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'Tis the Season... To Be Normal

by Kenneth B. Lourie

And boy, do we need it! Ever since 9/11 - and the continuing war on terror - the issues of the day have become somewhat more serious, at home and overseas. And last fall, when the memories and effects of the terrorists’ attacks were still fresh and indelible, Christmas and, to a lesser degree, Thanksgiving were partially absorbed by the aftershocks of these heinous and unprovoked attacks.

As a result, shopping, dining, gift-giving and holiday good cheer seemed out of place, inappropriate almost, in the midst of such domestic abuse. And so Christmas of 2001 was unlike any holiday my baby boomer generation had ever experienced. Thousands had died in the Sept. 11 attacks, and thousands more were risking their lives in Afghanistan defending freedom. So the news of the day was not as innocent and pure as we had become accustomed to. Sure, there were still “Hallmark memories,” but there were also interviews with surviving family members from the 9/11 attacks, as well as with soldiers who were spending the holidays separated from their loved ones a long way from home.

It was all very sobering and sad.

But now comes Christmas 2002. And though the soldiers are still fighting and the pursuit of terrorists still ongoing, it seems Americans have found an appropriate and respectful (and appreciative, too) balance in their lives to honor the events of the past while enjoying the holidays of the present. And with Thanksgiving dated so late in November this year (28th), and the resulting interval between it and Christmas one of the shortest on the calendar, time is of the essence, and shoppers, it appears, know it. People are moving forward again, participating in the Yuletide of emotions.

Last Christmas we were barely moving at all. Emotionally we were down, but not out. As a country, we had taken a standing eight-count. We weren’t exactly sure what hit us (metaphorically speaking), but when it became clear and we caught our breath, we regrouped, reorganized and re-prioritized. And now we’re ready to re-enjoy Christmas. Smoke billowing from the fire at the Pentagon no longer hangs over the horizon. It’s been a difficult year, but we’re back, and more vigilant and determined than ever to protect and preserve this great country of ours. Once again, it’s time to celebrate. I think we’ve earned it - don’t you?

Granted, the economic news of late has not been great: unemployment reaching 6 percent, the recent decline in the stock market, the high-profile bankruptcies and the recent resignation of two of the federal government’s top economic advisers - the Secretary of the Treasury and the Chairman of the National Economic Council - but life, as many civilians have known it, goes on.

It has been said that living well is the best revenge. I’d like to update that sentiment to offset the threats, either real or imagined, that we as Americans must now endure: Being happy and proud and secure is the best cure for what ails us. We should all live long and prosper. And this Christmas, we’re finally starting to act like it, again.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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