Looking back and forth with author Charmaine Gordon
The Ghost of Thanksgiving Past
Back in the days when people didn’t lock the front door or car doors, the big family I belonged to gathered at my parent’s home for Thanksgiving. When I say big-I’m talking BIG. Grandma and Grandpa had ten kids. My mom was in the middle and somehow she became the hub of the wheel of this family.
Picture this: Grandparents seated at one end of the table, candlelight shining on their white hair and proud faces. At the other end sat my father, leaning back in the chair, master of all he surveyed. Every other chair was occupied by an uncle while my aunts scurried back and forth from kitchen to dining room carrying trays heaped with enough food to feed a small nation. And as they waitressed, they managed to gossip about everything and everyone.
Did I mention that the table extended into the living room? Well it did, to accommodate all the cousins who were up to no good. Boys of all ages and me, the first girl born to this rowdy bunch and two quiet girl cousins. We couldn’t wait to finish dinner and crawl under the grown-up table and sit with legs of various relatives all around us, while we listened to adult conversation and tried to stifle laughter. We weren’t discovered until cigar and cigarette smoke from above sent us coughing and choking for fresher air.
Ah, sweet memories of the ghost of Thanksgiving past.
And now for a different kind of Thanksgiving.
“TO BE CONTINUED” Romance in a ‘survive and thrive’ world now optioned for a television movie
This one takes place at St.Paul’s Church in Westchester, New York where the soup kitchen is renowned for generous meals. Beth Malone, the protagonist in my story, volunteers her time as a way of giving back to the community. In this chapter, Susie, her daughter, questions why and what her mother is doing there and learns about giving.
Susie said, “What’s your domain, Mom?”
Beth laughed. “The kitchen, of course. It’s high tech and on Thursday’s all mine. But not for too long. The regular chef is pregnant, due in a week. I’m filling in.”
“Do you like doing it? It seems like a lot of work.”
Beth picked up the pace, eager to see what lay ahead in the kitchen. “I came here to give something back to the community since I have so much. Yes, I like it. A lot.” A lot better than years trying to please your father.” Did I really clean the dirt out of his golf clubs?she wondered.
When Beth opened the kitchen door, she was overwhelmed with the number of volunteers—old and young—aprons tied around their waists listening to clean-shaven Harold speak clearly about kitchen chores. Heads turned and she greeted the group. “I don’t want to interrupt Harold. He seems to have everything under control.” She
introduced her family telling them Javier was an experienced chef-90and he was there as a volunteer.
Harold continued with his list. When Beth moved near him, he showed the written items to her. She asked if he’d mind her adding a few ideas to simplify and he nodded it was fine.
Quickly two kinds of stuffing were in preparation, three people worked on fresh vegetable platters and fruit cups. One large pot was reserved for turkey gravy and a mixture of flour and water was stirred carefully.
Cheers went up when the turkeys were delivered. Javier checked each one to make sure they were all fully cooked. Beth watched the big clock. Pies were due any minute. Sam volunteered for pie pick-up and delivery since the bakery was on his way to the church. A knock at the door. A volunteer opened and called out.
“Sam’s here with the pumpkin pies. He needs help bringing them in. Clear a table.” The volunteers loved Sam’s inside stories about the star jocks. They flocked around him whenever he showed up.
Four teens ran out and staggered back, carefully placing boxes on the table and running out for more. Every time the door opened, a cold blast of air swept through the warm kitchen. The table almost groaned with the boxes. At last they came back empty handed.
Beth opened one box. The pie was gorgeous, crust fluted and so flaky she was tempted to taste it. So she did.
Heaven. Soon they had to be opened and placed on the dessert table.
She wore her chef’s hat at a jaunty angle and the starched jacket half-buttoned. Beth hadn’t cooked, stirred or peeled anything. Just watched and barked out orders. She liked being chef. Suddenly Sam came in the back door, walked directly to her, grabbed her bythe hand and pulled her out the door. A few wolf whistles echoed
from the kitchen. She steered him to the closest room; dark and quiet. Without a word, he wrapped her in his arms and kissed her long and sweet until they were breathless.
Coming up for air, Beth said, “What. . .” Her words were cutoff with another kiss.
“I missed you last night,” another kiss, “and this morning.”
“Lisa, Maverick, and the twins are joining us for dinner.” In the shadows she saw a look of pleasure on his face. “After they leave, I can thank you properly for the pies.”
Holding hands, they strolled back to the kitchen.
From a distance, Susie watched her mom and a man exit a room holding hands. She wondered who the hell he was and what he meant to Mom to bring a rosy glow to her cheeks.
After hearing about Mom’s kindness from the pregnant chef and the once battered woman in the locker room, Susie realized, for the first time, how lucky she was to have such a special mother.