Friday, November 19, 2010

Preparing for Thanksgiving

My novel has been the main priority this week, as I felt like I was falling behind with my word count. I spent most of the weekend holed up in my bedroom pounding away on my laptop. Then I wrote as much as I could at work and during the evenings this week. I'm now at over 30,000 words, but I'm still not sure if I can make it to 50K by the end of November.

Meanwhile, there's still no word about when or if I will be joining agent Geoffrey on his current assignment. He's currently based in Chestertown on Maryland's Eastern Shore, trying to work his way into the good graces of our target. I'm hoping he will choose to bring me in for back-up. It's no secret to anyone who's read this blog that I feel like I'm in office purgatory right now and want desperately to get back in the field. Of course, it would help if I didn't get called in to action until after November, so I can finish this NaNoWriMo activity.

And then there's Thanksgiving coming up. All my enthusiasm for the season is slowing waning as our first Thanksgiving dinner without my father approaches. Last year was the first time in many years that I was able to be with my family on Thanksgiving. During my five years in the Navy, I was always deployed somewhere else during the holidays, but I got used to that. It wasn't until we were all together again that I realized how much I missed being with my family and going through all the usual rituals. It gave me a sense of continuity with my past and was sort of comforting to know that, no matter how much my life had changed in other ways, family and tradition would always be there. Then Dad passed away and that sense of security went with  it.

I was hoping Mom and I could still continue those traditions, like eating toast and tea while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Then there was all the cooking details: peeling potatoes, cleaning the string beans, and checking on the turkey in the oven. Mom would use the gizzards and other internal bits of the bird to make the most fantastic stuffing. Dad usually handled the turkey carving duties, but I figured I could do that this year. I'm pretty good with a knife.

I even thought we might try to lure some of our relatives from out of state, like Aunt Trudy and cousin Bill and his wife, to come to our home since it would just be Mom and I, but that went out the window when Mom declared that Mr. Huggins would be coming to dinner. It was probably inevitable, given how close my mother had become to my one-time high school principal, but somehow it felt like an invasion. The matter took a turn for the worst when Mom told me Mr. Huggins' daughter Roxanne was coming home from college to be with us. Now, instead of a cozy family gathering, it's going to be an awkward dinner party with me scrambling to conjure up lies about my occupation and Mom telling embarrassing stories about my childhood.

Just to add the final insult, Mom tells me yesterday that Mr. Huggins wants to make his own special stuffing. Apparently, this was his big contribution to their Thanksgiving feast every year, and he wants to hang onto this connection from the past. I guess they didn't realize that my eating Mom's fantastic stuffing was my connection with the past. Oh well, I survived Iraq, I can survive this. He just better not put raisins or something weird in there.

I'll let you know how everything went next week. In the meantime, have a terrific Turkey Day and while you're counting your blessings on Thanksgiving, don't forget the blessing of freedom.

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