Monday Morning Musings:
“Oh, we come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
And sing an American tune
Oh, it’s all right, it’s all right
It’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest.”
–Paul Simon, “An American Tune”
“In folks nearest to you finding the sweetest, strongest, lovingest;
Happiness, knowledge, not in another place, but this place—not for another hour, but this hour.”
–Walt Whitman, “Carol of Occupations,” Leaves of GrassPreparation, Anticipation
- Preparation, Anticipation:
I don’t feel as organized this year,
distracted by the election, by the news, by work
and this and that,
still, I cook applesauce, bake challah and pumpkin bread,
placing them in the freezer to wait for the holiday,
I make mushroom gravy,
(which, by the way, is delicious)
while listening to “Hamilton,”
dancing around the kitchen,
grandchild of immigrants,
I sing an American tune,
preparing for this holiday of food and gratefulness.
Two days before Thanksgiving
younger daughter comes over to break bread for stuffing,
packages of sliced white bread
(stuff I would never buy to eat),
it’s what we have always used for stuffing
a family tradition for this family holiday.
My sister and I used to break bread while watching
then–long ago–my mother made the stuffing,
but time passes the tradition baton to the next generation,
or, perhaps a different metaphor,
a page turned in a book,
the story continues, characters die, new ones appear,
the plot changes, and who knows how it will end?
But we are here in this hour, in this story, happy and grateful.
We watch an old episode of Gilmore Girls,
It is Thanksgiving in Stars Hollow,
mother and daughter—them, not us—
eat four Thanksgiving dinners in one day.
We laugh, as we break the bread into small pieces,
letting them fall, filling my huge stock pot
(did I mention we like stuffing?)
and try to imagine eating four Thanksgiving meals.
H. calls later that night,
Did the cranberry sauce jell last year? I’m trying to figure out how long it needs to cook?
Cooking is not an exact science with us,
it’s done by taste and feel,
with sometimes a ghost or two hovering nearby
they whisper in our heads,
You do it like that.
Remember that time?
At H’s house, on Thanksgiving Eve, there is a family cranberry sauce making activity.
I have given her the cherished squirrel mold,
and with my 94-year-old mother in attendance,
they cook, strain, and pour the mixture in the mold.
- The Holiday Meal
On Thanksgiving, here at my house,
my sister-in-law unmolds the sauce.
“You do it once, and it becomes your job,” she says,
It takes three of us to wrangle the cooked turkey onto the board to carve it.
Wine opening, similarly becomes a joint effort
after the corkscrew breaks and the cork is shredded on two bottles.
But we need wine at Thanksgiving,
and where there’s a will, there’s a way–
with a new corkscrew and bit of muscle.
To my mom:”Are you okay, do you need anything?”
Reply, “Life is good, I just finished my wine.”
Food and conversation flow around the table
(like the wine)
tidbits of both, chewed, swallowed, or scattered like crumbs,
we all say we miss our older daughter and her wife,
but they will be with us next year,
we tease my great-niece about her boyfriend
We’re only in seventh grade!
We laugh when my great nephew exclaims,
“That’s why we’re sisters!”
(and then realizes what he said).
We have discussions about other Thanksgiving meals,
younger daughter has made mashed rutabaga
for her daddy because his grandmother used to make it,
there is mention of carb-free Thanksgivings–
a group shudder, unthinkable.
We discuss my mother’s mother’s cooking.
she koshered the meat, salting it till it was too dry to eat,
my older sister says,
but she was a good baker, my sister says,
“She excelled at carbs!”
We eat, we drink, we are more stuffed than the Thanksgiving turkey,
and there is still dessert–
But it’s all right, it’s all right,
it’s part of the American tune,
songs of many cultures,
songs of immigrants,
songs of many types of love,
because love is love–
I am so grateful for this family.
Then it’s over, everyone leaves,
the hiding cat reappears
My husband, designated driver and dishwasher, texts me that he’s stuck in traffic
I put “Hamilton” on again
dance around the kitchen while I take care of dishes
And then it’s time to get some rest.
- The Day After
Younger daughter comes over to watch the NEW Gilmore Girls series.
We are so excited,
we eat Thanksgiving leftovers–and watch the entire series,
Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.
Gilmore Girls practically demands binge watching and binge eating,
we do our part.
Happiness in this hour,
and the next
and the next
(stopping to make coffee and get some pie)
Ghosts from the past on the TV screen,
ghosts from our past, too,
before daughters were grown and married.
Time has marched on for both our families—the Gilmore’s and my own,
people lost, and people added to the family,
life comes full circle,
there is happiness in this time,
in this place,
it’s an American tune
and after the holiday is over
it’s time to get some rest.