Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving, Shades of Blue, Birthdays, Book Love and Masks

Wishing all those of you who celebrate it a Happy and Thoroughly Delicious Thanksgiving! Taking a day to recognize the blessings you might've otherwise taken for granted or overlooked, while sharing food and conversation with family and friends, always unspools those bright, golden threads of memories woven throughout the year that reel in warmth and laughter. Good thoughts beget good thoughts. Which is why Thanksgiving has always ranked high on my holiday meter. Besides, every so often it lands on my birthday.

It feels as if the universe itself is nudging me out of my misanthropic hibernation, hinting rather transparently that I can't help but be grateful for...well, for being here. On this planet. This side of the world. In my body. A little on the nose, universe. As if I need to smell the turkey and pumpkin-cranberry pie to bask in the glorious joy of existing. Or maybe I do. I certainly enjoy it. As I prep and cook and joke with Troy, the festive, bright feeling slowly sinks in, and by the time dinner is ready, our minds are brimming with the pleasure of each others company. Cooking always reminds me of Like Water for Chocolate, of those parts, where the heroine infuses the food she prepares with her emotions. Only in real life, this happens in reverse order; it is the sensory act of cooking that makes you shimmer and bubble, grow languorous and unhurried, light-hearted and bubbly, depending on your concoction.

For me, Thanksgiving has always been a chirpy, lively affair (and I always sneak in a glass of red wine as I cook); besides, after all these years of making stuff together, Troy and I have synchronized our culinary temperaments to perfection and the whole thing, set to the soundtrack pumped out by Pandora, is pretty effortless. Which reminds me of our very first joint Thanksgiving, when we were still unknown quantities to each other, when our mood was exploratory and our oven in a tiny hole of a house -- perpetually out of order. My hubby surprised me with a birthday trip to San Diego, where we made a proper, many-coursed dinner (turkey, stuffing, baked yams, pie) right in our room (serendipitously equipped with a full kitchen) and realized how well we got along with the spices, sharp knives and each other. I can still see the bewildered expressions of other hotel guests, as they paused in the drab, oatmeal-colored hallways to sniff suspiciously at the roasting-turkey-scented air. Good times! On a scale of effort to gratification, cooking falls just below sitting in a deep chair with a really good read in your lap. Dreaming comes close. Very close.

Love the symbolism of the cover!
And, yes, the crocodile is a part of the plot,
and so is the raven
And while I'm thinking about dreaming and books, I cannot help but rave about a fairy tale-esque, dreamy novel by Sally Gardner -- I, Coriander.  Set in a seventeen-century London during Cromwell's revolution, the story follows Coriander -- a girl who falls on hard times when her mother dies and her father is driven away by his evil new wife. The premise might sound simple, but the story is anything but! It is fascinating and funny and heart-rending and magical, with the added bonuses of featuring two of the most malicious, creepy villains I have seen in a fantasy and delicious pages of gorgeous, lyrical writing. This book is such a delight! The history and fantasy intertwine, showing us now dazzling magic, now harrowing darkness. Through it all, Coriander remains a strong, determined heroine, who fights hard to keep her dignity and set things right.

This book was a birthday gift from my hubby, and I stayed up and up and up, unable to part with its lush, chilling, captivating world. And after I finished reading, I stayed up a  little longer to get more books by the same wonderful author. So far, I've read three of her novels! Sally Gardner is my new hero! Her spirit is as bright and persevering as that of her heroines, and I can't help but admire anyone, who has overcome severe dyslexia to become an award-winning writer!!! I highly recommend I, Coriander to those of you who love fantasy, fairy-tales and romance and are not particularly averse to looking at the darker aspects of humanity. What a great book! And that cover!!! I want to always have it in sight.

And just a tiny birthday bit snuck into a holiday post. I want to share a gorgeous card Kim, my lovely and talented sister-in-law has made for me. Isn't it perfect? It can easily be an illustration to the Land of Joy and Sorrow. It even has a gorgeous lapis-blue feather. Love it so much!!! I think this coming Christmas the color scheme in my house would flow between different shades of blue: ultramarine, and turquoise, and sapphire, and Indian-ink-blue, and iridescent raven-plumage-blue, and deep-Prussian-blue. It will be a landscape of wintry shadows; the brilliance of color punctured only by the warm glow of many candles. Hmmm....Why not!

And now, something bizarre and creepy-delightful I found while researching...Loooove research; odd, little gems of knowledge always fall in my lap. Like this one. A forgotten Thanksgiving tradition. How wild is that!!!

Photo via the Library of Congress

I never knew this, but it seems that a hundred years ago, Thanksgiving was a lot like...Halloween. Scores of kids and adults alike would dress up and go on 'city crawls,' especially in such sprawling areas as Chicago or New York. Makeshift Thanksgiving parades -- fantasticals -- marched down the streets. Many wore garish masks - 'false faces' or 'dough faces' and patched, tattered costumes in a perverse tribute to poverty, rode horses or bicycles. Mischief and cross-dressing ensued.

Boys posing in their sisters'
old, ragged finery.
Photo courtesy of the New York Public Library.
The goal was to look as disheveled and wretched as possible. A 1910 book called Little Talks For Little People spelled out the dress code: "Old shoes and clouted upon your feet, and old garments upon you." Children, 'maskers,' dressed as homeless people (a custom stemming from mumming, when men in costumes asked for food and money, often in exchange for music), doused people with confetti and flour, going door to door in ragamuffin packs or begging strangers "anything for Thanksgiving?" Passerby threw them change, spiced jelly gums, tinted hard candy or apples.

 Only by mid 20th century did the masking tradition shift to the more whimsical Halloween.Wild, isn't it?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting concept, I too enjoy making art as well as seeing it I study the mystical ancients of Irish Celt and Viking study's especially those of which have been lost through time if your interested in knowing more check out my Pinterest under Brad marshall