Sunday, December 19, 2004

Christmas, Part I completed.

Yea, I attended my girlfriend's family's Christmas gathering this morning, my first day of vacation. Per usual, I felt like a fifth wheel for a while, but then I got into the spirit of the thing and enjoyed watching the younger kids go through their dance of presents - you know, when Macy (about 7 years old) models all the clothes she received for the grandparents, the aunts and uncles and, of course, her siblings. And then her brother, Banner, (about age 10) solemnly ripping into his gifts, mumbling thanks each time he opened another package (after a few nudges from his mother).

Christmas still gives me an emotional and spiritual lift, despite its ever-advancing commercialism. I still enjoy looking at the twinkling lights and colorful decorations that some folks festoon their homes with. And I still enjoy the baroque music PBS plays during the season. It's soothing, intricate and emotional tapestry-stuff. Yahoo!

Speaking of which, Yahoo, my primary IP (in concert with SBC Telephone Co.) recently loaded up a bunch of new features for its subscribers. Unfortunately, like most ISPs and Internet portals, practically all the content is incompatible with Macintosh computers. It sucks!

It seems to me that if one pays for a service like SBC/Yahoo, then its ISP features ought to be designed so they work with all computers, including Macs. Alas, it just is not so. It's certainly NOT an egalitarian system when it comes to living in a Mac-versus-Microsoft world.

And so it goes.

Speaking of politics, as the GOP gears up for the next presidential run, even as the Democrats lick their wounds and scratch their collective heads, it's puzzling to me how quiet Sen. Longface, er, Sen. Kerry has become since his defeat. Has his pride been hurt so badly that he's lost his tongue?

I was hoping that he would take the forefront for the party in redesigning its platform. But it seems that he's withdrawn from the public eye, so completely, in fact, that I'd bet many who voted for him would have trouble remembering his name today!

So what is going on here in our two-party system? How, exactly, did the GOP gather the majority of the electorate into its camp in so short a period of time?

Remember Newt Gingrich and his "promises" to America — his 10-point (?) treatise on government that radically changed the landscape of the body politic? I trace the advancement of the GOP to that briliant bit of theater as much as any other influence in play.

Yes, Lyndon Johnson foretold the loss the Southern vote when the Democratic Party pushed the civil rights issue down the unwilling throats of the Southern populace and made racial discrimination a federal crime.

Even though, in my opinion, it was the right thing to do, President Johnson recognized that the power-base in the South — the good-old-boy millionaires club and its corporate/agricultural giants — would abandon the party out of spite. It's frightening to me to think that many a momentous decision adopted by lawmakers — local, county, state and federal — was borne aloft on the wings of angst, prejudice, perverse, deceitful manipulation and just plain greed.

The age of chivalry, nobility and uprightness is now a footnote in the book of modern history.

A kind of McCarthyism has returned to America all these long years later. The theater of characater assassination rules the roost today. Now it seems that voters perceive the Democratic Party as a bunch of ill-informed pacifists, and without considering the individual candidate's record at all.

The GOP, it seems, has so thoroughly undermined the "image" of liberals that Democrats run from the moniker in fear, Barack Obama and a few dedicated liberals notwithstanding.

But it's Christmastime. A time to make peace with one's enemies and contribute what harmony one can muster to the world's cacaphonous symphony.

And that, mis amigos y amigas, is all I can think to do.

On a personal note, I'm facing the harsh reality of aging, a perplexing dilemma that I suppose everyone must face at some point in time — given the time.

My body is inexorably eroding, as evidenced by back teeth that actually have dissolved in stages over a period of 15 months or so. I have two molars (lower left) that are only ridges of enamel, barely rising above the gumline. Like ragged icebergs these remnants stand as sentinels, warning me of ages' advancement and destructive power!

I think of age as an actual entity that has form, substance and — eerily — conscious intent. And I'm locked in battle with Age - the ancient enemy of my forebearers and the nemesis to my spirit's youth. My only weapons are hope, earnest faith in the body's resiliency and a subconscious desire to remain vital.

But age is formidable and insidious and it has the edge.

In other words, you can delay age's corrosive progression but you can't halt it.

Age wins out over us all, and in the end one must decide whether to graciously accept the vicissitudes that accompany age, or rebel with all one's might, despite knowing that you're losing the fight, even as you gain ground.

The paradox, the irony is, when we're young we want to act like we're older; and when we're old, we want nothing so much as to turn back the clock.

What to choose: embrace dignity in aging and death or lash out through childish, irrational stubbornness in the hope of defeating the undefeatable?

What would you do?


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