The Sunday before Election Day, the wind started yelling early in the day, and by evening, it was knocking the power right out of us.
Tens of thousands of homes fell suddenly dark, and when it was our turn to trip over chew toys and fetch flashlights, I couldn’t help but respect the wind’s powers of perception. We’ve been sheltering from this storm for so long now, but even good change comes with its own set of problems.
The following morning, I walked out to grab the newspaper and then continued to the curb to fetch yesterday’s mail because I had, once again, forgotten the simplest of daily tasks. I started up the driveway and suddenly stopped. Both of our yard signs — one for Joe Biden, one in support of Black Lives Matter — were gone.
The Biden sign was nowhere to be found. The BLM garden flag was crumpled up in a nearby sewer grate. I picked it up and washed it out before my first cup of coffee. Some things you do because you need to know you’re still that person.
We’ve had some tensions over political signs in our Cleveland development. Some think they should never be allowed, and others want to limit the amount of time we can display them. I have never seen the point of trying to suppress the opinions of others. I hate the Confederate flag, for example, and know Donald Trump to be the most dangerous president in our lifetime. If you feel and want to let the world know, I appreciate the warning.
I wasn’t sure what to make of our missing signs, so I called my friend Jackie. She and her wife, Kate, live seven houses away. Their Biden sign was gone, as were several neighbors’ Biden signs. “It was the wind, Con,” she assured me. I wanted to believe her, and so I did.
If I were a superstitious person, those vanished signs would have felt ominous, but I’m a lifelong fan of the wind. I would never hold her responsible for the mess we’ve made of things.
As I type this, the next president of the United States has yet to be confirmed. By the time you read this, you will likely know Joe Biden won the election by both the popular vote and the Electoral College. For so many months I’ve clung to an imagined moment of joy in being able to say that, but my, how this has dragged on, and there will be no massive repudiation of Donald Trump.
It’s 4:20 p.m. EST on Thursday, and here’s the current tally on our TV screen:
Those numbers will grow, but I’m already working on how to accept that at least 68 million of my fellow Americans are just fine with a president who wanted brown children ripped out of the arms of their mothers, repeatedly refused to condemn white supremacists and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans through his willful neglect in the early months of this pandemic. That’s just the tip of a long list, but how is that not enough for anyone who cares about basic decency, let alone the future of our country?
I don’t know the answer to that question, and right now I’m not interested in pursuing it. I am feeling the weight of what this means.
Yesterday, on Wednesday, I did something I’ve never done on Nov. 4. I set up a Christmas tree in our family room, just to the left of the nonstop broadcast of the election results. It’s smaller than usual, less than 5 feet tall, but its sparkles have reignited something deep in me.
I’ve known for months now that there will be no family gathering for Christmas. No grandchildren will squeal with delight at the sight of my husband in his Santa suit, and I won’t have to worry about his shoulder drooping under the weight of the canvas bag of toys. We won’t be inflating extra mattresses. Our house will not fill with the sounds of loved ones reunited.
For a while, I wasn’t sure I’d even put up a Christmas tree. “What would be the point?” I said to my husband last month. He looked at me as if he’d just found a stranger in our living room. “This isn’t you,” he said. “You’ll find your reason.” As soon as he said it, I knew he was right. Where there is love, there is hope.
We are in for a long, hard winter with this pandemic, but in a few weeks, we’ll have a president who will lead us through. Imagine that, as often as you can.
An angel has found her way to the top of our Christmas tree. She is early, and she is right on time.