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that's me, clinking my glass.

The benefit of not having written a blog here in more than a year is that I didn't write my traditional Thanksgiving post in which, instead of enumerating my gratitudes like people do, I complain about how very much I miss the United States on the last Thursday in November. I am bored of enumerated gratitudes and do not believe there is anything wrong with a holiday that has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with gathering, food, and people you love, like, tolerate, or loathe-but-must-suffer, and their plus ones. I wish it happened quarterly instead of annually, and I wish it did not come with the shadow of imperialism and genocide, but no one has asked me yet to create my own holiday, though you are all free to celebrate my birthday next year if you want. I will tell you the story of how my grandmother burst through the hospital door marked No Admittance while my mother was in labor with me. We can make a rite out of that, can't we?
Instead, on this non-holiday, I stained wood and made black beans with tomatillo salsa for Myron and a dish of chipotle tuna salad for me. I stayed away from Instagram and the stream of a thousand turkeys with trimmings. I put the last of my December obligations into my planner, and I felt the illusion of control. That's an addictive drug, right there.
I hope if you Thanksgivinged, it was a good one. And I hope if it was just another Thursday, that it was a good one of those, too.

We don't do any celebrating of Christmas here, and American Thanksgiving happens on a day that's just a Thursday to everyone else but me. All the general holiday prepping that kicks off in November (or earlier for some people) is nice to watch but doesn't apply to me and mine. 

It will still be snowy white and frigid and bluesky gorgeous, though, and the living room will want a bit of red even if I don't hang stockings, with care or without. So on my list of winter prep, along with waxing my boots, tracking down glove mates, stockpiling ice melter, and picking up a few pairs of fresh thermal leggings, I tentatively wrote: "Amaryllis? Paperwhites? Easy or poss/prob kill?"

paperwhite_amaryllis_boxes

Poss kill, yes. Unfort. I have this reputation. But damn it, I bought the bulbs and put a checkmark down. I will give them a good try. It might feel sneakily celebratory here in about eight weeks.

this world and the way it works

Remember a couple of weeks ago when the snow stayed off the sidewalks? Well.

There might still come another two inches to cover the grass and turn this into a white Christmas, but I will live without it. In the meantime, I have a particular Christmas song in my head, the only one I know that mentions Saturday Night Live, in homage to my aunt Karen, who loved David Cassidy growing up, and my mother who gamely shared a room with her and tolerated David Cassidy pinups because she loved her sister, and my grandmother who lost both of her daughters but learned to let the rest of us light her up. May your life be filled with sunshine, may your every wish come true, may you find a sweet fulfillment in everything you do. That’s Christmas talk, sure, but it’s Tuesday talk and March talk and birthday talk and it is eminently suited for days when everything you touch turns into a white sidewalk of sloppiness.

The angel on my shoulder says Walk in the grass, then, girl, you won’t melt. Or maybe you will, ha ha! It gets away with anything it likes and has taken to smoking Parliaments.

Christmas doesn’t mean the same when so many of the people who were at your childhood table aren’t there anymore. It just doesn’t. But it means something new, something you don’t absorb blindly because tradition makes it so. It evolves, lets in new family members, glows with LED instead of whatever we call those strings of lights I grew up with. I will spend it doing things I’ve put off, putting the year to rights and then putting it to rest, learning to get rid of the vignetting that comes along with this lens or learning to love it. I will perfect my fig vinaigrette. It might not look like celebrating to anyone who requires decorations to see Christmas, but it is, I promise you, I promise. It is as close as I come to Snoopy-dancing.

dinner by fingers

The Sun And The Moon by Wynton Marsalis on Grooveshark

I wish I were in your shoes today, with a feast coming up in four days. Three and counting. Around a hundred hours. This is the time of year when I am most nostalgic and most homesick, when all of Canada has washed its hands of Thanksgiving weeks ago and is busily arranging inflatable JesusMaryJosephs in their front yards and working on Thursday and Friday. And oh, I married a man who doesn’t like turkey, dears. It’s all no good at all.

If I were in your shoes, I would sing la la la and make a small turkey anyway, and sides upon sides. I would make my grandmother’s satiny gravy and her stuffing and my own garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli salad and Parker House rolls. And at least once before the big day—okay, maybe twice—or more—dinner would mean small salads and small entrées and then cheese and crackers and apples. Or pears. And ooh, grapes.

You can go all out for cheese arrangements if you’re having company, ensuring that a variety of regions and milks and firmnesses are available. But for just you and yours at home? It doesn’t take much. You take out the cheeses when you start thinking about what might potentially be your main course, and an hour later, you slice up an apple and break out the crackers or slice a little bread. This time, there’s a little bit of homemade salted caramel in the white ramekin, for apple-dipping. A little jam is nice, too, or some olives. If you want to plan ahead, you can make some bruschetta. Throw it all on a plate or leave it on a cutting board and go. 

Something wonderful happens when people eat with their hands instead of silverware. The talk feels more animated; gestures become more broad. (Not too broad, or that chunk of Blue Haze will go flying right off your cracker.) We linger at the table and it feels like a party in the best way, like at any moment one of us will say we don’t do this often enough. No invites, no RSVPs, and the perfect guest list.

reverb10: moment

Prompt: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

Reverb10 prompt from Ali Edwards
It’s the word “most” that stymies me here. I had several, and alive isn’t the word I’d have used to describe them. Some are too personal to write about publicly, some take too much backstory, and some were fleeting and wouldn’t translate well to the prompt. 
 
There were times I felt I completely inhabited my body; that’s one way of looking at it. Those two days in Toronto when I was on my feet for eight hours or more pounding the pavement in new neighborhoods? Everything spoke to me, my muscles, my bloodstream, my breathing all orchestra members with my brain as conductor. At night I collapsed into bed, unable to fall directly to sleep because I couldn’t turn off the connections between my brain and my other systems. Yoga, too, makes me feel every inch of my organism, unless the instructor’s too whispery—then I just get annoyed :)
And then there were times I felt as though “alive” was not even the right word; I felt like part of something bigger than just one life. Canada Day was a prime example. I love being in Ottawa on Canada Day when the entire country is celebrating. I love being in that huge, relentless, pot-smoking, giddy, noisy mass of people moving up and down Rideau Street. I got caught up in street concerts, displays, and eavesdropping. The core of me almost disappeared while I let everyone else fill me up; I felt shared. At night, instead of heading to our usual spot amidst the crowds at Major’s Hill Park or the lawn in front of Parliament, we found a nook outside a favorite store, shared bowls of gelato, and looked straight up for fireworks. All around us, employees of the various restaurants came out of kitchens and did the same, their aprons still on. I can’t distill a day full of flags, music, shawarma, people, knitting in the street, and summer down into anything smaller than that. It’s a unit for me, and that makes it a moment.