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Ronan Messy
Ronan Demonstrating How I feel About The World Today.
Look at Him; He Doesn't Have A Care In The World.

So in the past month, two close friends have lost family members, another friend had minor cancer surgery, an aunt has cancer, another aunt has problems so complicated it would take the entire column just to explain, my Mom had a mild heart attack, my Dad slipped on ice and broke his ribs, I have pneumonia again and Terry lost her job.

Ho Ho Ho. Merry Christmas.

Seriously, I’m depressed instead of happy for the holidays. Instead of dreaming of candy canes[i] and mistletoe[ii] I’m figuring out if I can go to funerals and if a trip upstate will cheer up my aunts and cousins.

This was a tough year in some ways. The energy expended taking care of a baby is a lot. There are many nights when Terry and I look over the TV schedule, the chores, the hobbies, the family and business projects and just opt for sleep at 6:30 PM. Sometimes it was still light out. It was tough starting grad school. It was even tougher three weeks in when Terry got laid off the first time. It was tough not sleeping many nights when Ronan wanted to be up. It was tough deciding that I don’t want to go back to where I’ve worked for years. It was tougher watching Terry go through all that and go to work each day.

In others, it was the best year of my life. I can’t believe we beat the odds – not just beating the odds of being an older couple conceiving a child, but also that Ronan is healthy. And so happy it seems he’s avoided his Dad’s melancholy moods (we’ll still wait on that one.) We lucked out that he loves to meet people, and go places, and he’s still pretty happy even if he doesn’t get his nap at the same time every day. We’re still working on eating solid food, which doesn’t seem to be a popular activity so far, but it’s gotten a lot better, and he actually opens his mouth. So just because of Ronan this would be one of the best years of my life.

But what have we brought him into the world for? I’m sorry to be such a downer, but the Earth is not doing so well. After watching everyone gang up on the United States at Bali for expending energy when nothing is being done in China and no one cares, and reading about people that deny their kids milk so that they can still drive their gas-guzzling SUV, to the magical and questionable turnaround in Iraq, to the growing saber-rattling over Iran, to environmentalists fighting against clean wind power off their private island, it seems that everyone is out for themselves nowadays. With more and more people of diverse backgrounds living together in the United States (and around the world) we seem to focus more on our differences than was brings us together. Why are we electing the same people over and over again when wages have stagnated?[iii] Why are we sticking our heads in the sand when it comes to climate change and eliminating fossil fuels? Why are giving cheap computers away to villages that need food and water more than a way to receive advertising? Why are there days when I feel like the only one who seems to notice these things?

Slipping on the ice, cancer, heart attacks. These things are hard enough to deal with. Add in a recession, genetic engineering, food shortages, fuel shortages, and rising ocean waters, suddenly Ronan’s life looks a lot more complicated than mine. And it’s only his first Christmas!

Some days I play with Ronan and wonder what he’s thinking about. It’s probably something like food - change me - play with me – love me. He has no idea that people are separated from their families this Christmas, or even what a war is. I wish I could forget about those things that keep me up at night (mostly things like “How are we going to pay for this or that?” and “Where can I get work?”) but what is seen cannot be unseen. Perhaps a year from now, with only a month to go in the worst Presidency in American history, our job crisis solved, less friends and family in pain and suffering and money coming in, it will be a better Christmas. This year, for me, will be about celebrating the only thing I feel is the only constant in my life – my wife’s love for me and mine for her. With a family like mine, I can do anything.

[i] I don’t really dream of candy canes. It’s the first metaphor I thought of.

[ii] No tree, no mistletoe, no holiday decorations of any kind.

[iii] Also THIS, THIS and THIS.


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