The six weeks starting about now, mid November, are written by some spirited team of script writers who are determined to pack in a lot into the three act play. We are the actors. We move along to their script, liking it, sure (no one forces you to take part), but knowing that the play was written before you were asked to join. To do well by it, we need to follow directions. Do your part, or the entirety will fail. If you’re the cook, you know what’s before you: one week ahead, do this. Four days ahead, start doing this. Two days ahead – do this. Six hours before – begin this. At the end of November, you take a breath and start all over again. Act II requires the greatest talent and grit. The fun is in pulling it off even as life, work, everything continue as ever. You get no time off to participate, you need to squeeze it in to life as you know it.
It’s funny that I embrace the holidays (and accept my roles in the script of the season) in the way that I do. Not being raised on Thanksgiving, I feel I’m still learning the various bits and pieces of this part of the production. But I like nearly all of it. I read it as having the subtext of bringing people together over food. What better story line is there?? I love food, I love my being with important to me people. Each Sunday should be Thanksgiving-like, if that’s what we pull out of the day.
The pages and pages of script having to do with Christmas are also a favorite of mine – again, in a humanistic sort of way, being the heathen that I am. I’m not much into the shopping part, but it’s never been a big chore since we don’t have a large family. Picking out some items for the kids seems a fairly minor commercial imposition. Oh, I’m not craft-oriented either, but it’s not as if you have to take on all possible roles in this. There are others who can carry forth with their craft talents. And all other parts are pleasurable. Strains of beautiful music, messages of peace and joy, good food and insanely fragrant trees, decorated with – and here, I fit right in! – traditional stuff, much of it from Poland.
This week-end I spent a long time pulling together a Thanksgiving menu. On Wednesday, I’ll pack up a suitcase of pots and pans and head out east, recipes, knives and ladles in tow.
In the late afternoon, I took a walk to Whole Foods to pick up stew ingredients (this is stew weather!) for the remaining days before I travel east. I had a very slim hope for some photographic miracle between home and Whole Foods. There’s not much to work with on this stretch: a deserted construction site, a parking lot, a strip mall, two gas stations and finally Whole Foods.
But because boring walks so often dump lovely surprises your way, especially this time of the year, I was thrilled to come across this guy. He was engaged in the very simple act of tightening a light bulb.
Ah… One of my favorite seasonal treasures, setting up for business – the Shell gas station Christmas tree stand. Not that I buy from this guy, that’s not the point. The point is that it is evocative of other years, other eras, other plays, and in its simplicity it has that naked beauty to it (plain old lightbulbs on a string) that clasps at your throat. So here you have it, the beginning of the play.