Thursday, November 24, 2016

Random Thoughts About Thanksgiving

The pressure to impress diminishes the value of the feast.  Not only will it result in stress, it also defeats the purpose of the occasion which is to set aside a time to count the blessings we've received during the year and thank the God who graciously favored us.  Today Brahms reminded me yesterday to relax - just relax.  And I listened to him.  Today was a peaceful stress-free day!  And everything turned out great.

Early dinner is better.  Scheduling dinner at around 2 pm  eliminates the need for numerous hor d'oeuvres.  This relieves the hostess from preparing so many little things.  Today (Thanksgiving Day 2016) we did exactly this - dinner at 2 o'clock.  We ate dessert at around 5 pm after Tim and the kids played "Don't Starve Together" and after I finished my painting of crab apples.  A second dinner is in order as there are a lot of left-overs and a cornucopia of fruits sits on the table for eating.

And by the way, Tim did a great job grilling the turkey - which turned out beautifully golden with darkened wings and thighs and tender and moist white meat.  We used a different brand of turkey this time from an independent grower.  I was a little bit skeptical to begin with but ended up feeling happy and pleased with the quality.  Normally I have to rub the bird with a lot of oranges and lemons just to remove the strong smell of turkey but this one met my requirements when the packaging was removed and it delivered a delicious roast turkey.  In terms of aromatics, I put sprigs of rosemary and thyme in the cavity of the bird - and this I intend to repeat next year.

Thanksgiving is not the same when a family member is not present.  Shannon being in Madison leaves an empty space in my heart.  I now understand what my mother used to say when I was growing up.  (She used to work in Manila while I lived with my grandparents)  I am thankful that Miriam and Brahms still can be with us and thankful that we can talk to Shannon and still share experiences over the phone.  She might be far but we share the joy when she told us right before Thanksgiving Day that she got a raise and that she ran a 5K Turkey Trot early today.  God is good!

People think their food is better than yours.  No matter how you present your table spread, or how expensive the china you eat them on and the silverware you used to eat them with - it does not matter, people will still think that their food is better than yours.  This is not about you nor about them but it is simply because of tradition and experience that surrounds the table. Moral of the story:  Food pictures should not be the focus of social media posts on Thanksgiving Day. Just saying.

Thanksgiving is a celebration of gratitude.  Once-a-year exercise of gratitude does not do much good in the way we live.   However, if we can practice gratitude on a daily basis then we get the daily benefits of a calm and collected attitude regardless of our situation because we know where our help comes from.  And in turn we can love better.  Thanksgiving therefore is, more appropriately, a celebration of the completion of the year of gratitude.  That, I thinks, deserves feasting!  With the current way we perceive Thanksgiving, the mandate to be grateful tomorrow is missing.  In fact Black Friday ads tell us that we are inadequate at present and therefore we are all enjoined to get up early tomorrow to compete in the game of hoarders.  :)  

Give thanks, always.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Autumn Leaves Lie Undisturbed Now

In preparation for the rain that was supposed to come at 1:00pm today (it's 12:45 pm now and the sky is clear from any hint of clouds), I spent most of the morning raking and collecting all the leaves in the backyard.  And as I moved the leaves with my walis tingting to make a big pile on the lawn I remembered a time when I wished we had mature trees so that we can have more leaves in the fall.

Yes there was a time when I had to collect every leaf to add to a small pile that we had.  The kids would run and jump up and down and roll on it.  And then they would stop so that I could collect the leaves again into the small pile that they started with.  There was a year when we bagged the leaves so that we would wait for more leaves to fall and then dumping them back on to the lawn together to create a more substantial pile.  It was both painful and delightful to watch them.

Soon a time would come when we had enough leaves.  The three ornamental pears that flanks our driveway produced so many colorful leaves every year.  It was a beautiful time.  But then they were big enough so that we asked them to help bag the leaves - which to them was not that beautiful.

All the trees we have planted in our once upon-a-time-barren yard are mature now.   Along with that, my children have grown up - two of the three are not living at home any more.  The leaves are merely leaves that need to be collected now.  None of the noise and laughter around the leaves are no longer there.  And I am reminded of the lyrics of a song from  the album War of the Worlds,  "The autumn leaves lie undisturbed now, 'cause you're not here." I miss the days when my children were always together around me.

And as I worked against the wind in an attempt to collect every falling leaf before I called it a day, somehow I thought that young families when they decided to buy a place must choose something with a yard where the trees are already mature. We had it right when we bought our first house in Fremont but we blew it when we moved to El Dorado Hills.  Either way, sweet memories were made.

There is something about the falling leaves that triggers reminiscence.