T H A N K S G I V I N G is a celebration of the fall harvest, mainly in the United States and Canada, although it is celebrated on different days—the second Monday in October in Canada and the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. A recent Thanksgiving for this American was begun by waking up and looking out the window at the first fresh snow of the season in Toronto, Canada. Growing up in the American South, a white Christmas is a lot to ask for, but this was a new kind of Thanksgiving—the first cold one away from family. That trip was a memorable one and the snow added a fresh, cold, crispness to the air. I'll never forget that day for many reasons, but the memory of the snow will be the one that sticks.
W H E A T, of course is always a large part of any harvest and is traditionally a symbol of the abundance of the season. Christmas ornaments made of wheat (a Polish and Scandanavian tradition) symbolize a thanksgiving for the harvest, so the theme can be carried throughout the season. Being thankful for the abundance of life is always cause for celebration, but it is tempered by knowing that abundance is hard won. The glass ornaments shown in the photo (above, right) are symbols of home and abundance. Variations of cottage house ornaments with turkeys in front were created in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia and first produced in the 1920's (these are new reproductions from Germany).
M Y K I T T Y Luci, who I introduced a few posts back has had an abundant and long life, but this Thanksgiving, while I still have her (she is fast being overcome by an especially nasty cancer on her tongue), the true test is to be thankful for all the times I have had with her, knowing that her days are numbered. She was a stray that appeared in my mine and my partner's life just before Thanksgiving in 1994. We brought her into our household and even after Lowell (my partner then) and I went our separate ways a number of years later, I've always felt like she was our child. It is because she found us that I feel especially lucky to have had such a wonderful life with her. And I am thankful to have been the one to keep her all these years. She has been a profound presence in my life (and in my lap as I write this). I'm not sure what I'll do without my beautiful little muse.
A S A B O Y, Thanksgiving always meant a big turkey and sage cornbread dressing with fresh giblet gravy, potato salad, creamed corn, green beans seasoned with pork, and cranberry sauce sliced from the can. I remember bringing in the day excitedly by watching the pomp and circumstance of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV with its gigantic helium balloons—with the Tom Turkey float ushering in a float with Santa on his sleigh. It was the beginning of the Christmas season then. Now, it starts as early as October.
A N D S O it is again. As I've said before, home is wherever my cats are. This warm, purring creature in my lap is the only reason I need to be thankful right now. A poem from a book my co-worker, Donna (also a lover of cats) gave me yesterday sums it up:
or our defenders,
but give us life,
Lying softly in laps, tuning their
heartbeats to our own,
singing away sorrow,
easing the mind,
unraveling the day.
Sharing the empty dark.
Like flowers, inexhaustible in beauty.
Like flowers, most necessary—
in ways we scarcely understand,
TURKEY AND THE STRAW | (Top, right), these glass ornaments are symbols of home and abundance. The sheaves of wheat ornaments were made in Czechoslovakia for Martha by Mail a few years back The milk glass turkey candy dish also came from Martha by Mail. The hand-blown and hand-painted turkey cottage ornaments were made by a German company named Zehetner-Smith Design.
TOM TURKEY | (Middle, left), the goofy, but lovable Tom Turkey float in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (even though I've only seen it on TV) has signaled the start of the Christmas season nearly every year since I was a boy.
YIN AND YANG | (Bottom, right), Abella (top) and Luci almost form a yin and yang figure on the bed last night—a rare glimpse of sisterly love.
©2009 DARRYL MOLAND | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland