Blog: Of Warmth, Love and Good Cheer

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As I write this column, the Electoral College is preparing to meet to officially elect the president of our country. For the past two weeks, my inbox has been flooded with requests for my presence at our state capitol in Helena. Of course, this isn’t happening because my car is in storage for the winter — and it probably wouldn’t happen anyway because, as the old song says, “The weather outside is frightful.”

My feeling is that even though a few electors say they’re planning to jump ship and go with the popular vote, there won’t be enough to change the outcome. And others, with grave misgivings, will vote to confirm Donald Trump as the leader of the free world.

It’s not the first time in our country’s history that electors will defy the popular vote. But in this day of social media, the prospects have made a bigger stink.

I don’t have a smart phone (my kids say I have a dumb phone) so I still watch television to get the news and follow my own advice and watch at least three different channels. With the proliferation of “fake news,” that’s probably as safe as it gets. 

Last week, Charlie Rose interviewed Thomas Freidman and I loved what he said. When asked how he felt about the election, he replied that he felt a profound sadness. To paraphrase, he said he’s really going to miss Obama, his decency and integrity, and his reflective way of working through tough issues. 

Freidman decried the fact Trump appointed people to his team without a single discussion with scientists. It would have been worth a day to do that. We’re at a very important moment. Cyberspace has become the center of our lives, but no one’s in charge . . .  There’s no legal system, yet it’s the philosophical center of our world. 

If I had the money, I’d give his new book, “Thank You for Being Late,” to everyone I know. Well, perhaps not to those on the extreme Right, which includes some of my relatives.

So, having survived the latest pledge break on our local PBS channel (two weeks of pure drivel that make me glad I don’t have the money to subscribe), I’m tuning in to special Christmas programs; Oh, not “It’s A Wonderful Life” again, but some newer ones from trusted producers.

The best so far is a new episode on PBS from “Call the Midwife” written to accommodate the Christmas story. (Series 5 will begin soon.) It played here Sunday night, but watch for it on your local listings. And all the choirs, of course, are inspiring.

Living where I do has many benefits but also a few distractions. We get to look outside at the snow and admire its beauty but we don’t have to shovel it. That’s big. 

The difficult part is that we keep losing friends and maybe the stress of the holidays plays a part in their occasional medical episodes. The fire department and ambulance arrive almost daily and I only can hope that the outcomes will be okay. I hope it’s not the nasty election stuff that makes them fearful. It pays to remember that we can’t do anything about that. If the president-elect (as he is erroneously called by media) is inaugurated as planned, we must remember that our country has survived worse and probably will come through this relatively unscathed.

The FBI has concurred with the CIA that it’s indisputable that Russia was involved in the cyber attacks and meddling in our election. Freidman and others have said it was an attack on the core of our democracy and it may have been. But was Obama’s response adequate? Who’s to say?

Some have said the Federal Reserve decision to increase interest rates was politically motivated. Well, it’s far too late for it to affect my savings. Social Security checks will remain exactly the same next year regardless of inflation and regardless of the fact that my rental amount is going up three and a half percent. Go figure. If Paul Ryan and others in Congress have their way, Social Security, Medicare and other safety net programs may become voluntary voucher systems. That’s how they kill programs they don’t like. But then, I probably won’t be around long enough to feel the difference.

On Thursday, my granddaughter and I will spend most of the day baking things for relatives and friends we want to remember. My sister is planning to spend a month or so with her family in France and I’m looking forward to hearing all about that when she returns.

So, Christmas may go back to being a time of good cheer, warmth and love instead of competitive consumerism. And at this time of uncertainty, that’s to be appreciated.