Growing up, the season from around Thanksgiving until Christmas was always a magical time.
The smells of baking, cooking the turkey and, of course, the anticipation of Christmas were exciting. Those were good times. People just seemed a little nicer, a little kinder around Christmastime.
Since there wasn’t much money back then, to decorate the tree we’d string popcorn and cranberries, which not only took a lot of time, but was messy, too. But along with putting bookmarks in the Montgomery Ward and Sears catalogs (for those old enough to remember a catalog) for toys there was no chance of getting, it signaled the season of joy for us.
As I got older, it was fun getting and giving presents; usually mom and dad got some real nice stick figure drawings or something similar. It wasn’t until I had kids and grandkids I realized how precious those are.
I don’t recall how old I was, but one of my most vivid Christmas day memories had to do with my grandma. While most of the nation watched football, we watched a video of grandma’s laser cataract surgery. I should say some did. It didn’t sit well with my turkey dinner and me.
But one thing was certain; in my mom’s home, there was no doubt that Jesus was the reason for Christmas. She’d get so upset when the term “X-mas” was used. She’d tell us it’s not X-mas, it's Christmas.
And this was before saying “merry Christmas” somehow got to be controversial.
In hindsight, as an adult, I think the reason I have so many fond memories of Christmas despite not having much was mom's insistence in keeping us centered on the message of Christmas.
Despite not having much, we always had enough. Looking back, times were pretty good. Crime, conflict and general angst like we see today just didn’t exist in my family’s world. At least, nothing like we see today. Of course it didn’t hurt that we only got three channels on the TV back then, and one was snow.
I grew up, joined the Navy, got married, had a family, and now nearly 46 years later, have a chance to reflect on our Christmases together, raising our kids, now watching our grandkids grow and enjoy Christmas in a very different world than we did.
But there is hope and only a fool would put their future in government because if you do, you’re going to be disappointed. If you put your happiness in the hands of politicians, the government or “things,” you’re also going to be disappointed.
And the evidence is all around us.
For nearly two years, we’ve been dealing with a pandemic, and after all this time and putting our trust in talking heads on TV, government doctors and our leaders in general, where are we today? What they said would be a two-week inconvenience has lasted well beyond that and hasn’t really changed the trajectory as we were promised. It’s hard to believe much of anything we’re told these days.
Crime is out of control across the country and sadly, locally, we’re not immune. Just this week, a man was stabbed and died right here in Chehalis for what appears to be no reason. Drug abuse, dark music, dark movies, constant reminders of pending doom — is it any wonder depression and suicides are so common?
So let me suggest this: turn off the news, social media and all the rest that is a distraction and give yourself a break from all the stress that surrounds us every day. Find quiet time alone with family and only surround yourself with “people of goodwill.”
The others aren’t worth the aggravation and they’ll be there waiting in the New Year.
John McCroskey was Lewis County sheriff from 1995 to 2005. He lives outside Chehalis and can be contacted at email@example.com.