It is beginning to look a lot like November here at this old house. We have gotten two small snowstorms that have taken us from the lush colors of late fall into the more subdued colors of early winter. Thanksgiving is Thursday and Advent begins the following Sunday. I have my grocery list as well as piles of recipes related to cooking Thanksgiving dinner laid out to sort through. What to make this year that is new? What worked well last year and bears repeating. All of this is something I love doing. The Thanksgiving food magazines are my favorite periodicals of the whole year. I read them cover-t0-cover.
Turkey, gluten-free dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted brussel sprouts with proscuito and feta, cranberry sauce (maybe a new spicy version?), perhaps I will try a new baked onion recipe, pumpkin pie with a gluten-free crust and whipped cream: it is a creative outlet for me that begins days head of the meal itself. Monday, I will shop and begin drying out the bread for the stuffing on Tuesday. The pie, stuffing, and cranberry sauce will be made on Wednesday and the turkey will go into the brine. I brined our turkey last year for the first time and it was fabulous. That is definitely going to be a repeat this year.
While cleaning up from dinner on Thursday, I will load the stock pot with the turkey carcass, vegetable cuttings and other food bits that are leftover, mostly from the preparation of the meal. They will be left to boil for several hours into a wonderful broth oblivion. Actually, I don’t really like to eat turkey all that much but I always cook one so I have something to stuff (my favorite part of the meal) as well as to boil down into lovely stock. The house never smells better than it does on Thanksgiving Day.
We also have begun our amaryllis bulbs. Beginning mid-November, we take one out of the box every two weeks and set it in a pot of granite gravel. I have decided that this year’s bulbs are a lot like spiritual formation. Right now, two are by the window. One has been growing for two weeks and has leaves that are 18″ tall and still growing. A lot of drama but no evidence yet of a red bud. It seems like the bulb is putting all its efforts into showing off and not on producing the whole point of the bulb: a flower.
The other bulb came out of the box with two flower buds already growing. They were white and bent over but in the week they have been in the sunny window, they have turned green and straightened up. This plant will be lucky to reach 12″ in height but it is bearing the fruit it was created to bear: flowers.
So it is with our lives, isn’t it? We all know people who are “all talk and no action,” like my over-leafed amaryllis bulb. Then, there are those quietly working in the background, even in a closed cardboard box like my other amaryllis bulb, who produce such beauty through their lives despite their seeming unobtrusiveness.
We have had amaryllis bulbs in the past that did nothing but grow tall leaves. Eventually, they went into the compost pile. Those that bloom, however, get carried downstairs to a place of honor where they can be seen regularly and enjoyed.
As we come into this time of Thanksgiving followed by the reflective season of Advent, we can use my amaryllis bulbs as a point of meditation. Which bulb do I want to be? If I want to be the flowering one, what steps do I need to take in the coming weeks to get there? Write down one or two things you can do that will lead you to “flower.” Share them, if appropriate, with someone who can gently remind you of your intentions and support you in your deepest desires.
Because isn’t that what the Incarnation is about: Jesus coming in the flesh so that we might live fully into who God created us to be, to become the flower the “bulb of our life” was designed to grow into?
As we begin this week of intentional gratitude, know that I am thankful for each and every one of you, my readers. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!