CSotD: Greatish Expectations

We’re entering the holiday season, which is normal, but still in lockdown mode, which, of course, is not, and Joe Heller (AMS) remarks on a year that has somehow managed to have troughs without peaks.

Which is, of course, ridiculous: You can’t have troughs without peaks. It’s just that the troughs seemed very low and the peaks barely reached normal, or, at least, that’s how it felt.

Such that “We’re doing pretty well” does, I suppose, come across as bragging, though another way to look at it would be to say that “Life is miserable” seems like bragging because we seem to get perverse pleasure out of counting our losses.

In which case, “We’re doing pretty well” puts you in league with the citizens of London during the Blitz, whose leaders encouraged them to keep a stiff upper lip and modeled that behavior themselves, what with the Princess Elizabeth driving an army truck and so forth.

Of course, Americans are different: Jimmy Carter put on a sweater to model behavior in an energy crisis and people mocked him for it, then kicked him to the curb in favor of Ronald Reagan and Hollywood glitz.

In any case, Christmas letters seem a vestige of the past — I think I get two a year — and the challenge is not, as Heller has it, finding things to brag about, but, rather, finding things to brag about that you haven’t already pounded to death on Facebook.

As for photos of the growing kids, I see so many photos of other people’s kids in my newsfeed that I recognize kids whose parents I’ve never seen.

All of which sounds terribly Grinchy, and I’m not saying I don’t want to know what people are up to, but, rather, that a simple recitation of what people have done and photos of what they look like now seem redundant.

My dad did a Christmas cartoon each year, and I get a few cartoon-cards from cartoonist friends, and that is different enough to genuinely stand out. But the real challenge for those of us who can’t draw is how to do something that stands out like that, and if you don’t have small children to photograph, it’s a puzzlement.

The other challenge being that I can’t send out cards because I don’t know anyone’s physical address anymore.

The days of the Christmas Card Index Card Address Box are long gone.

(Lockhorns, KFS, 2010)

No more Sid and Alma, indeed.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Dave Granlund – Ind)



(John Darkow – Cagle)

The news 24 hours ago was that a group of bipartisan legislators had put together a relief package that was cut back substantially from the Democrat’s ideal but still promised aid and was within limits acceptable to the administration.

And the news a few hours later was that Moscow Mitch had declared it DOA.

Granlund is specific in condemning the greed while Darkow spreads the blame, which is an important distinction, because there seems to be the start of rumbling against Republicans for failure to pushback on their party leadership.

Furthermore, these cartoons seem to slander Dickens’ fictional miser, of whom I wrote recently

There was a time when Ebenezer Scrooge, begrudging poor Bob Cratchit a day off, stood out as a miser and villain, but even he supported the prisons and workhouses, and he had the miserly consistency to live on oatmeal and to snuff his candles early.

Scrooge made enough money that he could afford to be generous, so that part is accurate, but he was so crabbed and miserable in his own life that he got no more pleasure from his hoarded wealth than did the Cratchits or anyone else.

The enduring appeal of “A Christmas Carol” is not that the Cratchits finally got fair treatment but, rather, in how Scrooge was forced to confront the disappointments and sorrow that had so stunted his life. Tiny Tim may be the catalyst for his redemption, but the figure of pity is the lonely little boy, Ebenezer, the grieving baby brother, who, by the time he came of age, had become so embittered that he destroyed his one chance to be loved.

We certainly haven’t gotten to the redemption portion of McConnell’s story, nor is he eating oatmeal in a dark, cold room.


Juxtaposition of the Day #2

(Michael de Adder – Ind)

(John Deering – Creators)

De Adder and Deering are both correct that coming to grips with this annus horrilibus is going to take some analysis, and if the wife in Heller is unable to come up with anything positive, there is surely no lack of bad news to process and place into context.

And, again, there is a big difference between remembering, with pride, “when we all had to sacrifice” and remembering, bitterly, “when we all had to suffer.”

The Royals and other uppercrust Londoners made an effort to share the horrors and sacrifices during the Blitz, while I don’t think that the Princess Ivanka has been seen in uniform driving a truck.

In fact, to return once more to Dickens, our leadership has been more like the aristo in Tale of Two Cities who was annoyed because a small child had inconvenienced him by running under the wheels of his carriage.

“It is extraordinary to me,” said he, “that you people cannot take care of yourselves and your children. One or the other of you is for ever in the way. How do I know what injury you have done my horses?”

Which had the benefit of awakening a revolution, but, alas, one which descended into terror and senseless repression of another kind.

Not a prediction; simply a caution.

In any case, the problem with teaching about this year will not be what to include and what to exclude but how to make it fit the template.



3 thoughts on “CSotD: Greatish Expectations

  1. Michael de Adder presents a striking image – until one remembers that the thumb-indexed page will be the first, not the last, page of the referenced chapter. Either 2020 will require a looooong introduction or he expects the most eventful year to be 2021 – a chilling prospect.

  2. Looking around, I gather that the lesson that the Scrooges of the world took from A Christmas Carol was to stop being Scrooges and to spend more of their money on themselves. No fun being a penny-pincher.

  3. Mark, I’m gonna give de Adder some license on that. There are certain things that, if you depict them accurately, don’t work. This is a pretty good example of that.

    Maybe it’s, y’know, like Tik-Tok.

Comments are closed.