I was driving along Glenwood Avenue a week before Thanksgiving when I came across Santa Claus in full uniform striding briskly alongside the river of rushing traffic.
Even Santa is confused and out of place, I thought, my mind dwelling on the confusion, fear, animosity and divisiveness permeating our country today.
The “one nation indivisible” in our Pledge of Allegiance no longer seems to apply.
The latest standoff is between Americans who oppose and those who support the Obama administration’s proposal to accept refugees from war-torn Syria.
There is some truth in the argument that we have more to fear from our own home-grown terrorists than we do from, as Obama describes them, “the widows and orphans” from Syria.
Still, the nightmarish Paris attack that took 130 lives and the San Bernadino massacre that claimed 14 reaffirms the long-lingering fear that yes, it can happen here at any moment.
Reinforcing that fear is the raw realization that there is no fool-proof defense against such horrible tragedies.
So what do we do? We muddle through, shopping for gifts, purchasing the door wreath and the Christmas tree, making plane reservations for Christmas home-goings, etc.
We must remember what a favorite writer, E.B. White, once wrote to a friend who also was discouraged by an abounding bleak outlook:
“As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the one thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.”
“I enjoyed today’s column about analogies,” Herb Carson of Durham writes, adding, “then there are malapropisms.”
He said that while his uncle, David Carson, was teaching at the University of Pittsburgh, he encountered one in a term paper from a grad student who wrote, “This year the stock market was extremely erotic.”
Herb said his uncle responded with, “I wish you had gone into more detail.”
The Salvation Army kettles are out and the tinkle of hand bells is heard in the land as the gobble of the Tom Turkey becomes a recent memory. Christmas is a-coming.
Is anyone working the liquor stores?
The question brings to mind the memory of a dear friend and co-worker, the late Bette Elliott. For years, Bette was the colorful “women’s editor” of The Raleigh Times.
Each Christmas season, Bette would dress up in a Salvation Army uniform and plant herself at the door of a local liquor store. Since she knew almost everyone in town, the men, mostly, coming to stock up on “Christmas Cheer” would, in effect, be blackmailed into dropping a significant contribution into Bette’s kettle.
She served as a kind of Christmas conscience that suggests, “If you can afford liquor, you can afford to help the poor and needy of your community.”
So we hope some Salvation Army volunteer is working the liquor store for this highly respected do-good organization.
A friend assures us that the economy is in good shape, although he’s using the strangest barometer to support his optimism.
“Have you not noticed the swarms of squirrels all around us?” he asked. “During a bad economy, people eat squirrels,” he said. “They’re not doing that now.”
I have an idea. The Pilgrims established the turkey as the meat of choice at Thanksgiving. Why don’t we North Carolinians establish the gray squirrel as our Christmas meat of choice?
What a great photo op for Gov. McCrory: pardoning the Christmas Squirrel!
I’m facing another Christmas without a “want list” of material things. The gift of life is so overwhelming, it is quite sufficient, thank you.
I see on a table near me a pile of unwrapped gifts that include a pair of socks on which is woven, “The three things I hate most are math.”
My granddaughter Charlotte has inherited my aversion to math.
In college, I dropped trigonometry three times in order not to get a failing grade.
Yet one semester of trig was required for graduation. The only “out” was to take four semesters of Latin instead. I jumped at the option, feeling like Br’er Rabbit when he was thrown into the briar patch.