All was calm, all was bright as a big December moon ushered in the winter solstice. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is usually a quiet one as the frenzy of the holidays gives way to sitting around in your cozy new slippers and reading a book.
Always give yourself a book at Christmas in case no one else does. Wrap it and put it under the tree to enjoy the pleasure of anticipation. Open it last, put it next to a chair by the fire and open the cover when you have a clear stretch of uninterrupted time ahead of you. This is a joy to be savored.
If you are warm, fed and sheltered, sing a song of thanksgiving. If you have family and friends close by, sing a second chorus. If the power goes out, think about life in places where there is neither electricity, nor clean drinking water, nor warm clothing. Sing again.
Late December is a time of contemplation. The piano teacher says we should be grateful for the electoral candidates who ran and lost. They put themselves out there in a way most of us never do, squeezing time from work and families, exposing themselves to humiliations large and small. Now it’s all done and they have little to show for it. Disagree with them if you will, but be kind. The 7-year-old says kindness is a muscle. Gotta flex it every day. He learned that on YouTube.
The cat sitter hollers hello down the street. The neighbor waves from his doorway. The bagger at the grocery store worries he has put too many heavy bottles in the bag and offers to re-pack it. The store owner pauses in her shoveling to wave.
The dog at the library barks a thank you for his biscuit. The bank teller calls you by name. A truck pulls out of the post office lot and blocks traffic so you can scuttle across the street with your package. The owner of the coffee shop sits down beside you to chat for a few minutes. The library calls to tell you the book you requested has arrived.
The morning sun comes up pink and yellow between the trees. The art gallery is serving free coffee and cookies. School is out and the kids are full of joy and sugar. Friends call each other up and get together for drinks or dinner. The fishing boats are gone from the harbor, another season done.
Houses and stores glow and twinkle with Christmas lights in the early dark, a feast for eyes starved of daylight. Deer tiptoe into yards right in town to check for summer leftovers and drain the bird feeder. A fox makes a sweep to see if the deer missed anything. The cat sits in the window menacing the squirrels under her breath but opts to stay in, where it’s warm.
The pace is so different than in the fall. State politics are in a state of suspended animation. It is not that nothing is happening, it has just slipped from the front page and is taking place behind the scenes as preparations are made for the next legislature and the inauguration of a new governor. Leadership has been elected, constitutional officers chosen, cabinet members are being appointed and policy committee chairs will soon be named.
The one political situation that did not take a back seat to the New Year’s pause was the increasingly desperate quest of former Congressman Bruce Poliquin to overturn the results of the 2nd Congressional District election.
Poliquin lost his seat to Jared Golden in the race but could not reconcile himself to the loss. He suggested there had been “chaos” at the polls because Maine voters were confused about how to vote using ranked choice vote ballots, though there was no evidence that this was the case.
He asked for a new election, tried to get RCV declared unconstitutional and lost on both counts. He himself pulled the plug on the recount he had requested but appealed the most recent court decisions and asked that certification of the election results be delayed.
One might well wonder if this was Poliquin’s battle or if he was acting at the behest of the Republican party. His comments seemed to indicate that he was convinced he had a cause worth fighting.
On Christmas Eve, he dropped his legal challenge, clearing the way for Jared Golden to be sworn in on Jan. 3. Congressman Poliquin gave four years of service in D.C. to our state. It is unfortunate that his service ended in a protracted battle over a lost cause.