This Thanksgiving was very small compared to those of my childhood. Growing up, our house would be ‘chock-a-block’ full of relatives for nearly the whole week of Thanksgiving. I remember lots of great food, games of Rook, cribbage and backgammon. There would be a pool tournament and a dart competition. If you won, your name was added to the plaque that hung in the gameroom.
But time has a way of leaving childhood behind and my present is forever changing. This past year has seen many changes: Two marriages and a divorce. Sounds kinda like a romantic comedy for Hugh Grant to star in, doesn’t it? Only there has not been much to laugh or smile about, until recently.
My divorce was finalized last month and with it came a great sigh of -how can I put this?- resignation, relief, rediscovery. Yes, all of the above. Resignation, because life will never be as it was thirty years ago, and that’s not such a bad thing. Relief that, with the help of my family, friends and the Holy Spirit, the most trying time in my life is over and I have come out on the other side stronger than ever before. Rediscovery comes with reconnecting with my girlhood persuits. I’m writing again ( you’re reading it after all, right?). I’ve been to the symphony twice in two months; something I did as a girl growing up in Baton Rouge.
It was just a small gathering last Thursday. One brother, one cousin and her son, my youngest son and my mother and I. My cousin is from the New Orleans area and she brought a surprise for me. It is a painting of a serene lady holding a basket full of apples. The painting was our Grandmother’s and used to hang near the front door of her tiny apartment. As a girl, I used to look at the painting and imagine what the serene lady’s life was like.
The colors are deep aqua and light blue, with touches of gold and terracotta. She looks a bit tired from working in her orchard all morning, but has a slight up turning to her lips. She still has work to do, you see? And she is happy to do it. The apples will be taken into the kitchen to be washed and peeled for an apple pie. The pie will be served after a simple supper, with a piece being sent to the elderly, bedridden lady who lives up the street. The last piece will be wrapped in a linen towel and left in the garage window for the hobo who will pass through later that evening. There’s the symbol of a cat carved into corner of the pump house; the cat is a sign hobos used to indicate that a kind lady lived in the house. The serene lady is teaching her children the virtues of hard work and kindness.
Such were my childhood imaginings. I look forward to the day when I have my own home and a place to hang the painting. Maybe even my own apple trees.
Blessings for a wonderful season of kindness from the Exile’s Kitchen.