Tuesday, December 20, 2005

On my grownup Christmas list

Okay, so we all have Christmas lists, even if we don't write them down and mail them to Santa (or give them to our moms to mail to Santa, and then later find a stockpile of Santa letters going back years and finally figure out why the Santa cookies are gone and Daddy has a milk mustache every Christmas morning). Usually, we think about Christmas presents in terms of things that can be wrapped up, opened on Christmas morning, and left for Goodwill a week later, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that what I really want for Christmas can't be tied up with a ribbon.

Well, one of them can. I'll let you figure out which one.

1. Terror intelligence. I really, really want to know what intelligence the president got that Congress didn't, and vice versa. We keep hearing that President Bush gets certain things in his intelligence briefings, and Congress gets other things; I want to know what each of them knew as they were making their decisions about Iraq.

2. An exit strategy. I'm not going to demand a timetable, because I realize that trying to put an arbitrary time limit to our withdrawal would be foolish, but I'd like to know that someone has actually considered the next steps and knows what we have to do to help Iraq back to its feet and bring our troops home.

3. Generosity. Wouldn't it be great if, as a country, we remembered that poor people are still poor and homeless people are still homeless after Christmas is done? We drop money into kettles for the Salvation Army and we give donations in lieu of Christmas presents and feel really great about making a contribution, and that's a good thing. But if you can't afford to heat your home in December, it's going to be just as cold in February, and we who have so much still have a responsibility to those who don't. I think this is my favorite Christmas wish, becauase it's the one that really could come true.

4. Michael Bublé, shirtless, with a plate of blueberry pancakes in one hand and a Bosch mass airflow sensor in the other.

5. A strong Democratic candidate for 2008. Nobody currently pointed at the Democratic primaries has what it takes to be a solid candidate, much less presidential material. At Doug's Festivus party, the Airing of the Grievances included one moderate Republican who had the following to say: "I've got a grievance with the damn Democrats who couldn't raise a decent candidate in 2004. You give us this rich, weak-ass Massachusetts liberal who wasn't any better than what we already had. If you'd have given me a better candidate, I'd have voted for him." And she was completely right. I voted for Kerry because he's what was available to me, not because I had a whole lot of faith in him as a potential president. When I go to the polls in 2008, I want it to be because I'm so excited about our candidate that I can't wait to cast my ballot, not because I feel it's important to defeat the other guy.

6. Compassion. Right now, the biggest problem we have in this country is that everyone is so damn selfish. The only reason anyone is griping about a "War on Christmas" is that some Christians think that they're the only religion out there worth recognizing, and if you don't recognize them specifically, it's a personal attack. People demonize the poor, but never really think about what it's like to really be cold. People judge pro-choicers without ever considering what it's like to be a pregnant teenager without a supportive family. If we all recognized that the entire world hasn't had the life and opportunities we have, maybe we'd be slower to judge. I had a discussion once with my friends where one said if she were a superhero, she'd want as her superpower the ability to make people feel the pain they'd just inflicted on someone else. That's some cool stuff. I don't know if I like the idea of forced empathy as a weapon, but it would be a really wonderful tool.

So there's my Christmas list. I can't say that I've been a very, very good girl this year, but I have tried. If I find just one of those things waiting for me under my pathetic, two-foot-tall plastic Charlie Brown-looking Christmas tree, I'll consider myself truly blessed. Feel free to put your own Christmas list in the comments; maybe the Solstice Gnome will read it and bring you what you want.

No comments: