This – the stretch between Halloween and Christmas — is usually my favorite time of year.
I love the crisp weather. I love the fall colors. I love poring over the L.L. Bean catalogue, comparing one kind of flannel shirt to another and deciding that no, you can’t have too many clothing items made out of fleece.
I love the short Fridays, when Shabbat clamps down around four and you can shut the door on a busy week that much sooner. And coming after the long stretch of Jewish holidays, the late fall is a period in the Hebrew calendar, as a rabbi once put it, “to absorb it, to take a breath, to stop for a moment.”
I even love Christmastime, in the same way that I love football. I don’t play the game and am not even sure it is a good idea, but they both give me a warm feeling. Just knowing Christmas is there, and that the majority of my fellow citizens might, just might, be thinking thoughts of joy and peace, makes me feel a little better about this divided, benighted country.
And Thanksgiving! I wouldn’t be the first observant Jew to point out that it is like a two-day hag without the curfew – that is, if you are lucky to get the Friday after off. I’ve never been a fan of Monday holidays: Sure you get a three-day weekend, but always with the sinking feeling that all the work you didn’t get to on Monday will be waiting for you on Tuesday. Thanksgiving works like a case of tryptophan-induced amnesia: After a day of food and family, you have three days to forget you even have responsibilities.
But everything I normally love about the fall is dreadfully compromised this year. Covid is unchecked, and avoiding the holiday travel and get-togethers was the smart thing to do. The president turned his last weeks in office into a frightening pageant of election denial and fear-mongering. It is hard to get excited about cooking for two. At least I can wrap myself in my Men’s Fleece-Lined Flannel Shirt in Deep Admiral Blue© and watch an old movie on TCM, or tie on my Shearling-Lined Men’s Bean Boots© and take a long walk in the woods.
And as angry as we might be at each other over politics, we may soon be in for a reset.
The season will be a test of our patience and our tolerance. We’ll need to remind ourselves that for all we are missing this year, the restrictions are meant to protect us, our families and our fellow citizens. And as angry as we might be at each other over politics, we may soon be in for a reset, without all of our disagreements being bent toward and through the black hole of media-hogging anti-gravity that is Donald Trump.
What I am thankful for is time: The clock will run out on this abnormal presidency, and most of us will eventually find ourselves on the other side of the pandemic. We’ll resume our old rituals, and maybe even appreciate them more after having them snatched away. We might even heal our political divides – or at least argue about politics and policy without the mutual contempt.
That’s my wish for this national holiday season, and for Chanukah, for this transition and for any other celebration that you can think of: that we get back to disliking each other in all the usual ways.
Andrew Silow-Carroll (@SilowCarroll) is the editor in chief of The Jewish Week.