Thanksgiving Day was fine.
Going to church, gathering fallen leaves and flowers to make little bouquets for the neighbors, writing holiday cards, learning a new Sacred Harp song (“Sweet Solitude,” Hannah More, 1835), learning how to tune & play a scale on a mountain dulcimer, brisk walk to the cemetery in hard rain, dinner, then tucking into flannel jammies with a rediscovered book that I loved as a little girl, about Catholic saints.
Then over the weekend a confetti of invitations rolled in. Lots! Out of nowhere!
There wasn’t even time to take in all that popularity. So I went to just three occasions, with beautiful families in beautiful homes. I got to go and watch friends in really solid marriages, and their parents and kids and friends flocking in together with kisses and hugs and telling their stories and joking around. The food was great; how do people think up such wonderful recipes? And the homes were a treat to the eye, photos and heirlooms and artwork and china and silver and carpets created and handed down for generations.
Then it was back here to Tuffet Central, to think it all over.
After being in among these couples and witnessing a little of life in community, now even three days later it’s still an adjustment being alone again. It’s making everything feel hard; waking up and going to work and going to sleep and getting the chores done. I went diving in to the holiday sweets all over the office, and a lot of health progress went right out the window.
Gee, where’s the lesson in all this?
To dress up and appear at these wonderful occasions and to support my friends at their life celebrations and to be grateful is a real gift of God, part of healthy mature living. Maybe healthy and mature people can do it all the time. It was beautiful, but somehow I forgot — socializing is not companionship. They’re two different things. Maybe for a little while I shouldn’t go through the looking glass and watch other people’s family holidays.
By tonight I needed drastic cheering up. So I visited a new library for some good books, then came home and fixed a cup of green tea, and cooked up lunch for tomorrow — greens & vegetables with a dab of tinned salmon and some extra ginger and garlic and tomato sauce. While it cooked I practiced my new song.
Say, maybe I’ll take the new song and the bowed psaltery to work tomorrow and try playing it where the acoustics are good, in our parking garage. Then I’ve been wanting to start a holiday gift basket collection for our wonderful cleaning crew who work so hard. There’s an essay to finish for the colleague I’m nominating for this year’s achievement award. Then there’s a neighbor nearby who lost her husband, I’ve been meaning to write her a letter and enclose a photo of her lovely Memory Garden from last summer.
There’s no better day for it all than to start right in tomorrow.
You write because you have so much to express but also because, I think, you know you often achieve transcendence through exquisite eloquence. But tonight as I read your reflection, one phrase shone through and struck me most deeply: “and to be grateful is a real gift of God.” Thank God you are generous in sharing your gifts Masha! God bless you for making the effort and showing how to live.
Hi Robb!!! It’s especially meaningful and nice seeing your comment, because (it just dawned on me) you may have been around more chapters and phases of my life (and more discussions processing it all) than pretty much any of my friends. So you have some extra scope to comment on. 🙂 Thank you very much as always. I don’t take it for granted – M.