Goodwill To All


Sunset which exemplifies the glory and hope of this bitter cold season.
  • Humans, like most primates, are tribally social.  Unlike other primates, we are so complicated that we can belong to many tribes at once, often of our own conception.  We have blood and marriage families, work, politics, neighbors, clubs and, in fact, tribes of almost any obsession we might have.  Including purely virtual tribes on media and internet.  Literature and history are full of the anxiety we endure determining our true loyalties when differing tribal duties conflict.
  • Common end of year celebrations in this newly interconnected world are representative of both the hope and problems of trying to get all our tribes to relate peacefully to one another.  Wishing goodwill to everyone is all very well so long as we believe they are truly just like us.  Unfortunately, another primate trait is that the various tribes formed in those species often taunt, scream at, and try to hurt each other as part of their common experience.


Joan lovingly decorates our tree each year, complaining even as she enjoys remembering the story of each ornament.
  • In spite of too large a human population, most of the world is swimming in abundance compared to earlier times.  There is generally more food, clothing, and shelter for each person than there once was, and more security that it will all continue to be available day by day.  For the moment, commercial ties have overcome most wars and crime.  Even the most rapacious would rather be billionaires in a peaceful paradise than megalomaniac warlords holding power with uncertain paranoid force.
  • Appropriately, at commonly accepted year end, gift giving has become a common and universal tradition.  It is all crassly commercial, of course, and filled with very strange and varied mythology and symbols, but the core gesture remains benign.  There have definitely been worse times to be alive, and many worse worries into the next year.  Smile and be grateful and hope that these traditions will endure and continue for many solar cycles to come.


Afternoon sun illuminates high icy crystals across the emptied sea.
  • God bless us one and all ….
  • … except for terrorists, some politicians and _ oh, yeah _ that idiot who just cut me off …


Placid swans are relatively unaffected by unusually frigid temperature.
  • Our theme for Christmas gathering this year was unfortunately “everyone has the flu.”  Coughing and general tired misery set the tone.  We managed moments of merriment, as was proper, but generally it was hard to project a constantly happy outlook with snow, deep cold, sneezing and wheezing.
  • A lesson in that was that although our travails were extremely minor, in terms relative to real problems, I still had too much tendency to sink into general cynicism.  Like all the political news of the last year, irrelevant issues could affect my mood.  One of my resolutions for the coming year will be to remain as a lily of the field, unaffected by anything beyond my local sky and enchanting meadow.
Fallen branch stripped by wind of last storm lies in the light fluffy snow, tardy white Christmas after all.
  • First garbage pickup after Christmas is a big one.  Boxes, bags, cardboard, whatever are piled high at the end of most driveways.  A sign of affluence, the problems of waste disposal and overuse of Earth’s resources in a nutshell.  As is the morning pickup, in 11 degree cold, using massive amounts of fossil fuels to send the products of other fossil fuel use to either be burned or buried.
  • But is it ever worth being Cassandra?  Predicting doom and disaster is easy, and often even makes older people feel righteous.  Spreading unhappiness will solve nothing, and never has.  The human cycle remains dust to dust, life engages in its objectively hopeless fight against entropy, and yet we smile and laugh and have wonderful consciousness to appreciate our eternal moments.  For all the stupidity of waste of the season, an awful lot of joy has also been delivered to everyone.  Maybe that is the most important thought of the day.


Light fluffy stuffing around greenery provides appropriate background to holiday decorative accents.
“Bah blah nah yeah.”  Nicholas tears paper off, more interested in the wrapping than the present inside.
“Isn’t that cute?” asks Patricia.
“Let me get a picture,” insists Joan.
“He won’t remember any of this,” notes Greg.  “He’s only two.”
“This whole thing is just for the grandparents,” observes uncle Wayne cynically.
“No, “ I remark.  “This who thing is for you adults, who will one day realize how special it is to have a young child and parents still alive.”
“Stop! Stop!  You can’t eat that!” screams everybody.

“Goo blah whah bam….”


Some of the scenery of the season is, naturally, indoors.
Life bless ye merry gentlefolk, let nothing you dismay
Remember every year the world’s reborn upon this day
And all the ills that once had been are past and in decay
Oh headlines of comfort and joy (don’t we all wish?)

Oh headlines of comfort and joy.

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