Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bittersweet: One Week, A Mirror, Three Hours and Reflection

I didn't know I'd been away from here until I noticed that Thursday was rapidly approaching. But nonetheless, it had been a week, and it went by extremely quickly on the one hand, and yet -- unfortunately -- excruciatingly slowly on the other. So I apologize for the much-needed delay; if it's not clear to you once you've concluded this post, please feel free to rant, posture and/or complain accordingly.

First, I hope any- and everyone reading this had a good Thanksgiving; meaning, one way or the other, that in fifty-one weeks from now, you will recall this past Thanksgiving with fond memories. Perhaps the turkey tasted like the rear bumper of a 1974 Chevelle; maybe the mashed potatoes smelled like Aunt Edna's mildewy closet; and maybe, just maybe, Uncle Dave decided to get drunk and flash the neighbors -- again. The bottom line: if you went home (and/or to sleep that night) with a smile, it was Good.

To (perhaps excessively) expound on this theme, people generally refer to Thanksgiving as a uniquely American holiday. In many ways, I think this is accurate; it's non-denominational, it glorifies the excesses that we as a country espouse, and it's the one day that "More! More! More!" is not merely an unofficial slogan but also an official one.

I spent the day with my immediate family; my grandmother was home and didn't make the trip, as she'd been feeling under the weather. We did some cooking and some food prep, but for the most part, the food -- as if by magic -- appeared, care of my mom, so we spent much of the day itself noshing on a variety of stuff. I'd picked up some champagne pate, a triple baguette from Eli's, a variety of dips and cheeses (Brie with herbs and garlic -- holy shit) and some other miscellaneous treats. On top of that, we had some goodies in the form of stuffed mushrooms, an Italian bread stuffed with mozzarella and spinach, more cheese/veggie platters, homemade sweet potato fries and a holiday cranberry jello mold. And while the food -- and these were just the day-nosh -- was great, this was the second consecutive Thanksgiving that had some somber overtones, especially with my grandmother not with us. But inasmuch as that and other things weighed on us, I actually came out of this Thanksgiving realizing what it's all really about.

It's not about being thankful for anything specifically, at least necessarily; meaning, it's nice to be thankful for those great tennis shoes your Aunt Petunia brought you back from Nova Scotia, but it's more about being thankful for the people in your life, and who've been in your life, over the past year, and, perhaps, over the coming one as well. On some level, it's absolutely acceptable to extoll the virtues of the thermal long-john underwear you received from Ned at the auto-parts store; but it's more about Ned, or whomever, than it is for any material thing. I think that the overindulging excess of the holiday, whether by design or not, actually signifies the concept that Thanksgiving is a day on which you should not want for anything, whether it's food, family, friends or happiness. This year especially, I can affirm that, aside from my grandmother's absence, the day lived up to its mission.

Well, that's not entirely true; Kaia being on the West Coast also left me wanting, but until we're spending every day together, that will continue to be true. But having her in my life makes me happy, so even if she wasn't in my presence, she was and will always be in my heart.

Meanwhile, with last year's events firmly entrenched in our minds, the celebration was somewhat subdued. So the notion of potential loss heightened, at least for me, the experience of being so thankful for the people and things I have in my life. It's not merely being thankful they're there, it's knowing that one day they won't be, and savoring and enjoying these days now, while we're all together.

Coupled with these bittersweet icons and emotions, I spent the last week trying to wrap up this year's Thanksgiving; we as a family had a great time and spent it together. My dad sat in the kitchen with my mother while my sister floated around the oven juggling containers of potatoes, stuffing, green beans almondine and the aforementioned sweet potato fries. I dutifully carved the turkey methodically (as mandated by the Food Network turkey-carving instructions), all the while avoiding Ozzie underfoot and not severing any digits (mine or anyone else's). And that is as much a part of this year's Thanksgiving memory as any for me. The food was wonderful, but I didn't eat much; the football was okay, though I didn't watch much. The company was great, and I had my fill, and would go back for seconds in a heartbeat.

Hope yours was everything you wanted it to be.

1 comment:

Kaia said...

Great post - and so true - it's about not wanting for anything - be it food, friends or family. Very nice. Mine was equally as lovely as the miserable human being that is my brother-in-law's sister chose to spend it with her soon to be ex-boyfriend.

Ahhh family.