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Over the river, through the woods, against all directives, for one overriding reason

A passenger waits in a security line at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Neb., on the day before Thanksgiving.
A passenger waits in a security line at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Neb., on the day before Thanksgiving.Calla Kessler/NYT

They’ve been boarding planes, taking trains and buses, loading up their cars. All headed to the same destination: the place where the heart resides.

They are not intending to do ill, but they will take that chance. They are not wishing to get ill, but they will suffer the consequences if they must. They are not asking to suffer, but they are suffering already.

And so they defy the directives, deny the realities, and decry the fates that would keep them apart.

Because they must be a part on this day. They must be one of many, not many who are each one. For if they are not together then they are not whole. And the hole in each of them would be too large for any of them to bear.


By the millions they have a single tale to tell. Of survival of the soul. Of a pandemic that would strip them of everything even if it never touched them. Of a disease that invaded every inch of their being even if it never reached them. Of the pain they felt coursing through their veins even if their health was unencumbered.

And so there is an exodus, a leaving behind of the loneliness of this godawful year, a journey to a spot where there is safety in numbers, even as there is danger in gathering. A day when they can remember how it used to be and forget for even the briefest of moments how it is.

They are heading home for the holiday. Because they cannot live without it. Even if they risk dying because of it.

The place where the heart resides.

Robert S. Nussbaum

Great Barrington