Was it just me or did Christmas come too early? Yes, it's always December 25th, but it seemed like we were still eating Halloween candy when Christmas neighbor goodies started showing up on our doorstep. I'm not alone. Most of my family and friends said Christmas came on them too soon, adding they were exhausted. Thanksgiving was November 23rd, and the Sunday following was the first day of Advent.
The season was hurried and harried as we had to get more done in a compressed time frame. The malls were as packed as pre-COVID and there were so many delivery trucks on the roads that private vehicles were impounded into service to make sure packages arrived on time.
This is the normally the column each year where I pontificate and postulate about what to expect in the coming year, but I had a pretty lousy won-loss record on 2022 predictions and decided to forego the exercise this year. For example, I predicted we would see the re-emergence of the traditional Republican Party in North Carolina - clearly not the case, even though a few of Trump's MAGA candidates lost. I forecast that Republicans would win 9 or our 14 congressional seats. The actual outcome was 7-7, one of few elections where Democrats did well. I predicted Pat McCrory would win our US Senate election - he didn't even win his primary. I boldly stated North Carolina wouldn't expect to see any more "elephant-sized"
industrial announcements in '22, but it was another blockbuster year for new job announcements. I forecast a resurgence in small towns across our state. A few did; most didn't. Sadly, my most accurate predictions were where I was also most pessimistic. We did see the level of rage and mistrust go up in almost every imaginable category, especially road rage, customer anger and gun violence.
Instead of my usual hard-hitting, always insightful columns what I really wanted was one more week of good tidings, peace on earth, homemade goodies and Hallmark movies. OK, I admitted it. I promise to focus on current events the next 52 weeks but permit me, and perhaps join me in a few more moments to take a breath, get a cup of eggnog and reflect on Christmas.
What were your favorite Christmas memories? I was glad to have participated (as Caesar Augustus) in our church "living nativity,"
a whimsical, yet basically accurate revisiting of the Christmas scripture. Who knew the wise men wore sunglasses or that the angel visiting Mary told the maiden that she was "prego"? And Caesar reprised a verse from Barrett Strong's 1959 song, "Money,"
to encourage his subjects to pay their taxes.
Other highlights included a personalized calendar for 2023 with each month displaying different family pictures. Knowing I love jigsaw puzzles, there were several outstanding ones, especially one of 1,000 pieces displaying seed packets and another with the barrels of candy from the Mast General Store. I got a copy of William Powell's North Carolina Gazetteer, a marvelous book with 20,000 references of every geographical nook and cranny in our state.
And who can't enjoy getting a new edition of The Farmer's Almanac, the 195-year-old publication edited and printed in Winston-Salem? Inside was a page looking back 100 years to 1923. It noted the mass production of Kellogg's Cornflakes and talked about shopping from catalogues. Growing up in the '50s, I fondly remember the annual Sears Christmas catalogue, dog-eared and worn out long before Santa came. And the Almanac reminisced that people were starting to take photographs with the new Kodak cameras.
Blum's Farmer's Almanac has monthly calendars for the next four years, first and final frost dates, when its best to plant or harvest flowers and vegetables, and the always widely read (but not always widely accurate) weather forecasts. The current edition doesn't predict much measurable snow for us but does forecast lots of hot and humid weather in spring and summer, accompanied by much rainfall ... we could use it. Hurricanes are mentioned as possible in September and October. What's new? But where else can you find an article on the history of the fork? 113 pages of interesting information and great reading, especially for the bathroom.
We enjoyed visits with good friends with whom we haven't had enough time recently, reinstituted some family traditions modified or cancelled during the pandemic, and started some new ones. One of ours is the annual family celebration (this year 13 strong) at Raleigh's Angus Barn.
Compressed though it was, we experienced a genuine spirit of bonhomie and good humor. It just wasn't long enough. On a personal note, year's end will be special as Lib and I celebrate 57 years of marriage. We still marvel that we put her parents through having to handle Christmas and a wedding within days of each other.
Thanks for indulging me this additional week to enjoy the season. Next week it's back to the grind.
Publisher's Note: Tom Campbell is a Hall of Fame North Carolina Broadcaster and columnist who has covered North Carolina public policy issues since 1965. He recently retired from writing, producing and moderating the statewide half-hour TV program NC SPIN that aired 22 1/2 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org