November 30, 2012 § 3 Comments
We are driving to South Carolina for Thanksgiving and as I scan through the radio stations, we hear jingle bells. Jack Henry pipes up from the back seat, “Let’s not listen to Christmas music until December 1st.”
“Ok,” I say. This is fine with me. Jack Henry and I have what some would call OCD tendencies. I would say we like clean edges on the world, lines of demarcation, mental, if not physical, order.
Also, truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of Christmas. It is not an introvert’s holiday. Thanksgiving is more my style. The only pressure is to cook and eat. I like both of those. In South Carolina, I know, I can also slip off for an afternoon or two and read. There will be so much commotion in the house, so many people, that I won’t be missed. This evokes the best parts of my childhood. I love the familiarity of a din of people moving through the house, the TV faint in the background, while I hide in my bed and read.
The first day is full of cooking. Jeff roasts the meat; I cook the sides. Everybody pitches in on something. We feast. Paul is the dishwasher. He likes clean surfaces and order too. This earns him a special place in my heart.
I slip off to read and find a shelf full of a Faulkner novels printed in the 50s. They’ve been in the house since then, with pages that smell like a library: heaven. I sink down into one, but in the background, I hear music.
Jeff, Art, Paul, and Jack Henry start to play on the piano, guitar, sax, and harmonica. Cole, like me, slips away. Then I hear voices: Emily’s sweet harmony and Sue, singing about Jesus. Sue has begun singing spontaneously these days. Music is something she does not forget; in fact, it seems she has rediscovered it. Often, it’s a warbly hymn, other times, it’s a little avant garde. Sometimes, it would do Johnny Rotten proud. The music picks up tempo and they follow Sue. She is singing from the heart, then from deep in the gut, loud, without a hint of self-consciousness. Every time I see her these days, it seems a layer has been shed. She’s uncovered. There is music at her core, full of pure emotion. It is Thanksgiving.