My most memorable Christmas happened in the early 1950s, when I was 11 or 12. At the top of my list to ‘Santa’ was a Gilbert Microscope Set, with which I dreamed of discovering the wonders of the wee world cavorting below the range of my normal sight. Supposing this coveted treasure was in the largest package “Santa” had left under the tree, I saved it for last. I tried my best to hide my overwhelming disappointment when the microscope was not in the box, instead pajamas, slippers and a robe.
After we had devoted ourselves to the final rite of Christmas morning, burning the gift-wrap in the fireplace, I turned to open the can opener, screw-driver and broad blade of my new Boy Scout pocket knife, my second choice under the tree. As I laid it aside to enjoy a piece of candy from the sock hung on the mantel, my Dad, reaching behind the couch, uttered a surprised, “What’s this? Seems Santa has left something here!” It was, of course, the microscope set. My tears told Mom and Dad that I had, for however brief a time, been confronted with a lesson about expectations and disappointments.
By Spring the next year, the green, hinged case with the microscope, its glass slides and chemical reagents, was on a shelf in my room where it sat neglected until it was thrown/stored away probably about the time I graduated from High School.
This year an unexpected and new favorite present has arrived from the majority voters of Alabama. They have given us all the gift of hope that a republic being shredded by religious tribalism can begin to be restored by responsible citizens. They did not hide their gift from us though. Instead our own cynicism had kept their promise out of our sight. Our cynicism had insisted that a State that had not sent a Democrat to the US Senate for twenty-five years could not possibly put that nation’s best interest ahead of narrow party and pious loyalties. Their present shames our cynicism.
Now we must all make certain that we do not fiddle away our time with multi-bladed amusements but put to use the hope they have given us. We simply must not shelve their gift after a few weeks of marveling at it and let their bright hope drift into obscure memory. They have shown us that we can and must resist the further degradation of our values of justice and equality for all of us.