It’s that time of year when people grind their minds trying to figure out what everyone on their Christmas list really wants.
While there aren’t many things to like about growing older, here’s one: It’s easier to get away with handing out gift cards instead of wandering for hours through store aisles. These days, my Christmas shopping takes about an hour.
So I have time on my hands to think about what the right gift might be—occasionally ladled with a dollop of snark—for others who are not on my list.
- Aaron Rodgers—A very large truck to haul home all the money he’s owed next year by the Packers, about $60 million. Whether he’s still worth it or not.
- Chicago Bears fans—A team to go with sensational quarterback Justin Fields, who has single-handedly made losing fun.
- Milwaukee Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer—Good health for the Greek Freak’s teammates, who can’t seem to stay on the floor with Giannis while the championship window is open.
- President Joe Biden—An adviser with the stones to tell him 82 is too old to run for president in 2024.
- Former President Donald Trump—An adviser with the stones to tell him 78 and a half is too old to run for president in 2024.
- American voters—Two political parties that understand it’s time to pass the torch to a younger generation of leaders.
- Social media users—Addiction rehab.
- School District of Beloit parents—An elected school board with the priority of educating students to be adults who can compete and win in a complex risk-reward economy.
- New Beloit School Superintendent Willie Garrison—The creativity and courage to come up with a new playbook for excellence in a troubled district.
- Wisconsin Supreme Court—A spring election centered on blind justice rather than partisan politics, which might help rebuild the institution’s broken reputation.
- Cable television “news”—The reincarnation of Walter Cronkite, instead of the steady prime-time diet of partisan political hacks masquerading as news hosts. For the few remaining Americans who prefer facts to propaganda.
- Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers—A charisma transplant, to help him lead the state because of who he is, rather than who he is not.
- Majority legislative Republicans—An open mind about working with Evers to build consensus, rather than a grim determination to make sure nothing gets done for another four years.
- State Assembly and Senate voters—A reason to cast a ballot, in districts that haven’t been rigged to assure a partisan outcome.
- Beloit-area diners—A great barbecue restaurant to go with the top steakhouses and ethnic eateries already here.
- Would-be gamblers—Somebody with a shovel to break ground (and cut the weeds) at the Ho-Chunk casino site.
- Re-elected U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson—A top-notch therapist to help him step back from the brink with his weird ideas about science and democracy.
- Defeated Senate candidate Mandela Barnes—A real job with real work to do.
- The 101 Illinois counties not named Cook—A reason to continue to cast votes when Chicago determines everything.
- Election officials, everywhere—A return to sanity, where a job managing the voting process is not sufficient reason for war-time hazard pay.
- Big-box shoppers—Real human beings to check out your purchases and sack up your goods.
- Wall Street floor traders—A lifetime supply of the anxiety drug Xanax. On second thought, make that a double.
- Small investors—An even bigger supply of Xanax.
- And American democracy—The strength to endure, to preserve and protect the Constitution, in a divided age when people who ought to be friends and neighbors prefer to fight.
This is a season for faith, family and friends. A time to reflect on not only blessings, but what’s working in our lives and what isn’t. There should be a sense of renewal, of centering lives in celebration of what one has, not what one lacks.
Maybe there are a few folks whose lives are always easy and laid back, but somehow I doubt that. Challenge is as natural as breathing. It’s baked in.
All kidding aside, I’m grateful to be an American, where we live free and mostly without want compared to the rest of the world. I’m grateful to have a wonderful family. I’m grateful to live in a community that cares.
Through the remainder of this Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year’s season, may everyone find (and embrace) peace and joy.
William Barth is the former Editor of the Beloit Daily News, and a member of the Wisconsin Newspaper Hall of Fame. Write to him at email@example.com.