Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Celery and Onions, and Thanksgiving

Isn't it funny how smells can be so evocative? There are smells I'll always remember--the smell of Ken wearing Aspen when we first fell in love, and he didn't have money for better cologne. My father's leather jacket. Each of my children as newborn babies, and breast milk on their breath.

Every Thanksgiving brings my mother, now gone to be with Jesus, back to my house. I am transported to the big metal 50's style kitchen table we had. I sit, a little girl, chopping celery and onions for the stuffing. The air is warm from cooking, and full of expectancy. Cornbread from scratch bakes in the oven. A pot of greens boils on the stove. It is always the night before Thanksgiving.

Each year I sit at the table and I think of her. I still chop the celery while the cornbread bakes, but I make my dear husband chop the onions! I remember all those Thanksgiving dinners when I was a child. I remember how that day and Christmas, rooted us in tradition. We had so few roots back then. We had so little happiness, but there was never unhappiness at Thanksgiving.

I saw a picture of Mama hanging in my little girls room. My sister is here, temporarily. That picture, taken so many years ago, belongs to her. Me, I've lost all kinds of pictures, moving, evictions, instability. I don't have a picture of her. So, I stood there staring at her image. This beautiful woman, with the sun gold fair skin, and the high cheekbones that hint at her Cherokee ancestry. Her hair waving down the sides of her face--the hair I used to comb when she could be bothered with me fussing with her hair. How I miss her in my own house now, with my own little girls--the house smelling of celery and onions. Of mustard and turnip greens, and of cornbread made from scratch.

Today, I wrote a friend and wish her a happy holiday, but she wasn't doing well. I had to apologize because I didn't think of how holidays are so hard for some of us. So, I am thankful, that all of my thanksgivings for the past few years have been blessed. I am thankful that even though my home is not perfect, there is great love to smooth all that ails. I am thankful that my sister is here this year, and that I could see my mama's picture. I am thankful for the first snow storm today, and for memories of jumping in 12 inches of snow in my red, white and blue snowsuit one day before thanksgiving, so many years ago.

I am grateful for sappy movies and television specials, for Christmas music, and my desire to put up the tree. I am grateful for kids I can be proud of, friends that love without reservation, a husband who is crazy about me, and for a parish that has accepted and adores us, and gave us two, count 'em, two turkeys! With all the trimmings! I am thankful the Archbishop lets us break the Nativity fast to celebrate Thanksgiving. I am thankful to God, watching over us all. I am grateful for everything, the gains, the losses, the triumphs and failures, because we are never, ever, alone. The Lord goes with us. And we must go with God.

I am thankful for YOU!

Now, go! And have a great holiday.



olympiada said...

Mair, you have suffered enough. May you holiday be blessed.

Heather Diane Tipton said...

"I am thankful for YOU!"


Have a wonderful holiday!

Kristine said...

As we speak my mom is at home cooking - the house full of good smells.
I am grateful for you too.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I was the one who had to chop the oniona and celery and bake the cornbread and everything else! Happy Thankgiving, Mair!!!

Connie said...

Doesn't time give us perspective? Little becomes much.
I am thankful for this evocative picture of you and your mother and a redolent tradition which bespeaks abundance, despite pain and poverty.
Now two turkeys indeed. How you are loved!!!

Paula said...

Beautiful, my friend. I love the warmth of the picture you painted with love and community the thread through it all. This has been a special year for me because I got to be with my brother and his family THREE times. Count them, THREE. :o)

l. said...

very good

Kimber said...

You so eloquently expressed what I often feel in my heart during this time of Father went to be with Jesus just a few years ago, so this time of year can be bittersweet for me as well....and yet, like you - I am sooo thankful for all that I still do have, and that I am never alone :)

I have enjoyed getting to know Paula, and noticed that you often leave great comments on her blog site - so I wanted to stop by and say, 'Hi'....

You are a beautiful writer - I hope to stop by more often as I really did enjoy many of your posts :)

God Bless

upwords said...

Thank you for sharing your memories of your mother and your holiday. I was thinking today my kids are making memories all the time. I'm shocked when they tell me their favorite Christmas or birthday. It's usually one where we had the least...

Love you Mair,

gina said...

(I have tears in my eyes)
I miss those days on Henry Ruff and watching the Thanksgiving Day parade with your mama (my second mama/Chuck :-) Of us (Me, you and Michael) laughing and playing around the house, the smell of the holiday, the unconditional love that she always gave. Those are the memories that I hold so dear to this day. I love you and am so very proud of you Mair (Diane)(LOL)

Your sister,