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I am addicted to politics — and, like all addictions, quitting cold turkey can be really tough.

I should know. I have quit many times, only to fall back into the dark side every year.

Speaking of cold turkey, getting my addiction under control always happens right around Thanksgiving. Yes, I quit politics in late November every year just to get re-grounded in what life is really about.

But let’s begin by listing things that life shouldn’t be about.

It shouldn’t be about “red waves” that either succeed or fail in November elections. Life shouldn’t be about Nancy Pelosi stepping down as speaker of the House. Nor is it about Joe Biden forgetting what country he is talking about, or grasping for words that are more frequently missing from his vocabulary.

Life isn’t about which overzealous political party controls the Senate or the House, or why Congress spends trillions more dollars than we send them each year. It’s not about Donald Trump, Trump, Trump running for president for the third time.

The political list of what IS NOT important in life is long, while the political list for what IS important in life is short, although Washington, D.C. and the national news media would have us think otherwise.

So, from Thanksgiving through the holidays, I swear off politics, instead of swearing at politics, until the end of the year. Done. Kaput. Nil. Zip. Nada!

My thoughts will be mainly on family and friends and Buddy, my dog. Yes, Buddy is far more important in my life than 435 members of Congress who couldn’t agree on what day of the week it was if a vote was taken today.

I will be thinking about the 48 years my wife, Josie, gave me before the Lord needed her more than me. She blessed me with two remarkable children, who then blessed me with six grandchildren. They won’t tell me, but I know they need my attention more than Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

You don’t want to hear a doting grandfather go on about his grandkids, but let me at least list their names: Ally, Andrew, Maddie, MacGregor, and the twins, Oscar and Oliver. The Lord took Oliver away at birth without explanation, but I know that Josie has Oliver in her arms right now. God Bless them both.

But there is one grandchild that you may know or have read about. I have written so much about her over the years. Her name is Maddox Lucille McClintic, or Baby Maddie, as I used to call her. I can’t do that any longer now that she is in middle school.

You see, Maddie was born with Down syndrome, and I have always been concerned, like any grandparent, about how her peers will react to her.

I hope they see what I see. A little girl who has had to work twice as hard to do many things we all take for granted. A little girl who spreads smiles behind her like pixie dust. A little girl who respects people regardless of race, gender, religion, or politics. She sees beauty in things we overlook. She sings in the choir and dances ballet all in an effort to be more like “us.”

The truth is I need to be more like her. I think we all need to be more like Maddie, and see what’s right in front of us, and to focus on those closest to us, instead of getting caught up in life’s daily worries.

Easy to say, hard to do, which is why I find myself setting this time of year aside to do exactly as Maddie would have me do.

As we come off a week of giving thanks and move into a time of giving gifts, I hope all of you have a Maddie in your life — maybe a mom or dad, child, or grandchild, that special person who can help us recognize how fragile and fleeting our time really is and help us turn our attention to those most dear. They are the ones we can learn more from than we could ever teach them. They are the gift that really counts.

So goodbye politics, division, finger-pointing, name-calling, and all that goes along with the current climate in Washington these days, and hello to family and friends, and the extra time I have on my hands by not wasting it watching cable news.

Don’t worry about me. I will return to a grumpy old man, frustrated with how we manage our country, right after the first of the year.

Happy holidays, Alpena News readers.

Greg Awtry is the former publisher of the Scottsbluff (Neb.) Star-Herald and Nebraska’s York News-Times. He is now retired and living in Hubbard Lake. Greg can be contacted at gregawtry@awtry.com.



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