Ah, Turkey Day... the giving of thanks day, the football and overeating day, the Weight Watcher's version of Black Friday... that holiday we do not always understand, but we celebrate nonetheless.
And today, as I wait for my Thanksgiving meal with the other students who stayed behind for our small break, I am baking from the box.
This prompts some shock and horror from the optimistic section of my brain that thinks I am good at cooking, and that I could follow a "from scratch" recipe and present a beautifully arranged, homemade lemon squares to the group. A BOX???? On THANKSGIVING???? Hilary, you ought to be ashamed. You don't even have an apron on! You aren't playing a little concerto on your pots and pans as you add a little rosemary and thyme to this dish and a dash of salt to that pan. You are sitting at your kitchen table, blogging of all things! Isn't the point of Thanksgiving to show off your cooking prowess?
Alas, I am not a good cook. There have been a few moments when I have cooked well, usually in the presence of my friend's kitchen, where I am given relatively easy tasks such as peeling peaches or mixing cinnamon and sugar (and yes, you can mess that up if you spill it all over the floor). But in general, my cooking skills amount to boiling water, opening cardboard boxes, and mixing ingredients together in a bowl. Not exactly an application to Le Cordon Bleu. And certainly nothing I am proud of. And certainly nothing that I can write home about.
But sometimes it is okay to bake from the box. Sometimes what we offer to our thanksgiving meal is humbler than we'd like. Sometimes what we offer from our messy hearts and lives is just that... messy, less than perfect, less than what we expect ourselves to be able to offer. And now, returning to this blog post after a wonderful meal and wonderful company, after a brisk 5 mile walk to and from the World War II Memorial (thank you, Hannah, for the wonderful vanilla chai and the company)... I know that it is okay to bake from a box sometimes. It is okay to be less than the perfection we imagine. It is even, in this day, something to be thankful for.
So give thanks, whoever you are, wherever you are - give thanks as wholeheartedly and messily as you can. Bake from a box. Sing a song off-key. Write a letter and smudge the ink on the envelope. Drink tea and read a good book, call a friend. Give thanks for the mess, for the growing.
(and if you are ever in this beautiful city, walk down Constitution Ave, by the Capitol building, past the Smithsonian castle with its watchful eyes, up around the Washington Monument and its flickering flags, down the grassy slope and across the street, and into the World War II memorial. The water rushes, the lights beam, and you will never forget that remembering is sacred.)