American Consequences - November 2020

in an historically-questionable comity with the native people they met... far from the first Europeans this tribe had encountered. So maybe my dad – and I’m probably only saying this because I haven’t seen him in several months – has a point... And yet even so, when COVID-19 closed the world back in March, the silver lining this committed Thanksgiving-disliker came up with to boost our far-flung family’s flagging spirits was an uncharacteristic note of gratitude: that at least Thanksgiving wasn’t canceled. He reasoned it was a blessing of sorts that quarantine caught us on the cusp of spring, when the days were getting longer and the weather more amenable to masked walks around the neighborhood and, eventually, to afternoons reading on the hammock in the sun. That it caught us on the cusp of spring instead of hitting us, well, now and disrupting what he had always claimed as his least favorite tradition. “Just imagine,” he’d said, “if this were all happening in November, when the only bright spots on the calendar were events requiring us to gather together indoors !” Where I come from, intrafamilial exhortations to look on the bright side must be in want of sarcastic comebacks. But it was a scary, lonely, uncertain time, so we took a moment and dutifully contemplated the relative upside of canceling any season other than the one that’s jam-packed with most people’s favorite homecoming holidays. Never pausing to guess, of course, that in time those too would be called off. And here we are, nine months later... It’s

Headcounts are coming up short, and family traditions that have run uninterrupted for generations are on hiatus – out of concern for the health of our more vulnerable loved ones, and, for the more civic-minded, in keeping with the kibosh on interstate travel. still a scary, lonely, uncertain time. The only difference is that it’s worse. It’s colder and darker out. COVID-19 cases are rising in midwestern states and failing to subside fully in former peak-crisis regions. Half the country is gnashing their teeth about the election while the other half, let’s face it, is gnashing theirs right back. And the only bright spots on the calendar, to borrow a phrase, are a slew of family festivities that will have to be conducted via Zoom – what we were once foolish enough to give thanks for not having to do – the artificial awkwardness of which now looms in the ever-nearer future... In a normal year, this is the pre-Thanksgiving stretch of days when the veteran hosts and hostesses among us carefully confirm headcounts and double-check which weird cousins are vegan or paleo – when the cheerful overwhelm of Christmas being closer than it seems sets in, and with it all the gifts left to buy and cards unsent. There’s a nip in the air, leaves crunching underfoot, maybe the first snow in the forecast, a candle in the window and on the other side a warm kitchen

American Consequences


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