Approaching Epiphany, 2022

AJ Calhoun
6 min readJan 3, 2022


It’s not Just About Christmas Anymore

Three kings follow the Eastern Star — or so the story has it.

Epiphany — Twelfth Night — is celebrated by Catholics and Anglicans — and a lot of other people, too, because it’s a nice way to end the holiday season. Last year we discovered a new way to celebrate the recognition of the reign of the Christ (which is what Epiphany is about, the three kings, all that) by allowing a crew of hillbillies and assorted mental cases (more on this later) attempt to thwart the will of the people and overthrow the elected government.

Those folks who tried to do that — by killing a couple of Capitol Police officers and shitting on the floor of the Rotunda of the Capitol — were encouraged by the guy who leads their cult, a cult no longer under that guy’s control, so he’d better be careful what he tells them next, because they’ll turn on him — or each other — in a heartbeat. Those people (I use the term loosely) were angry because their blithering idiot psychopath narcissist failed to win a second term as President, and so, after having suffered through a year of plague and death and hoping against hope the plague would go away (despite the effort of those insurrectionists to also prevent use of the vaccine that might save us) we walked blithely into a New Year that started out Hellishly on Twelfth night, delivering quite an epiphany: That the government of the United States, the most self-unaware nation on Earth, could be overthrown, that its most sacred site could be stormed, vandalized, trashed, by hundreds of crackers from all over the country who wanted their very own Reichstag Fire, wanted to establish a Fourth Reich right here in the heart of the country who likes to think it and it alone defeated Adolph Hitler (no, actually we only helped — a lot, to be sure — but we couldn’t have done it without Soviet Russia and Great Britain and a bunch of other countries, which made it a World War) and it was, astoundingly, a close call.

The prime mover in this effort was Donald J. Trump, one of the biggest jokes, charlatans and liars ever to blight this nation, but he also had plenty of help. And now, barring some sort of delayed justice, he will give it another shot in some form or another.

So there was that.

There was also in 2021 a continuation of the plague (COVID-19, not Donald Trump, who is a different sort of plague), and as the year wore on and many Americans chose to get vaccinated and eventually boosted rather than risk dying horribly and alone, the virus mutated — just as any virus must, in order to survive. The good news in this was that the new mutation was not only much less dangerous than past iterations, but that it was also vastly more contagious, much more easily spread. And that’s good news? you ask incredulously? It certainly may be, because while the omicron variant will eventually probably get on everybody, most everybody won’t get terribly sick, few will die or spend much time in a hospital, and the end result may be herd immunity.

That would be nice. Would that we could also gain herd immunity against Donald J. Trump and his worshipers. That virus may be mutating also, and may be turning on itself at this very moment. That, at least, is the word around town, and let’s hope it’s true, because we are not smart enough of strong enough or sensible enough to stop them on our own.

Neither is Joe Biden.

In a final slap at decent humanity 2021 took from us a beacon of wonder in the form of actress, comedienne and animal lover Betty White, on New Years Eve for God’s sake, just 3 months shy of her 100th birthday, something she reportedly looked forward to with great enthusiasm.

A side note here: The loss of Betty White hit me pretty hard in a personal way, as I had discovered her on her first real television show, “Life With Elizabeth,” when I was six, and a couple of years later, when she had launched “The Betty White Show, I was a rabid fan of this smart, funny lady, and I wrote her a letter and included some jokes I had thought up that I thought she might appreciate or even use. She replied (including a signed photo) and I replied and she replied again (with another signed photo, saying “Thanks for the jokes.” My first crush, at somewhere between six and 9 years old, was Betty White. I never quite got over her.

But I digress. I also never got over Lady Freedom, either, neither her fascinating form nor what she represents. And I used, as a child who wrote letters to Betty White, to also play in the US Capitol; not because I was connected, but because kids could do that back then, and my dad used to take me and my cousin Kathy down there to show us around and let us wander and marvel and yes, we even got to ride the screwball wicker subway cars that ran between the Capitol building and the Russell Senate Office Building (it began running in 1909, and was replaced with a more modern conveyance in 1960). Yes, we did that. And we ran around on the lawn outside, and we wandered the Mall, and we wandered the endless halls of the various Smithsonian museums, too.

Yes, it still looked like this in the 1950s when my cousin and I rode it.

Life was simpler then. Only the Russians were trying to kill us, and we were young enough to eventually suppress that fear, at least until 1962 when John Kennedy stared down Nikita Kruschev over the Cuban Missile Crisis, and a year later was gunned down in Dallas and our innocence was forever lost.

And then it was the Twelfth Day of Christmas, 2021, and the plague had already ruined a lot of things, when the Trumpists stormed the Capitol and really ruined everything. Damn near.

Too damn near.

Never, ever, again

Now Epiphany, Twelfth Night, something we in my family (neither Catholic nor Anglican) always had celebrated, is nearly upon us again, and the original meaning has not been lost nor ruined, but the word “epiphany” has gained a new and ugly meaning. Only justice can right this wrong, and only a handful of the insurrectionists, who vandalized democracy itself, literally shit on the Capitol floor and figuratively wiped their collective ass with the Constitution, will do significant time for this foul deed, so the few will likely have to take a heavy hit for the team. If the House Committee formed to investigate the evens of 1/6/21 succeeds in anything more than a pyrrhic victory it will be a miracle — and I still do believe in miracles.

It is with this conflicted mind that I approach Twelfth Night this year. Once it has peacefully passed and the glow is still on the place here, undisturbed by any ne’er do wells, will I be able to fully relax again, and then, as always, I will still be on guard, because no matter who said it first or most often (and there is considerable doubt about that), “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” That those words are not just words comes as an epiphany to me.



AJ Calhoun

Writer, activist, novelist, sixth generation DC, local historian-storyteller, and ER technician.