SILENCE HAS A NAME - Poetry Chapbook and CD, with Music by Mark Hanley

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Big Christmas Questions

I don't know about you but I develop strange impulses around the holidays. Suddenly, just as everyone seems to be looking cheerful and happy -- even about eating more than twice their weight in food and gaining many extra pounds -- I get the impulse to fast and join a nunnery. It's really how I often feel about the holidays. The "what do I cook?" dilemma sometimes brings me to the point of imagining serving celery stalks, dip and your basic red Hawaiian Punch instead of all the usual brouhaha. Of course I won't do that, of course I wouldn't, I tell myself. And yet, I am my mother's daughter, and my mother, one holiday, when dad was expecting a big fat turkey and stuffing yet again, my dear mother, a Latin American, who was obviously -- on that occasion anyway -- fed up with the idea of having to serve up yet again another North American traditional meal, wheeled out a silver tray under which was no turkey, no stuffing, no ma'm, but arroz con pollo, chicken and rice, that savory, familiar South American staple. Woah, you should have seen the fallen expression on my daddy's face, on all our faces. Then a few of us laughed, those few who saw the humor. But not daddy.

So, I have my fantasies. I'm sure it will probably be turkey or ham again this Christmas. Maybe fried turkey. A new friend informed me that he fried an 18-pounder this past Thanksgiving in about an hour and a half! Ladies consider. This man did the frying in a big pot in the backyard. He did the cooking!

The trouble with this fried turkey idea for Christmas is primarily that at the moment we are experiencing temperatures the likes of which would probably prune the dick of a polar bear. My friends or neighbors would probably have me committed if they saw me making a fire in the backyard and placing a bald chicken, turkey or capon in the pot, while nordic winds whisked snow all around.

Ain't gonna happen this year.

Maybe next Thanksgiving.

Which brings me back to the Big Question, the one that has me alternately wanting to fast and wanting to flee -- What will I cook this Christmas?

Maybe I should ask myself, what would I feed hungry multitudes who came to my door, starved, really hungry for lack of having had a proper meal all year? What if once again this holiday, we opt to invite those who have nowhere to go over to our place for a meal? What, I should ask myself, would they want to eat, besides a big, traditional feast -- Turkey, potatoes, squash, gravy, string beans, stuffing, pumpkin pie. Who doesn't like this? Who doesn't dream of the best family moments they ever had or those moments and the family they wished they'd had when eating this stuff.

Of course this is what I'll make and serve this holiday, while the carolers sing and the tree twinkles bright. But you can bet in the back of my mind as I pull the turkey out from the oven, I'll be thinking of my mother and smiling big.

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