If your inbox is anything like mine, it’s chock full of Christmas/holiday/end-of-year greetings from political types. I’m particularly interested in two that arrived today: one from Kirsten Hughes, the chair of the Massachusetts Republican party, and the other from Charlie Baker, the all-but-certain GOP nominee for Mass. Governor.
Here are the highlights of the Hughes email.
From: Kirsten Hughes <email@example.com>
Subject: Merry Christmas!
Date: December 23, 2013 10:13:41 AM EST
Reply-To: Kirsten Hughes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Christmas is upon us and in just a few days, we will greet the New Year. The end of a year allows us to look back on everything that has been accomplished and gives us the opportunity to gather our strength to meet the challenges of the coming New Year.
[There follows a necessarily short list of Mass. GOP highlights from 2013. The email then continues:]
Through this holiday season, let us not forget to reflect on the true meaning of the season—God’s priceless gift of His Son.
Goodness. Of course there’s nothing wrong with wishing people a merry Christmas, as opposed to “happy holidays” – why, I do it all the time. But to have a party hack piously instruct on the “true meaning of the season” in the most sectarian terms in an email sent to a list that surely numbers in the thousands … well, let’s just say that doesn’t strike me as a recipe for electoral success going forward. Plus, to lurch from text and images that link to the Mass. GOP’s “donate” page, thereby pretty much asking you to make a cash gift, immediately to the bit about “God’s priceless gift of His Son” is, shall we say, a less-than-elegant transition. It’s almost as if Hughes wants you to feel bad about being so worldly as to give money to something so crass as a political party, when the “true meaning of the season” actually has nothing to do with money or politics … and yet, that surely is not at all what she wants.
Baker’s email is worlds apart. It’s very personal, and actually rather moving. Here are some highlights.
From: Charlie Baker <email@example.com>
Subject: Make Every Day Count
Date: December 23, 2013 2:00:45 PM EST
Reply-To: Charlie Baker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This time of year is special. It’s a celebration of faith, a turning of the page to a new year, and a time of charity and good cheer. While it’s all of that for the Bakers, it is fundamentally about family for us. And this year, it’s especially about my mom.
She was born on December 24th, 1932 in Rochester, MN, and as far as I can tell, her birthday – landing the day before Christmas – was never a very big deal when she was growing up. She told me when I was about 15 that she didn’t really care – “I care more about what happens on the other 364 days of the year.”
[There follows some history about Baker's mother's birthday celebrations over the years.]
Over time, my dad’s health remained quite good, and my mom’s began to fail. We all knew this would happen. Dad comes from a long line of men and women who live forever, and mom comes from a family in which Alzheimer’s is a virtual certainty. And my dad – the guy who couldn’t warm up a coffee cake when we were kids – became a terrific caregiver for my mom.
But my parents never worried much. They were brought up to believe that attitude is everything, and as my grandfather used to say to me, “You have to play the hand you’re dealt, son. That’s the way life works.”
And so they played the hand.
My mom turns 81 tomorrow. Last year, we celebrated her 80th birthday at our house, with a big crowd of her most ardent fans. And while it was clear that she was struggling with her disease, she enjoyed the day immensely, and so did we.
This year, my mom will not be joining us to celebrate. The disease, as brutal and relentless as anything I can ever imagine, has made it impossible for her to travel.
So this year, as we gather to celebrate family, we’ll do so with the clear understanding that mom was right all along – it really is about the other 364 days of the year. And our family will renew our commitment to make every one of them count. To those you love, they all matter.
Happy Holidays – Charlie Baker
I don’t expect to vote for Charlie Baker. But this strikes me as an extremely well done end-of-year letter from a candidate for office. It tells us something we didn’t know before about the candidate (at least, I didn’t); it tells a story that we can all relate to; and, not incidentally, it helps to humanize Charlie Baker – something that was sorely lacking in his campaign of four years ago. Also, interestingly, there’s no “donate” link or request for contributions.
So, good job Charlie.