Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving Feast, Intimate

We stood next to the dining room table, a 1920’s Art Deco antique passed down from my great-grandmother Nanny. Decades-old scratches laced its corners but a fresh coat of furniture polish and a sprinkling of orange and brown Thanksgiving-themed decor, carefully placed earlier before they arrived, brought it into modern festivity.

“How many meals have been eaten at this table over the generations?” my dad observed with a hint of nostalgia as he scanned the room, his grey-white hair neatly combed and a crisp flannel button-up clothing his smallish frame.

I eyed the antique buffet cupboard next to the table. “I thought about taking all that stuff off and putting the desserts on top,” I replied. It was strategically covered with recipe books and photographs and trinkets and candles. It was always covered with coconut pies and chocolate cakes during holidays at Nanny’s house.

This Thanksgiving it was just the four of us- my mom, dad, and teenage son. It still feels weird to say that, ‘teenage’. In so many ways he is still just a boy. His dark-blond hair tousled and his imagination still intact. Although his appetite is one of a teenager. His meat-eating is making up for all the mammals he did not consume the first several years of his life.

I’d also set the table before my parents arrived, arranging the crystal glasses and beautiful black and silver bone china plates on the brown and gold place-mats. The plates were as flawless as they’d been when they arrived in packages at the doorstep as wedding gifts for me and my soon-to-be husband. He did not ask for any of the china when we separated or officially divorced. I would have shared it with him, of course. It took a year or so afterwards for me to even look at the china. Now I wash and dry them carefully after holiday meals, tracing the raised etchings with my fingers.

My mom and I shared a bottle of wine, perfectly chilled and light and brisk, just as I imagine the vines in Washington, from where it came. Back in the small and warmly-lit kitchen our appetizer spread was a gorgeous mingling of banana bread, fine cheeses, fresh fruit, honey, and my mom’s amazing deviled eggs, sprinkled with paprika. We ate and drank and chatted while the teenager napped peacefully on the couch. The main course just an hour from ready to devour.

When the yeast rolls were browned and the salad tossed with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, it was time. We filled our stately plates with an assortment of both mine and my parent’s favorite holiday dishes. The light and crunchy salad paired well with the warm green bean casserole and fluffy potatoes. Tart and sweet cranberry sauce made the perfect coupling with the savory, chicken casserole (we do that instead of the traditional turkey, it is a hundred times better). Baked sweet potatoes sprinkled with cinnamon and a touch of butter is good any time of year.

We enjoyed the dinner back at the dining room table, my dad at the head and my son on the other end, my mom across from me. We filled our bellies and mused and laughed. The pumpkin-scented candles flickered on the dark wood. The open window left a cool breeze to gently cascade in as the squirrels played around the big oak tree. Frank Sinatra and the like serenaded through the stereo speakers. No phones buzzing or ringing.

The table was cleared and an engaging game of “Heads Up” began. Then we slipped into a family traditional card game of “Oh Heck” which brings out the competitive nature in even me and my mom. I finally won! After all these years!

Dessert followed, still on bone china, although these plates smaller and more delicate. Home-made creamy, spiced pumpkin pie from my mom, and Coke-cola chocolate cake made by me and my son. A perfectly sweet ending.

There were times when we had sort of a house full on Thanksgiving. Various friends and family over the years and in several different dining rooms or lanais. Although this one not a house full, it felt full in the way it does when company has encased you with good energy and love and you are left smiling and dancing as you clean the remnants of a Thanksgiving feast, intimate.

1 Comment

Filed under Observations, Yep I'm Becoming My Mother

Gratitude Unbounded

 

A swollen heart
full of everything
the universe has brought

I give gratitude by the lake
by the sea
under the full harvest moon

I give gratitude unbounded
today

Immense thankfulness for

The late autumn wind
tickling worn tree branches
Glistening sunlight
highlighting the hibiscus

Ocean swells
and the pleasure it brings
to my ears
as does the morning birdsong
A delightful symphony

The comfort of a safe haven
The calm serenity of inner peace
Hands for work and art
Movement to travel and see

Forgiveness
Health
Self love and acceptance
Love within and without
Courage
Happiness
A good steward for the universe

And you

I am thankful for you
each one of you

In the way you have touched
my soul
In the way you were brought
into this world
In the way I will carry you
in my heart
forever.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sunday Night Sonnet

The Last Feast

This year’s Thanksgiving feast will be a small affair.  Me and the kid (hubby is working his usual retail hours) will chow down on Cracker Barrel take-out at my parent’s condo.  I’m in charge of wine and pumpkin pie (my favorite courses).

Last year’s feast was at my place out on the patio.  Tall shot glasses and coffee can vases held brown and yellow daisies I asked the kids to arrange for centerpieces.  If you took a still photograph of the table and those that surrounded it you might think it to resemble a modern-day picture of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.  But not because there was a man dressed as Jesus, flanked on either side by disciples, and not because there was news of change and fate (although my mother-in-law is real good at bringing everyone down with her latest guess-who-died tale).  It might conjure like-imagery because of the man who created the painting, and that in that painting the guests surrounding the host came from different backgrounds and different eras.

Jesus's Last Supper

Jesus’s Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci was not only a painter, but an inventor, observer, and experimenter.  He was a renaissance man.  I have often described myself as Jane-of-all-trades, master of nothing.  In my lifetime I have painted, sculpted, observed, experimented, and even invented (those inventions being stories crafted in my brain and poured onto notebook or computer screen).  So in that way Leo and I have a bit in common.

At our Thanksgiving supper I sat in the middle of the table.  That way, I can be a part of the various conversations around me and become included, if I so choose, into any one of them (although at one point I found it necessary to quickly become excluded from an uncomfortable mom-in-law dialogue I’ve heard at least fifty times).  I loved being flanked by my friends and family.  I wouldn’t call them my apostles, even though they are my supporters, my advocates, my champions.  I would call them my “strays”.

In The Last Supper Jesus is flanked by twelve apostles, one of which was Philip.  At my table there was Phyllis, who used to be Phillip.  After the transition she was ostracized by most of her family, except her son Dustin, who was also at our table.  A slight, ex-death metal singer with a great smile and a knack for art, he entertained the kids with his shark drawing and stories of playing music.

My "strays" at Thanksgiving

My “strays” at Thanksgiving

My parents were also there.  They never warmed to any of my stray friends growing up, but in this moment they broke bread with my new ones, with whom they’d become acquainted and fond of over the years.  On the opposite side of them were my friends Bryan and Madeleine, who had no family within at least 400 miles, but who had become more like family to me than many of my blood relatives.  Then there was Debbie, my single, lesbian neighbor, who always brings cheap beer for herself and ice-cream for the kids at any party in the neighborhood.  She is much like a child herself, requiring patience from those around her, but also bringing forth innocence and unabandoned laughter.

When the last of the chicken (come on, it’s tastier than turkey), dressing, green-bean casserole, cranberry sauce (shaped like a can), sweet potatoes, salad, and yeast rolls were scraped and gobbled from our plates, we posed for a group photo before dessert.  And not unlike Da Vinci’s infamous would-be fresco, there were those that came from near, far, and of different ideas and tastes.  But all there to feast together, to tell stories, to listen, to laugh, gasp, question, and remember.

10 Comments

Filed under Picking Up Strays