It seems to me that Thanksgiving is all about preparations.
This morning I went to the farmer's market and the grocery store. I have tried to prepare for the entire weekend, so that an enhanced array of leftovers will carry us through to Monday and beyond.
But this is all a ruse, a distraction to delay the inevitable reflection, longing and regret that interlineate the pages of our Thanksgiving script.
There will be seven of us at the table tomorrow: daughter Adele, son-in-law Richard, grandchildren Andie, Alex and Julia, Buck and me. Son Richard has taken a job as a GS-15 with the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. It started a few weeks ago. He won't be home until Christmas. His wife and at least one daughter will be helping her Mom with a family gathering across town. We plan to call Richard at Noon on speaker phone so we can exchange Thanksgiving greetings.
Adele and Richard's late brother, my step-son Darryl, hasn't shared a Thanksgiving meal with us since November of 2004. The pain of loss from the heat attack that took his life in October of 2005 is still acute. My mother has been returned to the dust from which she was presumably created for more than twenty years. I just typed that, and it is true, and yet shocking. And my Daddy, oh that sweet man, gone since 1962 with no way for a little pig-tailed girl, me, to take a ride in his old pick up truck ever again. Mother and Daddy both died in November of the year.
November is the memory month for me, the time of delving into old picture albums, and taking slow walks with hands jammed into my pockets, head down, kicking at the gravel.
Thanksgiving Day is a time for rising before dawn as my Mother did. I will saute onion, celery and green pepper in butter for the sizzle sound and the rich evocative smell even though I no longer make cornbread dressing. When I cut two large onions for the saute mix, I will cry. I know I will. I always do. Onions are a marvelous foil for a person's tears.
I made cranberry sauce late this afternoon. It's from an Epicurious.com recipe I found some years ago, called Triple Cranberry Sauce, so named because it's made with fresh cranberries, dried cranberries and cranberry juice. It also has orange juice, orange marmalade and a Secret Ingredient that was not in the original recipe. The Secret Ingredient is Grand Marnier. It is the best cranberry sauce I ever ate in my life, by a mile.
I love watching the plump cranberries pop.
The finished product — dark, and vaguely mysterious; a very grown-up cranberry sauce, thanks to the Secret Ingredient.
Buck and I wanted a light supper tonight, in front of tomorrow's feast. We ate baked oysters, with an herbal spinach topping. I meant to take a picture before we ate them all. . .