Saturday November 24, 2012

Bob Stannard

I know what you're thinking. You've been sitting around for some time now waiting and waiting and waiting.

No, I'm not talking about the Allen West recount in Florida. I'm talking about the Holidays 2012. The leaves are all down. We've turned the clocks back. We now have about an hour and a half of daylight. If you are the kind of person who gets the doldrums from minimal light exposure you're in the tank right about now.

But hey, cheer up. The Holiday Season is now upon us. By the time you read this Thanksgiving and Black Friday will have come and gone. If you're over 40 those five pounds you put on won't shed easily. Hopefully you were able to get out the following day and walk for hours through our ever increasingly larger stores. I'm convinced that the reason we are building million-square-foot stores is so the American shopper can get some exercise.

We are entering the beginning of the end of 2012 and there is much to be grateful for, sort of. The elections are behind us. That's good in some ways. We no longer have to watch commercials with spooky music and spookier messaging, but the media will have to deal with the rapid loss of revenues.

After spending nearly $2 billion, we have pretty much the same situation in Washington that we've had for the past four years, with the notable difference that our president has much more experience and no longer has to worry about being re-elected.


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Politics is always interesting and on the national level 2013 will not disappoint the political junkies out there.

Perhaps one of the biggest losers of 2012 was Super Pacs. I have the distinction of being the co-founder of Vermont's first Super Pac: Priorities Pac. Todd Bailey, of KSE Partners, and I formed a Super Pac unlike other Super Pacs, with the intention of using it to draw attention to how horrible Super Pacs are and to why they need to be eliminated from the political process. It was heartwarming to see how unsuccessful they were in Vermont this year.

Let's not kid ourselves, though. 2012 witnessed the introduction of big money into Vermont politics and this will most likely be the norm going forward.

But let's not jump ahead. We still have another five weeks left of 2012, so let's concentrate on just how grand these five weeks are going to be. First, there's Thanksgiving. OK, so it's over now, but it's not yet arrived as this is being written. We have much to be thankful for. Hurricane Sandy had the decency to bypass us and that's a good thing. We're still not done with Tropical Storm Irene. To quote a song written by my friend and fellow harmonica player, Mark Hummel, "We Don't Need Another Heartache."

On a personal and sad note we lost my mother-in-law this year. The sadness from her passing has been offset by having my son and his wife have back to Vermont from Brooklyn. They were planning on leaving before "Sandy" hit. It was time to come home. They're expecting their first child (a boy) in January, and it will be nothing short of wonderful to have them living only six miles away.

As we all get older it does seem as though some things become clearer. Things are never as good as they appear to be and they are never as bad as they appear to be. Life has a way about it. It has the ability to offer up some pretty bad stuff; so bad that it almost seems as though it's not worth hanging around here any longer. Yet when life becomes nearly unbearable something pretty decent happens. It can be good enough to take the edge off the bad.

Instead of peaks of joy and valleys of doom over time life is actually more like a subtle wave. The sharp edges get honed down a bit and we take it in stride. Humans have a wonderful ability to remember the good things that happen and push the bad things off into a mental storage unit. It's what allows us to keep going no matter how tough times get.

We're lucky to be in Vermont. No matter how hard life can get there's a sense of inner gratification for just being here. Troubles can disappear into your rear view mirror simply by going for a nice long walk in the woods (make sure you spray for ticks, though).

So, as we approach the holidays stop and think about how lucky you are, even if you're not. As my terribly arthritic mom used to say, "There's always someone out there worse off than you." Be thankful for the good things that come your way and don't dwell too much on the bad things. There's no money in the latter and there can be great joy in the former.

Go get a pair of roller skates and glide around one of those huge stores. You may not buy anything but you'll amuse other shoppers. That's worth something.

Bob Stannard lives in Manchester.