Friday, November 23, 2012

Lonely Cooking & the National Day of Listening

When I was young, I loved the chaos of Thanksgiving.  Not too much of it, mind you, but enough to fill the house with activity and laughter for a few hours.

The kitchen excitement that resulted in the later dinner lit up the whole house—or at least filled it with tantalizing scents (and a few not so tantalizing) and the sounds of vibrant voices (frequently colored by good-natured bickering).  One grandma never cooked the turkey long enough.  The other didn't make the stuffing right.  Ask one aunt to do the gravy.  Keep another away from the mashed potatoes.  I found similar trends in Korea.  Hyungnim slices the thinnest.  Halmoni makes the best vegetables.  Regardless of what's done, though, someone is unhappy with it.  Life is the same the world over.

But through all the bustle was chuckling and stories of meals past, of the general hardships of life, of funny things that had happened the other day, of new trials we were grappling with.

It was more a meal for the soul than the body—even if some of us did need to break out the stretchy pants.

The last few years, I have cooked alone.  The first few times, I cried.  Now I realize that this lonely preparation period is only a temporary moment of life.  There will be more women in the family eventually.  The kids will be calm enough to sustain a full day away at the homes of other relatives.


The boys eating the legendary "Pink Stuff" (Great-Grandma's recipe)

And the combination of my warm memories of family stories and the longing for those missing moments is why I encourage you all to share with one another and listen to your loved ones.  For all of our globalization, we are sadly lacking in fundamental connections with one another.  Let's build some today and this holiday season.

And after you have listened, after you have shared, you may find that you want to keep on sharing.  I strongly recommend that you follow through on that thought.

Sharon Lippincott has written an excellent book, The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing, to help you get your life on paper.  She has written her life stories (and is still writing them! But take a look: this one is free!). You can write them too.

"But," you say, "she's an author.  I'm not."

Paul wasn't an author when he started her class.  He's written two books and is nearly done with a third.

"But," you continue, "I can't write that much."

So don't!  Amazon allows you to put out shorts on Kindle, like my Dancing in the Rain (free through Sunday) and What My Mother Didn't Know.  It doesn't cost you anything at the outset.

"But," you say again, "I'm not sure I want to publish a book."

Then don't.  Blog.  Join a group.  Share in pieces.  Consider Plum Borough's Share a Pair of Stories.  Sharing a single story isn't so tough, and it really does touch others.

"But...," you begin.

Even if you only write it for yourself, the writing is healing.  You won't be sorry you did.

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