Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sweets, sweets and more sweets

Mini muffin pans are waaaaay too much fun.

Mini cranberry-orange muffins with lemon curd.

Mini-pecan tartlets with cream cheese crust.

Next up: Mini cranberry/eggnog tartlets and possibly mini apple pies.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving: Sukkot Take 2?

We are told that the pilgrims observed a late summer harvest/thanksgiving feast after surviving a truly terrible year. Despite the re-location of this holiday to late November, they most likely modeled it on the Biblical observation of Sukkot.

With one Sukkot behind, and another (Hanukkah) ahead, should we treat Thanksgiving as Sukkot Take 2?

Problem 1. It's a Christian (or at least secular) holiday. It's sort of a secular take on Sukkot, focusing on the food and togetherness, and forgetting the particular blessings, context (instability of human endeavor/reliance on Divine abundance), and locale (outdoors).

In some ways, this is more a problem of the current urban culture than anything else. A harvest festival means less (or at least, something very different) to people who can buy fresh fruit in the local grocer's year round. We are forced to face the seasonal, natural aspects of Sukkot by its very parameters, and try to induce a similar feeling of seasonality at Thanksgiving by eating "fall" foods (pumpkins, apples, squash). Perhaps we should precede the feast with a day of (cold, rainy) yardwork.

Problem 2. Its historical origin myth relies on the destruction of another people.
British and French fisherman, landing in Massachusetts for fresh water and supplies in 1617, brought the plague to the American Indians. Within three years the plague wiped out between 90 percent and 96 percent of the inhabitants of coastal New England... Unable to cope with so many corpses, the survivors abandoned their villages...What the Pilgrims found were settled farms, with the crops already planted and growing, deserted by Indians fleeing the plague. The Pilgrims found it easy to infer that God was on their side. John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, called the plague "Miraculous."

James Loewen, "Lies My Teacher Told Me," p. 81
Well, this is also true of the other Sukkot re-mix, Hanukkah. Jews battling Jews, forcibly converting them, triumph of zealotry over assimilation... and yet we cheerfully light out menorahs.
Problem 3. The origin myth includes 90 uninvited guests - expecting a war
The "Saints" or 'Separatists" (aka the pilgrims) suppsedly invited Massasoit, head Sachem of the local Wampanoag tribe. According to Wampanoag oral history, the locals heard gunfire (pilgrims hunting food) and thought there was about to be a war. Massosoit and brought 90 (grown, male) tribe members showed up in the settlement, and stayed for 3 days. Woohoo - some party. (Makes me think of my mother's extended family showing up at my husband's extended family holiday dinner. Shudder.)

OK, that's all I've got time for now. More later.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Single(ton) Mom?

Lately I've been reading and thinking a lot about people with more than one child.

For one thing, a friend just had her second, and her insights are often hilarious. (For example, which new mom would ever believe that a month-old infant is easier to deal with than a 3 1/2 year old? One who's met a 3 1/2 year old.)

For another, all the families in our baby group are reaching the stage where they're thinking about a second. Or doing more than thinking.

As an only child, I'm both fascinated and slightly repelled by the sibling relationship. My most personal experiences of it were obviously vicarious, and mostly consisted of trying to become invisible while a friend and her older brother or sister had a screaming/kicking/stuff-snatching fest.

However, having seen grown (or even older) siblings, and how they interact, I can imagine how lovely it would be to have multiple (grown) children of my own. More grandchildren. More people to come over at holidays. More college tuition...

But, in order to get there, I'd have to have multiple UNGROWN children. Young children. Babies, even. And frankly, I don't think I'm cut out for it.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE baby Chalal insanely, and love being his mom.

But I'm an introvert.
I'm a cat person, not a dog person.

I don't really get off on shuffling around my kitchen in the mornings, dragging my feet because little hands have a death-grip on my knees, and a little snuffly face is pressed against me to the point where I'm considering adopting waterproof pants as my indoor outfit during cold season.

I love it that baby Chalal gets a big smile and comes running when I show up to pick him up from the daycare or his grandparents.

I love it a lot less when he starts crying as soon as I walk from one room in our house to another, or refuses his father's attention because he's fixated on mama.

I mean, really kid, I think we need to start seeing other people.

So, while I still love my fantasy of the happy, close-knit, loving, GROWN family, I think I'll skip a second baby. If anyone has suggestions (or a lovely child they'd be willing to let me adopt in a few years), let me know.