I’m a normal-day person, not a holiday person. I love the everyday, and I love ordinary moments more than the Hallmarky ones. Part of that is because, the older I get, the more introverted I get. I don’t like feigning celebration or forcing conversation when I’m not feeling it. In short, I’m not into hubbub.

I started liking holidays even less when my father died on Christmas morning two years ago. The whole holiday season had been spent in hectic worry of what to pray and not pray and what to say and to whom. Knowing what to hold onto and what to let go of became even more difficult in that coming year, and when the next holiday season came, I just wanted it all done with. Life could have fast-forwarded to February, and I wouldn’t have minded.

I live circles of hyper-holidayish people. They love this crap, from the recipes to the homemade decorations to the Pinterest parties and advent countdown. It’s no wonder that I’ve been planted smack in the middle of them. This is how life and God and luck and serendipity work sometimes. You fall so in love with the people, the place becomes inconsequential, and you just find yourself managing because of the mess between you that causes you to hold hands and link arms and cross all your fingers and toes while holding your collective breath that it’ll all be okay.

I’m taking on Ann Voskamp’s November Joy Dare for two reasons. One, I could use the distraction from this most painful time. And two, I can see myself becoming the old man in Home Alone with the trashcan of salt and the pigeon lady in the sequel and taking on Grinchy hygiene habits a la garlic and onion to keep the carolers away, so I’m taking a stand for goodness and mercy because there is so much floating around in the atmosphere, kind of the romantic version of atoms. Anyhow, I want them to fuse into my being. I want joy and peace and love knowing where my address is, and I’m setting out to send a SASE in case it’s helpful in hunting me down this year.

I invite you to join me. Here’s the link to Ann’s dare.

Today is 3 gifts eaten, and because it takes me a running start to land on specificity, I give you three categories I adore for in-house dining, and I’m packing you two poems to go.

1. The Food We Get

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Daina after the House of Jerky with a fistful of her favorite food in Helen, Georgia.

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Auntie LouLou’s famous cake-balls. These are actual balls of cake. You should all be so lucky in life to have a friend that can do this magic.

Behold the spoils of my farmers' market trip, perfect for making social media spectators think that you produced such goods in your farmhouse. Spoiler alert: I don't have a farmhouse.

Behold the spoils of my farmers’ market trip, perfect for making social media spectators think that you produced such goods in your farmhouse. Spoiler alert: I don’t have a farmhouse.

2. The Food We Make

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Imprecise but pretty. Tell me about it.

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My Atticus at two, making pumpkin bread. The love.

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My Atticus, probably five minutes later, making brownies.

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My family makes this kitchen a sacred space in my home. Warning: Images in this social media picture are much cleaner than they actually appear in life.

3. The Food We Share

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With new friends come new conversations, new ideas, new stories, and new recipes. This is Pam Pork, named aptly for my dear friend Pam whose mother-in-law gave it to her. It’s a Boston butt, fork-poked, doused in liquid smoke, rubbed in Hawaiian sea salt, and covered in bacon. Talk about a good friendship takeaway. Love her. Love this.

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So many meals are attached to memories for me. This picture reminds me of all the food I’ve shared with the ladies in my poetry group. They, like these, are some of my all-time favorites on the planet.

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At work or at church or in life otherwise, when my friends get together, good things happen. Here are some of them at The Sundry Folk Festival, sharing in music, food, and charity for those in need.

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This is what love looks like, shot at our Cider Party last year before the drop off to Waterfront Mission, a local organization to help the homeless.

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My husband’s pumpkin cheesecake which we give to several of our lovelies each year.

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I’m learning that when we serve, they serve. My son makes the best “tea.”

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Life and art have such blurred lines these days. What I get so far exceeds the goodness of what I give. My heart just can’t contain it sometimes. The blessings overflow.

For Imaginary Bonus Points for Life, here is your Thanksgiving homework:

1. Read Galway Kinnell’s “Blackberry Eating.”

2. Read Mark Strand’s “Eating Poetry.”

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