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2009 - a year of mixed blessings

Well here we go again. It happens with inevitable regularity.

Well here we go again. It happens with inevitable regularity. The winter solstice is past and we bring out the Yule log (now made of ice cream and chocolate cake), mistletoe (plastic yet) and shepherd’s crooks (canes made of red and white dyed sugar). And we celebrate the annual visit from Santa Claus.

The last item is the extraordinary tale of a vertically challenged overweight chap dressed in red cloth, smoking a pipe and landing on everyone’s rooftop in a sled pulled by eight reindeer. The sleigh is filled with gifts that are inexplicably continually replenished. He then proceeds to crawl down our chimneys, whether we have them or not, avoiding being incinerated or asphyxiated by his own tobacco ashes, and puts presents under our evergreen trees, which are made, not infrequently, from spin-off complex hydrocarbons produced down-line from Fort McMurray and other similar Earth-warming operations and thence manufactured in China. This remarkable charitable gift-giving happens worldwide in one evening whether one lives in Frobisher Bay or Canberra. Mind you, the story and its customs differ somewhat according to geography, cultural heritage and the passage of time. Still it is a custom well worth preserving even in this Google-mapped cynical world. It keeps us young at heart.

This time of year also marks the beginning of a new year for Muslims, celebrating Al Hijira, when the prophet Muhammad and his people migrated from Mecca to Medina. And Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah when the oil that was needed to keep the candles burning in the Temple of Jerusalem, as it was being rededicated, was only sufficient for one day but lasted for eight. This allowed time to produce enough new oil to keep the candles always lit. A third event, also coming from the history of the Middle East, celebrates the birth of a baby in a barn. The event is recorded in the Koran as the arrival of a prophet who was born to a virgin named Mary. Of course the story of what happens afterward as Jesus grew up and after he was put to death varies. But there is no doubt that the course of world history has been driven by the effects on communities and nations of these three religious creeds. Still the message of Christmas is unique and holds nothing but goodwill and universal hope for peace. It deserves to be celebrated wholeheartedly outside of the sanitized greeting cards that water down the event to season’s greetings.

It seems to me that it is precisely this shilly-shallying of trying to satisfy everyone and everything that is getting in our way to doing anything substantive these days, particularly in Canada. President Barak Obama might be sneered at for stepping up to world leaders and putting his proposition to lower the impact of global warming on the line in Copenhagen. Many of his countrymen say he couldn’t have delivered even if China had agreed the first time around. But at least he is trying and has a formed a group of major nations to work with him. Excluding Canada. Our prime minister had cornered himself politically by declaring that the United States would be telling us what to do and we had nothing to offer of our own. No president or any other world leader is going to hold this man’s hand when he has no independent ideas, no world vision and can’t control a minor group of evergreen zealots. He also doesn’t need another lapdog in the White House.

So let’s look to 2010 confident in the knowledge that our future in all nationally substantive things, except the weather and the CBC, rests in the hands of the President of the United States — if and when he gets around to it.

Actually that thought gives me a feeling of comfort.

Alan Murdock is a local pediatrician.