A Jar of Turkey Gizzards and a Twelve Pack of Beer
Made some eggrolls and Asian slaw Saturday and it was pretty good. Have to say I miss
listening to Mr. Keillor tell stories, and I miss Lake Wobegon, too. It’s just the truth.
The days are the darkest of the year, and when you can’t see much around you, your senses
compensate, it seems. Food tastes better along the dark edges of the days – eggnog and gravies
and cheese-crusted hot dishes – and the scent of fresh bread is more
powerful than in the warmth of a summer afternoon. You smell the smoke from other people’s
wood fires, and you hear bells and dogs barking and snow plows making their way down the side
streets. And you can’t see much from the window but the lights on the neighbor’s trees.
Twinkling, multi-colored, sometimes flashing lights casting their glow on the sparkling snow.
And what would be an early hour on a quiet night in June feels somehow later, nearly time for
bed, but not quite, so you curl up in a blanket by the window while someone putters around the
kitchen and someone else draws a bath. The wind is howling, the tree is lit, the clock chimes,
and you close your eyes and there they are, all the Christmases past, illuminated by the glow of
your thoughts, and you wander.
The Christmas you went bowling with Grandpa, and he bought you orange soda in a bottle and
told you “You’re a good one.” The Christmas Grandma couldn’t decide between turkey and ham
so she made both, along with a goose, “just in case.” The Christmas the car got “stuck” in the
snow on the way home from church, and when you at last made it home, Santa had been there
and gone. The Christmas you were a shepherd in the church program, and the Christmas you got
snowed in at Uncle Mike’s for three days and ran out of toilet paper and ate everything but a jar
of turkey gizzards and a twelve pack of beer.
The December the snow wouldn’t stop falling and the one where it didn’t snow at all.
The year Dad carved and painted a pine tree for Mom, the one she keeps in the cabinet of special
things. The year Mom got Dad a wood splitter and we thought he’d pee his pants. The year all
The cousins slept up in the loft for a night, and the Christmas after the dog died, and how all the
Christmases Mom looked extra pretty and smelled extra good and Dad had red cheeks and we
Went to the candlelight service and how, at the end, as we held our lit candles and sang, “Silent
Night,” we couldn’t help, not one of us, our eyes filling up with tears. We were together, and
Time stopped awhile, and there was nothing but light and organ music and our voices singing in
the midst of something none of us really understood, but it was okay. Because we could feel it,
Together, and that was enough.
And it still is, really. In the dark of the night there is always some kind of light, and you’ll find it
in a song, in your family, in the deep of the night sky. Or, if you curl yourself up on the couch
by the tree and close your eyes and rest a bit, inside of you. There’s always light. Evermore, and
Here’s a recipe from Mr. S’s mother, something light and fresh and good for a holiday table. I
promise you’ll want seconds, and you might even forego the main dish for thirds. That’s pretty
much how things went with me.
6 T rice wine vinegar
6 T vegetable oil
5 T creamy peanut butter
3 T soy sauce
3 T brown sugar
2 T minced fresh ginger root
1 1/2 T minced garlic
5 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 carrots, julienned
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, oil, peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic. In a large bowl, mix the green cabbage, red cabbage, Napa cabbage, red bell peppers, carrots, green onions, and cilantro. Toss with the peanut butter mixture just before serving.
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