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A Blue Christmas is a Merry Christmas for Democrats. Not so much for Republicans who are sure the end of the world is nigh. So let me offer a note of hope and cheer.

 

Yes, the news is bad. Retail sales are down. Home sales are down. Car sales are so down Toyota is losing money. The market is down. Our 401(k)s are down. Banks aren’t lending. Builders aren’t building. Confused consumers – who were blamed for the crash because they spent too much and saved too little for too long – are now told they’re to blame for the bad economy because they’re spending too little.

 

The only business that’s up, it seems, is war.

 

Even nature is bad to us. Half the nation is snowed in. Flying is a nightmare. Driving is down even though gas prices are down. Tax revenues are down and the roads won’t get fixed. But traffic is still a bear.

 

Of course, the news is always bad. That’s the nature of news.

 

Things could be worse. We’re not scrambling for corn on the side of the road like starving children in Zimbabwe. Unlike Putin’s Russians, we’re free to argue, demand change and denounce our leaders.

 

When I went to the mall Tuesday, there were plenty of cars. Plenty of people with plenty of shopping bags and apparently plenty of money to spend. Plenty of people who didn’t look like they had missed many meals.

 

But we must dig deeper to find the true meaning of this season.

 

My son, whose birthday is June 17, informs me that an astronomer has determined there was a bright star in the night day over Bethlehem on June 17, 2 A.D. So my son now refers to that as True Christmas, as opposed to False Christmas December 25.

 

Of course, he is discounting the Christian tradition of incorporating pagan traditions into the True Faith. Like celebrating the winter solstice. And without the combination of Christmas and New Year’s Day, we would not have this wonderful two-week period every year in which the world of government and politics all but shuts down.

 

Unfortunately, the sun all but shuts down, too.

 

On top of all that, this year we have the quadrennial tradition of transitions.

 

Transitions can be melancholy. I remember Jim Hunt’s final December in 1984, leaving office after losing the Senate race to Jesse Helms. Those were heady times for Republicans, who couldn’t wait to seize power in Raleigh and Washington.

 

It was better in 2000. Hunt went out on top, with a Democrat succeeding him. But things weren’t so good in Washington.

 

Mike Easley’s last month does not seem to be a happy one, dogged by charges of nepotism and mismanagement and dodging The News & Observer.

 

Bev Perdue is spending her transition trying to wrap up her Cabinet in one big present. Delivery apparently has been delayed.

 

Then I get a personal letter from former Senator John Edwards asking me for contributions to the Wade Edwards Foundation, a worthy project.

 

I spent two years helping Edwards get to the Senate. So I might have been surprised that the letter uses my first name: “Dear James.”

 

But I wasn’t surprised.

 

The lesson is this: Christmas – like all of life – is about people. It’s all personal. We’re all in this together.

 

So this is my special holiday wish – and sincere thank-you – to all who read this blog. To Democrats and Republicans alike. To blue dogs and yellow dogs and red dogs alike. To those who worship, whatever your faith. To those who don’t worship, too; maybe one day this will no longer be a de facto test for public office in America. To those who love Obama and those who loath him. To those who admire Rick Warren and those who abhor him.

 

Buck up. The solstice has passed. The sun is coming back. Spring and summer lie ahead. Even the economy will come back one day.

 

A happy, health and prosperous New Year to you all.

 

 

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