Rosendo Noviega, a 38-year-old migrant from Guatemala, and his daughter, part of a caravan from Central America on the way to the U.S.Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

Dear Daily readers: This waning week of 2018 has been a maelstrom all its own. President Donald Trump landed in Iraq to visit U.S. troops stationed there. The avenues to asylum for migrant children arriving at the U.S. southern border continue to narrow. The U.S.-government shutdown continues, while markets swing down and up. An overnight tsunami has killed hundreds in Indonesia—the second major tsunami to hit the island in the past few months, adding to an expanding global tally of ever more unprecedented natural disasters.

In our final few newsletters of the year, we take stock of the year, in all its heartache and hilarity, its madness, its transcendence.

Shan Wang


What to Read

These are the silliest, most unique winter holiday rituals submitted by our readers
We asked you about your family’s unusual traditions, and you shared with us some truly wild ones. We illustrated some of our favorites.  → Read on.

I used to write for Sports Illustrated. Now I deliver packages for Amazon (Austin Murphy)
“There’s a certain novelty, after decades at a legacy media company—Time Inc.—in playing for the team that’s winning big, that’s not considered a dinosaur, even if that team is paying me $17 an hour (plus OT!). It’s been healthy for me, a fair-haired Anglo-Saxon with a Roman numeral in my name (John Austin Murphy III), to be a minority in my workplace, and in some of the neighborhoods where I deliver.” → Read on.

Santa Claus visits the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Guatemala City on December 19, 2018
A man dressed as Santa Claus visits patients at San Juan de Dios Hospital in Guatemala City on December 19, 2018. Alan Taylor has put together this gallery of festivities, observances, charity events, and quiet moments from around the world over the holiday season. (Photo: Johan Ordonez / AFP / Getty)

“The separation was so long. My son has changed so much” (Jeremy Raff)
“If officials thought she had crossed the border for better work opportunities or family reunion or anything short of a life-and-death situation at home—she would most likely be deported. Quite possibly without Jenri.”  → Read on.

The cruelty is the point (Adam Serwer)
“Their cruelty made them feel good, it made them feel proud, it made them feel happy. And it made them feel closer to one another.”  → Read on.

The Jews of Pittsburgh bury their dead (Emma Green)
“America has developed a mourning rhythm around mass shootings. The first reports hit Twitter, and then cable news. Stories, light on detail and long on familiar imagery like police trucks and do-not-cross tape, start to trickle out … It is day three of the after for Pittsburgh, but the mourning in the Jewish community has only just begun.” → Read on.

What I saw treating the victims from Parkland should change the debate on guns (Heather Sher)
“I was looking at a CT scan of one of the mass-shooting victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, and was bleeding extensively. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?” → Read on.


I'm not black, I'm Kanye
Illustration by Glenn Harvey

Kanye West wants freedom—white freedom (Ta-Nehisi Coates)
“It is often easier to choose the path of self-destruction when you don’t consider who you are taking along for the ride, to die drunk in the street if you experience the deprivation as your own, and not the deprivation of family, friends, and community.” → Read on.

The phantom reckoning (Megan Garber)
“How does the famous man, the sad victim of #MeToo’s chaos and wrath, feel about it all? What is his point of view, one really must ask? The women in all this question-asking are, meanwhile—shocking, predictable—distanced and blurred until, finally, they are simply written out of the story altogether. ” → Read on.

When I was in high school, I faced my own Brett Kavanaugh (Caitlin Flanagan)
“I told no one. In my mind, it was not an example of male aggression used against a girl to extract sex from her. In my mind, it was an example of how undesirable I was. It was proof that I was not the kind of girl you took to parties, or the kind of girl you wanted to get to know.” → Read on.


Young people are having less sex
Illustration by Mendelsund / Munday

The 9.9 percent is the new American aristocracy (Matthew Stewart)
“The meritocratic class has mastered the old trick of consolidating wealth and passing privilege along at the expense of other people’s children.” → Read on.

Why are young people having so little sex? (Kate Julian)
“Name a modern blight, and someone, somewhere, is ready to blame it for messing with the modern libido.” → Read on.

The worst is yet to come: a warning from Europe (Anne Applebaum)
“This is not 1937. Nevertheless, a parallel transformation is taking place in my own time, in the Europe that I inhabit and in Poland, a country whose citizenship I have acquired.” → Read on.


This special edition of the Daily was compiled by Shan Wang. Concerns, comments, questions? Email swang@theatlantic.com

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