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Monday, December 3, 2001

I knew the world hadn't ended overnight when I turned on CNN this morning and they were showing a commercial. Nobody's going to be buying a Lexus to drive to the final conflagration. We won't be buying the ultimate holiday CD collection to play in our nonexistent Lexus. If they're selling something, we must not be in panic mode.

It turns out we came pretty close, though. The suicide bombers in Israel and the Israeli retaliation (how do they know?) have shot a few more holes in the fantasy of Middle Eastern stability. It took a lot of knavery and thuggery to create the nation of Israel, and it's taken persistent violence to defend it for over fifty years. They can't be surprised that desperate Palestinians are themselves using desperate tactics. There's apparently no way out except to let the blood flow, since neither side cares to reason its way toward a solution.

It must be hard for world leaders to know how to react, since both sides are wrong, and yet both sides are right. They may be knaves and thugs, but they're passionate in defense of their lands and peoples. The partisan nations of the world have already aligned themselves, and the chance of anyone listening to anyone else is bleak at best. Whatever satisfaction they get from all the killing doesn't seem to be getting them any closer to a solution.

The easiest thing would be to turn our backs on the whole mess, if that were possible. If the world weren't so small, if we didn't all need each other in one way or another, we could let them work out their grievances in whatever manner they chose. But we have to pay attention, at least, if only to be ready when the spillover reaches us. We've been surprised enough already this year. It should have taught us the value of vigilance. Looking back over your shoulder is as prudent on a global level as it is when you're walking down a dark street.

None of those people cares whether I'm getting into the holiday spirit or not. I learned today that I'm not ready to decorate just yet. My first stab at creating a festive mood was stacking up the Christmas CDs. The first one I chose to play was by Shawn Colvin, but her voice has the same calming effect on me no matter what she's singing about. After she was finished, I played the Traveling Wilburys, and at least they made me smile.

We have a rule in our family that we don't buy anything for ourselves between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had to be reminded of that. I'd mentioned to Eric yesterday that I thought I'd go out and buy a new DVD player, but I changed my mind after Suzanne called last night. She didn't exactly tell me not to do it, and I don't expect anyone to give me such an expensive gift, but I've waited a year without being able to play my DVDs. I can wait till after December 25.

I just thought it would make it easier for people to pick out stuff for me if I had a player. After all, everyone knows the kinds of sappy movies I like. I already have Searching for Bobby Fischer and Tender Mercies. Filling in some of the gaps in between shouldn't be a problem.

big pink clouds

December sunset.

If it sounds like I'm thinking of Christmas in terms of getting presents... well, that's pretty far off. If I'm thinking of it at all, it's about what I can do to make the lives of my loved ones a little merrier. When my nephews were small I had the best time shopping for them. I had to be restrained. Now there are no children around that I can watch opening a gift and lighting up with excitement. Only memories, and the problem of trying to get that kind of a reaction out of adults. With only three weeks to go, I'd better get in the mood fast.

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