It's pretty ridiculous sometimes, the things that can make you sad, the things that cause a certain fleeting pain somewhere at the core of your self. I got my December issue of Bon Appetit in the mail yesterday.
I have been getting Bon Appetit since Christmas of 2002, the first Christmas I spent with ex-boyfriend Chris's family. They exchange wish lists in his family, and gifts are purchased accordingly. There is a certain logic in this. As an outsider whose family doesn't partake in such logic but rather enjoys (usually) the unexpectedness of the unrequested gift, I both appreciated this tradition and felt intimidated by it. And as an outsider, I never knew quite what to ask for: something inexpensive, something easy, nothing to make waves or cause anyone any trouble. Later I settled on Amazon-available book titles, but that first year I asked for a Bon Appetit subscription.
Chris's parents kept renewing my subscription, year after year, even after we broke up four Christmases later. But this year they didn't renew it, and yesterday's issue, this year's Christmas issue, marks the termination of this rather strange ongoing relationship. Chris is married now and I am quite happily partnered with a new man, and yet pulling this magazine out of my mailbox last night brought a momentary collapse, a momentary indrawn breath and yearning for Christmases past.
The holidays are hard in general, sometimes, and of course not just for me. So idealized by our culture, and yet so much a reminder of people and places and times we've lost. I get indescribably excited by the holidays, and want so much to live them in the perfect way I imagine them, but of course the real world inevitably intrudes on that imaginary perfection.
Evan and I are hosting Thanksgiving this year and I asked Susie Crow recently for her mother's shrimp recipe. The one she made every year as a pre-dinner snack at our families' combined Thanksgiving celebration.
I am not going to make them for Thanksgiving but Mom & Nate, equally excited by the shrimp re-emergence, have requested them for Christmas. I am pleased by this idea, this re-appropriation of a beloved old recipe in a different and new context. Those shrimp won't bring back Thanksgivings or Christmases past, of course, but they will be delicious, and really what more can you ask of shrimp anyway?
And what the hell, maybe I'll subscribe to Bon Appetit myself. It is, after all, only about $15/year.