Can I tell you how good it felt to have a houseful this past holiday weekend, and how I’m a little anxious about writing to you about it because I’m the Writer Laureate now and what if I make a mistake? There’s a lot of pressure to at least spell correctly, and at most say something wise and thoughtful.
Which is sort of why instead of grilling in the rain I decided to make enchiladas for the crowd, dumped the chicken in the crock pot, and looked up how to make a sauce rather than open a can ( it involves a lot of chili powder and a roux). There were meat ones and veggie, black beans and green chilis, and the biggest mess and the most pots to wash that you have ever seen outside of Thanksgiving, which when I think about it, this really was– I am so grateful that we are all here, well, healthy, okay– and together. I began cooking at about 11 am and finished around 4, but to be truthful, with all the activity this was a way to tie my heart’s little boat up to the party float. I caught snatches of conversations between my daughters and listened to the little kids play Sorry and the piano, poured another glass of water, cut up more watermelon for the baby, made another peanut butter sandwich, another cup of tea. I was both on call and making dinner. It was a win-win. Also, after a year of the loneliness of Covid I’m not used to a crowded house, so it took some practice, and a lot of paper towels. (How can we go through so many dishes? Do you need to eat again? Have a banana– wait no. Save the last one for your grandfather for breakfast.)
As the rainy cold settled over us, the guys arrived home and the hockey game came on, and someone found the old photo albums and then Memorial Day really felt like Thanksgiving. It could be a family tradition, as we don’t always stick to the traditional holiday dates, and birthdays can last a whole week.
When I was young, Papa Bob’s cousin, my uncle Dick, hosted a family reunion for Christmas. It was on a cruise ship– in June. Christmas in June was easier than doing it in the winter. It made perfect sense at the time. We even had a turkey dinner with plum pudding and a tinseled tree. Our rooms were decked out in lights and red and green. My great-uncle Mac (short for MacDonald), who was English, gave the toast and he began by saying, “The time has come to talk of many things of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings… and whether pigs have wings.” There may even be some pictures of that sunny Christmas at sea somewhere in the piles of albums, but if there aren’t, I will always have that story, and now my grandchildren will have this one and that’s what makes the world go ’round.