Signing off of Zoom meetings with Canadian or British clients is always fun. “Cheers,” they dryly accent with their version of salaam or its cognate shalom or their chill cousin aloha—all words for all seasons. At first this was jarring, but lately the idea of finishing every interaction with a feigned champagne toast or swirl of gin—or a nip of eggnog, as the calendar may dictate—has become a fantastic midday, any day fantasy. Jarring has evolved into shaken-not-stirred. Cheers to virtual shots with people I’ve never met in person.
Tonight, the night that Joe Biden signs the Respect for Marriage Act, I received a random text from my Christian fundamentalist godmother. “Maybe after forty eight years,” I thought, “she’s calling to acknowledge my gayness in light of the legislative coup, or maybe,” even more incredibly (I posited to my handsome spouse), “she’s calling for advice on how to acknowledge the humanity of her own grandchildren who,” through closed-eyed sleuthing, “she has discovered may also live on the LGBTQ prism.” Wrong twice, I accepted that she’s from another generation where simply reaching out to acknowledge my uncomfortable-to-her existence during the holidays is tantamount to acceptance. Cheers to cross-generational, calling to, “ just let you know I love you,” and accepting it for the reaching-out that it is.
2022, when even Mitt Romney voted to acknowledge the universality of love, is a special time in the immediacy of culture change. Timing is everything. Do Mormons have Godparents? Cheers to RINOs, endangered as they may be.
I watched the vintage 1964 episode, “How the Flintstones Saved Christmas,” this morning on MeTV onDemand with a smile on my face and sense that, even for a modern Stone Age family, there was something to look forward to: even before mid-Century TV censors forced us to believe in an immaculately conceived Pebbles. Not many things scream anachronistic (Yabba-dabba-doo!) more loudly than a Flintstone’s Christmas episode: ptalking pterodactyls flying over shopping malls and gaudily lit, sugar-cookie-shaped evergreens highlighting a pre-historic cheer that seems right at home in the glow of cathode rays turned LED pixels. Hinting at parochialism, such imagined vistas are still, somehow, wholly secular. Such an invoking-and-saving-of Christmas as if it were just another battle for democracy’s soul in the Cold War, this “phase right out of (imaginary) history” reminds us that the spirit of the season isn’t so much Christian as it is American: a stony mix of optimism, archeology, and myth. If you’re looking, in 2022, for a bedrock of sixties culture to hold strong against hippies and commies while still upholding traditional values, look no further than MacyRock’s and an ill-Santa trope. Now, that was something to cheer about. So, cheers to and Fred and Wilma and Lucy and Desi and Mary and Joseph.
It’s wintertime in America and for many of us it means we have something to cheer about: even if (for my BabyBoomer and GenX cohorts) it’s simply that it’s not a Nuclear Winter; the Doomsday Clock has been static for a couple of years. Cheers to another year, one hundred seconds til midnight, with fingers a little further away from the red buttons on the football.
Even the Scroogey-est among us can find something to cheer for in December of 2022. FSU and UCF football fans have found ways to cheer out loud and with much gusto—bouncing houses and war-chanting their ways into the post-season—not every cheer needs to be ground shaking. But there ain’t nothing wrong with some good ol’ sports cheers. Cheers to college kids living their dreams and working toward something bigger than themselves.
It may not be the white Christmas Nick Fuentes and Holocaust deniers have been looking forward to, but we in Florida can cheer for lower humidity and fifties-at-night. Cheers to cool weather and for bipartisan condemnation of former presidents who break bread with white supremacists.
Cheers to rebuilding in the wake of Ian and Nicole.
Cheers to “Respect for” displacing “Defense of.”
Cheers to spunky and irascible Ukraine for staving off World War III so far.
Cheers to Elon Musk for SpaceX and Tesla and batteries and StarLink.
Cheers to reducing carbon emissions. Cheers to dunes and sea walls and mangroves and building codes.
Cheers to friends around the world. Cheers to a moonshot and beyond.
Cheers to 1776 and 1787 and the Declarations and Constitutions that created us.
Cheers to 1865 and 1954 and 1968 and the Amendments and overturnings and Acts that righted our trajectory.
Cheers to 1969 and 2013 and 2022 (today!) and the Riots and Decisions and Laws that codified love as a right.
Cheers to our founding generations, our grandparents, our godparents, our siblings and all of their kids and progeny.
Cheers to getting this all jumbled together in a single shot of future-looking nostalgic positivism tied together by nine hundred words that spanned from prehistory to the brink of 2023 in the Common Era. There will be plenty of cynics who’d rather dwell on war and inflation and culture conflicts and I’ll let them have their spaces (cheers to the multiverse of ideas). As for me (and you): Rest up, take an Aleve, and drink a gallon of water before bed because we have 365 days of 2023 to start cheers-ing to.
Cheers: Salaam: Shalom: Aloha:
God Bless us, every one.