Parades, Tears, and Songs at the Sink

This morning the crew and I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  As I finished prepping the food to take to Blackberry Flats where we would join Mess Cat, Leroy, Shaker, and some of Leroy’s family for dinner, I was able to watch the parade off and on, listening always.  Favorite performances found me pausing in my prep, with a dishtowel in my hands and a little flour on my “Gobble ’til you wobble” shirt.

Those Rockettes though.

Those are some seriously strong women.  I never cease to be amazed by their skill and synchronization.

And the musical performances–we really enjoy hearing the artists we know.  The bands, the floats, those balloons (I’m looking at you Snoopy), they all set the stage for fun and excitement and anticipation.

And so I wept.

Since we read Melissa Sweet’s book Balloons Over Broadway about Tony Sarg, the puppeteer who was tapped by Macy’s to put together the first parade in 1924 to lift the spirits of the folks who were missing the traditions of their homeland, the whole story has been on my heart.  I watched with new eyes today.  The joie de vivre, the spirit of the crowd–it was infectious.  And in my mind’s eye, I saw the people of the first few parades, mapping out what would become a part of our story.

All of us together.  Watching or walking or celebrating.  Together.

The book about Sarah Hale writing politicians and Presidents for 38 years in the effort to make Thanksgiving Day a national holiday has been on my mind too.  President Lincoln was the President who finally said yes, we need this, all of us together, and the holiday came into being.

Together.

People from all different backgrounds, celebrating with dancing and costumes–in the words of Shana Corey in Milly and the Macy’s Parade, “And that’s how Milly and Mr. Macy started a new holiday tradition.  It looked a little like the old country, a little like America, and a little like something entirely new.”

Yes.

A sharing of all that is in each of us.  To make something entirely new.

And quite awesomely wonderful.

Doggone that Macy’s parade.  Making me sloppy cry so early in the day.

Tonight I’m thankful for plentiful bounty.  Food, family, love, home.

I’m thankful that for the first time in six years family gathered together for this day in the kitchen of the house where we grew up, and once again, it was filled with laughter and the sounds of folks filling their bodies and souls with nourishment.  And I’m thankful for the sweet voice of one aged and wise, “That was the best meal I’ve ever eaten, and I’m not kidding.”  Bless her.  That made every. single. minute. on my feet and cooking absolutely worthwhile.  For the chance to wash dishes looking out the same kitchen window as I did all those years, I give thanks.  What once was a chore has become a privilege.  As I rinsed the plates, I thought about how Mama would say she loved to wash the dishes because the hot water eased the discomfort from the arthritis in her hands.  From that window, I watched the children playing outside, making memories where we who are supposedly grown once played.

Today was a little like it used to be, a little like it should be, and a little something entirely new.

And it was beautiful.

Just like that parade.

Yeah, I cried again.

In the end, I think the best stories our children will share will be how folks who were different and who carried with them different traditions and beliefs and raisings came together.   They will tell how folks built something from the old ways, something from the new ways, and made something brand new and entirely different and filled with love and respect.

And I think that is truly something to give thanks for.

Today at the sink in that rare quiet moment, this song started playing in my head.  Not a Christmas or Thanksgiving song, but a living life song.  “I Won’t Give Up” written by Jason Mraz and Michael Natter.  The words sing to me a love song about loving each other and not giving up for any reason, even if, especially if, we’re so very different.  And God knowing we’re worth it.

Yes.  I’m not giving up on this world or the people in it.  God knows we’re worth it.

When I look into your eyes
It’s like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
Well, there’s so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you’ve come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

Well, I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

And when you’re needing your space
To do some navigating
I’ll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

‘Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We’ve got a lot to learn
God knows we’re worth it
No, I won’t give up
I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not, and who I am
I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up, still looking up.Well, I won’t give up on us (no I’m not giving up)
God knows I’m tough enough (I am tough, I am loved)
We’ve got a lot to learn (we’re alive, we are loved)
God knows we’re worth it (and we’re worth it)I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

–Jason Mraz and Michael Natter

We can do this.  Come together as a people, whole again, still honoring our stories and traditions from the past while respecting where we are now.  Together.

I won’t give up on us.  I’m still looking up.  And out a window.  Old.  And New.  Together.

Love to all.

Rainy Day Reading

It’s been a lovely, perfectly dreary rainy day today.

And I have loved it.

Days like this are perfect for reading, something I haven’t taken time out to do enough of  lately.

So, after I hung the cheerful twinkly lights across my back porch, which is my roost and sanctuary, I sat down to read.

And I read three books.  In a row.

Yep.  THREE.

I know, I couldn’t get over myself either.  Here I’ve been unable to really focus and read much of anything, and I go and read three books in a row.

*insert selfie high-five and pat on the back for me here*

Yep.  Yay me.

Oh, wait–did I mention they were children’s books?

Ah, well.  Ahem.

Yes.

Three wonderful books related to Thanksgiving.  They were all great stories. Well written, beautifully illustrated.  I loved each one, and if you can find them at your library or have time to go to the bookstore, you will want to read these too.  I just know it.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  I am sure I frustrated my Mama on more than one occasion because I was more worried about not missing my favorite performer than I was about helping her in the kitchen.  It just wasn’t Thanksgiving if I didn’t get to wave to Santa on the small black and white TV we had all those many years ago.

Now it’s the same.  I love watching it with my children.  I’m a little busier these days than I was back then, but I do love that parade.  The history, the wonderful floats and balloons.  And then I found this book and read it today, and I do declare it just made it all the more special for me.  This is the story of the puppeteer, Tony Sarg, who was asked by Macy’s to build puppets to be featured in the very first parade, alongside animals from the Central Park Zoo.  And as the crowds got bigger, Mr. Sarg had to make his puppets bigger so they could be seen above the heads of others.  A true story with great illustrations and facts galore.  I can’t wait to sit and read this with the littles and then watch it all click on Thursday.

This book tells the related story of why the parade was first begun.  It’s a fictionalized account, as the “real” Mr. Macy had died years before this story is set, but even with poetic license, this book does a beautiful job of talking about heritage and remembering who your people are and what their traditions were.  I love the spirit and the joy in this book.  And Milly let loose in Macy’s–how much fun would that be?  I’ve often said I’d like to go to New York City for 24 hours.  Only. (But I’d prefer to travel the ol’ wriggling of the nose method…..or floo powder, thank you very  much.)  Looking at the window displays in Macy’s and walking around inside would definitely make the “must do” list.

The last book I read today was the true story of how Thanksgiving almost wasn’t.  Did you know about this?  I am sure the turkeys, just like the one on the cover, are not happy one bit with Sarah Hale, the woman who wrote many, many letters over 38 years, asking that Thanksgiving become a nationally recognized day.  It was actually President Lincoln, in the middle of the turmoil and chaos of the war, who finally said yes.

This true story is told with a clever sense of humor.  I laughed out loud when I read this line.

“Never underestimate dainty little ladies.”  –Laurie Halse Anderson

I think I want this quote framed and hung, because there is more truth than a little bit in it.  Anyone who ever met my Mama knows that.

This book also had lots of interesting facts we shall feast on together tomorrow.  One little tidbit, Sarah Hale is the author of the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”  Ms. Hale taught school and a student actually had a lamb follow her to school and wait for her all day.   The book also touches on Ms. Hale’s advocacy for education for women–wonder if she ever visited Wesleyan?–and her stance on women’s rights in general.  A great story that I didn’t know before.

 

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite days of the year.  I love pie.  So there’s that–boy, do I love pie.  My Granny’s sweet potato with coconut, my Great Great Aunt’s Buttermilk custard–I miss them all.  And I miss my Mama’s dressing.  She would bake cornbread and let Daddy eat a little bit–but there were no leftovers for him to have the next day.  It went in the freezer for the dressing later on.  I think she started saving it a couple of months out.  That and breadcrumbs.

But I digress.  What I love the most is the being together.  The warmth, the stories, the memories being made.  This year we will be back at Blackberry Flats for the first time in years, and it will be quite wonderful–I’ve already decided.  The children will climb trees, and the grownups will talk, football will be on, and naps and third helpings are a given.

This year will be quite special as always, but thanks to the stories we are going to read and talk about this week, I think it will be even more so.  I can’t wait to hear their laughter over the illustrations and lines about dainty women being a force to reckon with.

Mama always encouraged us to be thankful every moment, every day, but I am grateful that we have a day set aside where quiet reflection is a must, where people dance in the streets to celebrate a melding of their past and present, where a puppeteer can make big dreams come true, and where the whole country comes together, if only for a day, in one accord.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love to all.

 

(and if you get a chance to read one of these books, I’d love to hear your thoughts)