[item title=”Editor’s Note”][E]very year, we consider this issue a giant Christmas card and holiday greeting from all of us here at Down East to you, our readers. We like to envision you sitting in front of the fire as you flip through the pages (or swipe through them, as the case may be). We aspire to make you feel like you’re in our living room, catching up with us on the local chatter and goings-on. (Did you know you actually can visit us at our “living room” at our Rockport headquarters? Consider this your invitation to drop by and say hi next time you’re in the neighborhood.)
From festive gifts made right here in Maine to model train enthusiasts, from French pastries in Portland to winter driving tales, this issue has something special for everyone. But beyond the holiday fanfare, the theme you’ll find popping up throughout is one of family. We share memories of Christmas trees past, paying homage to my absolute favorite family activity: the schlepping, the debating, the cutting, and the decorating that is the family-tree acquisition process. Anyone with a kiddo in their life will be excited to read about the production of The Snow Queen (the original Frozen!) coming to Portland this month.
But we also include the kind of family stories that don’t make the Hallmark Christmas cards: messier, more complicated Maine family stories. And yet, my hunch is that even on those pages, you’ll see a bit of your own family. Paul Doiron eloquently pays homage to his Franco heritage and reflects on the generational consequences of assimilation, like the void left by not learning to speak French. (Je voudrais écrire en français, mais mon père n’a pas enseigné à moi non plus. Merci beaucoup, Google Translate!) And Ron Currie Jr. explores his (perhaps) unlikely friendship with his cousin, a relationship that bridges “the two Maines” and two ends of the political spectrum.
This issue isn’t about politics or how many Maines there are, but as this year ends and we look ahead to an election year in 2016, we know the divisive rhetoric here and across the country is likely only to get louder. In his essay, Ron reflects on overcoming such divisions in his own family and how it might have relevance for each of us. “Maybe the first step to a diverse culture that can effectively govern itself,” he writes, “is to chuck political identities altogether and just figure out how to, you know, like each other as human beings, rather than members of opposing tribes.”
Hundreds of thousands of you are reading this as part of our Down East community. And though we may have differences of opinion, our shared love of Maine is something that truly does bring us together. And there’s no better time to celebrate that. — Kathleen Fleury[/item]