We’ve been making a Thankful Tree at Thanksgiving for seven years now. Usually, we make it from paper and stick it to the wall (like this). This year, we tried something new.
We used branches that had fallen from the trees in our yard and cut out cardstock leaves with the things we are thankful for written on them. You don’t need to read mine – they are right here, in person.
I didn’t sleep much last night. As I calculated and recalculated the minutes left before the alarm would go off, I thought about what I would say this morning to my children. We’d done a lot of talking through this election. I’d shared with them who I was voting for and why. Julia had watched a large part of the debates with me and read a lot of articles and we talked at length about the issues. Lucy had many questions and wanted very much to know which candidate was the good one and which was the bad one. Phoebe and Jack knew the names of who was running and enjoyed pointing out yard signs. The girls all voted in mock elections at their school and participated in discussions where they learned their mom’s ideals were the minority in our community. But I did not believe they were the minority in our country as a whole and I told them that. I put them to bed last night with the promise that we’d know who our new president would be when they woke up. It was, of course, the first thing they asked me.
I told them Hillary did not win and I cried, even after hours of telling myself and Dave that I should not, I couldn’t help it. They sat silent and watched me. Then I hugged them all in the darkness of the 6 a.m. hour and told them that the sun will still come up and we will continue to live our values. I told them the phrase I’d read over and over on the bulletin board in my 8th grade teacher’s English classroom: “What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.” I told them we will do what is right, even when people around us do not. I reminded them that today, more than ever, it is important to be kind to everyone.
My candidate did not win, I assured my children that I am an American and no less a part of this country for that. They know that I am disappointed. They do not know that I am afraid. But I know that my attitude and behavior will shape their lives more than whoever the president may be and this is what will be in the front of my mind going forward. For today, I will pet my cats and play with my children. I will make good food and enjoy beautiful music. I will reach out to the people I love most. I will work to find the good and add to it.
It is Election Day and I voted.
My mom and I went together and I couldn’t stop the tears as I drove to the polling place. Americans, we are about to elect the first female president of the United States. The election is about more than just this, but damn, this is meaningful to me.