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The Old Fort: A Musing From The Oil Sands

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Christmas is Forgiving

Christmas is not always seen as a time for atonement. Joy, yes; family, almost certainly. Greed? Maybe that too.

If you are five-years-old it is all about excess and presents, and that is fine. On the other hand if you are an adult and nothing has changed, then you never really understood the reason for the season, did you? Regardless, however, of belief or religious predilection, it is good that there is this annual celebration when we all rejoice in our inner, innate goodness. Maybe, just maybe, the real message of Christmas will peek through the credit card inflammations and excessive food wallowings that all too often are the norm. Maybe our children will one day have as much fun planning the festive season as we do now.

And maybe they’ll remember to invite us for dinner when they do.

Back to atonement; this need to ponder contriteness seems contrary to the contentment available at this time of year, yet the two are intrinsically linked. Seeking forgiveness, making things right, these are often uncomfortable situations, yet true peace only comes from true expiation.

Apologizing, which is different, is easy. As a nation we are caricatured as a people who constantly say ‘Sorry’ even if we did nothing wrong. Apologies are the part of communication that allow us to press on with our begrudged feelings at least slightly mollified. We spread sorrys like seed, bellowing them behind us as we charge through life treading on toes, barging through conversational contretemps and sashaying through social intercourse, covering up those moments best left unsaid. The fine line between funny and hurtful is often skirted by a casual begging of trite forgiveness. The knife’s edge cutting between being ostracized and belonging is barely blunted by a request for a reprieve. Apologies are trite, atonement is life changing. I know.

As a writer with a small but firm audience I am always tempted to go for the cheap laugh, the casual, casuist aside; and there are many easy ways to do so, none more than attacking elected officials. “They put themselves out there to be judged,” I reason with my inner voice of sanctimony. “They expect to be criticized.”

Maybe they do, and maybe calling them names isn’t dishonest. For many the jury is still out as their terms of office are not complete, and some of the epithets I throw at them could very well be true. But, and here’s the big but of the day, every single person who has ever run for office of any sort is a braver and more committed community-minded person than I’ll ever be. They have stood in a public forum with their thoughts and opinions, and had them tested by the will of the people.

And without them we would not be living in a democracy, because democracy only works if people are prepared to test it constantly at the ballot box.

I agree that I am occasionally impolite and compare people’s opinions to parts of animals sometimes best left unmentioned. I am always too ready to dismiss thoughts contrary to my own and I have been known to show intellectual bigotry to antiquated thought processes. In other words, if I don’t agree with a view, I’ve never been shy to let it be known. This is not necessarily wrong, many philosophies were founded on discourse – Kant, for example, tested his thoughts through debate and, er, cant. But as we draw near to the peaceful part of the year, I would like all of the good people of YMM to join together, metaphorically at least, and think happy thoughts in the spirit of Marley. Not Jacob, the ghost from A Christmas Carol, but Bob.

Have yourselves a merry little Christmas, and remember, “One Love, One Heart, Let’s get together and feel all right.”


Kevin has been writing for YMM since the first issue. Many of his articles have been pseudonymous, hidden behind the tags Keyano writer or YMM staff. Kevin has been a columnist for many years, working for some of the leading newspapers of the world, including the New York Times and the Devon Dispatch.