Archive for Monday, November 25, 2002

Shouts and Murmurs: Calm before the holiday storm

November 25, 2002

The world seems to revolve a little slower, somehow, around Thanksgiving time. The season of autumn has well set in and late each night, Orion swings his starry sword around to his place in the sky as if waiting for his battle that never comes.

Cans of pumpkin and cranberries fill the ends of grocery aisles the same as they did timeless years ago. Families plan dinners, perhaps momentarily remembering the ones who should be there to celebrate this year's holiday, but no longer are. The seasons pass the same, but somehow, at least for now, autumn holds still, camouflaging change. Like the rustling of the oak leaves stubbornly clinging to limbs, Thanksgiving becomes a part of us, more so than the Christmas holidays overlit and overdone.

Thanksgiving Day can still be simple children digging into the old toybox on the living room floor at Grandma's house, a lazy after-dinner walk around the neighborhood, a cup of coffee from the percolating stovetop pot, shared with a friend or two.

No matter where you go, no matter who you're celebrating the day with, we share a connectedness on this day, as much as any day of the year the start of the holiday season a time to share and give thanks.

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There's a new twist on the adage: you can't have your cake and eat it, too. Saturday, while at home recovering from the after effects of a 4-year-old root canal that had to be surgically revisited on Friday, I was at loose ends, trying to find something to do without overdoing.

I settled my sights on the half-dozen pumpkins we'd bought to decorate the deck for an October family gathering. Just one pumpkin would make at least three or four pies for Thanksgiving. That much work, even while nursing a sore jaw and swollen face, I could manage.

Cooking a pumpkin is one of the easiest things there is to do. Put it in a large roasting pan, poke some holes in the pumpkin to let out steam, and set the oven at 300 degrees. Within an hour or so the pumpkin is cooked, and the hard work is done the skin and seeds of a baked pumpkin fall away when you pick up the "meat." The challenge then is to grind it. I tried my mother's old potato ricer but the pumpkin was too stringy to go though the fine holes. Finally, I mashed it in the mixer, and then used enough of it to try a new recipe for pumpkin cobbler. The deck cleared of one pumpkin, I now have just five to go. Maybe by springtime autumn's beautiful bounty will have been put to full use once for looks and once again, for eats.

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At Thanksgiving, as we enter the Christmas holiday season, we as a community realize that men and women from our area are serving in the military. This year will be especially challenging as the United States may be embarking on a war against Iraq I wouldn't wish that on anyone. We don't raise our children to send them off to fight. But when and if that happens, they need our support, our thoughts, our cards and letters, our prayers. Please send us names and addresses of service people you know so that their names can be published in The Mirror. The holidays might seem a little brighter if someone could hold in his or her hands a letter or two from home.

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