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Category: thanksgiving

after the feast


if there was one slice of time to slip-slide into a bottle, to save for a rainy day, to relish, it might be that hushed and sumptuous moment when you tiptoe down the stairs and round the bend into the still-dark kitchen, first thing the morning after a very big feast.

the kitchen counters are cleared, the cookstove is sighing a deep sigh of relief, of exhaustion, of having been put through the holiday paces; all burners now still after blasting for hours, the oven now deep in a post-prandial sleep. there might be a bottle tucked off to the side, or the one lonely crescent roll that wasn’t torn into, the odd stack of plates that never got called for duty. open the fridge, though, and the shelves nearly groan, now pressed into service in hopes of preserving just a wee taste of all that was stirred and sautéed and browned and baked and roasted and mashed and pureed and, finally, dolloped over the course of a five-day kitchen maneuver, one mapped out with lists upon lists and timelines and charts and post-its galore.

as i sit snug at the old kitchen table, keeping watch on this blustery drizzle-drenched day, sipping my mug of the one hot liquid that catapults me out from under the covers, i find myself soaked in the grace of a year stitched with sadness, yes, but just as emphatically sewn with a hundred thousand shimmering threads of blessings for which my heart whispers thank you.

i’d start, sure as could be, with the three beds upstairs filled with long lanky boys who come in three sizes — small, long and longer. (while we’re at it, i’d add a long note of thanks for the post-feast delirium that more likely than not will fuel their sweet dreams — and my all-alone quiet — till long past midday.)

it wouldn’t take long — not far from the top of my roster of thanks — till i ticked through the deeply-loved friends who keep me aloft through whatever storms try to yank me down under.

i am thankful, so thankful, for this arthritic old house, and its creaks and its groans. for its doors that won’t close, and the window or two that refuse to budge open. i’m grateful of course for my unruliest garden, the one that paid little mind when i left it (mostly) to its own devices this much abandoned summer. thank God, yes and yes, for my little birds, the ones who buoy my heart with every flap of their wings, each chirp that rises up from their lungs and their throats and their short little beaks. thank you, especially, for the scarlet-robed cardinal i’ve lured back to my roost with scoop upon scoop of sunflower seed.

thank you for the crotchety old cat, the one who decides most nights around 3 in the morn that there is a world beyond this old house through which he must roam; the very old cat, by the way, we’re convinced we’re keeping alive through super-strength doses of love and not a few cans of high-grade tuna.

thank you, heavens above, for brothers strung across the country, and sisters-in-law i could not love more. thank you for mothers, by birth and by heart, ever my back-up squad, at home or afar. thank you for fathers, now resting in heaven. thank you for little niece and adorable nephew, proof that growing up loved is hope for the world.

thank you for books. and thank you for nuggets of time to burrow deep into pages, to contemplate a thought or a word — an old friend of a word or one newly unearthed. garner modern usagethank you, specifically, for my brand-new “garner’s modern american usage,” a genius of a roadmap through the vagaries and tight spaces of vernacular language (the late and ever-brilliant david foster wallace claimed it “eminently worth your hard-earned reference-book dollar“).

and thank you just as deeply for the gem that arrived in the other day’s mail, wendell berry’s “sabbaths 2013,” a small-press edition of 20 poems, signed by the master, and filled with wood engravings now etched into my soul.


thank you for sacred hours in light-dappled woods with a long beloved friend whose hours, we knew, were numbered. thank you, months later, for the minutes i sat at her deathbed. and thank you, yes thank you, for the long hours since, as we grope through the dark, wrapping our hearts around her left-behind beloveds, as we cry with them, make room on the couch, share blankets, pile plates with good eats, and blessedly utter her name amid the swapping of stories and deep belly laughs, and believe — even when they cannot — that the light will someday come again.


my list of thank yous is long. my list of petitions seems to never grow shorter. so before i sign off, the ones that top this season’s beseeching: a friend and a sister i love, both still facing cancer head on. and another friend whose ankle, of late, is shot through with screws and rods and titanium plates, and who finds herself recliner-bound, though she’d never complain, not even a whimper.

lest i linger too long, before i rummage through the fridge, pile my plate with a spoonful of this, a swift taste of that, these are a few of the prayers that rise from my heart, on this, the glorious morn after the feast.

thank you, and bless you, amen and amen.

at my house this morning, one of the somethings left on the counter is a tumble of string from a box from the bakery where my husband bought brownies to stack into a tower in homage to his papa, whose november-25th birthday was often shared with the turkey, always nestled nearby, and always punctuated with thick-frosted brownies, bedecked by my sister-in-law. this year, far from new york and new jersey, my sweet mate stacked the chocolaty tower with architectural precision and not-often-seen tears in his eyes. it was a son’s salute to his bakery-born papa.photo 2photo

happy blessed birthday, dear AZK, among us always in heart — and in teetering chocolate.

what’s cobbled onto your list of thank yous this glorious day after the feast? 

blessed be

blessed be the words that spill, that carry us from broth that’s God’s, to bowl that’s yours, that you sip. and sometimes, without a napkin, you might shlurp.
blessed be the year that was, the time that is now, this breath, and the next, and the next.
blessed be hearts that beat as one, and those that beat to a rhythm only they can count.
blessed be this table, where we gather, where we lay down our fears, the aches of our heart, our joys, our deep delight. did i mention our worries? blessed be the whole darn sloppy mess.
blessed be the moon. oh, the moon, the moon.
blessed be the dawn, the lifting of the veil of night, the pulling back of blackness, revealing eyes of day.
blessed be the rustlings, maybe starting now, in kitchens everywhere, as cooks begin to stir through roadmaps, going back in time. taking stops along the way at hearts no longer here, at hearts too far away, to generations and countrysides and newborn cities of long, so long, ago.
blessed be the pomegranate and the pumpkin.
blessed be the turkey cookie with the raisin eye.
blessed be the lumps that will not leave the gravy.
blessed be the little children nestled in their beds. blessed be their cheeks all pink from rubbing on the sheets. blessed be their quietude in dreams, and their animation in the moment of their waking.
blessed be the bones of mine, and maybe yours as well, that creak and whine on rising from the bed.
blessed be the spinning wheel of seasons, the chance to start again. the resurrection cycle. from naked limb of winter, stark against the sky, to filigree of spring, flamboyant summer green, and then, at last, the bold disrobing of the autumn, now settling starkly once again.
blessed be grace, seed child of the divine, the wind-borne fertile wisp we sow, searching every day for here and there to plant it, to await the bumper crop of something far beyond us.
blessed be the rising and the setting of the sun, the sky an endless doodle pad for dabbing color, drawing pink and orange in streaks. blessed be God’s water color.
blessed be papa bird, and mama and the babies, too.
blessed be the cat.
blessed be the clouds that scuttle by, or come like circus critters, a carousel in puffs and odd-shaped taffy pulls. do you see the tail, the trunk, the camel’s hump?
blessed be the pit-a-pat of rain.
blessed be the boy who snuggles close, who whispers, “can we cuddle? like in the little days, when i couldn’t say a word?” and then, before he dozes off, he softly tells you, “you smell like popcorn.”
blessed be anywhere and everywhere and places in between.
blessed be the day, the hours when the busy work unfolds. and the night, when soul is center stage.
blessed be the farmer. and the farmer’s hands, his breath, her back, and the worries that she bears.
blessed be the light and song of those no longer here. blessed be the ache inside our hearts as we feel them wholly missing. blessed be the squirming as we try to find a way to breathe that doesn’t hurt so much in the bald-faced truth of their absence.
blessed be the broken places deep inside, and blessed be the healing.
blessed be the child who looks you in the eye, and tells you he finds God not in religion A or B, but somewhere wholly all his own, somewhere very much evolving.
blessed be the mothers and the fathers who take it all in stride.
blessed be all the ones who never leave our side. who take the outbursts and the murmurs, who weather all the many moods.
blessed be the friends who hold up our wobbly hearts.
blessed be the blessings that really never end.
blessed be you.
and blessed be this day of deeply saying thank you.

carry on. this blessing is communal. it is in the power of our many voices that we might make a noise that cannot be unheard. and i for one am listening….

oh, about the photo up above. that’s my little one, just the other night. he was making a story, illustrated, of how when you’re in love, you make kissy faces. note the sun in shades. and blessed be that child. and the stories that he spins. blessed be the hand that’s learned to move a pencil. and the heart that takes it off the page. it seemed to me quite fitting for a blessed be this day…..