So we approach the end of the year. In another month, in less than 30 days in fact, we will cross the line from Fall to Winter. The days will stop growing shorter and barely perceptibly, begin to lengthen. Who can be unhappy about that? In a world of uncertainty, such fixed points are more than welcome.
As years go, 2015 hasn’t been so terrible. I can say that because we are still here, still working (though at a somewhat slower pace), still getting up every morning and going to our own bed every night. Well almost every night. We have traveled a bit more this year than in the previous five or so; more than 12,000 miles between May and November. We have seen much, shared a lot, said a few hellos and more than one goodbye. It hasn’t always been what we wished, but we are at least here to wish at all.
Since Thanksgiving is this week’s focal point, it seems a good time to look back and acknowledge the good things that have happened, recall the things we’d rather hadn’t come to pass, and try to see the future. Having family return to the neighborhood, to within an easy walk, is one of those things one thinks about as age asserts itself, but in today’s world that doesn’t often happen (unless we’re talking about twenty-somethings coming home to regroup). No, we’re talking about one moving back to a tenth of a mile along the road, that was part of our original purchase, and another who has married and is about to begin the exciting process of building a new home across the road that bisects our farmland. The prospect of so much family so close is a cheering and warming aspect for this coming winter. And then there are the success stories of other family members whose destiny lies beyond our sometimes inaccessible hideaway. The good things have been balanced by the loss of one member of us, but still it has been a year with new promises, and promises fulfilled. One cannot expect more from life.
We welcome each day, sometimes with trepidation, with anxiety about what new horror has been unleashed in the name of ending horror from our lives (whether we like it or not). But we welcome each day because the alternative hasn’t breached our shores yet. There are too many signs, too many symptoms to ignore the fact that our way of life is threatened. Perhaps it is envy, as we’d like to believe, but more than likely it is a misguided philosophy that preaches one idea, one ideology for all, with some extras like jealousy and envy added. What ever it is, of course, we as a nation, and we as individuals, will deal with it, overcome it, and hopefully grow stronger. But there is a danger.
In seeking to protect ourselves, we run the risk of assigning to every threat the same weight, the same intensity that the most egregious act or proposed act of hatred and violence can create. We can fail to see (or maybe we don’t want to see) that managing such human enterprises as hatred and jealousy cannot be done with irrational, ill-considered responses. Fences will not stop hate. Killing will not stop hate. Jails will not stop hate. Ignorance will not stop hate. Some as yet undetermined mix of strength, knowledge, creativity and desire to heal, will.
So Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, we will come together in groups small and large. We will recognize the strength our way of life gives us, protects us and makes us strong.
And for all of that, let us give thanks.