Is it just me, or does it still not feel like the holidays yet? Perhaps the warmish, wet weather we’ve had here in the Northeast is partly to blame, or maybe it’s that the calendar has jammed the buying season into one less week this year because of a late Thanksgiving. Yes, yes, Chanukah, for once, is neither early nor late, which is rare for a Jewish holiday, but I think there’s something more than this going on in the country that’s partly clouding the season.
We have other things on our minds. Ferguson. Staten Island. ISIS. Oil prices. Wages. Equality issues relating to gender, age, sexual preference and orientation. Supreme Court arguments over worker disability rights and whether someone can post noxious, threatening dreck on Facebook, call it rap, and never mind the effect on the intended target. Even sports won’t let us relax and enjoy, what with players being suspended, unsuspended, arrested, concussed and, heaven forbid, involved in some of the aforementioned social issues. Why can’t they just be like Mike and play the game?
It seems as if the country is a bit more serious than normal this holiday season, weighing the price of our freedoms against the responsibilities that come with them. We’re looking at race and wondering why we still have problems and why whites and African-Americans still have such differing perspectives on how they are treated by police, the courts, storekeepers and mall security. We’re looking at income inequality and wondering why companies that make billions can’t lead by example and pay workers what they are worth, which is a wage that allows them to live a decent life. We’re looking at who is an American and how we can make sure that people who live here and contribute to their families and communities can stay here without the fear that the government is going to deport them because of a long-ago action. In short, we’re looking at justice and trying to make sure that everyone gets it because more than any other freedom afforded us, justice must be applied equally at all times.
In the end, I think this makes us stronger, and makes the season of giving that much more important. When we discuss, protest and even engage in some civil disobedience, we are reminded that we have given ourselves the greatest gifts of all: to live in a free society where we can air our concerns and make others realize that many groups in the United States are uncomfortable and unwealthy and insecure, and that each of us is responsible to make sure that every citizen is safe. That way, we can give other gifts, the material ones, knowing that we have done our part to make this a better country. The holidays we are about to celebrate are religious, but we need to remember that our national religion is democracy, and as such, we must all practice it.
So although it might not feel like the holidays just yet, I’m a little more optimistic that this season will see us do more good for ourselves and our neighbors.
Is it just me?