Time Bubbles

Monday Morning Musings:

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

–Thornton Wilder, The Woman of Andros

When I was child

My little sister and I broke bread

For stuffing

On Thanksgiving morning

As we watched the parade

On TV.

One Thanksgiving morning,

My father took us out

So my mom could cook

Without interruptions.

We were dressed as pilgrims

Or Indians perhaps,

Me with my hair in two long braids,

And the waitress fawned over us,

Or perhaps she was flirting with my dad.

I can’t be sure now.

The restaurant,

I seem to recall,

Was empty,

Which seems strange

On Thanksgiving, doesn’t it?

And perhaps the whole event

Happened in some other way,

But this is what I remember

On that Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving dinners

For me

As a child,

Meant crumbling slices of white bread

Into a large pot

While watching the televised parade.

I don’t even remember the meals.

And I certainly didn’t appreciate

All of the work

My mother did to prepare them.


When I was a bit older,

It was my mom making cranberry sauce

In the squirrel mold

That stood out.


We never understood why

After turning the mold

Onto the platter,

She then raised them together

High in the air

And rested them on her head—


But dramatic.

And we looked forward to it

Every year.

My daughters took over

The bread-breaking chore

When they were young.

Crumbling the bread


Eating pieces,

Thinking I didn’t see them.

We’d place their hand turkey placemats

On the table,

But as their hands grew larger

The placements no longer appeared.

Where are those placemats now

I wonder?

This year,

My younger daughter,

Hands woman-grown and

With a wedding ring

On one long, slender finger

Tore the bread with me,

Loaves and loaves


Into a large soup kettle,

As we spent the afternoon together,

The day before Thanksgiving,

Watching Netflix

And enjoying tea, cookies,

And companionship.

After she left,

I waited for my

Older daughter and her wife

To arrive.

And I sat with them while they ate

The Wawa hoagies

My husband had bought for them.

(No Wawa stores in Boston!)

And we talked

And I was so happy to have them here

And willing to sleep

On an uncomfortable bed

In my daughter’s childhood room.

I’m profoundly aware

That many throughout the world

Are suffering,

In pain,

Missing loved ones,

Perhaps without a home,

Food, or water.

And I am deeply grateful

For what I have,

Our traditions

And crazy family.

I think of our Thanksgiving dinner—

The ritual unmolding

Of the cranberry squirrel,

Now done by my sister-in-law,

With encouraging advice,


And glasses of wine.

The scurry to get everything to the table,

The fifteen minutes it takes to get everyone

To actually sit down.

(Why does it take so long?

Another mystery.)

What do you want to drink?

Wait, where’s the corkscrew?

Oh, I’m sitting over there.

But the food,

Of course,

Worth the days of cooking.

The Thanksgiving favorites

Prepared every year.

My daughter and I discussing how much

We love stuffing.

“It’s good we don’t have it all the time,”

She says.

“Then it wouldn’t be special,”

I say.


The various conversations going on

Across the table,

Whispers and glances between couples,

The newlyweds smiling and hugging,

The children restless,

Holding two fingers up behind heads

Preserved forever in photographs

Of this night.

Secrets and stories.

Talk of jobs,



The under-the-table pokes.


More wine–


And then dessert—

Pies and pumpkin cheesecake

And chocolate port, too.

You know,

In case the wine was not enough.

My mind hovers

Seeing each moment



And replayed,

But connected to all the Thanksgivings

Of my life.

Each memory

A little bubble of time

That floats to the surface

To be tasted

And savored.

Sparkling water of the mind.

This holiday is special to me.

Not because it commemorates

A feast shared by

Pilgrim refugees

Who called themselves


And the Wampanoag

Who lived there.

(Well, those who had survived

Earlier exposure to diseases brought by


And they didn’t have pumpkin pie

And they probably ate venison and shellfish,

And they did not have our cranberry squirrel,

But no matter


For me,

Thanksgiving is beautiful

Because it evokes my past,

The scents,

The taste,

The history,

The love,

And connects it

To the present

And the future.

Each bubble of time




And popping

To make way for the next.


I am grateful, too, for all of you who read my blog and for the comments you leave. Thank you for your encouragement!

This may interest some who want to give and provide hope to others.




30 thoughts on “Time Bubbles

  1. Something new: I had no idea you wore two braids when you were little, just like me! Thank you for the reminiscence and the metaphor that carried you through it: Yes, each memory is a little time bubble, sparkly, float-y, and above all ephemeral. I suspect that’s one reason we feel compelled to write – to freeze moments in time.

    How fortunate you are to have your mother as the centerpiece in the photo; she obviously enjoys it. And that squirrel cranberry mold – such a gem!

    You, Merril, have many admirers. I usually see lots of author thumbnails when I push the “Like” button arriving here each Monday – brava!

    • Thanks so much, Marian. Your comments always cheer and encourage me!
      Yes, I did wear braids. My hair was often a tangled mess otherwise when I was little. Even after I was married, I’d wear my hair in two braids on hot days.
      I know you must miss your mother–especially on holidays. But I know from your blog that you have many wonderful memories of her.

  2. “…connected to all the Thanksgivings

    Of my life.”

    Thanks for a lovely trip down my own memory lane. And the link you provided. This was chock full of goodies, like a Thanksgiving Day table.

  3. Thank you for sharing your Thanksgiving experiences. You write so beautifully and I love all the sentimental and historical musings, which are very you.
    I have only celebrated Thanksgiving once and that was in Heidelberg, Germany where I went to an American Church with a bunch of military families. I can’t remember much about it, which is strange because those sort of experiences usually stick with me. I do remember that I was about to fly back to Australia for Christmas and wasn’t sure whether I was going back and that weighed very heavily on me. I did end up staying in Australia and still haven’t been back.
    I’ve had more of these experiences around Christmas and I have very fond memories of making the Christmas Cake with my Mum
    I also had braids but we call them plaits and my daughter now gets me to plait her hair at night so it doesn’t get so tangled.
    Memories…Hope you have a great week
    xx Ro
    PS Miss performed at School Spectacular over the weekend and it was just amazing. I’ve written a few posts, which I know you’ll enjoy with your love of theatre.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Rowena. That’s interesting that you celebrated Thanksgiving once–in Germany. It’s such an American holiday, and I can understand that you don’t remember much about it.
      I will add you and your daughter to the braid (plait) wearing club. 🙂
      I will get to your posts. I’m way behind. I had to finish an actual work assignment, and then this morning, my computer decided to go insane (nothing like watching your words being deleted from the screen!). Anyway, I will get to your posts shortly. 🙂

      • It’s been a few years since I’ve been doing paid work but we have a cool day today and so I’m getting back to the real world myself today. Both my kids are changing schools at the end of the year and that’s a chore.
        UNfortunately, I can relate to the computer dramas. Our computer hard disk died with some very quirky complaint. My husband is the network manager for Macquarie uni and while he doesn’t give himself the title, he is an IT guru and can fix almost anything. Even he is struggling with this and he’s taken the offending hard disk off to work today. Of course, being an IT guru himself, he hasn’t backed ou stuff up in ages and I’m lucky that I’d put stuff on my laptop for going to Palm Beach. All the photos I’ve taken of the kids at school are on the schools network but this could be very nasty. I should also mention that I worked in marketing for an IT company for 3 years before I had the chemo and used to write about the horrors of not backing up your data. This is a very bad cse of egg on face!
        Hope your computer dramas aren’t as bad xx Ro

      • No, nothing so serious. I was writing a testing assignment (I write for Educational Testing Service), and my document decided to start deleting words. I fixed it, but had to rewrite some of the material.

      • That sounds annoying but pleased it’s nothing serious. Geoff hasn’t tried the patch fixes he downloaded today. He’s been too tired but it’s not looking good. He’s very persistent so we’ll see how he goes. Mum said he should get rewarded for every time he fixes something around here. The washing machine failed the other day and he fished a stick out of the pump. He’s definitely smarter than the average bear!

  4. How deliciously lovely Merril thank you for sharing with us – and the photograph too of the family! Pilgrims all. Yes, so much to be thankful for and mindful of others less fortunate … that food looks TTDF … (totally to die for). We do the food at Christmas, maybe Christmas Eve, but certainly on Christmas day. Turkey, chicken, ham, and puddings galore. Some do hot foods with roast potatoes etc etc here in SA but we (our family) eat cold, as it’s hot here at this time. Salmon, asparagus (actually I should start thinking about the menu since we’re in dec already) and then the cold turkey etc and plenty delicious salads.

  5. Thank you for your lovely and delicious comment, Susan. We “do food” all the time. Haha. Hanukkah is coming up so I’ll be making tons of potato latkes soon, and we’ll do Christmas things, too, after that, although not a traditional Christmas dinner. I’m sure yours will be delicious. I hadn’t thought about how in SA you might have cold turkey and such. I’m sure yours Christmas Eve and Christmas Day feasts will be wonderful!

  6. A lovely trip down memory lane , I too wore braids as a child but we call them plaits in England. Thankgiving last year was my first Thanksgiving..living where I do I am part of such a melting pot of nationality’s, I get to join in many celebrations and it’s lovely to hear and to see other people treasures/pots which are handed down over the years and listen to their stories and travel down their memory lanes with them. 🙂

  7. Merril … Your post reminds me of so many favorite family holiday memories that we shared around the table or in the kitchen. I love the squirrel cranberry sauce mold your mother had, Ours comes out of the Ocean Spray can with all the can’s little ridges intact. We still do this.

    If only we could step back into those tiny bubbles and experience the great fun we had then. It also would be wonderful to see some of those who may no longer be with us around the table.

    • I’m glad my post brought back some family holiday family memories for you, Judy. It would indeed be wonderful to see some faces of those who are no longer with us around the family table!

  8. Pingback: Plaits Challenge | Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

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