Friday, November 19, 2021


A quick glance at some of the pictures I've been taking lately, and the idea Layering came into focus. We can't begin to declare that we have anything like a real winter here. It won't snow. We won't risk frostbite, or slip on ice. But it's colder than usual, and that's enough to inspire us, to turn to thoughts of cozier things, snugglier, warmer, softer, comforting things. We are layering... inside and out, physically, metaphorically. I've banished any and all critical voices around Official Holiday Start Times. Little by little, as suits my mood, or opportunity, I am layering Christmas threads, sometimes interweaving them with Thanksgiving. My theme is: Well, this brings joy, and I am ready to bring all of that out.

And, for the record, if I hadn't long ago redefined Thanksgiving, painfully aware of the history and implications of colonizers running amok, and to this day, greedily erasing our culture, our existance, our land, and resources, I would not celebrate the day. Thanks Giving, for me, is gathering with family and friends, recalling the ancestors, declaring our best intentions, with grace, hope, and loving kindness, a day for Giving, to emphasize the graitude and respect that we are called to demonstrate every day, for all people, and this planet, our home.
Beach Chair Book Club does it again! This time they shared a potluck and hula hooping. They are done with The Hobbit, and the crafts that went with that book. And after a vote, they are moving on to Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones. I am grappling with this choice, since I read the book years ago. As otherworldly and strange as the movie can be, I had a much harder time keeping the plot straight when I read the source material. It was weird. Weird is ok, but it was confusing weird, which is a weirder weird. I am hoping these young folks will discuss it, and maybe there are clues and insights I can gain from their understanding of it.

Bambi and Alex made okonomiyaki, a dish of layered foods, including a crepe, cabbage, yakisoba noodles, and an egg. Alex even tried his hand at making an egg substitute from mung beans.

Something compelled me to prepare some cream of wheat. It was only ok. I think it was something else I was actually craving. Avena? Atole? I wish I could ask my Abuela, "Dime, Abuela, por favor, que me serviste para desayunar?" I could sleep through the mooing of cows greeting the day, I could dismiss the donkey's long lament, however urgent, loud, but I would always rise when I heard my Abuela's hands softly, assuredly patting masa for tortillas de maiz, and I always loved the mornings when she made the hot, creamy cereal. But, it wasn't cream of wheat. I don't think.

It's not just layering socks, and flannel, and cats on our laps. It's not just layering wreaths, and ornaments, garlands and lights. I find myself pulling back layers of memories, nostalgia, fragments of time recalled by scents, notes of music, traditions, a flickering light. I have such a longing to revisit places, and moments, to be in the company of the people I knew, who knew me when. It's sentimental and bittersweet, moreso as time erases the particular details that no one can confirm. It seems like an old person's pastime, this misty eyed reflection, but I have always gathered memories, held fast to impressions, ingredients, narration. It was, before, comforting, reassuring that I had my cache of observances. It made me happy to recall moments when I felt sublime joy and graitude, affection, comfort, and I was confident that those good memories, my appreciation, would be banked away for happy reminiscing. I would not give them up, but they afflict me somehow. I miss what was. I miss family. I miss things we did, and laughed about, ate, heard. I miss driving to an Aunt's home, Grandmother's, arriving after dark, and being embraced and pulled into a home softly glowing from the outside, lively and bright inside. I miss having my hair brushed, then plaited, tied with ribbons, wearing new shoes. I miss aching to open a present, the smell of tamales, cousins everywhere, hugs, besos, cariños, cuentos, coros, the red and white lights in the lanes of freeway traffic, riding home with my arms around a new doll. I miss sitting, unobserved, or so I believed, listening to the grown-ups talk, and wanting to have perfect recall of their stories, their faces, and voices. The memories aren't quite enough, and I wish there were more.


Nicole MacPherson said...

That last part is so lovely and touching, Natalie.

I really love how you have redefined Thanksgiving. I think we all should define it your way. It's beautiful.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

I have too many happy memories tied to that holiday, and I don't want to forfeit them.
Reclaiming traditions, or redefining how we do things, why we do them, is empowering, and healing.
Don't you love that aspect of being a grown-up... how we can make the rules, drop stuff we don't like?
Thank you, Nicole, for chatting with me.