What a strange autumn it’s been. We still haven’t had a killing frost, many leaves have remained on the trees, and it has been generally spectacular. Too dry, but so beautiful it’s hard to care. Perhaps Mother Nature knows we must be hit over the head with beauty this year to pull us away from the election. I’m on record as saying September is my favorite month. If I may amend that and say that while September is my favorite month, November has my favorite mornings. Many November mornings start the same here. They are finally cold, not cool. Maybe in the 30s, perhaps the 40s. You don’t know if daybreak will bring vibrant sunshine and warmth, dramatic winds and rain, or even snow. Hour by hour, November changes. There is a bit of a bleak magic watching a deciduous land reduced to its skeletal grey—November is the theater for that show.
|A frosted fence|
|The essence of November|
|Our first frost made Saturday an exquisitely beautiful morning.|
I would hope that if one were to distill the thousands of words I’ve written specifically about Thanksgiving—though really about holidays in general—that it would reveal one consistent message. When I think about the very essence of my holiday philosophy, it boils down quite simply to celebrate regardless. There are always reasons not to, many reasons far more legitimate than I’ve ever had. Holidays take on such a complex energy the older we get. What used to be so straightforward and simply good can become sad, fill us with a sense of longing—an agony thinking of those who won’t be ringing the doorbell or sitting at the head of the table.
But it can be other things, too. Holidays can be reminders of all that hasn’t happened. Christmas was always my biggest holiday. There was about a decade of fluctuation in my family where some people upheld the annual trip, some veered off to more exciting destinations, and some stayed home. Because we weren’t all together, Thanksgiving was often a do your own thing affair. Christmas was the institution and Thanksgiving was kind of a cobbled together hit or miss dinner.
Then I had a year that rapidly changed my lukewarm feelings for the holiday. I had spent the summer utterly shattered and heartbroken. I sort of felt as if my body was in one place trudging through minutiae and my spirit was in another, hovering over the dream of the life I thought I was embarking upon. So I wasn’t myself. While my attitude is usually that everything matters, my outlook then was that nothing really mattered. I spent June-October being a big whore. But you know, being a big whore is a lot of work. You have to keep yourself market ready. Well by late October, I was over it. I was suddenly a lot more interested in perfecting my buttercream than apathetically banging anyone else. So I got fat. Considering I had spent my entire life obsessing over weight and not getting too fat, it was quite liberating to say fuck it and just love and enjoy cooking. It became about confronting the incredibly wound up and combative person I had become, and honing my cooking in the process. It’s funny how at the time I thought of it as misery, and looking back I see it as triumph.
|Frosted goldenrod is one of my most favorite sights|
|At this time of year, my favorite trees begin to shine. The white bark of the Sycamores is increasingly striking against the monochromatic landscape.|
I had always illuminated myself with spotlights and I loved learning I could turn them off. The thought of Christmas felt too big, too much everything. In my weakened state of empowerment, Thanksgiving felt approachable. That year, it was Thanksgiving that I needed. I think I called around on Tuesday to see who was available and went to the store that night. There were no lists, no perfect tablecloths, no real thought of anything other than how much I’d enjoy cooking it. It was what I could handle that year.
|My first Holiday table of the season.|
Holidays come and go, as do the people we love to share them with. Perfection will not be achieved until it’s all over and your mind does some editing for you. Rain or shine, Trump or Hillary, single or married, fat or thin, we might as well celebrate the holidays we have. I think it feels better to participate than not. If you didn’t find the perfect dream china, use what you have. If you didn’t order your heritage, pastured, organic turkey in March, buy a frozen Butterball. Thanksgiving is about coming together, moving through a rough year, and affirming what matters most. I hope you’ll celebrate regardless.
|This display has resulted in some debate. I think it's funny and well done. One could argue Hillary is either a victim or a villain based on this, no?|
|Why anyone would spend money on these signs baffles me.|
|It seems that Trump will win Ohio, don't blame me.|