this is the brave little mayflower on high seas.
the pilgrims are coming! the pilgrims are coming!
a little queasy just looking at that.
they approach cape cod in 1620.
all you americans know about it.
or at least what we were “taught” about it.
and now it’s one of our favorite holidays for many, many people.
it’s also the busiest traveling holiday of the year.
to my peanut followers who are not from america . . .
you’ve no doubt heard of it by now . . . it’s thanksgiving day ! ! !
every 4th thursday in november ~ since president abe lincoln
made it a national holiday in 1863.
to commemorate the very first thanksgiving in 1621.
and to remind us of our many riches.
and to remind us to share.
when the pilgrims first came from england to this new land . . .
they very nearly all starved to death. it was a bitterly cold winter and
many of them died and were ill. the crops were gone and they were
in a bad way. the voyage on the sea had been a hard one too.
many had not even recovered from that.
the native indians there, were friendly to the pilgrims.
we had not yet ‘swarmed’ and taken over all of their land.
they came and shared a feast with the poor pilgrims in 1621.
they had taught them about maize and other good stuff to know
if you’re going to survive in the wilderness.
the pilgrims owed their very survival to those indians.
they had learned. and there was a good harvest.
it is said there was friendliness among them.
and the feast lasted for three whole days.
well. now that i’ve set the scene . . . and the reason for thanksgiving . . .
back to my story.
i am 14 years old.
it is thanksgiving day in a small village in minnesota . . . where we live.
our landlady . . . for you never buy ~ you always rent . . .
is a real character.
she is polish. her english is combined with words in polish.
especially when she’s mad at john.
john is her husband. i liked old john.
she used to yell . . . “JOHN ! you dupa !”
dupa means “ass” in polish.
we didn’t know that then. it seems john was in trouble a lot.
but ag . . . that was her name . . . ag jaros . . . probably short for agnes
. . . was a good soul. she was a hardy farm woman with permanently
ruddy pink cheeks from the weather and she had the blackest merriest
eyes of anyone i’ve ever known. they sparkled with good humour.
on this thanksgiving day. she had invited 6 families to share in her
thanksgiving feast. she was a fabulous cook. simple country food.
her 3 grown sons were there with their wives and families as well
as my family and two other families that were far away from home . . .
as we were. and then of course ag and john and a couple of
old guys. i don’t know who they were. but they needed a dinner.
and somewhere to go on this wonderful thanksgiving day.
there were long long long tables all put together. a train of people !
all is going well and everyone has finished the feast.
everyone but me. i’m a slow eater. i haven’t even had pie yet
for pete’s sake. what’s the big rush?
“i know! let’s all go to the lake and see rick’s new house!”
that’s ag’s oldest son who has built his own new house
on a lake 20 miles away.
everyone seems to think this is a capital idea!
a long walk in the bracing air of november in minnesota.
the two old grandpas and me are the only ones who don’t chime in.
they would rather stay and watch football til they fall asleep.
i am 14 years old.
i am teetering on the edge of being a little girl and being all grown up.
i hear my own voice say . . .
“if it’s okay . . . i’ll just stay here and do the dishes.”
the voice of an angel.
only the angel didn’t know what she just said.
without a moment’s pause . . . ag jaros looks right at me and says . . .
“well that’s great tammy! thank you. we’ll see you this evening.”
my mother had my back. she knew i hadn’t meant it.
she adores me and sees the dismay on my little face.
she is about to say “i’ll stay here with her and help clean up.”
but jim reed has different ideas . . .
he says quietly to my mother “no. this is good. she’s learning an
important lesson here.”
and with that . . . they all leave in a flurry of cars to the lake 20 miles away.
all but the two old grandpas . . . already asleep in the living room . . .
i am first in shock. total disbelief. i can’t believe she would take me up
on it. i look at the train of tables. it looked like this . . .
only with TONS of dirty dishes and half empty bowls of food on it.
she had prepared enough food to feed patton’s 3rd army for pete’s sake.
i go into the kitchen. i am crying. in anger. in self pity.
the kitchen sink looks like this . . . only worse.
i couldn’t find a picture bad enough!
for pete’s sake! the kitchen’s full of the preparation pots and pans.
i can’t do the dishes from the feast until i clean up this mess.
i guess it’s a good thing i get angry first. because i’m working on pure
adrenaline for the first hour.
first i have to find containers and put all the leftovers away.
this takes forever.
then. little by little. a strange thing starts to happen.
but first . . . crying. anger. self pity. righteous indignation.
. . . i’ll show THEM.
just you wait. they’ll all see. they’ll be sorry.
then eventually . . . a strange calm. i’m finding my rythm.
all work has it.
i get all the preparation pots and pans and crocks cleaned and put away.
now i take a big pan to the tables and scrape all the left over food off the
plates. nothing is wasted. some of the scraps will be for her compost.
other scraps will be mixed with a special meal and fed to ag’s hog.
then . . . a certain pride in organizing my job.
the silver and cooking utensils in a hot pan of water to soak.
then washing the glasses ever so carefully alone.
then the plates . . . and bowls . . . and stopping to dry all these items . . .
because the kitchen is not large. and i’m running out of room.
do most of you remember when dishwashers were only a dream?
and the only people who even had one then were the rich people?
i still have never used one. i use the one in my house now as a pantry!
i prefer hand washing my dishes. it can be a lovely ritual you know.
but . . .
back to the story.
then . . . finally.
thoughts of ag jaros.
thoughts that she really is a nice lady. not mean at all!
wonder how long she stood here in this kitchen . . .
all morning and probably all of yesterday too . . .
preparing all this delicious food?
wonder how many people didn’t have this nice of a dinner today?
wonder if i’ll have time to just sit down at the empty table and have
a HUGE piece of my favorite ‘punkin’ pie? FOR PETE’S SAKE ! ! !
and . . . p. s.
i didn’t eat the whole pie.
i did have a nice big piece though.
and . . .
if you ever hear me ask you if i can do something for you . . .
you can bet your bottom dollar that i really mean it.