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you are not there

We are taking the little one for a ride on her new sled. It is bright orange, with a fuzzy black and white seat cover to keep her extra warm. Her tiny hands in tiny gloves hold the sides as tight as she can. I pull her down a path, shouting "woohooo" and then she replies "woohoo". N's turn is next, pulling her more schoolgirl than mother for a few minutes. There are other parents with children on sleds passing us. Their eyes straight forward, faces completely blank they slip by in silence. I flash a smile to them, and they do not even look at me. I am not there, just another tree leaning towards the stream that runs below.

There are ducks still, flapping around the brackish water and we throw pieces of stale bread to them. I start to think, not about the complete absence of smiles in this culture. I stopped asking about that long ago, told over and again that smiles are reserved for home, behind closed doors. But I wonder, for the children -  these wiggling bu…

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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