Last week, we had our neighbor Chris over for an evening meal as we often do. I also invited our neighbor Janice. I didn’t really want to. She’s so high maintenance. But it was a little easier to do it because I didn’t really expect her to come. However, we had barely started eating when the front door bell rang. There she was.
“I didn’t dress up or anything,” she said.
“That’s okay! We just got started. Come have a seat.”
Tables Bring Us Together
What amazes me is how we all took on a similar humanity, sitting there around the table. Pulling out the Food Listography book, I asked each of them about a favorite holiday food.
“My grandma used to make oyster dressing,” Chris said.
“Chris, you took the words out of my mouth,” Janice said. “Oyster dressing. My dad used to make it all the time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Smoked oysters.”
Amazing. I had never heard of such a thing, and here two people, both battered by life-long rejection and addiction, found a sense of community in the shared memories of a time when life was better.
There Is Always Something to Learn From Everyone At the Table
Then, they got on the subject of snapping turtles. No, this was not a conversation about how they had seen a snapping turtle along the roadside. Oh no. THIS was a conversation about EATING snapping turtles.
And when I say “they”, I mean Chris, Marnell and Janice. There I was, the only one at the table who had no idea how to kill a snapping turtle, nor yet how it tasted.
“It takes two men to dress a snappin’ turtle,” Chris said. “The hard part is getting the head off without getting your fingers bit off.”
“That’s the way you kill it, by taking the head off?!” I asked, slightly appalled.
“Pound it’s head in a tree,” Janice said.
“We gave it a stick to clamp down on,” Marnell said. “And then we pulled on the stick out so the neck would extend so we could take an ax and chop the head off.”
“That’s exactly how we did it too,” Chris agreed. “That’s how you do it, I think.”
Education is possible in any social gathering. There are no people you know that you cannot learn from if you just invite them to eat a meal with you. It’s a little hard to maintain artificial social boundaries when you are passing dishes and eating bacon and eggs. (We had breakfast that night.)
Here’s the audio if you wish to hear it all in action, along with Chris’s Thanksgiving blessing.
What is the Best Gift We Can Give?
A reader/writer friend who prefers to remain anonymous shared this gem with me after reading last week’s blog post on listening. I shared it on social media as well, but it is so worthwhile I don’t wany anyone to miss it:
We hear it said that we should give our guests our best–nice china, wonderful food, etc. An example I have heard is of poor people in other countries that ply their guests with food they can hardly afford. And what is our best?
Is one’s best possibly something that is a scarce commodity in one’s country? For the poor in some countries there is a scarcity of food, thus the generosity to special guests. But what is scarce in our country? I think one huge thing is time to listen to people. People here, even the “poor,” are not generally starving. A lot of people could care less about a spotless tablecloth and fine china, and gourmet food, if they could find someone to listen. In fact, many would be more comfortable without those things. It is certainly not wrong to enjoy “fine dining” but it is not of ultimate importance, I think, in this country. Thanks for that blog.”
I love her words. As we approach the holiday season, remember that your time is more scarce than Christmas cookies or a Thanksgiving plate. Most likely, the ultimate gift you can give someone is a listening ear, and a sense of community. Happy Thanksgiving!
20-50% Off Sale! Ends on Monday
Audiobook available NOW, 25% off!
Marnell’s friend Conrad Bear did a great job narrating it. I know you will love it! I’m also excited that we found a “delivery service” called BookFunnel, which gives us a way to give it to you with no shipping, no messing with dozens of files. You can be listening in five minutes if you have a smart phone, tablet, or Kindle fire where you can download the player app. Hook to a speaker and play for the whole family or listen yourself! I tried it out on family. My sister-in-law said the process had “a lot of little steps to follow but wasn’t too hard to figure out.” In general, the report was that it took about 5 minutes to download the app and start listening. And I include step-by-step instructions in the purchase email for anyone who isn’t “tech-savvy.” The Bookfunnel App is free. The audiobook is approximately 9 hours long. Normally $19.99, is $14.99 during the Black Friday sale, which ends on Monday!
I suggest you go this route if it works for you. You get it instantly, and we actually get paid for it rather than giving much of the sale to another platform. As I said, audiobooks are costly to produce and we likely will not recover our costs, at least for some time. We will produce a limited number of CD’s, which are not yet available and will likely cost $40 for the set. Also, the audiobook will hopefully show up on library and subscription platforms in about a month. However, places like Audible and Hoopla are taking so long, I don’t know if you will see the book there until spring or later.
Here’s a sample if you haven’t heard it.
20% off all books, 28% off new set, 40% off Blue Christmas!
If you or someone who likes to read, or are missing a book of mine yourself, there’s no time like the present!
- All titles are at least 20% off, while supplies last.
- The set of Captain Garrison and From the White House to the Amish is 28% off full price – less that $11 per book instead of $14.99 per book.
- Blue Christmas is 40% off, just $7.19, while supplies last! Just because it’s Christmas. I have had readers tell me that this story, set in a Haiti hospital at Christmastime 2010, is still their favorite of the books I’ve written. Certainly, it is the most personal.
- Leather bookmarks, 20% off, while supplies last.
- Shipping, as always, is a flat rate of $3.50, whether you get one book or ten.
Note: all orders will ship after the holiday weekend.
White House to the Amish Ebook 50% off!
Both From the White House to the Amish ebook only $4.99! Good news again, because of BookFunnel, we can sell to you directly and you can open on any of your favorite e-readers, phone, or even computer. The sale price should be reflected on all the big stores by tomorrow, Friday November 27, although we don’t have as much control over those platforms.