The women in my family love to cook. We adore spending hours and hours, days even, in the kitchen. Chopping, dicing, kneading, rolling, sautéing, baking, simmering. Combining flavors into food. There’s something sacred about it, it seems to me. Thanksgiving is a time when we have been known to pull out all the stops. Menu planning has been known to begin in October. Feasts have been laid that are the result of three talented cooks, at least one day of prep, and a day-long marathon of juggling dishes into and out of a single oven and four stove-top burners. This year Thanksgiving was a little different. The menu was pared down to the basics. The day held only the essentials. It was quieter. It was simpler. It was punctuated by cuddles and hours of nursing on the couch, in the rocker, and at the dinner table.
A newborn changes the rhythm of life.
Thanksgiving as a holiday, despite its problematic history of intolerance and genocide, is for me primarily a time for drawing close with loved ones, celebrating the inherent abundance of the universe, and for gratitude. This year was FULL UP of those. So much love of ones so close, so much gratitude.
One month ago, I welcomed my daughter into the world. Avery Iona was born gently, into water, just as the sun was rising behind the snow-clad birches.
My gratitude list this year is simply a litany of her name. Over and over. Gratitude and love. It gives life a whole new sense of meaning, wrapping intention and purpose around this brilliant spark of light and love in a tiny human body.
This year, for her first-ever Thanksgiving, she joined us in the kitchen. Wrapped in a sling, sleeping and awake on her mama’s chest, she helped prep the turkey and get it in the oven. Granted: we spent plenty of time nursing on the couch while Grandma kept the kitchen company; and she spent time cuddling with Grandma and with her dad while I chopped and mixed… But for a bit she joined in the grand kitchen dance, learning the rhythms of the cook. And that is as it should be. That is my thanksgiving.
Today, she is one month old. One month since my world changed forever. Babies are magic, it seems to me. They indelibly change the world as they enter it, shifting the fabric of the universe with their very presence. As they birth themselves, they birth parents, sometimes siblings. They birth a whole new family. They tangle everyone up in love.
And for that, dear existence, I thank you.