We’ll go back and write about a calendar entry like we used to. Why not?
Too much of nothing, the poet says, can make a man ill at ease.
But not this time of year.
Yeah, I know, the picture above could be the 30th day of any month on my grandpa’s calendars. Anyway, trust me. It’s the calendar space representing the last day of November, 1968.
And, most importantly, it’s unmarked.
See, the Thanksgiving holiday is usually divided into two halves.
One part is the whirlwind we all celebrate, and that we all reminisce about after it’s over. This part is cumulatively composed of those overloaded periods we spend packing, driving, flying, reuniting, catching up, cooking and eating.
The other part is the complete opposite.
It’s the time we spend taking post-prandial naps with our mouths open … the time we spend (e)motionless in front of a screen staring at football (unless we are Detroit Lions fans, and even they’re numb by now) … the time when, meeting and greeting finished, family members scatter to different rooms and pursue their own entertainment.
We do not celebrate those amber-stuck hours of stillness quite so much as we celebrate the turkey and the togetherness. But they are an integral part of Thanksgiving as well, a cool autumnal counterweight to the hours of warmth and glee.
There are not that many times between the third week of November and the end of the year when we get to completely switch off. Indeed, the whole idea of “switching off” feels foreign to the season when we hang lights and decorate trees. Life is supposed to shine, all the time.
It’s not really that way, of course. We need that downtime. And the Thanksgiving break is an ideal place to find it.
Other calendar entries show that my grandpa’s Thanksgiving in 1968 was just as busy as everyone else’s. My parents, married less than a year-and-a-half, came back to Stamford to visit. So did my Aunt Elaine, still in college at the time.
My grandparents even made punch, a most uncharacteristic touch. I have no idea what was in it, though I expect it was not boozy (or not heavily so).
I’m sure Thursday, Nov. 28, was filled with turkey, stuffing, freshly baked dinner rolls, pie and all the other traditional fixings.
But by Saturday, Nov. 30, there was … just nothing. Nothing particular to do, no tasks to accomplish, no appointments to keep, no church service to attend.
Just time to throw off the yoke and put up the feet.
Sleep late, maybe. Dawdle an extra twenty minutes over the paper, even though there’s no news in it. Have a smoke. Step out into the barren yard. Get kissed by the wind for a few minutes. Go back in again. Put on a sweater. Take a nap.
This kind of time is not wasted. Now that we have smartphones that allow work and the world to dog us wherever we go, it might be more important than ever.
I subscribe thoroughly to its worth, and I’m already looking forward to drinking a bunch of wine and hoisting a test pattern for at least a couple of hours over Thanksgiving break.
Join me, won’t you?
(Not literally. You’ll have to find another room.)