The business of Christmas

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The business of Christmas — which starts around the end of August and wraps up right about now — must end before the actual holiday can begin.

By “the business,” I mean the generation of the largest spike in consumer spending all year and all the attendant efforts to capture as much of that stream as corporate-humanly possible, and also the logistics of the demand side: a spider web of social events, gift lists, cooking responsibilities, travel routes, youth performances and such, the planning of which, for a family like mine, is enormously complicated and changes almost daily.

And then, of course, there’s the actual business of gathering and disseminating news, more important than ever now, though rarely have I felt so inadequate to the task.

My heroes have always been journalists, but lately the ones I admire most are the folks on the ground in Raleigh, reading the bills before they come to vote — Kirk Ross and Joe Killian and the rest have kept alive my enduring hope that journalism can be worth a damn. A Christmas miracle.

Outside of original documents and the work of reporters I personally know and trust, I’m sourcing my own information diet these days from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Hill and a few other choice outlets. I stay within the news section these days, and even then I’m reading for spin.

As Dec. 25 approaches, I am running short on faith.

For Christmas this year I’m hoping that the news cycle takes a break, just for a few days, so that I can spend some time with my family without worrying about an impromptu special session of the General Assembly or another surreal appointment from Trump Tower.

I’m wishing, not for something as lofty as peace on Earth, but a couple of days where everyone just shuts the hell up, opens some presents and eats some cookies.

Because there’s the business of Christmas, which I’m hoping to finish up in a couple days, and then there’s Christmas itself, which is immensely more enjoyable.