Friday, December 21, 2012

World Ends Today, Details After This Message

The Mayan Calendar’s forecast will come and go, but there is another sense of finality in the air. After today, Americans take a brief break from conflict and chaos to try evoking the spirit of the season.

In Washington, politicians scamper home for the holidays away from the fiscal cliff and debates about gun control as normal people finish gift-buying and travel back to families they left behind.

After a year of so much trauma, does good will stand a chance? Can “It’s a Wonderful Life” and umpteen versions of “A Christmas Carol” lift our spirits?

We can try. I’ll be rinsing John Boehner from my mind by watching favorite Scrooge Albert Finney in the 1970 musical version. I’ll try to blot out the NRA’s mealy-mouthed press conference by basking in the old-age blessings of children and grandchildren.

Weekend TV screens will fill up with football and basketball to replace the contact sports in DC, and there will be Norman Rockwell serenity in the air.

Whatever happens in the new Congress after the turn of the year, a pleasurable return to the past will arrive with the new season of Downton Abbey on January 6 to take us back to the time of E. M. Forster, who counseled us a century ago:

“Only connect. Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.”

We won’t be able to avoid all the fragments, but we can do our damnedest to piece together a better year than the one we’re leaving behind.

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