Once I wrote a novel that my first editor bought. Clearly, she believed in the deep darkness of the holidays, the despair to which some of us can aspire to when all sides of the family are brought together. This holiday story wasn't happy at all, but I sure got it (yes, of course I did, because I wrote it) and so did she. I titled it The Tables of Joy, taking the phrase from Langston Hughes' poem Luck: "Sometimes a crumb falls / From the tables of joy, / Sometimes a bone / Is flung."
Not a happy image, that.
Okay, so maybe I was in a bad, contemplative mood. Maybe my editor was, too. But she quit, and the replacement editor was appalled. The Tables of Joy was flung from the editing table, only to reappear as an ebook.
But the truth is that the holidays give us the opportunity to connect with things we've striven long and hard to disconnect from. Suddenly, we are back with our family of origin, grappling with the view they've had of us from time immemorial. We must deal with things we've put aside because we can--we no longer live with these folks, thank you very much, and that was by choice!
And on top of that, we are making an epic meal, one that involves days of thought and preparation. At 1 pm Thursday, whilst coring apples, Michael decided to stab himself to the tune of four stitches. He grabbed a towel, insisting he could drive himself to Kaiser. I finally agreed, but there I was surrounded by apples, green beans, chard, turkeys (two, one to be smoked, one to be roasted), potatoes, two stuffings (already prepared by that point, thank goodness). I had tables to set, bathrooms to clean, and that pesky shower to have. Meanwhile, there was grumbling on all fronts in terms of the kids, other events some wanted to go to, issues that were at a head but by no means resolved, and visiting almost-inlaws to entertain.
Oh, the tables of joy.
Michael came home and was able to help out with the smoker. the meal miraculously came out on time and perfectly. At the table, no one complained or fought. No one flung anything. The subterranean issues remained underground, buried deep. For that moment, we had a table of joy, full of laughter. Later, of course, things emerged. But then, right then, joy.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org