Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Day After The Day After Thanksgiving

Yesterday seemed to comprise of sitting around in three different places: my mom's, the train, then my apartment, while turkey and stuffing slowly made it through my GI. Did a lot of people shop the day after T-day in my youth? I don't know, but it seems to have the quality of law now, a law of economics, or gravity. I was dismayed to see that Sears was advertising on TV a "doorbuster" sale after last year's death of a clerk at a Walmart on Long Island. The news tried to sell the day as people shopping responsibly (stretching their dollar?), but that is the media zeitgeist. I bought nothing, but bagels for breakfast, and even that line extended out its suburban door.

The mad rush of finals is upon us now, which means extended hours at work with anxious students. This weekend is that one chance to get a hold of what I need to do before these next few weeks. Reaganography comes down in a week, I have two classes of moku hanga left, everyone will want to have dinner at least once, gifts will need to be purchased (I'm hoping good woodblock prints will do), the two day drive to Minnetrista, Minnesota (minne=water) leading up to Christmas day. This business must be the reason everyone wants to shop on the day after T-day, get it all done -so much else to do.

So I wonder about all the busy, at just the time of the year when the day is shortest in our northern hemisphere. Is it a way for people to overcome the inevitable downward trend of a million years of shortening days, approach of the cold season, the season of scarcity? Over-ride with manic pursuit until the hammer falls in January, a coming period as uneventful as Thanksgiving to Christmas is busy? It's not obvious, I suppose, how easy it was to bring the birth of Jesus, the idea of salvation, to the doorstep of the season of scarcity and death. And while we seem to have overcome scarcity and death for many in this country, we have with us still the darker days to trigger an instinct to hoard.

For me, the best part of this season draws me out doors, although sometimes only through windows. I found myself in Central Park this past Tuesday, after a meeting. I went in at the southwest corner, Columbus Circle, headed to a large, inset boulder, facing the playground below. Look NNE, at 3:30 to 3:45 pm, when the sun is shining, there is a willow tree, with leaves still, at about 2 or 3 hundred yards away, catching the last rays of sun, glowing yellow. That's much of what I love about this season.

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