Day 893, November 22, 2022

The Bounty of This Earth and This Life

Thanksgiving was not always celebrated at my parents’ house. In the early days, before the divorce, Uncle Sam hosted and we would spend the day there, our child selves basting in the lingering aroma of the turkey cooking away and infusing everything with a greasy hunger. I wanted the drumstick, was my mantra, and after some fuss, it was agreed to and the adults found great hilarity in presenting me a plate with the oversized portion. 

Korea is such a small country, it seemed everyone was a classmate, or a sibling’s best friend, or an infamous rival, of one another. It was an early generation of immigrants, and like religion that wove Buddhism with Christianity, so too they blended American traditions with their own. A harvest festival, Chuseok, is a human thing, and celebrated with a large bird, or tteok, we are appreciative of the bounty this earth and this life has given us. 

We used to have a priest who would bless our cars. Great pains were taken to secure the finest of vehicle possible to show off to the congregation, and while the onlookers tried to restrain their appreciation and envy, Father sprinkled holy water and said his prayers, and if a patron Saint Christopher medallion was not already affixed to the dashboard, that was arranged. 

I do not remember my parents tending a garden when I was young. I ate a lot more spinach back then. All our barbecues were over charcoal briquettes lit with great plumes of lighter fluid. I would don my father’s snorkel mask and pretend to be a firefighter.

Perhaps the greatest part of a large meal is the anticipation. That is something we have forgotten in our zeal to go out to the best and newest restaurants. It is the long hours of preparation, the sensory experience of the sound of chopping, the scent of fresh garlic, warmth of a hot oven. It is the self restraint that holds every one of us back from ruining a pie, or picking apart a bird, like the time my brother and I tried just a taste of the Cornish hens my father left roasting in the oven, and before he could return home, they were reduced to bones, my brother and I unable to restrain ourselves, and I a bad role model.

And after the meal, the languid day, a nap. We imagine what it is to be satiated.

My brother was always too cute to be blamed for any mischief.


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