Christmas is almost here and we have yet to receive a single Christmas letter at my house.
We've received lots of Christmas cards, of course. The best so far is from Columbia County Chief Magistrate Bobby Christine and his family, with a photo of them posed in front of Graceland and making a "Blue Christmas" reference.
Thank yuh Bobbeh, thank yuh verruh much.
But no letters. No essays from relatives and far-flung friends detailing how fabulous, how over-the-top incredible, their year has been.
The lack of these letters can't be through any failure of the post office. As I said, the cards have been coming through just fine. I suppose it could be because the senders are worried that I'll make fun of them, like I did a few years ago when I lampooned a letter from an in-law.
More likely, though, I'll bet those letters haven't come my way for a couple of different reasons.
First, there's Facebook. If you aren't signed up on the social networking site, it's probably because you're either too young to reach the keyboard, or because the beeps have stopped on your heart monitor.
It's safe to assume that many people on Facebook have no need for a Christmas letter to let family and friends catch up with their terrifically interesting lives. That's because their frequent "status updates" have been providing stiflingly boring bite-sized nuggets of useless information all year long.
Second, for lots of folks, 2009 didn't provide much to write home about - or to anywhere else.
Let's face it; this has been a pretty cruddy year. Sure, there have been bright spots - and compared to a lot of places, Columbia County has been a virtual supernova of bright spots. But for much of the country, it's been lousy.
Politically and economically, our country is swirling around the toilet bowl.
A good example of both: Hillary Clinton promised the United States would pony up $100 billion to third-world countries to somehow help get rid of "global warming." Notwithstanding the fact that money handed over to dictators and kleptocrats isn't going to change the environment, just where does Hillary think that money will come from?
After all, China just said the world - meaning them - can't keep floating IOUs to pay for all of our politicians' profligate spending. When they call the note due, we'll probably be a little less inclined to worship at the alter of the global environmental religion.
Georgia isn't doing much better. School officials are scared stiff that the state is getting ready to slash the budget even further in a couple of weeks. When they heard Gov. Sonny Perdue came to town last week and castrated a dog, I'm sure some of them nervously imagined themselves lying on that operating table, metaphorically speaking.
California has the Governator. Georgia now has the Governeuter.
To make matters worse, Republicans in the state House have done a serious disservice to their historic takeover of the state Legislature.
After more than a hundred years of being in the minority, the GOP swept into power by taking over the state Senate, the House and the Governor's Mansion. Then the first Republican House speaker in the state's history celebrated the monumental achievement by bedding down with a gas company lobbyist.
Way to fight the public's cynicism for politics, fellas.
And, of course, most everyone is more nervous about their personal budgets than the big-spending government ledgers. With unemployment in double digits, lots of people are having blue Christmases with or without Elvis.
Despite the gloom, and despite the lack of Christmas letters for me to make fun of, I'm determined to find those bright spots and celebrate all the joy of Christmas.
And when I do, I'm going to write a letter and send copies to everyone in my family. And post it on Facebook.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good grief.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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