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

January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump. It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
Rob Urie
Meet the Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam’s WMDs
Eric Sommer
U.S.-China War: a Danger Hidden from the American People
Andrew Levine
Are Democrats Still the Lesser Evil?
Linda Pentz Gunter
What’s Really Behind the Indian Point Nuclear Deal?
Robert Fantina
Trucks, ‘Terror’ and Israel
Richard Moser
Universal Values are Revolutionary Values
Russell Mokhiber
Build the Bagdikian Wall: “Sponsored News” at the Washington Post
Yoav Litvin
Establishment Narcissism – The Democrats’ Game of Thrones
David Rosen
Return of the Repressed: Trump & the Revival of the Culture Wars
Robert Koehler
War Consciousness and the F-35
Rev. William Alberts
The New Smell of McCarthyism Demands Faith Leaders Speak Truth to Power
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail