Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bittersweet Holiday

There is something refreshingly innocent about a household with young children. It is good to have baby toys underfoot and singsong voices greeting you in the morning. I am noticing birds nestled in trees and clouds shaped like elephant heads as I need to point them out to a child. My youngest son's daughters are 3 1/2 and 7 months of age and we have had their youthful company for a week now.
The oldest daughter given her few years possesses an immense vocabulary and says things like, "I am unavailable to do that right now," or "that would be positively delightful." Is she secretly reading novels in order to come up with this stuff? She quickly catches onto a domino game and tries to mimic everything her older boy cousins do. These, unfortunately, are not always the more desirable behavior choices. At least this year Adam did not feed his glove to the goats at the Christmas tree farm.

The baby has large liquid eyes that wobble between green and blue and soft dark crescents for eyebrows. Both girls show traces of their mother's Persian birth heritage and will be beauties in their own right. The littlest one honors everyone with immense and frequent smiles and her grandmother took several videos ranging from 32 to 106 seconds demonstrating her incredible ability to make a series of spitty raspberry sounds.

I have been a busy person these last few days. I go out to the garage to get my mother's roasting pan and as I pull it from the box I double over as a hard wave of emotion finds me. I sob a few times, a lonely sound, and then I return to my kitchen. The next morning the ingredients for my dressing lie on the counter for a couple of hours and I know I am stalling, afraid that my combination of spices, sausage, bread, celery and onion will be inferior to my mother's famed concoction. She never wrote the recipe out for us fledgling cooks. I got the "look," the one that said, just taste it - you'll know what it needs. Amazingly, it is good and so was the gravy which was the bigger concern.

My turkey is moist and flavorful and later in conversation with my daughter I tell her, "your grandmother was in my kitchen today." Could be an illusion but there had been a strange calmness playing in my head as I chopped and stirred and my dishes turned out far too well to credit my fluctuating cooking ability.

And the holiday was a good one despite the sad thoughts lapping at our collective consciousness. There was laughter and shared stories, card games and barbecued weenies in a crock pot - love them weenies. We played Candyland and Clue with the younger set and it was indeed Colonel Mustard in the conservatory with the revolver. Jason calls from his Colorado home and he is making dinner for friends: sweet potato and lentil casserole, roasted vegetables, pecan and pumpkin pies. Jason will be joining us in a few weeks and he and my father will walk the snowy hills of the driftless land.

The house sits quiet now and it feels strange not to have a wiggly baby on my lap or her older sister handing me Goodnight Moon to read. I carry my bittersweet wreath down to the wooded area at the bottom of our hill. My memories have been as intense and deeply colored as the bright orange berries on this vine. I hang it on a low branch knowing I will see the wreath from my window. At some point a strong winter wind will take possession of it.

I see my new Christmas tree reaching nine feet towards my cathedral ceiling. It begs for decoration and so I move on.


MrDaveyGie said...

I was taking a shower Thanksgiving day, and the realization hit me that I have been around for 56 Thanksgivings, all of them attended with my mama, then I realized #57 she wouldn't be there,
'I sob a few times, a lonely sound' She was such an amazing woman, and I have a 1000 times a 1000 things that I want to say to her yet, and I can't.

dawn marie giegerich said...

Yes, you can say them. I believe she still hears us, just like our conversation around her hospital bed. She glowed whenever she talked about you.

amysue said...

Your Thanksgiving repast would have made our mama proud. I believe she was indeed present amidst the fragrant aromas swirling around you while you basted and whisked away. And by the way, it was Mrs Peacock in the dining room with the rope!