A couple of decades ago, I bought my first thanksgiving turkey.
I left it out to thaw too long in the Texas heat, and the giant thing (I had splurged) began to stink, and I realized I had to throw it out.
Twenty bucks was a little less than a days' work, in those days, for me, and it was heartbreaking.
I had wanted to cook it in the apartment I had just rented with a friend from school.. I'd like to say we were college roommates, but she was in college, and I was just getting by.
I remember the sickening thud as the carcass hit the bottom of the dumpster.. it was as if my dreams of independence had fallen to the bottom of the cheap metal container along with the poor wasted turkey's rotted flesh. I remember slinking sheepishly to my dad's for thanksgiving. That man is going to be very surprised when St Peter hands him a sainthood for making some effort to raise this loose cannon.
That Christmas, I went into the vacant lot behind our sleazy apartment complex with a spare hacksaw and brought in a scraggly little cedar tree for us to decorate.
We couldn't afford ornaments, and used stuffed toys & lingerie.. it was the Snoopy & Woodstock Crossdress Christmas.
This holiday is very different.
I have the capacity to make a comfortable living, within decent means. I will never be rich, except by the imagination of the rest of the world, especially without decent public health care.
Meanwhile, cg's job keeps us in health care at relatively minimal cost, and we have, on our travels, collected some luxury items unavailable in what most consider "normal" circumstances.
The turkey this year was ordered from a farmer's market, and will be lovingly brined & smoked.
Why does it matter, if I drink my beer from a Chodovar mug?
What do I care, if I drink wine from a plastic cup, or a Neuhaus crystal wine glass?
Can I put votives in the unmatched clarity of Neuhaus cups, and let them shine in great wide swathes of warmth?
Who cares, what sparkles on my Festivus tree?
I have a story carried in every touch of these things.. I refuse to follow my mother's hoarder habits, but I do have a story, and I have the same deeply kinesthetic memory.
I bought the mugs with the Labrador's face from Chodovar.
We picked out the wine glasses in Neuhaus by our dearly loved long-time home in the Oberpfalz, and bought the funny cups to hold the votives, in the shop Naydy showed us.
Naydy showed it to us, and that makes it even better.
The ornaments, we bought a little here and there at German Christmas markets, and it brings back the warmth & comfort we found there.
Some, we travelled to Cesky Krumlov for, and loved the adventure of getting there, staying there, and finding the crazy little discount store at the foot of the castle on the river.
We bought boxes and boxes of really crazy ornaments there, from Scottish Santas, to birds, to penguins (given away) and leopard print ornaments and all kinds of beautiful sparkly fragile madness.
Every bit of it has a story.
My fellow travellers and I, we bear the burden and the blessing, of being homesick for several places at once.
I think we all have the hunger, and the homesickness.. for me, I'm just so grateful to not be desperate over every little thing.. for however long this plenty lasts.. and trust me, I do not believe so much in luck.
More like, the opportunity for hard work, and the opportunity to make good, help others, and live reasonably well, conscientiously.. as honest folk do.. when they make it.
I hope I've made it.
I never trust that the other shoe won't drop, and I know life balances on many threads.
But, for now.. deep gratitude, and a willingness to keep it all going.