Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
Leather brown leaves cling
to nearly naked branches,
harbingers of cold.
I’m not very good at my own mantra: change is the only constant. I like my groove; routines work for me. Move my cheese and I’m likely to bite. However, I keep contemplating and practicing.
But. As one never steps in the same river twice, no moment, nor hour, nor experience is ever the same. You cannot duplicate that great vacation you had last time because this time is this time. By definition it will be different. Somehow.
And so Thanksgiving was different this year. My mom passed away this summer. My sister, who’d taken the holiday to her home these last few years, decided not to cook because her husband had to work. Yes, some people in essential services get the pleasure of serving on holidays. I was going to cook for the hubster and the son, which morphed into a maybe/maybe not 13 guests.
Let it be known to one and all: I am not the greatest hostess. The last Thanksgiving I hosted was 30 years ago. I was in a new-to-me home, and proud to be a new owner. I was expecting about 20 family from in and out of state and multi generations. It was a glorious day.
The power went out that morning. The turkey was not completely thawed. Guests arrived early. There were not enough appetizers to tide over the delayed dinner because of the power outage. People started getting drunk. I forgot to eat. Anything. I had a glass of wine. Two. I cut myself with a sharp knife. My cousin made the gravy. I got sick. My aunt did some dishes. I think everybody got fed, but I don’t know what they ate or when they left. I was sicker the next day. Wine was spilled. Rugs and floors were burned. The mess was tremendous.
I didn’t think I wanted to do Thanksgiving again, at least not that way. Then I moved to the coast and nobody wanted to travel that far for the holiday, and it was just as well. I was easier for me to drive myself over the Coast Range and into town or stay home than for 20 of them to come to me.
This year went well. At least as well as can be expected 30 years out of practice. My analysis: the turkey wasn’t good, I thought it wasn’t done, the hubster thought it was overdone. The green beans and Brussels sprouts were a fail; the crudités were a hit. I’m still one of the few who eats sweet potatoes and I won’t goo them all up with brown sugar and marshmallows. All the smashed white potatoes were gone! You needed to be first to the table to get a roll even if they were store bought, and underdone. The butter, set out the night before in the hubster’s grandmother’s crystal butter dish to be nice and soft for the rolls, was not found in its prominent place. Though they made themselves comfortable, my guests did not find the wine glasses in my cupboard, and used the blue solo cups instead. My bad. Neither pie got eaten. Huge leftovers in the sweets department. My home-made ice cream was very popular, however.
I have only one small oven burn on my thumb. Nobody got drunk, or mean, or sick. I only pissed off one niece when I commented, as she swatted her almost 2 year old daughter saying “We don’t hit”, it’s hard to teach children not to hit while hitting them. I hope they both get over it and forgive me and realize elders say what they say because they have seen the results of their own mistakes and want to help prevent the same thing repeating in the next generation.
And see there? I have become the elder. I am the elder, when my other older aunts aren’t around. Then I would defer to them. None of our youngers have ventured yet to hold a Thanksgiving or other holiday in their homes. Little do they know.
I won’t do it the same way, if I do it again. I need to make my home a little more guest-friendly. I’ll provide less food, and request folks to bring what they like to eat. There were many requests to help, so they may as well. I might even let New Seasons cook my turkey for me, and I won’t consider it cheating. I’ll set the wine glasses on the table and the butter in an open dish. Who needs cooked veggies when you’ve just eaten a mess of fresh ones, or maybe more fresh ones would serve, like some nice lettuce greens? I might not make dessert and see what arrives to go with the homemade ice cream.
As I work on letting go of my expectations around holidays, I am working on cleaning out some corners of my life. My 1992 Ford Explorer has not moved from its place in the driveway for the last year. In Oregon, that’s way too long, as immobile things start to mold and for some reason this truck attracts bees and their subsequent nests.
I had been needing a vehicle and the Ford came to me free having already been of service to me and my family, and it arrived with quirks after only two owners. The first owner documented everything and treated the rig like a precious baby. The second owners were the son’s cubmaster and her husband, the son’s scoutmaster. We spent many an afternoon and evening and week in that rig getting to scouting events during the son’s 12 years in scouting. The cubmaster felt she had finally used up the rig, was going to sell it cheap, and asked if I was interested. As I was figuring how to put it into the budget, she asked if I’d take it free. The quirks you know, like the leaking power steering fluid for which no source could be found, and no amount or brand of stop leak stuff or replacing of lines would fix; the broken hinge on the driver’s door that required a special lifting motion to close; the barely starting to slip transmission that responded well to lots of fluid; the way it loved to drink every fluid it needed on a daily basis, water, oil, brake fluid, you name it. BUT IT WAS FREE and I said, “Yes. Thank you.” Graciously.
Hwell of course, I really finished using it up. The door hinge wore out the rubber gasket on the knob on the door jamb so I figured out how to wind the knob with duct tape for the door to grip onto. I kept a basket with extras of every fluid it ate in the rear of the truck and duct tape in the divider between the seats. But then. Inside plastic parts of the doors started coming off the doors. I couldn’t get the driver’s door to close so I’d get in the passenger side and crawl over the divider until I broke the divider. (There’s a picture: oldish fat cranky broad cussing under her breath about being too old to still be doing this kind of stuff, lifting herself over the divider trying so hard not to break it, which is inevitable given the odds of how many times the crawling is done. Of course, the divider hinges broke.) The rear door handle broke so the door would not open, which made the rear end a pain to get into, accessible now only through the back seat. Not to mention that the elegant design of the rear door prevented the spare tire being accessed if the door doesn’t work. The front bumper got bumped into in a parking lot as a woman failed to look behind her as she backed out of a parking spot, just enough for me to tell it is askew, not enough to affect anything in the way it runs or drives.
One autumn the heater blew heavy smoke into the cab for 10 minutes, causing me to pull over to air out the rig, and call the hubster to come follow me home in case we went up in flames. I think some leaves got caught in the heater vent. I hope. The heating system never worked well after that and I had to wipe windows as I drove. The transmission became a mystery shifter, you never knew if it was going to shift or not, or when, no matter how long the rig was warmed up, and it might decide not to shift in the middle of an intersection or at 30 miles per hour. Then one cold raining winter day in the middle of my weekly three hour shopping tour the good old Ford wouldn’t start, and you gotta know I wasn’t in my own driveway and my cell phone was dead. I had it towed home, and though it started right up after delivery to the driveway (of course), there it sits to this day.
Today it rains and I reflect how yesterday turned out to be a very good day to clean out the rig, a lovely half hour of time that was not too cold or raining, or warm enough for the bees to be around. I took out the old baby blankets bought at garage sales just for car blankies and popped them into the washer with hot water and detergent and boraxo. I removed two bags of papers and water bottles and pop cans and county fair mementos and moldy detritus to the trash can. I won’t bother detailing it out. The trusty old Ford, which served Boy Scout families for 21 years, finally became untrustworthy and will be donated to the Boy Scouts of America to be repaired and once again placed into service for some (hopefully scout) family.
I have to let it go. I don’t know how and can’t afford to fix all of it. I loved that truck. It had the right amount of room for me, a comfortable driver’s seat, room to carry a few other people if need be, and enough room in the rear to stow a little camping gear and a cooler. I loved the six slot CD player to load music or books on CD for the longer trips. I loved the Tinkerbell decal left on it and the Boy Scouts of America decal on the rear door. The Ford carried the son all over Oregon on scout events, overnight camp-outs, and week-long summer camps. It carried me all over the Portland metro area on day outings. It served me for several years after being deemed dead, even serving as a sleeping unit at a friend’s party that took place far out in the country.
I’ll keep one thing that came with the truck. My cubmaster friend (I was her assistant) made a yarn woven Kleenex holder just the right size to sit on the hump in the middle of the floor of the Ford. I’ll put the Kleenex holder in whatever rig I get next to remind me of her generosity, of working with her in scouts, of her giving me this rig and a few more precious years of mobility, and of the smile she always wears no matter what else she has on. If she could let the Ford go, then so can I.
When we gather our strength to let go, new things come. New experiences, new traditions, new mobilities. Forevermore Thanksgiving will be different. The holiday traditions will change; there might be no tradition, it may become a fluid whatever happens that year day. And my vehicles will be different, and after all, it’s just one of the many rides on this wild journey.
Color Watch – blooming attractions in my neighborhoods this week –the holly trees have just gotten brighter; the green and blue and brown of the wreath my sister gifts me for Thanksgiving every year.
Currently Reading – The Good Death: The New American Search to Reshape the End of Life (sociology) by Marilyn Webb; The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives (sociology and politics) by Sasha Abramsky; The Little Town on the Prairie (“fictionalized” autobiography) by Laura Ingalls Wilder (I never read this series as a kid and I want to finish it); Hanging Out the Wash: And Other Ways to Find More in Less (simplifying life) by Adair Lara. Yes, concurrently.
Winter Classic Reading rules:
1. You must never have read the book before.
2. The book must be recognized as a classic, and can be contemporary.
* Extra points if you’ve never read the author before, if the author is female, or if the title or author have won a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize.
Winter Classic Reading choices as of today:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; I’ve never read this author.
The Stranger by Albert Camus; I’ve never read this author.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne; I’ve read House of the Seven Gables.
So Big by Edna Ferber; I’ve never read this author.
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray; I’ve never read this author.
Something by Anthony Trollope, suggested by the co-worker; neither of us have read this author.
I read a Winter Classic between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. The point of reading a Winter Classic during those dark cold days of winter before spring breaks the spell is to choose something you might not ever otherwise choose; something to slow you down because the language use or the setting is unfamiliar, the plot or non-plot is unusual, or to read yourself into a different time, world, and culture. We’ll decide by the winter solstice. Or maybe I’ll decide, I haven’t decided yet if I want to be the decider since it’s my tradition or if I want to share. And if I decide on a title and you want to join in with your own choice, have fun with that, too. I’d like to hear what you are reading.
This week I have been grateful for:
- A warm houseful of family. Enough parking spaces for the cars.
- Having enough food, and dishes and silver, to serve it and eat it with.
- Calming the baby’s meltdown with a nice cool cup of water. Dehydration is hell.
- After all the cleaning I’ve done this last month seeing all the spots I’d missed while my guests were here.
- Family making themselves comfortable in my home, opening cupboards and drawers and refrigerators to find what they needed.
- George Murphy, AKA Mister Kitty, not raising an eyebrow nor a claw at guests.
- Almost getting the last load of Thanksgiving clean-up done before the next meal needed to be prepared.
- Hot water at the touch of a tap.
- Picking the right time to clean out my old Ford and deciding it is time to let it go.
- Figuring out how to use an emery board to soften the end of a zipper on my new birthday purple furry thermal vest that kept stabbing me in the face.
- The gray and drizzly day today forcing me to slow down and look toward the next upcoming holiday’s preparations. Guaranteed? It will be different.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.