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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: A Gift Of Peace, Please

The other night we were playing Christmas music, and the Temptations’ version of “Silent Night” came on. It sounded beautiful coming out of the stereo. But I have to say, out here in the real world, all was not calm and all was not bright. And we weren’t likely to sleep in heavenly peace.


Here’s one of many strange things about 2020: It has been such an exhausting year, and at the same time it’s been hard to sleep at night.

Lots of us don’t get enough rest even in a normal year. But this year, our minds raced with anxiety over COVID-19 and anxiety over the election, on top of all our normal worries. I don’t know about you, but some days my brain feels like a teenager’s bedroom – it’s strewn with so much clutter that I can’t see how to ever clean it up.

Exhaustion plus anxiety, of course, is not a healthy way to spend our days. Few of us are exercising enough, relaxing enough, laughing enough, daydreaming enough. Most of us can sustain it for a while – we’re pretty resilient creatures – but we’re not built for constant stress.

It gives me hope for 2021 that relief appears to be coming.

Health care workers are already getting the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and if the estimates are right, most all of us could be getting vaccinated by sometime in the spring. That’ll lift a huge weight off our shoulders – just to be able to go to the movies, eat at a restaurant, and hug our friends without fear.

I’ve also been thinking about our political transition as a vaccination of sorts. Of all the ways I think President Trump hurt our country – and it’s a long list – one of the worst is that he never gave us a normal day. He was always making threats or tweeting in all caps or trying to cut holes in the fabric of democracy. He was like a cat at the fish market – you had to pay attention to him every second.

I don’t know if Joe Biden will be a good president or not. But I suspect there will be entire days where the government is working quietly enough that I don’t even think about him. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to that.

After this year – these last few years, really – we deserve some silent nights, and a bit of that heavenly peace. I hope you can find some of it here in the holidays, even if you’re away from the ones you love. It’ll be a quieter holiday for most of us. Enjoy the quiet. And if you can, sleep in.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column runs Mondays on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section at wfae.org. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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