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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

an expat holiday


Every holiday that is not celebrated here is an invitation to surrender, to forgo. There are even a few people back in New York ordering takeout Chinese today. We could be the same, taking E to school in the darkness but then I am struggling to find chestnuts to roast for stuffing, yes there are sweet potatoes somehow and the turkey hunting became no problem after nine years in this place. It takes a certain energy to wake up on a normal day in Moscow and bake pies, brine great birds, roast, chop, reduce, saute.

It isn't the freezing rain snapping in my face that makes me want to retreat. It isn't the everyday sluggishness that overwhelms. It is the faces staring back at me that are not celebrating anything, the faces that will boil some potatoes tonight, nothing special while we are feasting, our bellies swollen with second helpings, our improvised sloppy toasts a mishmash of simple phrases repeated every year. And now V is in her chair to join us, apple sauce and porridge slathered across her cheeks her eyes bright as we whoop and coo and laugh with our heads flung back.

E is asking for more stuffing, always more stuffing.

Comments

old swimmer said…
Lovely! And I wish you the joy of the season, no matter what's going on outside!
God bless.
liv said…
Never forgo, always celebrate, it's what keeps you in your "place".

I can only imagine that the banquet on your table was one of the most delicious anywhere, Moscow to Manhattan, the long way 'round.

Tell E that my very, most favorite is the stuffing too. I eat it the next day and the next day until it all gone and then I wait patiently for the next 362 days. And I don't think the day is properly celebrated without bellies stuffed to the full.

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