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The yarmarka (farmer's market) is about to close. Some of the people are already packing up, offering their last bruised tomatoes at half-price to anyone walking past them.  I am wandering, staring at bunches of herbs, at the same old options - cabbage, pepper, potato, garlic, apple, cucumber. But then I see a pile of peas. The season must have come early this year. I buy a kilo, and some mint. I know what is for dinner. We have not had it in eleven months.

At home, I rip the bag open, showing them to V. She stands by the kitchen table, eyes wide. I crack one open, showing her the little rounds inside. She plucks one out, her pinky pointing to the ceiling.
"Try it." I tell her.
She does, but she does not like it.

I pull out a bowl for them. She jumps up and down a few times. V always wants to help in the kitchen. I pull her to my lap, and we begin pulling them out from the shells. She learns quickly, tossing them with a flourish into the bowl, a few cascading to the flo…

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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