Post # 75 Thanks For Giving, Mom

November 23, 2012 at 9:35 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Yesterday in America, it was Thanksgiving Day.  It was a day set aside to feast as appropriate to your observance of the day, and while feasting to give thanks for all you hold dear.  My family and I did all this and watched television and enjoyed the dogs and remembered all we were thankful for during a stress-filled year.  This year, for me, has been filled with words.  I started this blog and maintained it steadily three times a week for six months, while adding a few short stories to it.  I completed the first and second drafts of my first novel.  I created and maintained a sporadic second blog for just my rants and raves.  I became active in gay politics and made my opinions and views known on a national level and was accepted in that arena.  Those twenty-six letters and one dozen punctuation marks did me proud this year.

But as I sat back on the couch, sipping a glass of wine, and enjoying the feeling of digesting a feast, my thoughts went back to other things that I am thankful for.  As is ever my wont, I remembered those very humorous times during other feasts and was struck by how many of them centered around my mom.  Mom passed away in June of 91.  She was the heart of the family, full of the joy of living, rocking with laughter.

Mom was always taking a notion for doing things differently.  One Christmas, she decided not to label any of the gifts under the tree.  The only person who knew what was what, was the person who actually was giving the gift, in most cases her.  So someone would open a gift and it might be for them and it might not.  The person who gave the gift would then say who it was for.  There are many reasons why this was not a good idea.  Mom thought it was great.

Another “good idea” she had for Christmas was the year she got the same presents for everyone.  I always think of that as the year of Trivial Pursuit.  I ended up with three copies of the game because everyone thought I’d enjoy it and be good at it.  They were right on both counts.

The only holiday that mom insisted that everyone sit down to the table for the main meal was Thanksgiving.  She was raised on a farm and that holiday always had a special meaning for her.  She didn’t get maudlin or anything, but she was always thankful for being able to provide a feast for her family.  Guests were always welcome and it didn’t matter how many.  Mom always felt that everything would be okay as long as there was enough to eat.  We lived in the Arizona desert and one time a friend came over.  He sat down on the couch in the air-conditioned room and sighed happily at the coolness.  He still laughs over three decades later when he recalls how five minutes later my mom thrust a plate of grilled cheese sandwiches under his nose because, well, that’s just the way she was.  He always says that he wasn’t hungry but he ate every bite.

She was always redecorating the living room.  It was the biggest room in the house, therefore the biggest place to showcase her “talents.”  One time, she went traditional and did a chair rail in white, with red paint beneath and red patterned wall paper above.  But she did a checkerboard pattern so both below and above had alternating sections of paint and wall paper.  One time I came home from college and she had papered the living room in posters of the rock group Blondie because she liked their music.  I asked my dad how he could stand it.  He said he knew it wouldn’t be up for very long.

Mom also had a green thumb about the size of the jolly green giant.  I’ve seen her stick cuttings from a plant into plain water and leave it and watched as the biggest, lushest plant grew from it.  It didn’t matter what plant it was, it worked for all of them.  She had a rose garden in front of the front porch and one of those bushes had at least one rose in bloom on it every single day of the year.  I’ve seen her plant a “dead” Christmas tree and watched it grow to thirty feet tall.  It became a nesting tree for every damn mockingbird in the county and was the noisiest thing you ever heard.

After I took over cooking for the family, she got a lot more ambitious and experimental with cooking.  She was more willing to try something different, or at least, different for her.  Some of her experiments weren’t so great.  She once created a solid gazpacho.  I have no idea what she was aiming for.  Others were quite good and stayed in our repertoire for years.  Even today we still eat “baseballs” which is just a highly flavored chicken salad in a spherical roll with the insides taken out and filled with the salad.

However, with all the memories that come flooding back at this time of year, candy bowls, fudge mountains, burned chicken soup, etc. there’s one that consistently makes me laugh.  Feast days for us were highly anticipated and became more elaborate as years went by.  By the time we kids were all in our late teens and early twenties, the spread filled the kitchen and dining room and spilled out into the living room.  There was always enough food to keep an army alive for days and we usually did keep a horde of guests alive for at least the weekend.  The day of the feast, we served buffet style and everyone gathered at the same moments to share in the repast.  After that, everyone was on their own for at least two or three days.  They could have whatever they wanted whenever they wanted it.  With no set mealtimes, it made for a very relaxed and inviting holiday.  This one particular Thanksgiving, I was sitting on the couch reading and pondering idly if I was really hungry enough to get up and get a piece of pie or a cookie or maybe a turkey sandwich or a slice of ham.  Mom came into the living room with a saucer pile high with whipped cream on top of some kind of pie.  I watched, wondering what kind of pie was under there.  She had just about finished and I still couldn’t identify it.

“Mom, what kind of pie is that?”

She giggled.  “I didn’t get any pie?”

“Oh, cake or something?”

“Nope.”   She was still grinning.

I looked at her for a moment then realized what she’d had for dessert.

She looked at me in all innocence.  “I like whipped cream, okay?”

Hope you enjoyed your feast, your holiday, however you chose to honor it.

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