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Homeyer: Solstice Bonfire

As we approach the shortest day of the year I look forward to an annual solstice party held by friends. They gather scrap wood and old pallets to prepare for a serious bonfire. Then they invite friends from near and far to join together, share a meal and imbibe some good cheer. My friends also provide paper and pens to write down any accumulated resentments, anger and frustrations that we then toss into the roaring fire and rejoice in a fresh start. I imagine that this year those scraps of paper will include political thoughts as well as personal ones. I’ll try my best to toss away my political skepticism and let the flames consume my anxiety about the months ahead. I really want to believe that our next president intends, as he has often stated, to serve us all. I want to believe that he’ll grow into the job as so many others have in the past. And in fact, every president has had his detractors.

I find it interesting that Harper’s magazine in its issue of September, 1864 listed all the names that President Lincoln had been called in the previous months. These included Despot, Liar, Thief, Braggart, Filthy Story-Teller, Buffoon, Usurper, Fiend, and Butcher. At the time, many thought Lincoln was unworthy of the presidency. Yet he went on to become revered as a national treasure.

And look at Vice-President Harry Truman. People dismissed him as a mere clothing store clerk – but he rose to the occasion when President Roosevelt died suddenly at age 63. Truman handled the office well and was elected in his own right after completing Roosevelt’s term. I hope our president-elect will also prove to be a capable leader – even though he’s never held an elected office before or served in the military.

I have great respect for President Obama who graciously welcomed the president-elect to the White House and offered words of wisdom to the man who will soon be the leader of the free world. And I hope Trump will be able to serve the needs of all Americans, even those who didn’t vote for him.

Maybe after I toss my own piece of paper into the bonfire, I’ll be better able to accept Mr. Trump. I want to regain my optimism about the future. Meeting the New Year with a willing heart is something we all need to do.

Henry Homeyer is an author, columnist and a blogger at the
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