family is preparing for the holidays.
We're going to be having lots of relatives
over and my mom wants everything to be
special. I like that about her, the way
she cares about all the details that makes
someone's visit to our house something
they remember in a positive way. Mom says
that 's part of what she sees as her "mom"
job... making positive memories for her
kids and for the whole family.
like this time of year. As I ride in the
car with my mother on the way to some
super market, the leaves of the trees are
all yellow, some green. Some are even
falling right in front of the car! I guess
that's why they call it Fall. (Just a
little joke. A very little
have relatives who live in the eastern
part of the country, where it is very cold
and the leaves that change colors on their
trees have done it a long time ago. Being
on the west coast, everything seem to
happen at it's own slower more gentler
pace. All the good things seem to get here
quicker... like the way we get spring in
early March (way before the eastern half
of the country.) And here it is,
officially almost winter, and is still
looking like Fall. Back there Fall is just
a memory and all they're left to look at
out their windows are barren branches, wet
black bark, fingers scratching at the
that could be part of a poem... "...
scratching at the door of
think I'll stick it in the back of my mind
and use it sometime.
we're having these relatives come over and
I'm looking forward to it. Thanksgiving
and Christmas and all that holiday stuff
has always been an okay time for me. I
have a bunch of little cousins and they're
cute. My brother likes having little kids
around. He's good with them. It brings him
out a little bit and makes him seem way
more normal than usual.
actually like food shopping. I also like
helping out my mom in the kitchen. Hey I
know it sounds weird for a guy to say that
but deal with it. Besides, this is my
journal, I can admit anything I want to
shopping center is very crowded. It takes
us about 10 minutes of circling around the
parking lot just to find a place to park.
like walking through the produce
department, especially this time of year.
It's really amazing the kind of things
they have! The colors! The peppers... red
and yellow. Purple peppers! I notice the
more exotic the color the more they cost.
Seems like a total rip off. I mean, I bet
they don't even taste any different. But I
guess if you're into purple peppers you've
gotta be willing to pay more for them. The
other thing I like about getting ready for
the holiday, is that there so many last
minute chores and things around the house
that it takes my mind off of
can use whatever excuse I can get to not
think about her. In case you've been
wondering, I haven't been in the best
frame of mind since the dance. I know I
know she said she just wanted to be
friends, so what did I expect? But I can't
the picture of her dancing with Derek out
of my head.
the way out of the store. I hear a sound
and look up. A sea gull flies overhead.
The sky is solid clouds. They say it's
supposed to rain "..locally heavy at
times." That's certainly the way I feel.
But it's natural for the weather. That's
what it does this time of year. I don't
know that it's so natural for me to feel
funny the way people in California (a
place that doesn't have all that much in
the way of weather to begin with) make
such a huge deal about rain. I mean if you
want to grow purple peppers and all the
other stuff we're so used to, you've got
to have rain sometime.
we brought home all these groceries. A
huge turkey and all the ingredients for
stuffing. We also bought some pumpkins
because my mom wants to make a few pumpkin
pies and a couple of apple pies. And we
got about 10 pounds of sweet potatoes.
Every year she makes this dish with sweet
potatoes and melted marshmallows on top.
It's some kind of old family recipe. I
have no idea which relative came up with
it, but all I can say is: "Thank you,
unknown ancestor! We are still enjoying
your legacy!" My mother thinks when she
serves the sweet potatoes she's giving us
something nutritious. ("Yellow vegetables
are very high in vitamin A" "What's
Vitamin A good for, Mom?" "Uh... Night
vision I think." "Very handy thing to
have, if you're a bat. No, they're blind.
Oh well.") But all we care about is the
forget the cranberry sauce. Has to be made
from scratch. She'll probably also bake
some other stuff, besides the pies. Maybe
bread or a few cakes. Don't want anyone to
go away hungry (don't even want anyone to
be able to stand up after the meal.) I
guess we'll all just have to sleep right
here, tonight, heads in our plates,
because there's no way in hell we've got
the strength to push this chair back far
enough to be able to clear the
if you tell her that maybe she's overdoing
it a little, she just smiles and says,
"Don't be ridiculous. Besides, we love
leftovers!" (I don't know about you, but
after a few days of turkey omelets, turkey
salad and turkey soup, I've had it!) Yeah,
my mom really gets into holiday cooking.
She has told me that her mom, who died
before I was born, was a great cook. And
the best times she spent with her were in
the kitchen. So even though my mom doesn't
have any daughters, she's really glad that
I kinda like this stuff. And I'm learning
a lot too. Hey! We all have to eat, right?
So, I think it's a good idea for a guy to
know how to cook. I'm pretty good at it
got this great set of knives, if you keep
them sharp, and you're careful (of course)
you don't have to use a whole lot of
pressure to chop up anything. Not onions,
celery is a breeze. Tomatoes... man, it's
like slicing through soft
I cooked with her for a while, things were
in a holding mode. You know all the stuff
that needed to be baking, boiling,
simmering, was doing its thing she told me
I could take a break. So I went upstairs
and started working on this
just a ritual
some of us
a heart level.
a way that hurts.
gives out permission to fall in
someone's withholding yours.
looked out the window. God, those red
trees across the street are incredible!
Orange, crimson. There's even purple in
some of them. Who says we don't have Fall
in California? All right, so next door is
this weird palm tree, but right here,
right in front of me, there are leaves
just as beautiful as anything I've seen on
a calendar picture from New England.
reread the poem and decided I had to talk
to Becca. I called. It rang once. Then I
freaked out and hung up!