I was going to focus on the personal peeve of manufactured communities, meaning community invented. Near every time I see a community invoked there is none and no official spokesperson for it if there was.

Community this and community of that is silliness. May as well invoke an underrepresented communal of left handed log loaders or association of late night convenience store cashiers. Fact is, soon as someone touts “community” I grow suspicious.

Why? Do I dislike community? No. Real ones are fine. The made-up manipulated variety are my gripe because, sad to say, that type usually mean ill and therefore are ill.

Community is (here I enter tumultuous waters) sacred. Invented community is profane.  

Profane is a term not used much anymore, but is no less relevant pointing out a deliberate misuse of our trust. Implying or donning community status without authority is fraud done by seekers of standing but too lazy or otherwise unwilling to do the hard-hard work of being part of a living (not trumped up) community.

Look at it this way. Say I claim to speak for the sonnet community. Who they? Lots of people, a very few? Likely case there are many more who don’t know what a sonnet is, making them a large community.

A living community has to be more than a claim or assertion. But it’s nice trick to call up community to puff up personal agendas.  

Want to see community ripped apart? Add personal partisan agenda and the game is on using the pretext of community to aid special interest. You’ve seen it. Maybe done it. The result: special interest masquerading as a whole.

To spot this simply see how this form of community sets itself aside, elevated and proud of victorious exclusionism. You better look, talk and walk like that community or you are out. Not my definition of community, not hardly.  

Early communities, often homogeneous, were flawed. But was their aim exclusion? You might not know a time (well within life memory) when community folk gathered regularly at their town hall, buildings with communal function. Have you ever been to one for a public gathering?

I recall monthly potlucks. The ones I knew were largely Scandinavian and Lutheran. So what? There was no effort made to chase away Polacks or Catholics. One attendee arrived dosed with French perfume in her 500 Benz. Others, scented with chainsaw mixed gas, could barely scrape together two nickels. Some were devout, others not. There were people staunchly left or right. To me that was-is community of people with differences but getting along anyway.

Add an activist or community organizer intent of fixing and the death knoll rang. As a newcomer to town hall potlucks I quick learned to never meddle with the menu. Rice pudding and mini marshmallows were things best left to the experts.  

Town hall community gatherings weren’t idyllic. There were arguments and hurt feelings. But no one was barred from attendance. Open to all meant ALL, and people made an effort to live up to that requirement.

Most folk who stayed away did so by self-segregating, not ostracism. A community holds the door open, whether people walk in is up to them more (I think) than to preconditions being set.  

This time of year it’s nice for me to recall those times when one of the local ladies took played the hall’s out-of-tune piano doing old-country music while little kids ran around oblivious to all but food and the call of an immediate moment. Amid dull hubbub people talked, found out who was ill, if X had firewood available, and other useful knowledge. Some older men wandered to the porch for a quick nip under the watchful gaze of wives keeping an eye on wayward men acting like naughty boys.

In simpler times a person could get drunk and be a fool with less risk than messing with one of today’s super octane entertainments.  

Maybe that’s enough reminiscing for now. But really, I back off with the thought far too many readers won’t have a town hall or even a church dinner in their memory banks. I could say this might be due to community having become a pop political word rather than a way groups of people work together.

I find it sad to see rural town halls largely unused, but then I feel it little sadness that glaring electric lamps have replaced the golden glow of kerosene lamps lighting the dark with a gentle and inviting circle of warmth. Cranking up an engine to speed along a road has its virtues, but these do not include the smell of winter air under the stars or the crunch of snow to keep you company on a frosty walk.

Many will never have carried buckets of water indoors and will not know the small things I speak of. Not their fault. No blame. Simple fact is urban life disconnects people from the world and makes socialization (including false communities) our operative reality. But it isn’t.

The nicest apartment in the best location might make us feel good but it won’t produce food, not a single potato. A swank apartment’s crop is sweetened dependency. A divide (and there is one) exists between the viewpoint of rural producers of basics and urban population being consumers. We can fuss over social positioning or leftist versus traditionalist, but the larger distinction is very-very few of us can feed and clothe ourselves. The complex interweaving all around us is staggering in its size and depth.  

I shift to mention current practice of films proclaiming thousands of jobs created. You know any? Full or part-time, and where? I rank such job claims with fake communities, puffs of vapor on the winter air.

Another shift, more real to me were the Christmas mornings my crazy parents woke baby Harry to see a tree grown and decorated overnight. All that effort. The magic of Christmas wasn’t a tree and some stuff. It was the effort and the thought behind it.

In any season magic grows from effort. Labor long and count not the cost comes from love. Baby Harry did not understand the gift he cannot match.