Savoring the Old and the New

It’s Sunday morning, 10:45. The turkey is gone. The stuffing is gone. The candied sweet potatoes and pumpkin pies are gone. Even the kids and the grandkids are gone.

It was a delicious weekend. I’m still in thankfulness mode. My kids all told me it was the best turkey and best stuffing ever. The grandkids played together well. The cousins, 9 to age 3, didn’t break too many things. They did manage to photocopy half of the items in my office, and all of their hands, as well as one person’s face. I thought it was very imaginative, but when I’m out of ink next week, I probably won’t be so happy.

The dog had fun. He stationed himself at the kids’ table, reasoning he’d be able to Hoover up more there than at the feet of the adults. And we ate outside. That was a first for us—warm enough on Thanksgiving to have dinner outside. Our Seattle contingent was blown away. Green grass and blue skies are aberrations enough. Al fresco Thanksgiving dining on the patio at home? Amazing to them.

In some ways it felt like déjà vu all over again. Only we were the grandparents who live in the desert, and our kids were playing our role. All during the Thanksgiving weekend, I felt I was in Einstein’s theory—time seemed relative. When I was making the stuffing, it was as if my grandmother was standing beside me. I’d learned her recipe forty years ago. (I make it just as she taught me, which necessitates me getting out the electric fry pan from the garage.)

The antique electric fry pan, which is indispensable for Thanksgiving.

As I got into my jeans and gelled my hair, I remembered my grandmother’s cotton dress, sensible shoes, and hair pulled back in a bun. Times have changed, I thought. But the smells from the kitchen and the shrieks of childish laughter from outside were certainly the same.

Past and present united. Hope the future will be the same.

Fast Forward into the future because I wrote the above five years ago. What’s funny is that I can repeat the first eight sentences verbatim. Really, almost all of it could be repeated.

Some things are different. We were at our house in Thousand Oaks this year. Our son, daughter-in-law and three kids now live in Chicago so they were blown away by the weather here this time. “I can’t believe how blue the sky is,” my son said yesterday morning as we sat outside at a coffee house.

Our daughter and son-in-law now have a baby girl who was a welcome addition to the group. She was a one-baby entertainment center. She kept the living room full of people clapping one night. She’d clap. We’d clap. She thought that was amazing so she’d clap again. Then we would. And so on. And on.

I couldn’t have been more gratified that my son and daughter said they thought my stuffing was the best ever! This year, my ten-year-old granddaughter helped me make it. I told her how my grandmother had taught me and that I remembered her everytime I made it. “Now, when I make it, I’ll always think of you,” Quinn said. I oozed joy.

Last year we had Thanksgiving in Seattle. It was my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday although the dementia didn’t allow her to enjoy it much.

Esther Muscatel surrounded by her great grandchildren in 2011.

She died in May so there were no great grandparents at the table this year. But we remembered her and all of the greats. At our age, there is always the bitter with the sweet.

So past and present united again. And the future, which sometimes looked dimmed in the five years past, looked spiffy in the present. So grateful for our blessings.

It doesn’t get any better than this!!!

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