Michelle Quist: We have all been naughty and nice this year

We can keep waking up each morning to the possibility of joy.

(Jens Buettner/dpa via AP) In this Dec. 21 photo, Tessa Boulton, left, takes a swab test from Michael Kruse, dressed as Santa Claus, at a coronavirus testing center at the Helios Clinic in Schwerin, Germany.

This column is set to run on Christmas Eve and will be my last column of the year. I was all ready with a holiday naughty and nice list. Well, I mostly had naughty examples.

For instance, the Utah Legislature must be on a naughty list for its treatment of Margaret Plane, who was recently nominated to the Utah Court of Appeals. The Senate refused to hold a hearing.

That’s right — not only did senators not confirm her, but they were too afraid to even hold a hearing for her — constitution be damned. The Utah Constitution requires that the Senate hold a hearing. Article 8, Section 8 requires that “[t]he Senate shall consider and render a decision on each judicial appointment.” Constitution for thee but not for me is the message from our Republican senators.

Naughty list indeed.

Every legislator you ask has a different reason for it — There are too many women on the court. (She would be replacing a woman.) She’s too liberal. (The constitution forbids legislators to take partisan political views into account.) The Legislature is sending a message. (To whom? And how is the message received if no one knows what the message is?) Etc., etc.

She didn’t even get a hearing. She is eminently qualified, perfectly tempered, and consistently apolitical. I served with her on the Bar Commission and witnessed her neutrality on political issues even when I wanted her to take a (liberal) side. She would be a model judge on the appellate court, and the Utah Legislature should be embarrassed and ashamed. And Utahns should be angry.

Not that the Legislature cares.

I also thought of the U.S. Congress for the naughty list, for waiting until the year’s end to pass a 5,593-page bill that had too much pork, too little assistance for Americans who need it, and didn’t provide our representatives enough time — any time, really — to even read the bill to determine what was in it.

But then I realized, when I was trying to think of more people on the naughty or nice list, that it was me. I was on the naughty list. And I guess I was on the nice list, too. Pointing fingers elsewhere doesn’t help anyone.

This year has been a doozy. For all of us. We’ve all been naughty, and we’ve all been nice. And here we are, at the end of the year, saved by the grace of a little baby in a manger, saved by a festival of lights to warm the darkness, saved by the science that created a vaccine and saved by one another.

I have very literally been saved this year. Not from troubles or heartbreak. I turn 45 next week and my year has been filled with professional setbacks and failures, personal setbacks and failures, hibernating in my house with seven kids for nine months while they tackle online school that doesn’t work, and toilet training a 6-year-old … for nine months.

My children’s father died in April from a seizure disorder we didn’t know he had. The pandemic helped to shelter us for a while, but reality eventually set in. This is my children’s first Christmas with only one parent, and the loss is palpable. When he passed, I told friends that I don’t know how to raise them through this. I literally don’t know how to do this.

And yet since April my kids and I have been saved from desperation many times, by friends, family, loving neighbors, and even strangers who didn’t realize their kind deeds made such an impact.

My column last Christmas focused on talking about hard things. I shared my outlook for the year — Psalm 30:5, “Joy cometh in the morning.” Incredibly, I have woken up every morning to a new day filled with hope and possibility. Most days didn’t end that way, but joy came in the morning.

I know we can do this. We can keep waking up each morning to the possibility of joy. There is much to hope for.

My outlook for next year comes from Mark 4:39: “Peace, be still. And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.”

May 2021 be the year of the great calm for you and your loved ones. I know that’s what I’m hoping for.

Michelle Quist.

Michelle Quist is a Salt Lake City attorney and a columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune

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