Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving at Last!

I Thought It Would Never Come

     Thanksgiving finally arrived this year in the USA. I thought it would never come. Not the holiday itself—a date on the calendar—but the blessed sense of relief I always feel at Thanksgiving when I realize the long death of autumn is over and the holidays have begun.
     This year the blessed relief came late because Thanksgiving, always set on the fourth Thursday in November, fell on the latest date it can fall. And there were a few long days ahead of the holiday this year when I thought the relief I’d always counted on wasn’t coming.
     When it did come, it was a surprise. It swept over me like a savory waft from a country kitchen. Bailed out from a terminal sense of depression, I realized that a star of hope had risen again in the East. The holidays had arrived!
     I think this delayed effect of rescue from autumn’s seasonal gloom came about because Thanksgiving seemed so late. In retrospect, I realize I began to notice a drag on time as far back as Halloween. There was an unspoken sense of a long haul ahead, and, as it turned out, the terrain was not smooth. Respiratory illnesses took hold of many. Infection was a common topic among friends. Tempers flared, hysteria broke out. Faith in the future was thin. People bore up under a monotony of aches, pains, and mounting hassles. And on top of it all, here comes Thanksgiving to prepare for!
     Celebrating at first felt like a duty. We busied ourselves doing what we always did—dreaming up a menu, adding extras to our normal groceries, hunting down last minute oranges and ice cream, preparing the next day’s feast while nipping red wine and tea.
     And slowly, as we did these things, the sable mood of the past many weeks began to lift. Hope returned without our even realizing it had run out.
     For me that break Thanksgiving gives between Halloween and Christmas is a feast for the soul far more than the body. After all, how many of us need another big meal?
     Not accidentally it also marks the beginning of the holy days in several spiritual traditions, turning our attention breathlessly forward in anticipation of the rebirth of the light, which, as everyone knows, corresponds to our Winter Solstice.
     But Thanksgiving was so late this year it made the sufferings of the world seem hopeless to me and my own aches and pains all the more discouraging. That it finally came—just in time—is a tribute to the sacred cycles of the calendar year. They always work on time, even if our human clocks don’t at first agree.
     Now I look forward with confidence to the holiday season, which, incidentally, includes the 8th annual production of “The Concise Dickens’ Christmas Carol” here in Norfolk, VA. We’ll open at The Venue on 35th next weekend, Dec. 6 and 7. The following weekend, Dec. 14 and 15, we’ll travel to The Gateway Theater in Waverly, VA, then return to the Venue for three more shows Dec. 20-22.
     For more information go to The Venue’s website,
     And happy holidays! May the spirits catch you and keep you.

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