Thursday, November 26, 2009

Places, spaces, and holidays

I've always been fascinated by the idea of place. It's a very complex and meaningful concept to me, and I suppose it has been, in some way, since I was quite young. Place ranks up there with family, friends, love, respect, and cheese in the things most important to me. I've been reading Michael Pollan's A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams recently. While it is actually about architecture in a major sense, it is also about writing and place, hence the reason I put it on hold and actually followed through with picking it up at the local library. Anyway, Pollan asks, "What is a place after all but a bit of space that people like me have invested with meaning?" I've rolled this question around in my head quite a bit, and whether I agree one hundred percent or not, he's definitely on to something. Where am I going with this? The holidays are definitely one of those times that we invest meaning in our spaces. And this year, in this new space, I'm happy to be continuing traditions and perhaps starting new ones.

As I think I mentioned before, it doesn't take many years for me to call something a tradition. I suppose it just takes the knowledge that I want to and will do something again and on a regular basis. (For those that know me well, this is a huge acknowledgement in itself!) So even though this was only the second year that I pulled out the Soroptomist gift list and tearfully read over requests for lotion, soda, salt and pepper, and Kleenex while watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade, I was still happy to continue a tradition. Last year, The Boyfriend and I each picked out an oldster to buy a gift for after I read the entire list and cried because of the simple and basic items these people requested. This year, we thought about going in together for one oldster, since times are a little lean. But after wish list entries that were as simple as Kleenex and warm socks, or diet Pepsi and chocolate, I think we can spring for our own oldsters. And just to give you an idea of how great I think this list is and how much it puts me in the giving spirit, I'm even thinking of signing up for an oldster asking for an Oregon Ducks calendar. The week before the biggest Civil War ever, I think you'll understand the implications of this gesture. (Go Beavs!)

The tradition of alternating Thanksgiving between my mom and aunt's house continues this year, and it's Mom's turn. However, we're joined this year by my aunt and uncle from my dad's side of the family. I'm so excited to have both sides of the family together, especially this year. This Thanksgiving is going to be hard because of the year we've all had, but having more love, and more family, and more thankful faces around the table will make it easier. We'll laugh and we'll drink and we'll eat too much food like every year, and that will feel good. We'll miss those who aren't with us around the table, and that will feel good too because it means they're in our hearts. It means that love is strong and real and that we're present. The Boyfriend had to remind me once this year that being sad is good for that reason--it makes us know that we are here and we are experiencing life and love, both in the hard and wonderful times. I'm thankful for all that this year.

Will Thanksgiving with both sides of the family be a new tradition? Probably not, because I'm guessing my cousins will get their parents back for next Thanksgiving, but I'm hoping Jade's Chopstick on Thanksgiving Eve will be. What says Thanksgiving Eve like Chinese food in a strip mall? Apparently nothing, because the place was packed and I was happy as a clam to have someone else cook for me with spices and ingredients and meats that couldn't be less Thanksgivingish. Yes, Thanksgivingish. I even have leftovers, should I dare having a pre-Thanksgiving lunch. Right now, I'm trying to talk myself into a pre-Thanksgiving run.

Bring on the holidays--bring on the turkey and the beer and the laughter and . . . I was going to say tears, but I'm not trying to rhyme so we'll just leave it at that. I have so much to be thankful for today and always. I think I do a pretty good job of remembering that, but I'm willing to eat some pie and mashed potatoes for good measure.

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