Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Here’s to Fall and Feasting

Abundance by Julie Paschkis

One fall day many years ago, when the wind was gusting and leaves, golden and red, cartwheeled across the street, I suddenly felt inspired to write an ode to the season. I was thinking of the kind of fulsome, simple poem that my father sometimes read to us. (When he wasn’t baffling us with things like The Love Song of  J. Alfred Prufrock.)  I went home and wrote The Harvest in Our Hearts and it’s been part of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition ever since.

I’d like to share it with you along with a new painting that Julie Paschkis generously gave me permission to use. It’s a piece for a two-person show at the Seattle Art Museum’s café, TASTE, in May. Keep your eyes open for it!

Thanks to my fellow bloggers Julie Paschkis, Julie Larios, Margaret Chodos-Irvine and Laura Kvasnosky, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all who read our blog. You are all part of the harvest in my own heart.

The Harvest in Our Hearts

by Bonny Becker

It was the dawn of winter
and the table was set for feasting.
The silver was polished, the fire ablaze.
The turkey at last done with roasting.

We had just then raised a glass to toast
the harvest and the day,
when there came a knock at the door,
and a stranger blew in and seated himself saying,
“Room for one more?”

He wasn’t the kind to argue with. He was wide and tall and brawny.
His robes were worked in the richest threads
of brown and red and tawny.
His head was wreathed with an herbal crown;
He smelled of smoke and cold, and it seemed when he sat
that leaves fell down in a whirl of red and gold.

“Who are you?”  I dared to ask, but he merely smiled
and demanded a glass of his own.

He surveyed our board and seemed to judge, weighing its merit,
assessing the richness of each dish, the quality of the claret.
Beneath his gaze it was odd to note our table grew more rich.
The silver gleamed more deep; the candles burned more bright.
Our fire stood more securely against the winter night.

He nodded. This god approved.

“Be warm, eat well, be gay.
Each season has its moment;
Each moment slips away.”

Thus saying, he, too, began to fade like smoke in the autumn wind,
but his words still lingered as we raised our glasses again.

“Here’s to friends and harvest
 to winter days and rain.
Here’s to those who are with us
and to those we’ll not see again.
Here’s to fall and feasting,
to good wine and good cheer.
Here’s to the harvest in our hearts
in the winter of the year.”

Leftovers

Leftovers….

It’s Leftover-Turkey Day, and I’m still thinking about things I’m grateful for, not the least of which is leftover turkey. I did some thinking about gratitude  yesterday, of course. I made a mental list of things I’m grateful for, and the list got quite long. Primarily I feel dumbfounded by how lucky I am to be loved by the people I love.  Most of yesterday, in fact, I thought I would write about that today – the mutual admiration society that reigns supreme in my family – for my Books Around the Table post.  I wanted to look at how strange it is that some writers write from the discontent brought on by a lack of love, and other writers (the lucky ones) write from the safety and  joy of an abundance of it.

Whether longing for love or nurtured by it, writers often create characters searching for some kind of love and acceptance. That longing is “the desire line” of a story. The need for love makes the world go round, and it’s certainly the engine of the carousel that literature spins around on.  So love – withheld or generously given –  was on my mind yesterday and lingers there today. And there’s no doubt those mirrored generative forces are an acceptable topic for a blog about writing and (tangentially) about where creativity comes from.

But I also spent a lot of time this last week thinking about Eleanor Roosevelt.

Eleanor Roosevelt at a family Thanksgiving….

…and Eleanor Roosevelt voting, 1936

She’s been on my mind since the election – what an active, bright, caring, conscientious woman she was – and since seeing Ken Burn’s thought-provoking new documentary on PBS about the Dust Bowl.  Even before watching that, I had been turning over and over in my mind what Maria Popova quoted over at Brain Pickings from the book Roosevelt wrote titled You Learn by Living: 11 Keys for a More Fulfilling Life.  I especially like the line from Don Quixote which was a favorite of Roosevelt’s (“Until death it is all life”) and the long passage Popova quoted in which Roosevelt expresses her thoughts about happiness:

Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: ‘A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others.’

But there is another basic requirement, and I can’t understand now how I forgot it at the time: that is the feeling that you are, in some way, useful. Usefulness, whatever form it may take, is the price we should pay for the air we breathe and the food we eat and the privilege of being alive. And it is its own reward, as well, for it is the beginning of happiness, just as self-pity and withdrawal from the battle are the beginning of misery.

The problem is, I can’t quite figure out how to tie that in to writing, which is what this blog is all about, except to say that I believe everything we ponder makes us better writers. We are, after all, writers in the world. It is just as valuable to ponder honesty (well, actually, honesty makes us better writers) as it is to ponder point of view.  It’s valuable to thinki about doing our best (yes, again,  better writers) and about loving people (isn’t that what empathy is about? and doesn’t empathy make us better writers?) and a sense of usefulness (which gets us out of our heads, sends us out into the world, and makes us better people, which makes us better writers.)

Am I’m stretching to make a connection? Maybe I just wanted to write about Eleanor Roosevelt, no matter what. I tend to like adding a lot of ingredients into every soup I make.  I do know, on this day after Thanksgiving,  that I’m still revising my what-I’m-grateful-for list, making it just a bit longer. Today, I’m adding Eleanor Roosevelt, Ken Burns, Don Quixote, and Maria Popova to the list. I’m grateful to be list-inclined.  I’ll add that to the list.  I’m grateful I’m a writer – well, that was on my list already.  And not to bring the tone down, I hope, I will say I’m grateful there is both leftover gravy and leftover stuffing  – yumm. And when I eat my leftover-turkey-on-leftover-dinner-roll sandwich later today (and leftover turkey soup for weeks to come) I’ll probably still be adding to my list. I’ll have come up with a few more leftover things to be grateful about. Thanksgiving is just as much about leftovers as it is about the main course, because Thanksgiving is all about abundance, whether it’s food, or food for thought.

…and more leftovers!