It’s Christmas Eve, and that means it’s the day of waiting. It’s the day of anticipation, the last day before the revelation, the darkness before the light.

It’s a pretty good metaphor.

Rough times we’ve been going through recently – and over the past couple of years. There are more people in the hospital with the coronavirus right now than there have been in a year. We’re still yelling at one another about masks, and about how to acknowledge the history of American Indian tribes on local land, and about whether Trump lost the election, and about whether people should be required to get the vaccine. Enrollment is down. Expenses are up. A soldier shot a football player in an Aggieville bar, sort of a worst-case scenario in a college town/Army town. Rough.

On Christmas Eve, we know the next day will be Christmas. We know there will be presents, and “Joy to the World,” and family dinners. All we have to do is go to bed, and the next day will come.

That’s where the metaphor breaks down. Because we don’t really know if things will get better in general. All those arguments will probably keep going around and around, and our divisions might deepen, and people will do harmful things to each other. The water plant will flood, and somebody will shoot somebody, and….well, you get the picture.

I’d like to offer a moment of reassurance, on this particular Christmas Eve.

Because things really will get better. In fact, they ARE getting better. Scientists came up with a vaccine in incredible time, and so we’re better equipped to deal with this plague than any other in human history. Many of us are fully vaccinated and boosted. We’re also learning things that will prepare us better for the next plague. And, although we’re going through a wave right now, we’re going to get through it, and the wave next winter will be smaller, and we’ll eventually get on the other side of this thing.

We put our democratic system under about as much strain as we could, and it held up. We had a peaceful (!) transition of power. Our economy is also under incredible strain, and yet it’s doing reasonably well at the moment.

K-State has hired a new president after a search that brought in a strong pool of applicants. We’ve reached some sort of consensus that we all believe in better education about local Native American history and culture. We’ll have a prosecution and maybe a trial, and we’ll get to the bottom of the shooting, which, fortunately, did not result in a death.

There will be challenges. Some of those challenges will be new, and different, or worse. And still, we’ll move ahead.

There will be presents, and laughing, and love and togetherness. That’s the gift of faith, the gift of believing in the future. And on Christmas Eve, that’s pretty much everything.

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