Finally It Is Here

Election Day, November 4, 2008
By Alice Walker

Finally it is here, November 4th, election morning. This election will change the face of the planet, if Barack Obama wins the presidency. All last week I was thinking of my father, and of Christmas. When I was a child Christmas was the most exciting event of the year, and that is what these last weeks have felt like, getting ready for Christmas. We didn’t know it then, but all the shoe boxes from the shoes my parents bought us, had been carefully saved and stored somewhere. The week-end before Christmas morning, my father had gone into town and bought our Christmas gifts. We had all gone into the woods together to find our perfect tree. We had decorated it together, using lots of red and white crepe paper for the streamers, and for the ornaments and star, tin foil.

The anticipation leading up to Christmas morning was intense. We knew it would be good, and it always was. In each child’s shoe box would be a stick of peppermint candy, raisins, a scattering of brazil nuts, a bunch of grapes, and the most wondrous thing of all, an orange. The smell alone sent one into ecstasy. Because I had been feeling this sensation of “Christmas Gift” (which is what neighbors called out as they visited our yard on Christmas day) I thought I would not have been able, last night, to sleep. I did, though. Soundly, and well. We have, all of us, done all that we can peacefully do, to bring about this present shift in the consciousness of the world, and therefore deserve our rest. As do the Obamas, who have fought the good fight, with courage and class.

It is only now, entering my sixty-fifth year, that I begin to realize how little I understood anything while I was growing up. A child’s job is simply to be, perhaps to observe, certainly to play. But now, watching this election, I think of how little I grasped – there was no way I could – my father’s quiet heroism. Who knew what monsters he encountered buying those oranges and those grapes, walking in the town’s streets, where he was not really welcome. And his constant faith that he and my mother, out of almost nothing, in today’s terms, could nonetheless create a Christmas that would make every member of their large family happy.

My father was one of the people who trusted this day would come: I think of him laughing, now, at the sheer wonder of it. A man of shining dark skin, in a white work shirt and blue bibbed overalls, his large brown eyes filled with….the quiet peace of completion. He probably thought it was impossible, but at the same time, he was waiting for this day; if only to give his children, who are still living, a feeling they had almost forgot: hope for the blessing that is change, when it is fueled by devotion, generosity, courage, and love.

Copyright © Alice Walker 2008


  • Vicky

    Hi Alice, I truly enjoyed this blog. Christmas was my mom’s favorite holiday. She was born in 1906, and I know she would be over joyed that Obama won tonight!!! I had the pleasure of meeting you at the Santa Monica Library a few years ago. Your wisdom is powerful!Stay well,Vicky

  • Andrea Johnston

    It’s the morning after the election and today I was awake at dawn as I was yesterday and the days before, but not because I am anxious about the choices Americans will make. Today joy spills me out of bed and leads me to discover this website where I find a familiar voice that echoes Barack’s in many ways. Maybe Christmas has come early, and with it the same childlike excitement that I felt as a young girl, and needed to reclaim. My representative, Jane, in Kenya, who is from the same village as Barack’s father, and who was forcibly married until earlier this year to her girlhood rapist, is also again connecting to Barack in the belief that his election means compassion and blessings. Thanks to the internet for her words this morning, and for your words, Alice, now swimming together across virtual space. I am sure Marley and Athena are with us as this garden blooms.

  • Anonymous

    It’s been wet and cold and gray here in Oregon since election day, but the ‘oranges’ we got on election day are still shining bright and steady!l, S.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Alice,Thank you so much for a lovely, lovely story. I had the same feeling election day – that it was like Christmas – but I couldn’t quite find the peacefulness you describe. Mine was the anticipation of Christmas combined with the anxiety born in the last eight years.But what a wondrous thing change is. And what an extraordinary human being Barack Obama is. Truly a blessing, as his name means. It’s been a week now and still the words “President-elect Obama” bring goose bumps….and an utterly goofy grin. The world as we know it has been transformed, people discovering connections to one another again in profound and unexpected ways.Eve