In this Washington Diarist from Christmas 2001, Gregg Easterbrook reflects on a long, difficult year. He laments the stress of the holiday season, but ultimately gives thanks for the annual reminder of what truly matters:
Of course I feel grateful to live in a place and time when it is common to hear people complain about too many presents. The year 2001 has reminded Americans what really matters in life, how petty and fleeting most of what we grumble about is, how thankful we should feel to be up at 2 a.m. wrapping gifts for children who live in liberty and prosperity. The only real problem with overdoing the holidays is that not everyone can. One-fifth of our country lives near or below the poverty line, while one billion worldwide are destitute, and perhaps two billion more barely get by. Everyone at The New Republic was also reminded of what really matters by the recent announcement that our dear colleague and former editor Michael Kinsley has Parkinson's disease; he is doing well. My initial reaction to word of Kinsley's health was that we have now had enough of being reminded what really matters in life.