I do not mean to downplay the significance of this "FC" (abbreviated to save my repetition). The ramifications and long term effects of the FC could be very deep and very far reaching. There is reason to be cautious. There is reason to be concerned. But we humans, sadly, are unable to measure our reactions. It is never enough to take in the news and think rationally about it. We see a splendid opportunity to panic. And we avail ourselves of it fully.
There was a time, though, when the White City on the Danube woke up at midnight. It was perfectly normal for people to make arrangements to meet at and around midnight when the movable feast of clubbing and cafes and bars and even restaurants would bestir itself, singing and playing into the wee small hours of the morning.
It is a fact of our linear time-space continuum that the life in the world is a one way street. 2011 cannot be followed by 2010 (nor by 1526 as far as that goes) or anything other than 2012. Tonight we celebrate that passage in our odd and somewhat superfluous tradition marking the passage of time. Even as I write this, we could be celebrating the passage of 11.59 into 12.00...
The pilgrims were happy and thankful in 1637 that America had not killed them all. The Indians were happy and thankful that the pilgrims had not killed them all (yet). They survived. As a tribute to their survival, Americans traditionally eat themselves into oblivion on this holiday.
And not everyone will survive.
The most common thing for me to say at this point would be: "Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2011"
Of course in Serbia the order would be reversed. And the words would be different. And Christmas may not be mentioned. And the year may be omitted for practical purposes. Otherwise it would be almost the same. Practically speaking.
Interestingly, after over a decade's presence here in Serbia, I begin to take things for granted which might jar the senses of a visitor to this strange planet. Now that my family from America is coming to visit, I begin to look at things through their eyes. And I wonder at the sight.
I feel the need, the urge, to say something, but I know full well that my words will drift in the breeze like so much background noise - not even remotely disturbing to the people who should hear them, people who should be deeply disturbed by them.
The saddest part about trying to explain the deplorable, stressful, and completely unacceptable experience