A Facebook friend posted the night before Thanksgiving that she was really grouchy just then and wondered if anyone else was feeling that way too. I was, boy. I was feeling super grouchy though I didn’t post as much, being at the time too grouchy to join in the spirit of generosity that characterizes Facebook at its best.
I had a list of good reasons for my grouchiness that night, or so I told myself. For one thing there were the muscle cramps I keep getting as I sleep, which make me dread the night as much as the parents of colicky newborns do. I LEAP from the bed every time one hits to put weight on the troubled limb, even knowing that one of these days I could accordion flat down into a human puddle, like those collapsible tin drinking cups the Scouts used to use on camping trips.
There was also the tedious chore of food preparation, a task I have not enjoyed since the Seventh Grade when our poor Home Ec teacher tried to teach me and 29 other snickering 12-year-olds how to make Prune Whip.
There was the personalizing of 200 holiday cards that I’d spent the previous six days working on. I wish I could just sign our names and be done but I can’t seem to do that any more than I can plunk a big box of Count Chocula down on a dressy Thanksgiving Day table.
And finally, there was the way I looked just then, in worn-out sweat pants gone in the waist, a hand-me-down man’s shirt in which I look like the old dad in Modern Family, and over it all an apron from a decades-past college reunion embroidered with an image of Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.
Well, I knew that much: I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, if Kansas is seen as Martha Stewart’s version of the run-up to Thanksgiving Day.
My husband David had gone up to bed before 9. I minded that and wished desperately to join him but instead stayed downstairs by the kitchen bingeing past episodes of This Is Us and inscribing another 40 Christmas cards while a slew of wee laboriously peeled onions seethed on the stovetop. (I’d been too late with my shopping to find the kind in a jar that comes all cooked, dammit.)
I worked and I worked and finally at midnight thought The heck with this, pulled off the apron and crawled into bed.
The next morning I spun up now less three bowls brimming with greens and various toothsome mix-ins. I made the bechamel sauce for the onions and blobbed the whole sucking lava-thick mess into a chafing dish even though at that point it looked to me like nothing so much as a mixture of Ping Pong balls and Milk of Magnesia.
I spread all these dishes out on our kitchen counter and texted a picture of them to our daughter Annie, along with the “caption” Three Salads and a Funeral”, the funeral being what I had come to think of as my Creamed Onion Surprise. She in turn texted back lovely pictures of the three holiday tables she had set up for the whole family and the next thing we knew we had set out Over the River and Through the Woods to her house. My failing Merit Badge contributions were added to the feast and we all sat down to eat on the all-too-short remains of the waning, amber-and-amethyst-colored afternoon.
In other words, the sun rose and the sun set on that day, mere hours from Decembers’ start, and we looked, and saw that it was good.