Monday, November 23, 2009

From a Wing to a Prayer

When it comes to Thanksgiving turkey, everyone has a favorite part: for some it’s the drumstick, while others prefer a thigh or breast. But me? I’m all about the feathers.

Not the Real Feathers from the Actual Bird, mind you. That would definitely put a damper on my both my culinary and dining experiences. No, the feathers I’m anticipating this Thursday are of the cut-out construction paper variety.

After enjoying our Real Turkey, it is our tradition to push our dishes aside and turn our thoughts to the colorful cut outs mingling among the nuts and mints inside the pumpkin shaped placeholders at our respective spots at the table. With the late afternoon sun bouncing off our wine glasses as it streams down the length of our farmhouse table, we sit in blissful moments of peaceful silence, writing the things that make us thankful over every inch of feather-like real estate.

We linger over the writing for some time. Although we never fail to mention food and family, home and health, we take the time to think beyond the Big Four to recognize the underrated, the overlooked, and the mundane: the wealth of ordinary treasures that enrich our lives. The scratching of pencils and markers punctuated by occasional outbursts of stifled laughter fills the kitchen until every feather is placed into a common pile for a read aloud.

The twist? We guess who wrote the message on each feather. Some are easy. For instance, any feather mentioning underwear or featuring creative spelling will be attributed to my son, hands down. Any feather devoted to the overt praise of baking ingredients or kitchen gadgets will undoubtedly be the work of my daughter, The Baker. If a feather says something along the lines of: “controversy, conspiracy theories, pseudo-science, minto wheels, Stirling engines, perpetual motion and UFOs,” no time will be lost in debate over whether or not my husband wrote it. On the other hand, if one reads anything like, “the sun on my face, the smell of leaves, crunching leaves, nuts, and leaf colors,” it’s pretty much assumed to be my work.

Other times it’s not so easy to guess. Any one of the eight family members around my table could be thankful for a particular dish or any one of a dozen jokes or incidents that transpired in its preparation. And when one feather reads: “pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin spice, pumpkin nog,” and the next says ,“pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie, pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin carving,” all anyone wonders is which feather was mine and which was my sister’s—a feat that could theoretically require handwriting analysis, if it really mattered.

In earlier years, we used to tape the feathers to a cut out turkey, but the plumage became so voluminous that now we just scatter them across the table in a sort of variegated prayer of appreciation for the simple pleasures and intricate treasures that define the life and love we have gathered to celebrate.


Julie Schuler said...

What a cute tradition! My tradition is to put up the baby gates in each doorway to the kitchen, open a bottle of wine, and cook all day with nobody bothering me.

Raoulysgirl said...

What a wonderful tradition! Do you keep any of the feathers from each year for sentimental purposes?

I would LOVE to start something like this at our family dinner!!!

Kathleen said...

Dark meat for me!

And what an WONDERFULLY meaningful, special tradition!!

AND...that is the coolest walnut I've ever seen! Great photo!

Jade @ Tasting Grace said...

What a lovely tradition! (And lovely photos too - I love the light in that first shot!)

Holly said...

This is a brilliant idea. I may just steal it from you this year. I am always looking for the right thing for our family, and that may be it.


PS-something for you at my blog.

mama-face said...

This was simply lovely. I love how you mentioned getting beyond the big 4. (The title of your post is so perfect.)

Helene said...

What a beautiful tradition!!!! We have tons of Christmas traditions but no Thanksgiving ones!! We may have to start with this one.

Erin said...

this is such a lovely idea! i was thinking we could do it, but my kids can't write anything but their names yet and we have a very small thanksgiving. hmmmm.....

Gropius said...

I love this beautiful tradition, and I too, am grateful for underwear. ...But the smaller things? I am thankful for the sight of white ibises flying across a storm sky, the way my dog greets bags of groceries with anticipation of a new toy, the folks who like to select an angel card from the dish on my desk, and so many other things.


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