It’s 10 days before Christmas and outside the newsroom window the kids are lining up by the door to Santa Claus’ house in Castonguay Square in Waterville.

Two desks away, the police scanner is squawking. There’s a car crash in Oakland, a man threatening suicide, and a report of a burglary.

The large TV on the wall is tuned to the news. The president’s legal troubles are mounting, people in his inner circle face jail time and there could be a government shutdown over Christmas.

I try to remember what was happening in the country when I was a kid the age of those waiting to see Santa.

Certainly, it was nothing like this.

I’ve asked friends who have young children if their kids are aware of what’s happening in U.S. politics.


They tell me they are not. That’s probably a good thing.

I shudder to think of what children are absorbing as they go about their daily lives. They must hear adults and older kids talking about people in important positions lying, covering up, deceiving — people who are supposed to be our role models.

I often think of my late father who, 20 years ago, would say he pitied the children growing up and what they would have to deal with in the future.

I find myself spouting those same words.

We’ve got elder statesmen denying climate change, which scientists have proved exists and which, left to flourish, will destroy our children’s world. Many of our “role models” live in gilded penthouses while denying children and parents fleeing violence and poverty a simple wish to live in peace. They have forgotten some of their first lessons in humanity: do unto others, help feed the hungry, clothe the poor.

I can hear my father’s voice as he watched the television news showing children in poverty-stricken countries dying of starvation and disease, refugees running for their lives:


“The poor souls.”

I mimic his words, as I see children being killed by gunfire and their families suffering unimaginable pain.

Poor souls.

I leave my computer screen, get up from my desk and go to the window.

The line waiting for Santa has grown much larger. The crowd moves in unison, as the children and adults shuffle about between Waterville City Hall and Santa’s village.

The kids aren’t thinking about all this terrible stuff I’m ruminating about, I tell myself.


Their minds are full of Christmas — the presents, sweet surprises and the warmth of being inside by the fire on a cold winter night.

They are dreaming of everything good and right and pure — all the things we seem to be without, as we head into a new year.

Perhaps we can lead by their example, and in 2019, turn over a new leaf.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 30 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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