Friday, November 29, 2019

The morning after

I love that morning-after-the-holiday feeling. The pressure is off, though I readily admit with Lisa preparing the feast, I was under little pressure. Maybe it’s anticipation that adds a bit of spice to the holiday—waiting for company, waiting for the meal. Anyway, that feeling is gone by morning, and I feel free to sleep late and sort of float through the day.  Early this morning, a dense fog contributed to the lazy atmosphere. It has gone now, but the day is cloudy and uninspiring.

I may not have had the hostess pressure yesterday, but I do want to protest that I did my part for the meal. Because I asked how I could help from a sitting position, I got the great privilege of peeling apples and potatoes. When Lisa plunked the bag of apples down in front of me, I asked weakly, “All those apples?” She smiled (a bit mischievously) and said, ‘Yep.” And do realize how many potatoes it takes for mashed potatoes for thirteen? I’m now even more in favor of mashing red potatoes with the skins on!

Dinner was traditional and so good—I think I forget from holiday to holiday how much I like turkey and gravy. And Lisa, despite being a Texan, made ‘northern” white-bread stuffing—my favorite dish perhaps of the whole meal. An updated version of green bean casserole, homemade cranberry sauce, pistachio salad, and rolls. All wonderful. And of course it had been preceded by bountiful appetizers—a vegetable platter, a sausage-and-cheese platter, a French onion dip, hummus, guacamole—need I go on?

I haven’t yet had a piece of apple pie. After dinner, which we ate about 3:30, I suddenly found myself alone in the dining room—I think boys had gone to watch football and the ladies to see Lisa’s parents’ new house. Turkey had worked its proverbial effect, aided by a bit of wine, and made me sleepy. Plus the a/c was running full steam, and I was freezing—my internal thermometer does not sync with the rest of this family. So, full and sleepy, I snuck off for a nap. After a bit, I was vaguely aware of the hum of conversation of many voices but too comfortable and cozy to rouse myself. Two hours later, I joined everyone, just as some guests were leaving. I’d totally missed dessert.

Among the guests was a longtime friend of Colin’s—they tended bar together in their salad days—and his wife and two teenage sons. Alirio, a native of Colombia, just retired after twenty-two years with the Border Patrol. Somehow, after my nap, I ended up at the now-clear dining table with those two—lots of catching up to do, but we also talked about everything from raising kids to politics. For at least two hours. Serious discussion, interspersed with bits of humor—no, Alirio, I did not “yell” at you all those years ago for speaking Spanish at the dinner table, when I was trying to encourage Central American students to speak English. I gently suggested.

It was the kind of sustained exchange of ideas I think you only have with people you don’t see often. I did ask once if Alirio had anything to do with immigrant caravans, and he put his head in his hands and said, “It was horrible, horrible.” After a minute, he added, “Still is.” I didn’t pursue it.

One big takeaway for me: Colin and I, though basically in agreement, look at things from different perspectives: he, once a science major and now involved in big business, looks at process and results, whereas I, after a lifetime in the humanities, focus on the human aspect of politics, as well as everything else. It was an evening that will long stick in my mind, and a thoroughly good holiday.

My hope is your holiday, whatever, wherever, and with whoever, was equally rich.

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