Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The New Normal

There have been a lot of changes since I've last posted.

For one thing, I am now in charge of making sure these are warm:



and I also get to look into these everyday:



At the end of September, out of nowhere, my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Four days later he was in surgery, and five days after that he came home.  The next week, I was in the operating room, all feeling blocked from the middle of my back down,while the doctor and nurses delivered my daughter.

Michael Chabon wrote an essay for Bon Appetit this month about Thanksgiving and tradition.  It's a wonderfully written piece, and I want to share the last paragraph with you:

And that, to me, is the meaning of Thanksgiving. Of all the Thanksgivings before and since, the one spent at Manka's stands out for me as the truest, even though we were far from our places of origin. Nothing lasts; everything changes. People die, and marriages dissolve, and friendships fade, and families fall apart, whether or not we appreciate them; whether or not we give thanks every waking moment or one night a year. For the act of returning to the same table, to the same people and the same dishes--to the same traditions--can blind you to life's transience. It can lull you into believing that some things, at least, stay the same. And if that's what you believe, then what have you got to be grateful for? None of our Thanksgivings are ever coming back; we've lost them. They're gone. And so this year, let's go somewhere with strange customs and unfamiliar recipes and the latest collection of ill-assorted chairs, and give thanks--not for everything we have, but for everything, instead, that we have lost.

I believe in what he says.  I've had many different Thanksgivings.  Most of my childhood had my family gathered around the table, the large turkey and same sides we looked forward to year after year, the pumpkin and pecan pies afterwards, always too many than reasonable for a family five.  Since then, there have been a number of different ones.  I remember making the turkey and all the fixings for some college friends.  It was my first Thanksgiving away from my family, and I was pretending I was more grown up than I really was.  One year we drove eleven hours for a wonderful, surf-and-turf Thanksgiving with in-laws, which I enjoyed despite being sick as a dog.  I've had one that fell right between two funerals.  That one especially, minds were on what we had lost.  This year's will have a funeral following it as well.

Still, I know that with my father well and at the table, and my new daughter in my arms, this year I am grateful for all I have.