Commentary: Carry hope with you this Christmas, y’all

  • Robert Dean
  • Special to the American-Statesman
3:47 p.m Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 Opinion
Dressed as Santa Claus, Eldon Hansen stands in front of the Alamo as snow falls in downtown San Antonio on Dec. 7. That day, Central Texas saw more snow than it had since the 1980s. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The days feel longer since President Trump’s vacuous tendrils descended upon our lives. We stare at our phones wondering what insane thing happens next. We’re addicted to apocalyptic news — and kicking the habit feels like a fantasy.

Is someone going to get shot at a McDonald’s? Was a group of Pakistani tourists run over in Los Angeles? Did Willie Nelson take his medicine today? Has a tweet kickstarted World War III?

The year 2017 was an emotional boxing match, with something awful popping you in the mouth and something wicked cracking your ribs. We’re lost in YouTube videos of folks going full-on WWE inside a Wendy’s, or staring too long at divisive clips of The Young Turks or Tomi Lahren, forgetting we live in a world of good things.

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We’re better than we think we are. We light up comment sections, arguing about who can pee in which bathroom or who can have all the big guns, but there’s more to us than angry finger swipes. There’s more to life than the MSNBC or Fox News echo chambers; we aren’t all just red and blue icons on an electoral map ready to scream “This is Sparta!” just before meeting one another in the street.

Gay marriage became legal down in Australia — and some of us missed the good news. Love is love, and now everyone sipping flat whites down in Sydney can marry whomever they please. “Ladybird,” an independent movie about an all-too-real relationship between a mother and daughter, is now the highest reviewed movie on Rotten Tomatoes. A guy jumped out of his car and into the raging destruction of the California wildfires to save a scared bunny.

There was an eclipse — and we all stared at the same sky, holding our breath, waiting for something magical. Eighty swimmers formed a human chain to save drowning boys in Florida. Scientists in Israel discovered a breakthrough in fighting Lou Gehrig’s disease. Southwest flew a plane full of puppies from Houston to San Diego to reduce the burden of overcrowded shelters.

VIEWPOINTS: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

A random guy was accidentally added to a group text to help send supplies to a family member serving overseas, and instead of dropping a “wrong number who dis?,” he started a GoFundMe, raising enough to send 40 pounds of cookies for a few soldiers overseas.

We can 3D print bones, prosthetics and even a house now. An invention called the SkinGun can help severe burn victims regrow skin with their own stem cells. MIT announced it’s nearing the reversal of Alzheimer’s, giving hope to families who’ve endured watching their family members fade away.

Women spoke out against rape and assault until the country listened, taking down creepy senators and abusive Hollywood legends. Black women saved us from Roy Moore. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson set the record for a human in space, 666 consecutive days – that’s a lot of astronaut ice cream. And an 81-year-old grandmother in Japan taught herself to code and launched a successful iPhone app.

Texas took a wallop during Harvey, but we’re still here. The Astros even gave Houston an early gift in October when they hoisted that championship trophy.

ROBERT DEAN: I’m new to the state, but I can vouch for Texas grit.

Today, our kids are racing down the stairs and ripping open presents, smiling as wide as Texas. We’re having barbecue feasts for lunch, quiet dinners with family we see once a year. We may take the boat out for a ride with Pawpaw, or turn off the TV and watch the snow cascade from the comfort of a La-Z-Boy and a fire. Carry hope with you this Christmas; don’t get lost in the narrative. Not today. We can’t let the devastating headlines, the fake news, the stories of agony and irony win. Because in the end it ain’t bad, y’all.

Dean is a writer and journalist in Austin.