The care of giving

This is a strange season. As I write, electors across the nation are meeting to vote for a new president, and while I have hope I am also a realist. What the electors do today will not change the future.

As Americans we are all caregivers now, supporting a democracy that has never seemed more fragile. No matter what side of the aisle you sit on or who you voted for, none of us, I'd venture, want to lose our country to—take your pick: despotism, oligarchy, authoritarianism, fascism, or slow dissolution by billionaires. So we must do the work required to keep democracy going. We must care and we must give—our energy, our ideas, our hearts, and of course our money.

Thanks to my husband's illness I am familiar with caregiving in its most intimate forms. I am daily astounded by what I see and hear myself doing and saying. I am often kind and patient beyond what I ever thought possible, while just as often I can be shrill and shrewish, frustrated to the limits of my ability to cope. And despite all, Ray continues through his fog to find humor, understanding, and patience with my moods. I feel blessed by this opportunity. If you are looking for self-knowledge, find someone to take care of.

Here in Portland the snow and ice are being carried away by welcome rain, and finally, errands can be run and plans can be made without reference to the weather. It is, of course, the holiday season and plans there are aplenty. I have a long list of errands, some critical, some whimsical. I ponder over last minute gifts, but thinking about caregiving I opt instead to send the money to North Dakota.

The stresses of this political season blend inevitably into the stresses of this holiday season. But those stresses, as always, offer opportunity. Whether we seek to know ourselves as individuals or as citizens, we cannot do worse than become involved with those around us. We must care and give and do the work. It's not easy, but we're here, now, to do it, and the doing will bring us peace.


Wishing you the happiest of holidays and a stress-free 2017.