Opinion Columns & Blogs

2016, kiss my grits

Flo, in the television sitcom “Alice,” made the phrase “Kiss my grits” famous. It is a polite way of telling someone to kiss one’s rear end. That is exactly what 2016 can do. I am ready for this year to end.

The year began with the miserable election season in full swing. The parties nominated Mephistopheles and Beelzebub to campaign for president. The amazing thing about both these candidates is, like their demonic namesakes, they revealed the character of others more than they revealed their own characters, as neither has much.

In April, it was blood clots in the lungs for me and a week in the hospital. In June, it was surgery for my wife and lung cancer. Along the way we had people show up at the house to wish us harm, armed guards around us for months, people yelling at my kids in the grocery store and online harassment. Never has a presidential campaign brought out the worst in so many people.

Then there were the deaths. We have had friends lose children, lose spouses and lose parents. Here at the end, my wife lost her favorite aunt, who was more of a grandmother to her. Then, in the waning days of the year, the whole family got the flu and strep throat. But that was nothing compared to what others we know are going through.

Of course then there were the deaths of heroes, idols and celebrities. John Glenn, Nancy Reagan, Patty Duke, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Arnold Palmer, Prince, Gene Wilder, Elie Wiesel, Leonard Cohen, Glen Frey, George Michael and Muhammad Ali all passed on. Then, bitterly, at the end, 2016 decided to take part of my childhood. Carrie Fisher, my first crush, died, and a day later her mother, Debbie Reynolds, passed on, too.

I told a friend last week that I could not imagine next year being worse than this. He replied, “Don’t say that — 2017 might accept your challenge.” It just might. Every age has a moment it feels like it has begun the slide to the last day. I certainly feel that way now. The ball is rolling down hill to Armageddon and the second coming is picking up steam.

I was talking to a theologian friend of mine a couple of months ago. I said I knew we would not know the date certain for the second coming, but Christ did say, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” Here we are with earthquakes now in places that have never had them, volcanoes going off that had long been dormant, drought, famine and now a resurgent Russia and China along with the rise of ISIS.

My friend replied, “You probably shouldn’t say stuff like that out loud. People will think you’re crazy.” He paused, then he said, “But yeah.” The reality is every age thinks it is the last and every generation sees some miserable years. And 2016 was one of those years for a great many people.

Into 2017, I will be sure to eat my black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day and might even force some collards down my throat for once. As for the year, perhaps locally we can figure out our airport expansion and nationally pray the new president suspends his Twitter account. We are headed into a brave new time where much of the data we have relied on to guide us is now unreliable and people are more and more tribal. Hold on to your hats and good luck.

Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.