Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving dinner, pre- and post- (part one)

I was thinking of live-blogging Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. The apple pie was about to go in the oven and it looked very nice, sealed up, brushed with a little milk, and encircled with bright orange silicon pie crust protectors.

(These are the best thing ever if you are a pie-baker. Thank you, niece Gerianne, for knowing how happy these would make me every time I bake a pie.)

The live-blogging got as far opening up my laptop and setting it on the kitchen butcher-block table. But I couldn't quite bring myself to place to buttered-and-floured fingers on the keyboard. It would be one more thing I'd have to clean up later.

So instead, it's random thoughts from a woman who  is up too early this morning, but who should be using that time for one last run to the grocery store.

Thanksgiving cooking -- or at least, the thinking about Thanksgiving cooking -- got a late start this year. There was work to do all weekend, and some kind of stomach bug to contend with on Monday and Tuesday. There aren't any exotic ideas in this year's Thanksgiving dinner, and not much that's creamed or rich or au gratin. Couldn't bear to think of that stuff two days ago.

Our family has grown to an astounding size, with spouses and fianc├ęs, significant others, and a new generation of children. I count 21 for dinner. With a dining room table that seats 8 comfortably, 10 closely, 12 squished.

It took a beer--a New Belgium Fat Tire--to get me started in the kitchen yesterday afternoon, after an hour and a half of "my house will never be clean" anxiety. I never vacuum under the couch cushions. Heck, I almost never vacuum. Why did that become so important yesterday afternoon?

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is a lot of work, though I suppose it's only as much work as one decides it's going to be.  And timing it all is challenging. I spend a day and half thinking, what can I be doing now to make things easier tomorrow/this afternoon/an hour from now.

The list was running through my head as I get out of bed. Turkey in the oven at noon. Stuffing casserole dishes at 3. Take them out of the fridge earlier. Don't forget the rolls. Gluten-free cornbread in the cast iron skillet. Traditional corn bread in the molds. Wine goes in the refrigerator when the turkey comes out. Set the table as soon the turkey goes in. And figure out what's going to have to happen in the living room.

At least one chair from the living room will have to go in the bedroom--how else will we be able to open up that extra table? When will this happen? How many of my kids will I have to persuade to go along with this? Will they have a better idea?

Yeesh--I'm going to the grocery store. Back home. Church. Many descants.

Then cooking.

It's all good. It will be good enough. God is good.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Now, on All Saints' Sunday

It's the first day of "fall back," the return to standard time. It's also All Saints' Sunday. The golden evening is gathering in the west, as the sun sets at 4:43 today here on the eastern end of the Central Time Zone.

A gentleman named Duane is outside raking my leaves. He may, or may not, have a job interview tomorrow at Walmart, or Cosco. He rang the doorbell, and begged, hands folded, for the job. He said he was a Christian. Maybe he is, or maybe he just thought it was a good thing to say. He may, or may not, be high on something.

In truth I wanted him to go away, but he was persistent, and there is cash left over from the weekend in my wallet with which to pay him. I told him to meet me around back at the garage door and I'd give him a rake. He introduced himself again on the back sidewalk and asked my name.

Gwen, I said. As I punched the code into the garage door opener, I added, and I am a Christian too.

We are both saints.

"Blessed are the meek, blessed are the poor," said this morning's Gospel reading.  I'm more certain of Duane falling into these categories than I am of myself. Even if he's only meek some of the time. Even if  he bears some responsibility for his own poverty.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness." I'll give him this. I think Duane's claim to the name of Christian suggests that he desires to be forgiven and righteous before God. And anyway, it's God's blessing to give, not mine to judge or withhold.

The word I heard most in church this morning was "now." "Beloved, we are God's children now" in the second lesson. "Blessed are you, now," in the pastor's sermon. There were multitudes washing their white robes in the blood of the lamb in some distant heaven, out of time, out of space, in the first reading from Revelation. There were saints passing in bright array in the great Vaughn Williams hymn for the day. There were the names of those who have died in Christ in the last year in our congregation read out loud in solemnity and tearfulness.

But the word I heard was "now." The hymn I loved was Fred Pratt Green's text describing where you find saints now: marching with events, bearing someone's cross, showing patience in caring.

When we got to the "forever and ever" in the Lord's Prayer--I wondered, why is that there? Jesus' words in scripture when he taught his disciples to pray are all about now don't have that ending about power and glory forever and ever.

Now. Your kingdom come. Now.