I’m a year older than I was when you read my last column. Friends try to convince us that age is relative. I don’t know, relative to what? I do know that I’m glad that it’s almost time for another Christmas. Nothing beats the holidays to recharge your batteries, to give you the chance at reflection on a life hopefully well lived and to plan for the future.

At this time of year, a mood of melancholy often sets in for me, a realization of what really matters. Thoughts turn away from differences with others on political issues. The urge for stating strong opinion temporarily subsides. A confrontational personality pauses as the joy of the season tugs at the emotions. Suddenly, it is time to take a break from the crusade to open minds, while we survey the landscape in which we share our lives with others.

At this time of year, as time marches swiftly on for me, I feel the need for catharsis, for a cleansing of the political soul. I feel the need for redemption. Do we really have any idea just how good we have it? That’s right, this is a column to salute the goodness of America; no strong critical opinions in this one.

First, let me tell you that despite my recent criticism of our president, I believe that electing Barack Obama was evidence of our country’s greatness. When we elected him, two times, we sent a positive message to the world about our fairness and the true diversity of America.

We need not look very far for more positive examples of our lives. Americans enjoy an unequaled standard of living. Our capitalistic system has produced the opportunity to prosper and thrive, through the application of hard work and personal responsibility. The American Dream repels all assaults, and lives on. Our freedoms are limitless, from the practice of religion to the right to live our lives as we want. New freedoms, previously considered out of reach, are added in our society on a regular basis.

People from all over the world continue to seek a better life by coming to America. We are a compassionate people with genuine concern for those in need who have not been able to achieve the same degree of success as many of us. We are willing and anxious to help.

Despite the sharp division of political opinion, we somehow manage to find people willing to make great personal sacrifice, and, in the face of intense criticism of all politicians, to run and serve us in political office.

Here in Maine, we personify the word independent. We elect and re-elect a Republican governor in a Democratic state. We have a Democratic House and a Republican Senate. Each of these people is one of us. They simply want to help, they want to serve.

In the greater Augusta-Waterville area, we are blessed with bipartisan representation that includes people whose independence is unquestioned and welcomed in the halls of the state Legislature. Local governments are full of highly qualified people who give of themselves generously on a weekly basis.

So, at this time of year, full of the Christmas spirit, this column will offer no political criticisms. My oldest daughter, visiting with our grandson, the new doctor at Cape Cod hospital, will admonish me once again, “Dad, Christmas is no time to talk politics.” She’s right. Instead, as we reflect on just how lucky we are, I offer nothing but positive comments — this time.

To those who suffer the “slings and arrows” that go with elective office, I offer apologies.

I wish it were possible to avoid the hard feelings that seem to always follow each election. In elections, there must be a winner and a loser. Elections and politics would be much more fun if only all competitors and their supporters could accept that each election is a competitive contest and not take defeat so personally.

Politics can be a tough game, but that is all it should be. I salute all those who have run and lost, but played the game.

Now, as Christmas approaches, let us recognize that family and faith supersede all political division and disagreement. Let us look into the faces of the children, full of excitement for the big day. There you will find the hope of our world. They are the ones for whom all of us involved in politics work. It is a cause worth fighting for.

For 2015, I pledge, while still reserving the right to criticize, to keep in mind how lucky we all are for the politicians who put it all on the line, whether or not we agree with them.

When I think they are wrong, they will hear from me in this column, even if the information that I sometimes provide makes them uncomfortable. That’s what a political column does. And, remember at election time — a well-run professional campaign will beat an amateur one, every time. It seems that “All Politics really is Local.”

Now, it is time to wish Merry Christmas to political friends and foes alike. God loves you all, and so do I.

Don Roberts, a former city councilor and former vice chairman of the Charter Commission in Augusta, is a trustee of the Greater Augusta Utility District.

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