The birds flit gaily from one brilliant bough to another. The jewel-toned trees shed leaves like gemstone butterflies. The thermometer reads in the low 70s. We enjoy a splendid fall display unrivalled in our 8-1/2 years here in Grass Valley. Last night we grilled a tri-tip and stood outdoors chatting in the gathering dusk. Thoughts of sweaters, hot cocoa, and snowflakes fall far beyond the pale as we eschew socks in these balmy days leading up to Thanksgiving. I hope that the fall color stays colorfast until Elizabeth returns for Thanksgiving break. Last year she arrived to barren trees and rainy weather, but enjoyed it all the more in contrast to San Diego’s temperate climate.
Despite the warmth out of doors, I curl up in my favorite chair, silk hassock at my slippered feet, and dip down into my stash of holiday magazines plus the Williams-Sonoma catalog and dream of sugar plums and roasting turkeys all stuffed with goodies, pumpkin pies and candied yams, sky-high biscuits and balsamic-drenched brussels sprouts. Aaaahhhhh what delightful diversions. I LOVE TO COOK! Fortunately my family loves to eat.
Holiday gatherings in our home have always been eagerly anticipated, excitedly planned for, and thoroughly enjoyed. Whether it be just a quiet nuclear-family gathering (as will be the case this Thanksgiving) or a house-party of extended family and friends encompassing many days of revelry (as Christmas promises to be), we celebrate with gusto. The food, the decorations, the music, and the traditional markers catch us all up in a most joyous, thoughtful, warmly-shared time of reflection and praise for another blessed year in our family.
Traditionally our Thanksgiving begins with a beautifully-set table hosting plates containing a mere five kernels of corn symbolizing the pilgrim’s struggle before the much-celebrated bounty. Though my children have never known hunger, we choose to remind them that not all have been so fortunate in their lives. The meal commences after prayers and a round-table expression of thankfulness. Each year I dab away the tears as we thank the Lord for so much. Poems, plays, and musical gifts fill the balance of the festival, with a traditional “crash” in front of an historical movie (Snoopy and Charlie Brown usually get called into action) as we digest the meal and the history behind the beginnings of our great land.
The day after Thanksgiving we pack away the gourds and Indian corn and pilgrims and haul out the tinsel and manger and tree for Christmas. Elizabeth loves to have the tree up for her December 2nd birthday; I see no reason why this year should differ. And so the day after Christmas the carols ring from the stereo whilst the Christmas makeover begins. The annual Christmas cd purchase has already arrived: A Colonial Christmas by Barry Phillips of Gourd Music. I discovered the Gourd family of musicians while living in Felton, their home town as well. A local bookseller offered a listen to the cds filling the rack and I fell in love with the gentle folk tunes, renaissance dances, and so much more. Over the years I have purchased many, many of their enchanting albums. This year I added the newest Christmas cd in accordance with a tradition started when Gary and I first married wherein we would build a library of Christmas music one cd at a time. Clearly something went awry over the years because we have been married 24 years and have over 50 cds!
My mind runs on and on as I pore over recipes, entertain a new decorating scheme for the stairway, ponder a new cookie to include in the tasty gifts to our neighbors, and mentally assign beds to all the guests on our ever-growing list. Smiles, joy, delight . . . without a thought to potatoes to peel, dishes to wash, and laundry to process (which I’ve already confessed I enjoy attending to), as there will be many hands to make the work light. Lost in thought for the holidays, I gently sip my tea and gaze out at the summer-like day and dream of a white Christmas – “A dream is a wish your heart makes,” croons Cinderella. My heart is wishing lots of good things and my heart bursts with the anticipatory joy of celebrating so much with so many I love.