I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately, because I believe it to be one of the most transformative forces in the universe. It’s been a trying year for many. Our jobs, our homes, our savings, have been tested, and sometimes lost. Our illusions of security and stability have been deeply rattled, if not dissolved. But even during the hardest times, we can find things to be thankful for, and doing so brings us back to the present, and back to basics. The silver lining, in these wanting days, is that we are remembering how much we already have.
I was thumbing through some papers the other day, and I found this little journal entry, dated December 19, 2008:
(Missoula, MT) Noah and I had lunch at Taco del Sol today—seems like everything happens there. We had just sat down with our fish tacos when I saw a disheveled derelict-looking guy walk over to the table next to us and set his taco down in front of him. He stood over his food, and pressed his hands together in front of his mouth. He was smiling, huge. Before he sat down he raised both fists in a little cheer.
“Yeah” he said, so excited to eat this good food. He was looking at it the way someone might look at a trophy or a new-born child. He admired it for a while before taking the first bite, and when he did, he chewed the food quietly, thoughtfully, like a prayer.
Later, while we were warming the car up, I saw him on his way down Higgins Avenue. One of his legs had a rough hitch while he walked, and one of his arms was turned grotesquely inward. I wondered if he was a veteran. It was 8 degrees. He had no gloves on and limped down the street, slowly. But his eyes were lit up, like the food he had just eaten was casting a warm glow, outward from his full belly. All day I couldn’t stop thinking about him, cheering over his taco. I’m learning so much about gratitude these days.
Our household has gone back to basics of late. Noah had his wisdom teeth removed last week, so I’ve been making a LOT of mashed potatoes—great practice for American Thanksgiving. I pretty much have it down to a science at this point, and believe me, mashed potatoes are a science. Below you will find my mashed potato primer.
TIPS FOR THE ULTIMATE MASHED POTATOES
Got it? Start in cold salted water. Cook till fork tender. Drain and place in a mixing bowl. Add hot liquid, hefty salt (and pepper), and cold (salted) butter. Blend briefly with a hand mixer, and avoid over mixing.
Follow those tips and you’re well on your way to perfect mashed potatoes, and we can all be grateful for that.