As I was driving through the North Country yesterday, pinging from Plattsburgh to Tupper Lake to Westport, it occurred to me that I’m in the tidings business.
According to one on-line dictionary, I found, the word “tidings” comes from the Old English tidung, related to Middle Low German tidinge, and the Old Norse tidhendi or tithindi, which means “news of events.”
The truth is that the tidings I bring aren’t always good. People grumble about this fact. Why is it, after all, that journalists like me tend to gravitate toward “ill tidings”?
The glib answer is because from the age of the Old Norse onward, people have needed to know the bad stuff first and fastest.
If the Vikings are raiding the coast, that’s probably the stuff you want to hear about right now, before we get to the happy news.
But I’d be the first to admit that we reporters sometimes let really important, good and even beautiful tidings fall through the cracks.
Do we acknowledge often enough the blessings of living in this place, where the grandeur of the natural world literally begins at our doorsteps?
Do we talk enough about the vitality of our villages, the fiercely creative artists, the leaders, the thinkers, who are actually making lives better?
Do we make it clear that even in the region’s most ferocious debates, the partisans are clearly acting out of a passionate conviction that our part of the world is worth fighting for and defending and improving?
Probably not. So on this Christmas Day, even before the ritual of New Years, I will make a resolution to work harder at remembering to be a bearer of good tidings.
They are, after all, a big part of the story of our lives. Now…bring me some figgy pudding.