Monday, December 31, 2012


2012, like 1984 or 2001, was a year better defined by expectation than reality.  Election, Mayans, Olympics.  Sitting on the other side of all that, I don't think any of those things will remind us of 2012 during 2021 Trivia Challenges at our favorite watering hole.

It started with a Ravens heartbreak.  Who is to say that the Ravens had any business going to the Super Bowl, but Lee Evans has to catch that ball.  And John Harbaugh really needs to get more comfortable calling time outs.

The Orioles won...and then won...and won some more.  When I was little, my brother and I used to hide around corners and jump out when the other came back from using the bathroom.  If you weren't expecting it, the experience was quite jarring.  I liken the 2012 Orioles Season to expecting that annoying jolt.  The whole season I was just waiting for the bottom to fall out (and even predicted it a few times on this blog just so I could ready myself for the disappointment).  It never happened.  And consider me one of the happy losers that considers 2012 a success.  If you feel otherwise, your Orioles hat probably still has a tag on it.

Personally, I changed political parties.  This was a very difficult decision for me and one I tried to thoroughly hash with all of you.  Heck, this blog probably contains more of what I think than I think I think (that sentence stays).  Nevertheless, as expected, it has been a point of criticism by others who see political motivation under every throw rug.  Fine and dandy.

The Supreme Court decided Obamacare.  If you didn't think that was a big deal, you probably aren't a lawyer.  I don't say that as someone who puts "Esq." at the end of their name (never ever do this), but rather someone whose daily interaction with friends, family, and anyone else who knew I was a lawyer for about a two-month time period included a question about the decision.  I even read the darn decision just so people didn't doubt my ability to carry the profession.

The 2012 Election.  Ugh.  I write about politics just about every day.  For the most part, I try to stay somewhat unemotional about the whole thing.  The 2012 Election was not allowing anyone to be unemotional.  Sure, some people tried, but if you got them alone or with the right group of people, they would say how "terrified" or "concerned" they were about one of the two candidates winning.  And with Facebook acting as a constant fire alarm (CAPS LOCK, exclamation points, and screaming lunatics included), it did feel like something horrible was going to happen.  But then the election came and went...and things are exactly as they were before.

I'm not sure we're going to be able to use the Election as a reference point, mainly because I see it as a soon to be suppressed memory.  We were pretty nasty to one another.  I saw the nicest of my friends snap under the placement of an improperly considered Facebook comment.  Familial bonds were stretched.  Friends "blocked" or "unfriended".  I regret my own personal role in all of that and have used it as a learning point.  I use Facebook a little less and hope to make it a smaller and smaller part of how I interact with people I care about.

The sounds of moving plates echo throughout Columbia.  Admittedly, we are still without the ribbons and obscenely large scissors (can we pre-order these?  The office-issue scissors just aren't doing it for anybody), but Howard Hughes and the County have certainly kicked the tires on the new Downtown Plan.  We're getting a Whole Foods, which is more significant than anyone seems to acknowledge (hint: it's not just a grocery store).  Unfortunately, I think we will look back at 2012 as the time when the parties were getting along in contrast to a prolonged period of acrimony, capped on the other side with ribbons and obscenely large scissors.

Maybe it is still the proximity to Newtown, but I can't help but get stuck on the fact that 2012 will be stained with tragedy.  Aurora, CSX, Sandy, Newtown.  They stand out like profound defects on an otherwise unfulfilling year.  Would we redo all 12 months if we had to do those events all over again?  I'd rather just erase the tape.

Last week, I got to be Santa for two little girls who were going through a tough time with splitting parents and a backdrop of Hurricane Sandy.  It will probably be the highlight of my year.  My costume was good, but ill-fitting.  My belly was a pregnancy suit.  I've dressed up like Santa almost every year for the past 10 years.  It was my initiation into Jane's family and has seemed to have stuck.  Every year I have had two thoughts going through my head: 1) "Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas" and 2) "Don't blow it."  "It" being Santa.  There is a lot of pressure in carrying the hopes, expectations, and imagination of children on your shoulders for a 10 minute interaction.  It is terrifying.

When I walked up to the door, I could see into the window of the house.  One of the little girls saw me.  Her mouth dropped open.  I knew I wasn't going to blow it.  She raced over and hugged me as I came through the door.  I rattled off the toys we had dropped off the night before (to show her I was the all-knowing Santa) and she told me how much she liked them.  Her sister was washing her hands in the other room and came racing at me, knocking over a plate of half-eaten grilled cheese in the process (Santa business is almost always messy).  Jane was there too and later recounted how many times my white beard slipped, revealing the not-white-at-all-imposter beard underneath.  The girls didn't see it.  Their imagination washed over me like some magic paint, making my costume perfect, my preggo belly into jolly heft, and my 30 years into timeless demi-god.  Jane, the mom, me - we were all smiling (with maybe a little bit of dust in old Santa's eye).  The girls had flipped a switch.

I want to encourage all of you to take that spirit into 2013.  It will have blemishes.  The white beard is going to slip and show you the faults underneath.  But if you really believe in something better, something bigger, it will be the only thing you see.  And it will change the lives of everyone around you.