As many of my like-minded friends, following the presidential election I have been in somewhat of a slump. All may be fine with my personal life, but when I start thinking about what the election results mean for freedom of religion in this country, for my friends of different races, and for the acceptance of violence against women as the norm, depression takes over.
So when my favorite holiday of Thanksgiving rolled around, I began to think about how it is that I can be thankful, yet remember all those who are struggling. It is a dichotomy.
My best solution was to be thankful for the small things while not forgetting my concern for the larger issues we face.
And I was very grateful for the free time during the Thanksgiving holiday.
My children lacked organized activity the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, so I took them to Get Air, a trampoline park in Harrisburg. And much to my delight, Get Air has a deal on Tuesdays – buy one hour, get one free. The kids had a great time and actually played together for once. At one point, I saw them enter the dodgeball area and noticed an argument taking place. A bit later Julia informed me that other kids were cheating, and Mitchell called them out on it.
She said, “I was going to tell them: I can’t see well with or without my glasses, but from here you just look nasty.”
I was so glad they were on the same side of a fight for once that I didn’t even reprimand her.
Wednesday and Thursday were spent with family and friends eating and drinking, and by Friday I was feeling so bloated that I knew some exercise was in order. Mitchell and I loaded up our bikes and headed to the Northwest River Trail for a ride. Paved within the last few years, this trail follows the Susquehanna River and offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the area. And it is only 10 minutes from our house!
On Saturday, Julia and I took advantage of Small Business Saturday, because we live in a small town with downtown businesses that need supporting. We started our morning at Whippoorwill, an adorable little shop next to Folklore Coffee & Company. Julia eyed the decorative cats and I was thrilled to find that they sell Natural Life products. We bought some bath bombs for my mother-in-law and one for Julia to try out. It smelled luxurious. Next we went to Artisan Republic and Knock Knock Boutique where Julia found a Starbucks necklace for herself. I purchased these sunglasses.
I am still debating if they make me look cool or like I belong on a 70s sitcom.
Mitchell and I ended our break with another trip to Washington, DC with our church youth group. This year, we painted two rooms at the Washington City Church of the Brethren. Last year, the car ride with five boys was a highlight of my trip; this year Mitchell no longer wanted to ride with me.
Instead I drove two lovely high school girls, and we caravanned with three other cars down to DC. Once there, we split into two groups to sand, wash and paint the walls. With 20 people it’s amazing how quickly the drab walls were transformed (with only a smidge of paint on the carpet and ceiling). After painting, we set out to do some sightseeing on foot.
I have been to DC multiple times, including a longer stint in 1994 when I interned with Senator Lugar. But this was perhaps one of my most enjoyable trips. There is nothing like visiting a new place with those who have never seen it. Four students with us had never been to DC, including two refugee students who recently came to the U.S. from the Congo.
After eight miles of walking to the National Mall and monuments, a visit to the children’s area of the Holocaust Museum, and dinner, we headed home.
As it turns out, spending time in community helped remedy the post-election blues.
But now we move forward into another holiday season, and the challenges still remain. For me, the best course of action will be to continue to look for ways to celebrate my gifts while praying for and taking action for peace and justice.