Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve, 2010

 And so, the minutes and seconds tick inexorably towards midnight, and the start of the New Year, 2011. Can any of us say that we are sad to see 2010 go? The economy continued to stumble on, not really moving in any direction except forward. If it were a patient in a hospital, it would have been declared brain dead, because it has flat lined. Unemployment hovers near double digits. In May, we had the start of the worst environmental disaster to hit the Gulf in memory.  New Orleans was written off again, as were other cities and towns on along the gulf; but, somehow, they persevered.  It is hard to destroy these people, who have seen so much disaster in the past decade. We had the tragedy of Haiti to contend with, which we are STILL contending with, despite the public's short memory. We had the earthquake in Chile in February, more tragedy in a world that has seen more than it's share in the past year. We pull together to help and give aid and comfort to these areas and, somehow, the weary world pulls together, if only for a short time. We had the miracle of the miners trapped for such a long time in that mine in Chile. Just when everyone thought all was lost... a miracle.. all were alive. Again, the world pulled together. NASA designed the capsule that pulled them out, and an American company drilled the hole that enabled them to be pulled out. Somehow, America was the unsung hero. Yet, we are still despised in many places. 
 Our government seemed so inept that the voters sent them a message in November: Stop the partisan crap and get your act together. It wasn't just a repudiation of the current administration's policies; it was a message to both parties. Somehow, at the end of the year, some work that benefits the people got done. 
 We still have a long way to go. It didn't take us long to get from a surplus to a staggering deficit, just a couple of years of crazy spending policies. It will take us decades to get out of it. The debt to China must be paid down. But I have faith in this country. We are Americans, and we can do anything that we put our collective minds to. We must all come together with a common cause. It Can Be Done... It Will Be Done! Of this, I am certain. 2011 should be, will be, the start of our long road back. I'm proud of this country, and I am proud of all of you, and proud to call you all my friends.
 Happy New Year, Everyone
 John

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

 As I prepared myself today for Christmas, it  suddenly came to me how Mr. Dickens could be inspired to write 'A Christmas Carol'.  As I listend to some of the old Christmas Carols, memories of all of my Christmases came flooding back to me. My Mother, Father, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles all came marching back, like the ghosts in Mr. Dickens classic tale. I could see them all,  just as they were when I was a child; they all loved Christmas so much. Everyone of them dressed in their best clothes and made 'The Rounds', visiting each others homes for some good cheer and Christmas Spirits. Later on, we would all gather at my Grandmothers house for a huge Christmas festa of several courses. We would start with antipasto, then have chicken, then Macaroni and meat. Then, we would all rest a bit and then have the main course, a turkey with everything that went along with it. Then, the salad. Later on, we would have desserts and nuts. We ate like kings and queens on the holidays, and we were all together and glad for it. My family loved and fought and argued, and loved. It was like nothing I would ever experience in my adult life.
 Later, I thought of raising our children, and the many nights that we spent putting together toys until the wee hours of the morning, wrapping gifts until the dawn was starting to break. It was all worthwhile to see their shining faces in the light cast by the Christmas Tree. We were a mixed family; Sheryl ia Jewish and so are the girls, I was raised Catholic and my boys were baptized Catholic. Somehow, we made it work with no trouble. We would light the Menorah, and have our Christmas too.  It was never easy financially, but somehow we always had a great Christmas for the kids. I can hear their squeals of delight in my mind, just out of earshot now, but still fresh in my memory. They are part of the ghosts that still haunt my Christmas, in a good way.
  Now, it's just Sheryl and my sister Alma and I in this house where we raised five children. They all have their own lives now, and for the most part, don't feel the need like we used to to be with our parents on Christmas. Danielle, our youngest, still does. Jayson, my youngest son, makes his way up from NYC for the day.  Our other two daughters both have four children, and it's too much of a hassle for them to come over on Christmas. Some time in January, Sheryl will bring them their gifts. It's sad, really, but that's the way it is these days. I guess that's why I am conflicted on Christmas. I love the spirit of the holiday, but the ghosts of our past Christmases still haunt me, and always will.
  Merry Christmas, everyone.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Thoughts

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day has been, for me and many of the  people that I know, The Christmas Season. This is the way that it has been for as long as I can remember, and that’s a very long time. Christmas has become a secular holiday for all to celebrate, no matter what you call it. It is a time for reflection of the past year, a time to show good will and love to your fellow citizens, and most of all, a time for children to wait in anticipation of the DAY. It is the time of selflessness and giving. There has always been a special feeling in the air, no matter what you believe. There are gatherings and parties all over the world in celebration. You don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy the warm feelings associated with the holiday.
I see a lot posts on the internet and signs on the street that say ‘Let’s Keep Christ In Christmas’. This is fine for those who worship Jesus Christ and all that his birth signifies; but we should not exclude those in the world who worship God in other ways and do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. We should not exclude those who feel that there is no such thing as a God. We can still embrace the warm feeling of brotherhood that the Christmas Holiday has come to stand for. I worked for a Jewish boss back in the mid-‘70s, and no one enjoyed the spirit of the holiday more than he. He threw us a big Christmas bash, and gave everyone a nice bonus, considering that we were in the middle of a horrible recession. He was a tough boss for the rest of the year, but during the Christmas season, he was a real softy.In recent years, there has been a tendency to be politically correct by businesses. They won’t say “Merry Christmas”, for fear of offending someone. There are controversies about having a Creche and a Menorah on public property. How incredibly petty it is to complain about such things. There is nothing in the constitution about this. Putting out decorations is not establishing a State Religion. It just really got silly for a time there but, thankfully, the pendulum seems to be swinging back towards a more reasonable point of view.
I want to take this moment in time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas Season, no matter what your religious views. May all the joys and good will of the season bring us all happiness, understanding, and tolerance of each other. May the New Year begin to finally bring us peace.