what a bogus holiday.
years ago, the white man slaughtered a bunch of indians, and now we gobble up long tables crammed full of high caloric goodies, after a brief, redemptive prayer of thankfulness, and some weak mumblings of gratitude.
[quick! think of something! before it gets cold!]
"i am so thankful for my family, my kids, my job, my volunteer work, my exercise..."
and the family clown, throwing out the cynical, "at least i have my health!"; always met with appreciative chortles.
[i do not have one of the above.]
truth is, i don't feel particularly grateful for anything right now. and before you quote me a laundry list of the things i have forgotten...trust me, i haven't.
i know i can walk, and i know i can see. i know i have a roof over my head. food in the fridge and i know i have a family of friends, in-laws and far away relatives.
society's anvil of expectation weighs heavily on me during these randomly designated holidays.
[apparently, no-one is safe from peer pressure]
over the last few days, i have received two e-mails from my inlaws. this is noteworthy as k is typically the liason between their household and ours.
(but to receive not one, but two letters, must mean i'm really sick...that's right up there with the "make a wish foundation.")
c. brought up the tantalizing theory that being thankful is a matter of perspective. i believe being grateful should be mandated into law. but despite the countless times i have heard, "oh, but it's not as bad as what you are going through", i have always maintained that everything is relative. if someone's "worst" experience is a bad haircut; what else do they have to compare it to?
one person spews rage through their filter of perspective if a box full puppies is left by the side of the road; another's filter will manifest but a shrug of the shoulders.
we cannot always understand what someone else is going through, but we can be grateful.
and this is what i love about my in-laws.
they are religious in the best sense of the word. whereas i lie somewhere on the spectrum between "i believe in god" and "steer me clear of all religious dogma"; they lead a quiet life of action.
church is their community, not their crutch. volunteering is their call to action, not door to door solicitation. and though sometimes i'm sure they feel a gap between myself and them as wide as the grand canyon, they never stop trying to bridge it.
a couple of months ago, a package arrived in the mail. the customs form said, "shawl". i joked with kevin, "a shawl? what is this 1952, kansas?"
turns out the joke was on me.
inside was a beautiful letter from my in laws explaining that this was a prayer shawl. ladies in their church knit these and then the minister blesses them. they are meant for the chronically ill, disabled, struggling; to give them literal and figurative comfort.
i may not understand all that drives their religious commitment, but it's impossible not to honor what drives their hearts.
and bigger hearts you will never find.
some things are sacred.
even i, henriette of the flapping tongue, concede to that.
i want to post a beautiful picture photo of my father and my aunt, t.
yesterday, she sent me one of the greatest gifts i have ever received.
(and i know how hard it was for her.)
7 pages of letters sent to her in israel, written by my father.
it took me all day to open the file.
first time reading them through, i could barely breathe. palpitations and sweaty palms. eyes swimming with tears at the sight of his familiar handwriting. oh, how i wished i could hold them in my hands and smell the pages.
it was an emotional twilight zone at its most poignant. describing my "so, so beautiful laughing eyes and funny grin" in one letter. and articulating his own laundry list of maladies in another. using the term, "stop the world, i want to get off", as i recently did here on my blog. eerily fantastic. suddenly, nearly 32 years had evaporated and "dadddeeee" was holding my hand again.
sure, it's a matter of perspective, and ours are forever linked in the sphere of the chronically ill.
i may not have known him very well, but now i feel like nobody understands me better.
i love you, t.
yesterday, uberhubby and i were laid up in bed all day. [unfortunately, with colds, and not a second honeymoon]. k popped out to the store and rented 3 movies, one of which was "eat. pray. love.", starring julia roberts.
i turned to k during the opening credits and joked, "let's count how many times she does her horsey laugh."
we were up to #8, before k fell asleep, when julia was prancing around bali.
i did watch the rest of the movie. here's hoping the book is more satisfying, because the movie is ridiculous.
how many people can relate to taking an entire year off, no pay, under the guise of "finding" themselves?
apparently rich, beautiful, successful writers with an itch they need to scratch.
it made me sad that such a basic concept is apparently such a difficult one for women to grasp. this book sold millions and millions of copies. and the "double, double, toil and trouble", all boils down to one idea: love yourself first, and then you will be able to love others.
[you find yourself within, you find God within; not scarfing down spaghetti in italy.]
my friend c, once told me about her distaste for "lost in translation". hailed as original, thought provoking, and oscar bait, c quietly contradicted, "i just couldn't get behind this winey teenager moping around her hotel room all day long. i mean, she was in TOKYO!". the point being, c, couldn't relate to the characters, and thus felt alienated from the story.
much in the same way, i could not relate to the superstar, super stunning, writhing around on a changing room floor, trying to zip up her new "supersize" jeans, because apparently-shame!-she had developed a "muffin top."
where do women get these ideas? as with any anthropological dig, it seems to come back to that tried and true combo #2: genetics and environment. well, thanks be to my parents for apparently infusing enough self-esteem in me before everything went to shit. and thanks to the vikings for giving me some pretty kick ass genes...
by the film's climax, julia's face is all scrunched and red, her forehead vein excessively popping, as she sputters the reasons why she cannot say i love you, to her lover.
"i don't know why", she gasps...
for this character, it is her fear of losing the newly found sense of balance she believes loving a man, will upend. what she doesn't realize until the film's final seconds, is that our sense of balance is and must always be changing. to deny yourself love because it's not a calm boat ride is enslaving. to deny yourself anything, because you would rather flatline through life is stifling and regressive.
and seriously sad.
it wasn't clear that "liz" got this concept as she literally drove (a boat) off into the sunset with her man.
you can't control your life. you can only live it.
[happy thanksgiving xoxo]