I’m learning to be ok with being horribly behind on everything. My therapist says that beating myself up for not being perfectly productive is a problem. She says “how’s that working out for you?” and I sheepishly admit that putting more pressure on myself makes me less capable, rather than more.
I have a three ring binder and a stack of paper in my dining room, which I keep meaning to make into a cookbook. I do not like cookbooks. I like to make up my own recipes, I like to refuse to measure my ingredients most of the time, and I like to memorize things rather than looking at a book. There is a problem though. At 22, I could keep all of my recipes stored in my brain, and call them up on a whim. At 32, there are a lot more recipes, and a lot more other things to remember. I find myself googling the recipes I started with, and then trying to remember my changes and improvisations from last time. So I got the binder so I could put them in there. My bread recipe that isn’t a recipe at all, my modified version of my mother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, and of course the pastry recipe that I look up every time I make a pie because for a second I think “there is no way we need that much butter, that can’t be right” (it is right, we do need that much butter).
The seasons have been changing. I have been working a lot, and trying to find time to do the household things I love. I haven’t started putting the recipes in the binder yet.
On October 31st, my family celebrated both Samhain and Halloween. We took time to recognize and honor our ancestors. The toddler really wanted to honor a dead rat and mouse he saw in the alley by our house the week before. So the spouse and I wrote down names on post-its, and the kid put a scribble on one to represent each fallen rodent. Then, a little jarringly, we got our costumes.
I also started the process of putting our garden to bed, which has turned out to be a bigger job than I expected, even with such a small garden. I’m hoping that next year I’ll be better prepared, but who knows?
Yesterday was American Thanksgiving, and I could have really used the recipe book. Thanksgiving is a holiday that I feel complicated about, because while it is cozy to share food with family, there’s nothing cozy about genocide. I’ve been having a bit of a rough time lately, and I’m also a stress baker. So I made three pies, including a savory roasted vegetable pie, classic pumpkin pie, and dutch apple.
You really do need all that butter.
I failed to photograph any of the finished pies, because I guess that isn’t the interesting part for me? But they were both pretty and tasty. If you are curious, here is the recipe that I look up every time I make a damn pie, and then feel embarrassed because it’s so simple I don’t really need it. But I will never ever measure the salt or the sugar, and you cannot make me.
Regarding thankfulness and national holidays, here is what I had to say yesterday:
Thanksgiving was invented by Abraham Lincoln, at least as the National Holiday we know today. The Civil War had just ended. Some people didn’t want it to be over. The country was divided, and he wanted to do something that would inspire unity.
So he told a story, a story full of symbolism. He told a story about uptight Puritans and wild Natives setting aside their differences to share a meal. In this story, here were two groups of people, people so different on every level, able to break bread together. The story was also racist. You are supposed to identify with the Puritans in the story, and pat yourself on the back for how accepting you are of those who are less than you. It was also a story to inspire patriotism… By harkening back to the beginning of the country, and surrounding it in myths about sharing, it reinforces the idea that the United States is right and good.
The Puritans had many feasts of thanksgiving. The type of protestantism that they practiced involved a lot of communal celebration, and also communal suffering. If they did something that they were ashamed of, they fasted together. If they did something they thought was pleasing to their god, they feasted and gave thanks.
One such feast, one of the larger ones that is remembered by history, occurred after the Pequot Massacre. There is no nice way to tell what happened. The Puritans were at war with the Pequot. They hated the Pequot because the Pequot resisted them, they fought back, they tried to keep what was theirs. The Puritans believed that they had a right to steal land that was not theirs, because they believed that their god thought that anyone who wasn’t using the land exactly as they would use it wasn’t really using it at all. So there were a series of skirmishes.
And then, the massacre. They surrounded a Pequot village and burned it to the ground. They burned everyone, and yes, that includes women and children. The goal was genocide. The goal was to destroy them once and for all. Anyone who escaped the fire was shot.
The Puritans thought this was pleasing to their god. They celebrated the great victory. They threw themselves a feast.
We live on stolen and occupied land. We have the bounty we have not because we are good or deserving, but because our ancestors (for those of us who are white) stole and murdered and destroyed. I do not really believe in the idea of sin, and especially not original sin. But if there is a sin that is passed down in our blood, it is this one.
And as the United States continues to steal native lands, and continues to ask people to find “unity” with those who would see a return to more blatant forms of racism, it is clear that many people haven’t (or just don’t want to) learn from our mistakes. We still use native people as props in our stories. We steal their land and try to steal their cultures and pretend it’s all in good fun. We keep sugarcoating genocide, and we keep benefiting from it.
I’m thankful for what I have. But I’m also asking all of us, especially myself, to do better.
Today a friend brought us an artificial tree to put in our living room, and we put it up right away even though the fall decorations are still up. Now we are all set to make a valiant attempt at resisting capitalism in the coming season, slowly start decorating for Yule, and trying as best we can to prepare our home (and ourselves) for another Michigan winter.
Pass the vitamin D.