The holiday season has been a time of good gatherings, good fellowship and good meals. As we pat our protruding middles and recheck the scale, the grim reality begins to dawn, we have been far too generous with the turkey, the trimmings and the good cheer. And it’s not just weight, work too has piled up. Yes indeed the holidays are over.
There are other consequences: the gifts wrapped in colorful paper, tied with ribbons and bows, the flotsam and jetsam of holidays accumulates into an extra 25 million tons of garbage between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
According to research from Stanford, Christmas cards alone if piled into a football stadium would be ten stories high. Yes, each year in the US, 2.65 billion Christmas cards are sold. And here is something to note: each one of us sending one card less would save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
Old habits die hard, yet habits can change and more and more people are using e-cards. One problem is that they can be overlooked in the unwanted flood of email suffered by most of us. Some of the e-cards are actually quite charming and may include a Christmas story.
Children never like the eventual and inevitable taking down of decorations and Christmas tree disposal but the holiday is over. Most responsible communities collect the trees for composting so at least they do not use up landfill space.
Somehow there is a different feeling in a household around Christmas time — an expectancy and joy that settles in as cozily as a puppy in your lap. There must also be a special little place in our brain for Christmas memories going back forever.
These might have been the reason for the spontaneous 1914 Christmas truce between the opposing sides during the First World War. Starting in one area, it quickly spread down the lines and lasted a while until the officers put a stop to it. Pity! It would have saved a lot of lives.
Whatever his reasons, Mr. Putin has declared a 36-hour truce in Ukraine beginning at noon Friday, January 6th. It is over the Russian Orthodox Christmas which itself falls on the Saturday. Mr. Zelenskyy promptly called it hypocrisy and a trick, and Biden claimed Putin was looking for ‘oxygen’ with his 36-hour ceasefire, implying the Russians need a breather. And those who do the actual fighting? They seldom have a say.
Mr. Zelenskyy has also just returned from France having secured the promise of heavily armed but thinly armored light reconnaissance vehicles. Running on wide and large tires instead of tracks, these are thus much faster than tanks reaching speeds of 50 mph. Their main job is to probe enemy lines for weaknesses to exploit. Tank guns mean they can give a good account of themselves, and thinly armored is the other side of the coin … meaning a single tank shell is likely to blow them up. Their fast speed in comparison to tracked vehicles permits them to retreat fast out of harm’s way.
The framework for peace in Ukraine could involve dividing the country where the ethnic Russian eastern part is separated from the rest. However, Mr. Zelinskyy insists on keeping every inch of territory despite the fact that the Soviet Union added or subtracted areas to the Ukraine Oblast for administrative convenience — in those days it was all part of one country anyway.
That war is a terrible consequence of human frailty is obvious … as is its savage contrast with the Christmas message. It brings sorrow instead of joy, misery instead of happiness, and projects self-interest instead of generosity. It remains to be seen whether we will ever develop the wisdom and wit to leave it behind.