Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving thanks

Thanksgiving Day 2007: our 10th together. A bright, if windy, day with temps in the upper 60s. I baked pies: pumpkin, pumpkin cheesecake, apple. Watched the Macy's parade and thought of all the Thanksgivings that I've baked pies and watched the parade.

Especially I remember the ones in St. Louis with my ex's mother -- we went to her house and I cooked for maybe 13 years? There may have been a few we missed in there...but not many. She loved stuffing and pumpkin pie especially -- we always did the ubiquitous green bean casserole, cranberry-orange relish, some sort of sweet potato concoction, mashed potatoes, gravy, bread stuffing, turkey. Relishes. Sometimes another dish. Rachel and I would watch the parade on the tiny black and white tv in the kitchen while we cooked; I almost always found some reason I needed to escape to the little store down the road -- just to get out of the house for a little while. I love cooking; Rach and I always had fun doing it together.

But inevitably my ex would say "Leave the dishes; I'll do them." (My MIL didn't have a dishwasher.) So I would. And then he would go across the street to visit with his long-time friend, leaving me and Rach watching tv or reading, while my MIL was napping. Eventually she'd find her way back to the kitchen to nibble on stuffing or pie or potatoes, and would sigh heavily at the unwashed dishes, and grumble out loud about cleaning them up, and why was he still over at Bud's. So after she went back to her room, I'd just go wash them. And dry them. And put them away. It was just easier. The last few years I finally got smart and just did them.

That was why I'd go shopping the next day, despite the traffic and crowds: to get away from endless questions, whining, complaints that my ex was spending too much time across the street at the neighbor's house... and then of course I was always gone too long, I'd learn.

She was a bitter, angry woman to her last breath. She truly loved Rachel, I believe, and her darling son, although he never quite measured up to whatever it was she wanted, and she got along with me because she liked my cooking, but I was never what she wanted for a daughter-in-law.

I don't miss those T-days. I don't miss any of that, except cooking with my daughter. I'm hoping we'll get to do some of that at Christmas when we're with her.

But today we joined our group of friends at a neighbor's home, with their grandchildren and children, dogs, enough food to feed twice as many people. A warm, welcoming feast for the body and soul.

We are so blessed, we two, to be where we are: to have the opportunities that we do, to be so enveloped in friendship and love, to live with the deer and birds and coyotes and turkeys and yes, even the raccoons and possums. To have a warm woodstove on chilly evenings, and cats who sleep contentedly beside us, to have books and papers to read, warm flannel sheets to snuggle beneath, enough of everything. Especially, oh so especially to have each other!

We are thankful for these things. Every day.


And I got a lovely surprise this morning when I opened the Redding Record Searchlight and found my byline on the front page (below the fold). I've got another three or so stories in that series that are coming -- but I really liked seeing that today. I am so grateful for the opportunity to do something I love to do and that I feel I'm pretty good at doing. Funny -- I started writing feature interview stories nearly 40 years ago when I was a summer intern reporter at the Springfield Leader-Press and Daily News. Learned a ton that summer about newspaper writing. And here I am, all these years later, writing for a newspaper again. The universe is giggling...

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