tried working the fields, for instance, lasted a week and didn’t make the cut. He couldn’t keep up.

These migrants don’t merely want to spend Christmas at our house–they perceive us, our country and economy, as Christmas itself.

Can’t say as I blame them.

Where’s Central Casting when you need it? Casting tear gas canisters.

We can do better.

Joseph Oldenbourg

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