Published: Dec 25, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Dec 23, 2011 01:43 PM
Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa and a Festive Festivus.
As we wind down the clock on 2011, there's a lot of public activity going on around here. Chapel Hill just broke ground on its big library expansion, a huge public expenditure that was approved back when we had a fatter municipal wallet. The big dig at 140 West continues, and given the stunningly swift foreclosure of Greenbridge a few blocks west, who knows how that will shake out?
Big retail and mixed-use developments are visible on the horizon, from a rumored Walmart just over our southern border to The Edge, a massive proposed shopping center on the northern fringe of Chapel Hill. The police action at Yates Motor Company continues to reverberate.
All significant matters. But now is not the time to ponder them, much less parse, debate and criticize.
This is a time to pay attention to more important things.
Whatever your faith tradition, whatever holiday you do or don't observe, it's important to occasionally pause. To call a halt to the busy activity that consumes most days. To stop, to reflect, to just be.
And to appreciate the great gifts we have, not in whatever packages lie under the tree, but in each other. Those gifts - family and friends (the closest of whom count as family) and, sometimes, even those we don't know - are the only ones that really matter. They're the ones who will get you through when things get hard.
We all have our struggles. Some among us, of course, face especially difficult circumstances, and for many of them, the holidays only make their grief, their loneliness, their hunger that much harder to bear.
We can't help but think about Eve Carson's family at this time; we doubt the guilty verdict in the trial of her killer last week did anything to fill the void in their hearts. We think too about the families of others who have been taken far too soon.
We think about those who are ill, who are separated from their loved ones by circumstance, who find life, for any number of reasons, especially cold and lonely.
So as we gather with our friends and family, as we embrace them with joy and love over good food in our warm homes, send a thought or, if you're of the persuasion, a prayer out for those who are suffering. And we'll resolve to try to do a little more for our neighbors in need in the days to come.
There is so much acrimony and division afoot these days, and given that 2012 is a presidential election year, we're not holding our breath for a surge of respect and graciousness to sweep across the land at large.
But individually we can take this brief respite to reflect on the long reach of what Jimmy Stewart, in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," called "a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness - and a little looking out for the other fella, too."
We wish you and yours the most joyous of holidays.
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