Thursday, November 21, 2013


See the window? I was pointing the camera straight up.

Once upon a time I hated Thanksgiving. As a single person who never had kids and whose family is far-flung, it was always a weird day for me. I was often invited to "orphan" dinners. I hate that idea. I am not an orphan!

When I worked for Whole Foods, my loathing increased exponentially. Oh the customers, the throngs. Oh the fuss and carry on of said customers. And the turkeys. Oh god the turkeys. The store hired a gigantic refrigerated truck to hold all the pre-ordered turkeys. They were fresh turkeys so we received them all at once, on the Sunday before T-day. After they were unloaded, we had to sort them by size and then try to find the right size when customers came in to claim them. The truck was freezing cold, but sometimes I took a shift back there. It was worth it, just to get away from the customers, some of whom completely melted down, especially the day before the holiday. Such a kerfuffle! We tried many different organizing techniques for the turkeys, but somehow it always got out of hand by Wednesday. At that point, out in the truck, we were slinging turkeys as fast as we could. It was freezing - and disgusting!

Inside the store the customers ranted, shouted, carried on - about the stupidest crap like about a turkey 1/2 lb. bigger than ordered. We tried to be patient when we explained that there was no way to exactly regulate the weight of the birds. A half pound too much just means another sandwich or two the following day. We tried to smile, but it was always a grimace. I mean, really.

I worked with an international staff at WF, hence learned how to say, in 7 languages: Kill them all. That way, at a moment of high stress (which was every moment of Thanksgiving week), I could turn to any fellow employee and say, in a deadpan, in that employee's native language: Kill. them. all.

I only remember the Wolof and French expressions, have forgotten the rest. It has been awhile.

After I left that job, I railed against Thanksgiving for several years. I always stayed home, made brown rice and vegetables, and watched movies on TV - alone. Those were rather harsh years for me, come to think of it. That was during menopause. God, what a time.

Slowly, over the years, I began to warm to the holiday. In recent years I've attended many different feasts, all of them kind of the same, kind of different, all of them great fun. One year I celebrated with a huge family of Puerto Ricans. I had no idea what they were saying, but whatever it was, it was fun. We laughed and drank, then cranked up the salsa music and danced after dinner. The women wore lots of make up and stiletto heels. I loved it that rice and beans were of course a part of the feast.

I even hosted T-day here at the chateau a couple of years ago. A control freak in my own kitchen, I insisted on cooking the entire feast. I worked non-stop for two days! I'll never take on the whole feast again - though I would love to host again here at the chateau.

Last year, through no fault of my own, the feast I planned to attend got cancelled due to a death in the family. Sadly, everyone I might have foisted myself upon was traveling last year. Hence I spent the day alone. It was a lonely day. I felt sorry for myself and resolved I would not spend it alone again.

This year, I'm going to spend the day with family! Holy cow. I'm going to get an on airplane, travel 3,000 miles! I am the designated apple pie and gravy maker. Wow.

There are those who say people don't change, can't change. OK, at my core it's still the same Reya, but as an old lady I have a far greater capacity to enjoy and connect than I ever did when I was younger, during the holidays and at other times, too. I love being an old lady! Cheers!


Pam said...

There are young old ladies, middle old ladies and old old ladies.
I am having fun being 60, a young old lady hanging out with my Mum a middle old lady at 83...after all when you consider so many live to 100 years old now.
Why does 60 seem such a benchmark for us though I wonder. Is it that some we've known haven't seen out that long?
You do get a sense more that you don't know what's around the corner so you enjoy things more and really appreciate the good times when they happen - especially important if you're a turkey! At least, right to the last, people are summing up their breasts and thighs - something that's not happening to me anymore at 60!!!

Reya Mellicker said...

According to Chinese medicine, at 60 we've been through their 12 year cycle of animals in each of their five elements. We've seen it all in other words, once.

There are Indian traditions in which we are not truly born until age 60.

Sixty is big! Not just for us, Pam.

ain't for city gals said...

Here's to change if you want it! I laughed out loud at the menopause sentence ...omgosh ...what a time indeed!! I don't think I ever have fully recovered from it to tell the truth though now that I am SIXTY I am trying to put it all behind me and CHANGE....hopefully back to a little of my old zest for life. Would love to read a post on your thoughts...what we can do to help ourselves

Reya Mellicker said...

Ain't for city gals - what a great idea. I will post some thoughts on the chateau seven blog. Thank you.

Steve Reed said...

Keep changing and growing! That seems like a good motto for life.

I've always loved Thanksgiving, but then, I've never had to do all the cooking. :)