Not the Best Christmas Week Ever

I hope that tomorrow or the day after I will be posting a blog full of joy and light, boasting shamelessly about the wonderful books I got for Christmas, or reviewing a movie I saw, or something. Something fun. Something light. That’s what the holiday is really about, isn’t it? The return of the light?

Tuesday and Wednesday, the county I live in (and for which I work) made it into the New York Times and Fox News over a flap regarding Christmas tree toppers. A dedicated atheist who is also running for office came into a county office and complained that the angel decoration on a tree was a violation of the Constitutional promise that government would not sponsor a religion. Actually, he quoted the “church and state” thing, but that’s not in the Constitution. Anyway, the county took all the angels and stars off the office trees. Then the newspaper got hold of it. Then people got mad, and they did a follow-up article. Fox News loved this, of course. Their lead? Something like, “In Sonoma County, apparently the top of a Christmas tree is no place for an angel.” By ignoring the “government office” part of the guy’s complaint, they spun it into another skirmish in their “War on Christmas.” And our guy got two days of free publicity. Thanks. Really. I just can’t say enough. Then, in case we didn’t already look silly enough, the county bowed to public pressure and said, “Fine, put the angels back and we’ll talk about it later.” They said this at 3:00 pm on the day before the county closes, due to a nonpaid furlough because of budget problems, that’s going to last for 5 working days. Who’s there to put the angels and stars back? Answer, no one.

Some of us have to work the furlough since we provide emergency services. I am managing a building where nearly forty people will be working. The first day of the furlough, which also happened to be Christmas Eve, someone broke our five of our windows with rocks. Walking through the hallway to the lobby after the police cleared the building for us to enter, I could hear little granules of tempered glass crunching under my footsteps like sand. All the county offices were closed, so I had to call Facility Operations, Fleet Management and our department head at home. They boarded the building up with particle board and we were operational at 8:00 am, when our doors would normally open. I had to wonder, who would do such a thing? Why us? If you’re mad about the county closure, why beat up the one building that’s open? If you’re mad about angels and stars (in either direction, pro or con, I don’t care) hey, we didn’t even have a tree. We’re innocent! And why do you have to trash a building that only offers help to people who are down on their luck. . . you know, young mothers with new babies and no money to stay at a hotel, kind of like that story some of you tell. You know, that Christmas story thing.

Later we found out that whoever broke out out windows also smashed the windshields of over 50 county vehicles.

Hey, dude, or dudes, it’s taxpayers’ money. It’s taxpayers’ money–that means yours, or more likely your mom and dad’s–to fix those windshields and replace my windows. And more importantly, just what is the matter with you?

So I didn’t have a happy day. On the bright side, however, it was clear and crisp, the sky was blue, and in my neighborhood the houses twinkle with multicolored lights. The dough for tomorrow’s cinnamon rolls is rising. The gifts are wrapped. CSI is on, with a lovely red-and-green color scheme. I think the red is blood and the green is mold. It will be better. Tomorrow will be better. My inner grinch will go away, and I will rejoice in the return of the light.

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