Here we are heading into the week of the winter solstice, the dark time, and I must confess that I see signs of that encroaching shroud almost everywhere I turn. That feeling is amplified, no doubt, by my having the plague this week. Well, it’s not really the plague, it’s just the disgusting cold that so many people have been suffering from. But it has bathed almost everything in gloom from my sneezing, throbbing point of view.
Facing the weekly deadline is hard enough, but being this sick makes it a bit frightening. “We’re doing four fewer pages this week,” I declared stuffily on Monday, hoping that would help. But I worried about everything that needed to get done and how it could possibly happen. I got so many nice comments about my rye bread recipe last week that I told the crew I would follow it up with my even more exciting potato latkes this week, just in time for Chanukah. But how would I ever find time or energy to drag myself to the kitchen to fry up a batch of them (got to have pictures) while coughing like a terminal consumptive?
Then there is the sadness of knowing that the work will leave little time for holiday visits with family or friends, for thinking about gifts for loved ones, or even for a bit of rest before the next deadline comes crashing down. How in the world would it all get done?
And then some rays of light shone in. Karen Friedman, whom I don’t even know, was inspired by my rye bread story and sent her own recipe for Chanukah cookies. Karrie and Teresa followed suit to make a cookie page. Mark Adams, Daniel Dejean, and Natalie Van Staden sent drawings with their own particular takes, amusing and comforting, on the season. And there were letters, and two op-ed essays by Dennis Minsky and Mark Gabriele that perfectly balanced each other with their eloquent expressions of gratitude for what is good in this world and conviction that we can find the strength to defeat what is evil.
My descent, I will admit, was not just about my cold or the dwindling light but was in part a reaction to the news from Truro last week, when a member of the planning board actually made an argument against affordable housing by saying he didn’t want to see the neighborhood turn into Flint, Michigan or the South Bronx.
A few years ago, when I asked a friend who grew up there about Truro’s contradictions, she answered simply, “We call Truro the Heart of Darkness.”
The great thing about glimpsing that darkness up close is knowing that it’s not the whole story, that there will be lighter days ahead, and good people to see you through to them. And next week, I promise: latkes!