Saturday, December 09, 2006

Catching Up

So it's been a while since I've put up an entry. Grading stole most of my time over the past two months, but a gap has opened up large enough to insert a few words. Here, therefore, are the major highlights of the recent past:

Gluttonous Holiday #1: Halloween

(click on the pictures above and below for the full-size versions)

Last year Q was too young to gather her own candy; this year she went pro like her older brother. She would stand at the door while we rang the doorbell. When the door swung wide she'd say "Trick or Treat" and then wait for the oversized mixing bowl or bucket to come down to her. Predictably, she and The Boy would hear "Oh how cute!" (And they were cute--Q and The Boy were dressed as a cowgirl and cowboy respectively, complete with fringy vest and skirt/chaps and cowboy hats. The Boy's hat was genuine felt from a western supply store in Wichita, Kansas, a lovely gift from his grandparents. And he even sported the blue Acme cowboy boots that I wore as a kid. No drugstore cowboys around here, folks.) Ignoring the compliment, she'd then reach in and grab a remarkably large haul for her tiny hands and drop it into her treat bag that my Lovely Wife had made for her. She'd say a recognizable "Thank you" and "Happy Halloween" and then drag her swollen bag down the hall with one hand while pushing her hair back out of her eyes with the other. The Boy took fewer pieces at each stop--but then again he's older and is supposed to wait for the host to invite him to take more. Which usually happens. Together, their candy score was enormous. Mom and dad ate most of it, though, as good parents should. Right?

Note about Trick-or-Treating in the City: Growing up in a small town, my brother and I used to have to go outside on Halloween, working the houses up and down both sides of nearby streets. Not us New Yorkers. Like last year, the four of us simply went from floor to floor in our 30-story building looking for apartments welcoming knocks and open bags. No coats necessary; no worries about errant traffic. A childhood in the city does have its advantages.

Gluttonous Holiday #2: Thanksgiving

Since I had only a day or two off from teaching and my Lovely Wife had even less time, we didn't travel or have visitors this year. So it was just the four of us. Nevertheless, we were determined to have a relatively traditional meal, turkey included. After much grocery store rummaging, my Lovely Wife located a 10 pounder the day before Thanksgiving. In all, the spread was respectable, and we did a respectable job of eating our way through it. We even had the neon fresh cranberry relish that my mother only tolerates at her table if my father makes it. (The kids love it, mom, by the way.) We outsourced the apple pie and wild mushroom stuffing; The Boy helped make the pumpkin pie and the mashed potatoes in the big red mixer. My Lovely Wife made the white bread stuffing that she thinks (and I'm right there with her) tastes best right before bed. We doused our desserts with fresh, homemade whipped cream, which really should be applied to all food at all times. The adults sipped red wine and the littler ones apple juice; glasses and cups were clinked. Repeatedly.

We spent time between bites saying what we were thankful for. My Lovely Wife and I expressed thanks for Q & The Boy--and we were (and are) thankful for them. The Boy said he was thankful for school and for new shirts. Q said "Goodbye, Moonie" and "How 'bout some pear" and laughed, as she often does. It was a powerfully wonderful time.

Over the next few days, per usual, my Lovely Wife got creative with the leftover turkey: turkey enchiladas, turkey stir fry, turkey fajitas, and (again per usual) Turkey Trash Soup. We even made rich broth from the bones. If they would have given us the feathers, we would have made something of them, too--fancy hats or those quill pens appearing in movies about colonial times. In the end, it was splendid, all of it.

Unexpected Thanksgiving Carryover: Q & The Boy so enjoyed the candles for Thanksgiving dinner that now we eat nearly every dinner by candlelight. It does certainly make macaroni & cheese or quesadillas and cucumbers seem much more elegant.

We're a young family, still crafting some of our own traditions to frame the holidays. The firmest frames will no doubt be the memories of occasions like these. We will tell stories and click through pictures and smile at being new and undefined. We will join family and miss and talk about those who are no longer with us.

We will give thanks.

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