My dear friend,
What is your favorite holiday, and why? Just curious. If you were to say Thanksgiving, I’d wonder why we aren’t already best friends, giddily brandishing our forks dripping with turkey+stuffing+gravy+mash. I’d wonder why we haven’t talked about this, why we haven’t had an official seating to relish the joy of old-fashioned thankfulness in a world where everything is new. Do you remember those pilgrims? The indians? The handprints we cut to fashion into turkeys or headdresses? Ah, life before we were a colony! 1621!
Like any good pilgrim, I stumbled upon land and culture via the Internet recently. I came across the letter that Edward Winslow wrote, describing the first autumnal feast(s), dated December 12, 1621. I like his descriptions.
“…God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown. They came up very well, and blossomed, but the sun parched them in the blossom. Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors…”
“…the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others.”
“…although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”
That last bit gets me. You too, best friend? I’d have skipped to it, except, the historic effort that went into creating such an amiable atmosphere is worth recounting. I can imagine Alton Brown trying to remedy the parched pea blossom fiasco. Martha Stewart might have a word on how to best display not one, but five freshly killed deer. But wait, wait, I am getting all mixed up. You see, Alton and Martha are a few of the many who have graciously saved us from modern day, holiday travesties — each sparing us from trussing a turkey wrong, choosing incorrect silverware, from breaking our can openers. But who has become the authority on our gratitude? Who has inspired our own effort, our many motions? As it turns out, these responsibilities are entirely yours, friend. It is up to you to fatten your own heart, as I must, mine (should a comma go here? Between ‘must’ and ‘mine’? I cannot decide).
Confession. This past Saturday was one of the worst days of the year for me. I set my hair on fire. Really. And, all sorts of other things transpired to make me wonder why the universe was so offended by me. We won’t dwell. But I am happy the day is over, happy there are so few days like that, when I find it difficult to discern a light. I am returned, now, and at ease writing this, surrounded by all my favorite liquids. A kukicha I bought at the store, that same awful Saturday, reveals that, in retrospect, the day was not entirely bad.
Kukicha. A twig-based, Japanese green tea. Funny, the many wonderful, healing properties a cup provides. A few weeks ago, my cousin and I were at my favorite local tea shop. My friend who works there was telling us that jasmine tea has the ability to induce happiness in its drinker. My cousin continued with a story of her own. She told us how our grandma used to promote the benefits of jasmine tea, how it sweetens your breath (especially useful when Colgate was not a common commodity in old world China). I sat there transfixed, two brand new facts about jasmine tea in my pocket, my love for tea expanded. Sipping tea now, I can nestle in my cozy reality, a reality cozier than others.
Yesterday, I celebrated the Christening of my third godchild. Relaxed, having put a good four hours into baking his party favors, I reveled in being surrounded by small children, all dancing to ‘gangnam style.’
To be honest, I must leave for work soon. I am juggling conflicting feelings. First, I wonder at my cozy reality cozier than others. Second, how may I offer you sincere well-wishes for this upcoming, most excellent holiday? How can we celebrate it together, bring a physicality to mere ideas? Perhaps I will tap into my inner-Winslow, and give you something to put in your pocket.
Although it is not always plentiful, wonderful as it is at this moment with me, by God’s grace, I am so far from want, please partake in my plenty, friend. Have a happy, heart-warming Thanksgiving! I love you.