Commentary Series

Weekdays 8:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Sundays at 10.55 a.m.

More than 50 commentators provide perspective and opinion about current events, topics of interest, and often showcase the work of writers and storytellers.  The VPR Commentary Series is produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler.

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Lahey: Maker Space

5 hours ago
Jessica Lahey

For the past couple of Christmases, we’ve tried to orient our giving toward the acquisition of experiences over things. Either we go away somewhere interesting for a few days as a family, or we give our boys lessons in a skill they’d like to try out. Some experiences bomb, others take hold, but every one is part of our family’s story.

Each year before the winter solstice, I start thinking about just how smart those ancient pagans must have been. The Druids, the Romans, the Chinese and others knew something we’ve forgotten: that’s it’s important to mark the winter solstice with something more than a passing mention on the news. The return of the light deserves nothing less than major celebration, and most of the religions and societies on earth have done just that.

Gilbert: The Owl

6 hours ago

I recently came across a poem written almost exactly hundred years ago by the British poet Edward Thomas, who was probably Robert Frost’s closest friend. They met just before World War I, when the Frost family was living in England. They didn’t know each other long, but after Thomas died, Frost told his widow, “I hadn’t a plan for the future that didn’t include him.” He was, Frost wrote, “the only brother
I ever had.”

Rich Nadworny

Hanukkah may be a very minor holiday in the greater scheme of things but that’s probably why it’s one of my favorite times of year. The two parts of it that I love best seem to resonate for me on a deeply human level.

John Alden was a direct descendant of the Pilgrim father celebrated by Longfellow. I met him the summer of 1960, when a bellhop at the Woodstock Inn. John was in management, a bright ambitious Massachusetts transplant, crew cut and good looking. We hit it off, though his far right politics were the opposite of mine.

And did he love politics, reading the Congressional Record, seeming to know every congressman and senator’s voting record.

For some of us, Christmas still brings to mind Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales recorded for the BBC in 1942. But we’ve become so enthralled by the frenzy of credit-fed consumption, that the spirit of this classic Christmas story seems almost archaic, of another time.

Averyt: Postmarks

Dec 16, 2014

One of my favorite holiday traditions is in the mail - cards from afar that fill my December mailbox with messages of now from friends of then. Those special friends who form the timeline of my life, a card catalog of people who have touched me, often just briefly, but in a special way. Special enough that we keep this holiday tradition alive, renewing our ties each year, celebrating our successes, sharing our losses.

I suffer a mild form of Seasonal Affective Disorder, where the diminishing daylight depresses my mood.

As humans have done for eons, I celebrate the seasonal festivals that brighten the dark, especially those including candles and lights. There’s evidence that humans have been lighting the dark for as long as they’ve had fire, especially in the parts of the world where daylight dwindles in winter. But with the advent of electricity, humans have been lighting the night to an unhealthy extreme.

Kreis: DCF Report

Dec 15, 2014

The Vermont Citizen’s Advisory Board recently issued a report by the on the deaths of two young children in 2014 who had been in the custody of the Department for Children and Families – the DCF. Each child died of severe injuries, soon after the DCF reunited them with their families rather than seeking to terminate parental rights.

This is, the song tells us, “the most wonderful time of the year.” Chestnuts roasting... Sleighbells jingling... Peace on Earth...

It’s a shame, then, that in fulfilling pledges to be home for the holidays and spread Goodwill to men, so many of us end up behaving so badly. From competitive shopping to fighting for space in overhead compartments, this is a season that’s not for the faint of heart.