Thursday, November 26, 2009
Thankful, I Think!
I woke this morning at 5 a.m. to a strange feeling that I couldn't quite identify at first. I had to come fully awake to understand what it was...
And so, what was it? Unbelievably, it was an anticipation of the holiday, and I am so happy that I can't go back to sleep! I say "unbelievable" because I haven't experienced happy anticipation of Thanksgiving since I was a girl, and we used to go out to Long Island to my paternal grandparents' house in the suburbs--and my dad was alive, and my grandma and grandpa; and my sister and I would sneak m&ms from the enormous bowl set out in the livingroom, and everyone plus stragglers were arrayed around the dinner table--it was lively and the conversations raucous, then ebbing, then flowing and raucous again--and the relatives asked you about school and boyfriends, and there was a chocolate cornucopia in the middle of the table. We were all there and it was fun. So much fun!
Then there were the long fallow years, when Thanksgiving day was a little bit lonely, and alienating, and just made me miss the lost ones all the more.
Now suddenly it's different. I'm not sure why. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that my sister-in-law (technically, my sister's sister-in-law, but we are close and I like to think of her as my own) and I were discussing the food we'll be bringing to my sister's house today. This conversation made me feel happier and happier. We are all good cooks, but I'm leaving it to the others to bring the special fancy dishes ( the brined turkey, the cranberry cornbread, the lovely homemade fruit pies). Sarge suggested that I contribute some white trash cooking in homage to my deep Kentucky roots on my dad's side (yes, I have some Southern Baptist in me!) and to his Texas roots on his mother's side. So my contributions will be ambrosia "salad," frito pie, and green bean casserole. So much fun to make and fun to eat, so quintessentially and generically American, nary a fresh ingredient in the lot.
I shopped for the dubiously tinned and frozen ingredients, and last night, late, I made the Ambrosia, and this morning opened the fridge to lay witness to the fluffy, sweet, pale green clouds of it, nesting in my huge bright blue bowl, ready to go. It took up most of the entire bottom shelf. There was a tell-tale dent where Sarge must have put serving spoon to its depths--just to test it, I suppose. But the bounty remains largely untrammelled and expectantly awaiting the good times ahead.
Sometimes it's wonderful just to let go of existential brooding and let yourself feel the lightness of pure, mellow, childlike satisfaction. I realize that I haven't let myself do that in a very long time, not about anything. My spirit is often burdened with memory and worry. But not today. Not today!