Two friends who worked on the assembly line for a car parts plant in Tuscaloosa died. One went straight to heaven; the other, straight to hell. After a few weeks the one in heaven telephoned the one in hell and said, "Hey, buddy. Howya doin down there?"
The guy in hell was very puzzled. "Why do you think that is?"
"Not enough help," said the guy in heaven.
Without getting into a diatribe on my religious views, I will simply say that during this Thanksgiving week, one of my blessings is work. Not all work, mind you. Don't put me on an assembly line, for that would be sheer hell on earth. But the work I love: being in the kitchen with my sisters making cornbread dressing or Cranberry Conserve; ironing in the early morning when no one in the house is awake but me;
writing a poem or essay about my work, blogging...
(See yesterday's prep work for Thanksgiving below.)
The ironing takes me back to the late fifties when it was my after-school job to iron for my sister all the starched cottons she had. The starch was not from a can, but the stiff kind, the kind that you mixed with water, dipped the clothes in it, wrung them out, hung them on the clothes line to dry, and sprinkled and kept in the refrigerator until ironing day. (Ann Taylor in Prattville held the record for this: she declared that once she left a sprinkled tablecloth in the refrigerator for two years.) I devoured the repetition of the nuances in "Guiding Light" and "As the World Turns" as I smoothed the wrinkles away and imagined what I might be doing in my own kitchen someday. The great difference is that I no longer watch soaps at the ironing board, but relish the quiet for just the imagining, or for remembering the days that are no more. Or philosophizing on the greater issues of life as I did this morning ironing Tommy's khakis.
I remembered when the sister six years older than I am, Gary's mother, told jokes. She still loves to hear a good one even though she can't walk from failed knee surgeries. She used to sing incessantly as a teenager; too bad she was born too soon for American Idol. My oldest sister taught us both a lot about cooking. Now she can't remember the ingredients that comprise her red velvet cake. My only living brother loves to plant and grow things. Two bouts with pneumonia last winter have stripped him of most gardening.
Given the choice, I think I would take fingers and hands and arms and legs over wings. Streets of gold are not necessary. Just a plain house. With an ironing board and iron, of course. And grandchildren--that goes without saying. I know a lot of my friends hate ironing, so my choices wouldn't work for them. But I'll leave those little details up to God.
|Cranberry Conserve Cooking|
|Strawberry Salad, Ready to freeze|