Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Wish

Thanksgiving Wish
by Michael J. Rosen
paintings by John Thompson

Ages : 6-9

As we wind down to enjoy the coming holiday season, as we prepare to meet with family and friends, or just get warm and cosy indoors, here's a holiday story of a family's cherished Thanksgiving tradition, that we can wrap around ourselves like a soft blanket, and settle back into the comfy pillows to enjoy....

This is Amanda's story of Thanksgiving...her once a year trips to her grandmother Bubbe's house for the holiday, her most special holiday of all. The whole month of November, Bubbe prepared the exact same meal she had cooked, for as long as Amanda can remember. She cooked one holiday dish each day, alongside whatever else she was cooking for the regular meals. A tom turkey so heavy that more than one person was needed to lift it out of the oven, a stuffing made from her own braided challah , the tzimmes of prunes and apricots that stewed all day with lemons, the chicken soup with matzo balls so light, they floated, snowflake rolls, honey cakes and....well, you get the drift...

But Amanda's favorite part was quite something else, the part that came right before bedtime. All year, Bubbe would collect the wishbones from all the birds she cooked and dried them on the curtain rod above the kitchen sink. And just before bedtime, she would get out the wishbones in small, medium and large, for each of the grandchildren. What size of a wish do you have tonight? she would ask. Holding one end herself, and Amanda the other, to the count of 3, *snap* it would go. The one who got the bigger piece would have one wish granted, so long as the wish was never mentioned to anybody else. Amanda asked her grandmother once, what she wished for, but the only answer she got was that it was the same wish every time...and then one.....two....three....*snap*!

And then Bubbe died, as unexpectedly as anything you want to live forever dies.

For the next Thanksgiving, Amanda's family invited everyone else to their new home to continue the tradition Bubbe had set. And as it often happens during times of festivals and holidays, their loss of Bubbe was most keenly felt.

You never stop missing someone...Amanda's father tells her. You sort of forget how much you miss them, until something like Thanksgiving reminds you again. And then it's missing them, and its sadness all over again, until some other happier thing...like the fact that your cousins are coming tomorrow.

Truer words were never spoken.

What follows next is the story of what happens that particular Thanksgiving of Bubbe's passing. Does the family manage to make all the wonderful, memorable dishes that Bubbe always made? Will it turn out just the way it did with hers? Will there be hiccups along the way? What happens? What about that special wishbone wish that Amanda always loved to do? Will she get to do it this time too?

Let me just answer the last one for you. No one had been collecting wishbones the way Bubbe did, but there was just one wishbone after that meal, and Amanda earned herself the right to use it since she was the youngest in the family and hence had had the fewest chances to wish with Bubbe. And she made her wish after all. What her wish was, we'll never know. But don't you wonder what her Bubbe used to wish everytime I know I did. And when I found out, I knew in my heart, that nothing could have topped it.

This is a tale for the holidays. It is full of sentiment, emotions, memories, warmth, family, food, and all those beautiful ingredients that make a good story, grand. At points, it makes you think of your own grandmother and all the things that sets your relationship apart. The illustrations are beautiful and lifelike and capture human expressions and moods enchantingly.

So whatever you may be doing this Thanksgiving season....whether it be with your own family and its traditions and feasts, whether your table is not as full of people as you'd like it to be, but you still see the warm faces of your loved ones, or whether you are just winding down for a weeklong holiday of bakr-eid....or whether you don't really celebrate Thanksgiving in your part of the world...I hope this tale of Amanda and her family warms your heart, and prompts you to look around and feel what it is you are truly thankful about today!

If you ask me what I am thankful about, it is for the simple meal that we just had and the feeling of being comfortably full and satisfied. And since we're on the subject of food, I'll end this review with some trivia facts about the delicious food that Bubbe cooked...

1. Braided challah : A bread bakes in honor of the Jewish Shabbat, representing the idea of unity...how we tie everything together, bringing all the diversity in our lives together for a peaceful harmony and unity, much like the ideals of Saffron Tree. :)

2. Tzimmes of prunes : Tzimmes, a traditional Jewish dish made with carrots and honey, is often eaten on Rosh Hashanah--the Jewish New Year, when everything is sweetened with honey. While the main ingredient of carrots remains a constant in Tzimmes recipes, all other ingredients vary greatly from cook to cook.

3. Matzo Balls : They are dumplings made from ground matzo, a cracker like flatbread made of plain white flour and water, much like chappathis.

12 comments:

sathish said...

amazing review tharini.

wonder what she wished for?

artnavy said...

lovely- gave me goose bumps...

meera sriram said...

Oh, I feel stuffed...with warmth and love:) Thanks Tharini, that was lovely!

Nino's Mum said...

Beautiful review T, absolutely soul-stirring. And perfect. Makes me want to do Thanksgiving now!

ps: what a beautiful way to deal with the loss of a loved one! sniff.

ChoxBox said...

beautiful T, and same as art.

Praba said...

A holistic, well-rounded review that only you can lovingly stir with your words, T!

Give me a story with traditions and a grandma - can't ask for better doze of "heart-warming" feeling on this holiday! (much needed when I so miss my folks...reminds me of my paati, Mayee who is no longer with us...thankfully a lot of her stories and traditions are still alive in so many little ways in our lives.... )

Tharini said...

Thank you all. :)

NM : You should. You should do Thanksgiving with Nino! :)

Praba : Mayee...how beautiful that sounds. And yeah! A grandma-traditions-grandkid combo always wins! :)

ssstoryteller said...

what detailing to your review...
great piece of work

BTW just curious if real comments by readers can be included as well in the reviews..just to know what kids feel abt the stories/books being reviewed?
...wherever possible of course..

Tharini said...

SSS : Sure. I'll make sure to write it in from my next review. Thanks for the feedback. :)

Poppins said...

A lovely story about a lovely festival. Something so beautiful about the concept of a whole festival dedicated to saying Thanks isn't it?

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

That was a totally mesmerising review! I so badly want to read this...

utbtkids said...

How very touching.

Related Posts with Thumbnails