Madness abounds.

At an Illinois shopping mall on December 6, a boy asked a masked Santa Claus for a Nerf gun for Christmas. That Jolly Old Elf sternly said no, no guns of any kind, and suggested other gifts like Legos, leaving the poor kid in tears.

His mother admirably refrained from punching Santa in the nose.

About the same time, in Saint Anthony, Minnesota, a nurse who works with coronavirus patients received an anonymous letter from a neighbor chastising her and her husband for their Christmas lights. The letter read in part:

I couldn’t help but notice your Christmas light display. During these unprecedented times, we have all experienced challenges which casual words just don’t describe what we’re feeling. The idea of twinkling, colorful lights are a reminder of divisions that continue to run through our society, a reminder of systemic biases against our neighbors who don’t celebrate Christmas or who can’t afford to put up lights of their own. We must do the work of educating ourselves about the harmful impact an outward facing display like yours can have.

Twinkling lights are “a reminder of systemic biases against our neighbors?” Who knew?

The following day in Oregon, a public school teacher shouted obscenities at a small group of anti-lockdown protesters. In her article on this incident, Andrea Widburg includes a Michael Knowles video in which a number of young white women driving their cars appear to have taken leave of their senses, screaming and crying over some perceived offense or bit of bad news. What is even loonier is that these women film their meltdowns and then post the videos on social media.

I’ve never met such women, but I can assure you I wouldn’t want to be sitting in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle with one of them at the wheel.

This same week, Cornell University issued a mandate requiring white students to receive a flu shot before returning to campus. Students of color were exempt “because they have been mistreated, and used by people in power, sometimes for profit or medical gain.”

Now, this one’s a puzzler. Is this not a form of racism, to protect white students while allowing blacks, indigenous, and other people of color, all of whom Cornell lumps together under the acronym BIPOC, to refuse the vaccine? Isn’t the university encouraging them to catch the flu?

Day after day, various online sites report these incidents of craziness. Meanwhile, our presidential election has been shipwrecked, presidential candidate Joe Biden is promising even tougher measures to fight COVID-19, and the governor of California continues to behave like a dictator, issuing directives so nutty that some sheriffs in his state are refusing to enforce them.

The lunatics are not only in charge of the asylum. Some of them have charge of our cities and states.

And they are driving the rest of us crazy as well.

Many people I know, including myself, are suffering from the ravages of nine months of lockdowns, a summer of riots, a constant barrage of political correctness, and our fraudulent elections. Family and friends drift back and forth between moods of despair and rage, from bursts of optimism to “I’m throwing in the towel” pessimism.

But here’s the good news: we are in the holiday season, which strikes me as the perfect time to regain our balance, to look for ways to protect ourselves from the crazies, and to restore our mental health.

Visiting family and friends in person or by phone can help. This past weekend, I invited my young neighbors and their two preschool daughters to my house for supper. I was coming off a three-day session of sadness, wondering at times if I might be losing my mind, but those two hours of conversation and breaking bread snapped my depression like a twig.

People and conversation are tonics for the soul.

Two days ago, feeling bushed and a bit down, I watched some of Brian Regan’s comedy bits on YouTube: his visit to a hospital—“Say eight, say eight!”—his experiences on airplanes, and toasting pop tarts. My laughter drove away my gloom, and I fell asleep at peace.

Laughter is good medicine.

This morning I stepped to the front porch of my home at dawn. Above me the clouds were red and pink, gray and blue, a palette of color created by the rising sun. For a few minutes, I drank in that sight, awed by the show the heavens provided me.

Beauty is a vaccine against despair.

Some of the radio stations here are playing Christmas music, and this week alone I’ve heard half-a-dozen renditions of “Joy To The World” while driving into town and back. Those four words reminded me that this is the season for light and jubilation, for love and good will.

If we seek it out, joy can cure some of our troubles.

In a world seemingly gripped by madness, let’s never forget we have the power to appreciate life and to find pleasure in living it.

That truth, like all truth, will set us free and keep us sane.

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