Earlier in the day Ives had walked over from the office to Ninth Avenue during lunchtime, to buy boxes of Italian cold cuts and pastries, and these were set out on a table as a buffet...
To prepare for his annual Christmas tree decorating party, Ives buys food. A lot of food. Ham and salami and pastrami and cannolis. Family and friends gather in his apartment, listen to Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney on the record player, and the kids decorate the tree with ornaments and fire-hazard lights that bubble and blink. It's happy chaos.
I think that's the best way to describe holiday family gatherings. Happy chaos. This coming week is going to be filled with that kind of craziness. On Monday or Tuesday, I'll bake my pecan pies. My wife will throw together her double-layer cream cheese pumpkin pies. On Thursday, pies in hand, we will attend two turkey dinners--one in the early afternoon, one in the evening. There will be joking and tension, laughter and resentments. That's family.
And I am thankful for this happy chaos. Everyday life is too crammed with worry and stress. It seems, some days, that I just move from crisis to crisis. At night, when I climb into bed with my wife, I'm just happy that I've survived without landing in the hospital or worse.
I used to thrive on the hectic quality of my life--two jobs, church organist duties, the publish or perish mentality of the university. Now, I find it a little exhausting. Given the choice between a quiet night at home watching the Food Network and performing in a Christmas concert, I would probably end up on my couch with a bag of chips. Peace over turmoil.
I know this coming holiday week will not be without it share of drama. But it's a different, more relaxed kind of drama. Certainly, this first Thanksgiving since my sister's death will not be easy. However, there will be the happy chaos of children and family, crowded into the kitchen, fighting over hot dinner rolls and mashed potatoes. A blessing of busyness to combat sadness.
Saint Marty will be in the kitchen, knocking people out of the way to get his share of turkey skin.
these are the scarlet flowers
she liked to pick.
The pheasant cries
as if it just noticed
Confessions of Saint Marty