We are in the midst of our annual in-between time. The nation’s most important non-political celebration, Thanksgiving, is over and we are left with the carcass of the great bird that brought so much family enjoyment, and which will see its last as soup. The frantic hours consumed with gifts, greetings and tissue paper is an obsession now well over the horizon. Will we have chosen the right presents? Did we forget anyone? Did we stay within our budget? Will we receive the gift we want, realizing that as we grow older what we unwrap has long since become far less important then what we have put under the tree to be unwrapped by someone else.
Many of us now take the business of gifts—given and received—far less seriously. Somehow the Christmas buying orgy has lost much of its glitter. In recent years I have been making a substantial annual financial contribution to an organization I hold close to my heart that needs and can use the gift in ways that will have lasting benefits after all the Christmas wrapping are ash. So I will again write family members and others telling them of my gift on their behalf.
I need these in-between days. The past months have been brutal, culminating in an unexpected and, I believe, a calamitous election, after which many of us wondered what has happened to the great dream that has guided America. Has not that dream turned sour in our mouths? The bad taste centers, of course, on the election of an egomanical, ethically vacant, unprepared billionaire. But what is even more depressing is the decline into absurdity of the American people who failed to take seriously the concerns, needs and hopes of an neglected minority who previously were championed by the Democrats.
But here we are between the two great national/religious celebrations and many of us will wash out the sour taste and invest ourselves in what may be a time of healing for our wounded hearts. These days may offer an opportunity to rediscover the depths of love too long neglected in our own families—those near and those far; to write or call those we have not contacted for too long; to listen to some good music, to sing Christmas carols or choruses from Handel’s Messiah with hundreds of others; to watch The Nutcracker or read just one more time, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; to get down on the floor and listen to a little child talk about herself; to tell stories about how it was when we were children; to write a poem or a story.
Thanksgiving is now a pleasant memory with its lovely, albeit mythical, tale about the Pilgrims and a feast with the friendly Indians. Christmas is at hand with, for some, a sadness over what is no more, and the hope of what is yet to be, even if that hope comes only as a little child born in a manger to a migrant couple.
In a few weeks we will get back to mourning the current tragedy that has assailed the country, even as we do what we can to bind up the nation’s wounds. But for these in-between days it may be a time to turn inward—not that we will live there for long, but because we now need the healing that these days may provide. Perhaps I am only expressing a need I have right now, and if so, be patient and indulge me about it. But if it is a need you share, know that there are probably many others for whom these in-between days are precious.