A respite from strife, politics on Christmas: A Tampa Bay Times Editorial

Posted December 24, 2017 6:06 p.m. EST

This Christmas morning brings with it the familiar joys of the season. Twinkling decorations, cards from friends near and far, caroling and delicious meals. But at the end of this long year, it also brings some welcome relief. A break from the relentless tide of political outrage, a day to reflect on the good in our lives and fresh hope for a new year marked by more compassion and less vitriol.

The world is an unsettling place right now, with tensions rising between the United States and North Korea and strained relationships with even longtime traditional allies. The threat of terrorism continues to cast its long shadow. Then there's domestic angst, epitomized perhaps by the presidency of Donald Trump and an electorate that only became more polarized as the year wore on. Mass shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas, stole a little more of our sense of safety. While overall unemployment remains low nationally and in Florida, too many Americans are still waiting for the economic recovery to hit home.

Floridians weathered the worst hurricane season in more than a decade this year, as Hurricane Irma affected virtually every corner of the state and triggered record power outages. Though the region and the state showed resilience, longtime hurricane czar Craig Fugate recently warned that stronger storms could become more common and Floridians should be ready.

Today, though, is a reprieve from all that. Today is for turning on Bing Crosby -- or Darlene Love or Gwen Stefani, depending on your generation -- and reveling in the good. For reviving old traditions while creating new memories. For celebrating the joy of a child opening presents under the tree. For celebrating the birth of Christ and meditating in the quiet of a candlelit service.

There is surely reason for optimism and joy. The stock market is up, unemployment is down, and more Americans have confidence in the economy, according to Gallup. Tampa Bay continues its hot streak as a place where companies want to set up shop and more people want to live. During the hard days of hurricane recovery, we were reminded of the good in people as neighbors came together and helped one another. It was a lesson in kindness we should carry through the holidays and all year: to stay connected and be ready to help.

More than 107 million Americans were expected to travel this holiday season. Despite crowded highways and clogged airports, despite the possibility of a dinner-table feud over politics, families are forgetting for a moment the trials of 2017 and enjoying simple togetherness.

Merry Christmas.

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