FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Another Thanksgiving

by MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

All week, I’ve said, “Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,” to friends and strangers, while being conflicted by disparate considerations and visuals. Here’s something that’s renting storage space in my head, streaming my consciousness, a stanza of mythology I learned as a child:

The Pilgrims came across the sea,
And never thought of you and me;
And yet it’s very strange the way
We think of them Thanksgiving day.

It’s just an annual annoyance. And it’s juxtaposed with thoughts about the huge number of American households, 47 million, affected by cuts to the food stamp program. Juxtaposed with kitchen action—roasting butternut squash and prepping ingredients for Thursday’s recipes as I conjure up images of this time last year.

Last year:

I was slightly Sylvia Plath-ish—you know, picturing my head, instead of the turkey, in the oven. I’d driven to North Carolina, longing for Thanksgivings past, wallowing in self-pity. On the way home, I listened to music, looked up at luxurious, cumulus clouds, was audience to synchronized flying, murmuration, and gasped in awe. Gratitude returned and by the time I saw Baltimore’s skyline, I was smiling, thankful, especially for family and all those years with Charles, despite five Thanksgivings without him.

Recently:

I decided to write an essay about a particular period in my marriage—something very personal. I removed a letter from the dresser, one Charles wrote to me over 30 years ago.

The mind plays fascinating tricks. When I run the reel, there’s dazzling scenery, passion, eye contact and expressions that required no words. And a brief period of adjustment. Truth is, the time needed to reconcile inflexibilities was significant. I’d looked at this letter often, running my hands over it, to touch him. Previously, I focused less on the date and more on our emotional location. Knowing too that those five years (yes, five years) were necessary for our marriage to become the rare kind of marriage it eventually was. Probably, if the five years had been on the opposite side, we’d have said, “This really was quite awful.” But because they were at the beginning, they seem, well, like five months. Plus, since we did it, made it, glided to the finale, we could hold up old hostilities and pronounce them hilarious. “Remember that time…”

We always spent Thanksgiving with Charles’s family. After writing that essay, I thought of the trips we made in silence, interspersed with frigid interchanges. We were actors once we arrived. Usually, this acting was spackling paste to the cracks—a temporary repair. We played the blissful couple role for several hours, performing so skillfully that the anger actually subsided, charade over, at least until the next foundation shift.

This week’s been strange. I mostly think about Charles as he was during those last months—diminished and ready to die. It’s essential to accepting his death. But looking at that letter, reading the plans he thought would make him happy, this blueprint that didn’t include me, and all that ensued within two months of mailing the letter to me in Kentucky where I’d gone to stay with Mother and Daddy during the SEPARATION, and then the decision to try one more time, give it another chance to work, and finally placing our egos in the vise of a marriage therapist—well, I visualized THAT Charles, young and healthy, and I had to walk to the mirror, stare at my face, at the changes, and say, “You are not 30 and he is not 40. Think of him as he was at 68, sick and frail. This is the reality.”

Extra:

Thanksgiving’s just two days away. I wish Obama would pardon Chelsea Manning (silly me), along with the turkey. Actually, I’d like to send him a pardon list that includes entire countries punished by sanctions, trade agreements, US imperialism, American exceptionalism.

My children will be here, the Sisterhood, friends. We’ll have traditional fare for the carnivores and options for the vegans, though there’s heaviness, a feeling that something’s wrong and irreconcilable, all this abundance, when countless human beings throughout the world are suffering. Yet, we’ll bounce our senses of humor off each other as always and maybe activate the karaoke machine.

Missy Comley Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail