MIKE MASTERSON: Toward Christmas

A different approach

As years dissolve into decades, the string of annual Christmas seasons seems to speed past like the fast-forward on our DVRs. Much as life itself, each year flows seamlessly into another until soon we've reached 60 or 70 and wondering where all those years went.

With each season, many families have established traditions that range from specific food to humorous gifts and regiftings and even those Elves on Shelves.

Through it all, I wonder what of enduring value we have gained from myriad holy seasons, other than the reuniting of families and/or friends to exchange gifts and share a meal.

I'm speaking of the actions and seemingly small events that touch us at our deepest levels and contribute to enhancing our uniquely individual psyches in the deepest spiritual sense.

We can agree the precise day of Christ's birth remains unknown. Nonetheless, Dec. 25 is agreed upon as symbolic of everything that experience represents along with the love, compassion and forgiveness Christ represents to humanity.

Those of the Christian faith usually do our best to look past Santa and his reindeer, the colored lights, gifts and brightly decorated conifers in our homes to at least acknowledge the true reason behind the season. Some still are enriched by the peace and sacredness of a midnight candlelight service.

For the most part, we agree on what Christmas is intended to represent. But the more superficial aspects, including our widespread traditions of gift giving and gorging, are so much more festive and enjoyable.

Don't fret, I'm not writing to lecture or claim any moral authority when it comes to what's best at Christmas. You're capable of determining what you want from your holidays.

I am saying it's probably wise to pause from this yuletide sprint and decide to embrace a more enduring and personal approach to what remains of our Christmases together.

For instance, perhaps a heartfelt letter to loved ones would enrich their Christmas far more than spinning our wheels by trading $50 gift cards from a drugstore rack. I know how much I'd treasure such personal gifts today had I received them over the years from my now-deceased parents and grandparents.

You could use your cell phone to record five-minute tributes to loved ones explaining what it is we love and admire most about them.

The older we become, the less material goods mean to most of us, no matter how beautifully wrapped. Many of us full-growed types have all the clothes, knick-knacks and sausage boxes we'll ever want or need.

What we won't have, should we outlive our friends and relatives, are the sounds of their voices and the active images of their facial expressions, their laughter and what being with you meant to them.

Abuse and accuse

I've heard the lame apologies, but I'm still waiting to see the first head roll of an elected "public servant" in Washington or elsewhere after allegations of sexual harassment or abuse.

In a corporate setting the firings would have been immediate. Why not Congress with its tax-supported hush money?

Other alleged offenders who are public figures across society continue to drop like flies since Hollywood lech Harvey Weinstein was toppled.

Charlie Rose at CBS is out, as is NBC veteran Today Show host Matt Lauer. Even Minnesota Public Radio has scraped off its beloved Garrison Keillor. Several Hollywood types also have been called out by females accusing them of unwanted sexual acts.

Meanwhile, up on out-of-touch Capitol Hill, the list of elected congressmen and senators accused of sexual improprieties continues to swell.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., are under fire, and veteran Texas GOP Rep. Joe Barton is not seeking re-election after a nude explicit photo of himself he'd shared along with sexual messages to a mistress, a Republican activist, wound up on the Internet.

Democratic California Rep. Jackie Speier and Virginia GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock also have accused two male congressmen of sexual harassment. That includes an allegation that one exposed his genitals to a female staffer. They wouldn't name the lawmakers during a House committee hearing. But a news account said former and current aides have described sexual harassment in D.C. as "pervasive."

I'm not surprised nothing's changed in light of previous sex-related events ranging from Arkansas' own Democratic Rep. Wilbur Mills' infamous 1974 romp with stripper Fanne Foxe in the D.C. Tidal Basin. Or Democrat Sen. Ted Kennedy's part in the 1969 death of campaign staffer Mary Jo Kopechne following a party on Chappaquiddick Island. Or 1988 Democratic presidential front-runner Gary Hart of Colorado caught in an extramarital affair with model Donna Rice that sank his promising career. The list seems endless.

In fact, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey found nearly half of women in the workplace today have experienced some form of sexual harassment. Stay tuned. We may not even have Hollywood, state legislatures or a Congress left come the spring.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

Editorial on 12/03/2017

Log in to comment