The news usually takes a holiday around Christmastime, and thus far we’re relieved to see that this year is no exception to the rule. We can’t quite break our yearlong writing habit, however, so we’ll briefly note the significant fact that the winter solstice occurred early this morning.
We don’t attach any pagan sort of significance to the event, but we’re always happy to see it arrive nonetheless. As the old song says, it’s a long, long way from May to December, but the days grow short when you reach September, and it starts a slow and dreary slide into the darkness of winter, and while there’s still plenty of darkness and cold left until that long awaited vernal equinox it’s good to know that at least from now until the arrival of that gloriously sunlit summer solstice the days will grow imperceptibly yet incrementally longer. This astronomical certainty somehow heartens us, even as we glumly consider everything else we might write about.
The news is still out there, of course, even if the newsmen and newswomen are polite enough and preoccupied enough with personal matters to pay it as little attention as possible. There’s still the matter of whether a “Santa Claus rally” will soothe the stock markets’ recent freakout about an interest rate hike that can only be measured with a micrometer, and what that says about an economy that’s sputtering into a seventh straight Christmas shopping season of sluggish growth and stagnant wages. There are still at least few hundred million crazy people around the world who are trying to kill us, too, and that ongoing debate about how many of them we should welcome in our country as honored guests. The President of the United States assures us that none of it is quite so alarming as the threat of anthropogenic global warming and attributes any discomfort Americans might have about all this to cable news and racism, even as he prepares to take a carbon-spewing jet ride to Hawaii for another lavishly taxpayer-funded vacation, and the two front-runners in the ongoing contest to replace him are a man who sounds suspiciously like your drunk neighbor and a woman who makes Lucretia Borgia look like one of those Little Sisters of the Poor who are being forced by federal law to purchase contraception coverage in their mandated insurance plans.
Put it all together and it seems like the darkest day, but there’s something almost astronomical about these news cycles. Starting today the sunset comes about a minute later, so in a mere ten days there’s an extra ten minutes, and a month from now provides a whole half-hour of extra daylight. Just a month or so from now the Iowa caucus might reshape the Republican race, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation might even come down on that Borgia-esque woman in the Democrat race, and although you’d never know it by what they teach in American history these days the country has been through dark days before and found its way back to sunshine. Just three days from now is an even more significant date, when we’ll join with family to celebrate the age-old good news that still trumps all the bad, and in the meantime we will be hopeful.
— Bud Norman