That sort of attitude

By David Grima | Dec 31, 2020

Christmas appears to be over, despite some of us hanging on to the old idea that the holiday lasts for 12 days.

The 12 Days of Christmas, ending on Twelfth Night, is an idea apparently dating back to 567 A.D., if you can believe it. Shakespeare wrote his play of that name around 1601. In some time periods, the whole dozen days were more or less given over to merrymaking. I am not sure we could stand the pace, these days. Modern life is so busy.

I saw the first evidence of Christmas this year around the middle of November, when I glimpsed a well-illuminated house and front yard on Perry Street, near Burger King. Although I was unable to see the so-called Bethlehem star Dec. 21, when Saturn and Jupiter were so close, they shone as one bright heavenly body, I heard the “star” was visible over the Fox Islands Thoroughfare between North and Vinalhaven on Christmas Eve.

Glad some of us more or less saw it.

Despite my musings about the absence of door-to-door carol singing these days, I did drive by a small group doing exactly that outside a house in Damariscotta Dec. 20. Five days earlier, local cable TV broadcasted a recording by the Famous Al Gardner of a Festival of Lights parade in Rockland dating, I think, from November 2017.

It was stunning to see all those crowds gathered together downtown without fear. Some of them were there without heavy overcoats, too, making me wonder if it was a relatively warm evening.

This year, the Kiwanis finished selling their Christmas trees in the lot at Hannaford at least by Dec. 15, and probably earlier.

Public radio carried a story a few days later, saying trees were in short supply this year, suggesting it might be because a good-sized tree takes 10 years to grow, and I am sure we remember where we all were 10 years ago. Right in the middle of the Great Recession, when it seems many tree growers sold their stock for landscaping and not enough were planted to give us a decent crop this year.

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Speaking of Burger King, it is sad to learn that our local franchise is closing, and might have already closed. I understand about 15 people worked there, and the crew on duty for this Monday lunchtime was getting close to selling out, shutting up shop and going home.

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Speaking of food, I saw a sign in Waldoboro the other day, advertising gluten-free firewood. I am sure many sufferers in the area are glad of the chance to gnaw on a piece of lumber without fear of health repercussions.

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The Portland paper recently reported it has been 19 years this month since Amtrak reinstated train service from Portland to Boston.

At the time, many of us were enthralled by the idea that a rail link between Rockland and Portland would soon open up too, but scheduled service has not got any closer to us than Brunswick.

Oh well. At least the Concord bus company restored its route between Boston and Rockland this summer. It’s something.

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There have been few years as miserable for the human population as 2020, yet the Modern Plague is no respecter of dates, and I am sure things will continue to be hard for quite a while before they get better. California is reported to have more cases of the disease than we have people in Maine, for example.

Looking back on my notes for the past 12 months, I see that in July it was reported that Buckingham Palace was distilling its own brand of gin. I am sure it helped the otherwise helpless Royal Family get through what they no doubt assumed is a most annoying time. I just hope they set aside enough bottles to last them to the very end of the Plague.

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I did reflect sadly on the fact the royal gin manufacturing scheme arrived a bit late for the Queen Mother, who died in 2002. She was widely reputed to have enjoyed her gin cocktail.

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Back in July, I learned that plans to restore and reopen what all the world still calls Fales’ Store in Cushing were postponed. I think I have mentioned how, basically, there is now nothing you can buy in that poor town beyond postage stamps and a set of new tires. Maybe we should also count the fruit and veg farm stands that proliferate there in summer and fall, but that’s about it.

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One does tend to think hopefully about the New Year; any old New Year will do. As I sit up here on top of the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live, I cannot help finding a little hope in between the clouds.

At least I can count my blessings.

I still have my job, unlike so many others. My family mostly seems to have escaped infection, or at least nobody has bothered to let me know otherwise.

The other day, I was thinking about the idea of not knowing what’s going on, when I learned that an aunt in England recently passed away in her 89th year. Likewise, I learned that a nephew’s family went from three people to four, while I lived in complete ignorance even of the nine-month-long prospect of yet another grand-niece.

I put it down to this, that there are so many of them over there that they all assume someone else has told me the various bits of family news, when in fact nobody actually has.

Years ago, I read of a strange but similar phenomenon during the war involving fighter pilots, namely that when they were flying in a large group, it was occasionally easy for them all to miss noticing the bad guys coming down at them out of the sun at “12 o’clock high,” until mayhem was upon them.

Simply put, each of them thought the other pilots were looking out for the enemy. In the end, nobody was.

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I heard a report this week that crime in Maine has fallen 56% since 2012, so please don’t tell me everything is irredeemably awful, even now. So, here’s a typically pompous idea from me for the New Year.

If we want things to get better in 2021, in any way we care to define as better, it might help if we each do something about it. Waiting for someone else to improve things on our behalf is sometimes a losers’ game.

After all, even the Good Lord had to get personally involved once upon a time. If waiting around for things to get better on their own wasn’t an option for God, then I don’t think there is much hope for any of us if we adopt that sort of attitude.

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at davidgrima@ymail.com.

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