Gratitude, Day 2: Latkes, Roast Chicken, And Unphotogenic Curry

NOTE: I am a fan of 30-day challenges, and November is traditionally a time of two: National Novel Writing Month, and 30 Days of Thanks. As I am not a fiction writer, this year I have chosen to publish a daily blog for the entire month, expressing my gratitude. This may not be entirely food-focused, but expect recipes aplenty. Feel free to join me in the comments below. What are you thankful for today?

Latkes, roast chicken, and unphotogenic curry: what do these things have in common?

These are the three favorite dishes of the Gorgeous Girl, the Muffin, My Darling Child. The Kid.

My Gorgeous Girl, with her kitty, in the tiny house she built.
My Gorgeous Girl, with her kitty, in the tiny house she built.

I hesitated to put her on this list. The level of gratitude I have for my child is indescribable, and many people aren’t interested in reading a thousand-word Ode To Someone Else’s Child.

Still. She needs to be on here because she has made me a better person than I might ever have been without her, and for that I am truly grateful.

This is gratitude and love from a person who never wanted kids. Like, ever. Who treated the realization of her conception like a death sentence.

That’s dramatic, but close.

Sicily knows that she was, to be politically correct, “unplanned.” She is aware that her father and I may or may not have conceived her on a couch or in the front seat of a Sebring convertible somewhere in southeastern Virginia on a hormone-fueled two-week road trip up the east coast back in 1999, just six short months after our first meeting.

She knows this because I have told her. In my defense and in response to some who might object to this candid and open conversation, Sicily asked. She is curious and wants to know but also knows when she shouldn’t necessarily know yet. When she was eight or nine, she saw a magazine that said “STD” on the cover when we were in line at the supermarket.

“What’s an STD?” she asked.

“Well,” I said, feeling everyone in line lean toward me as I started to answer. “You know how when you get a cold and your nose is stuffy but sometimes also snotty and just generally feels terrible?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Very simply, it’s something like that, but on your vagina or your penis.”

Long pause.

“Yeah, I think I am too young to know that,” she said.

This is not even the beginning of why I adore her so much.

When Sicily was three, the cat threw up on the couch. AGAIN. Cursing under my breath, I ran to get paper towels to clean it up and came back to find Sicily gently petting the kitty and saying, “Mommy, the kitty feels really bad.”

This was my first indication of the kindness and compassion of this child, and it stopped me in my distracted irritation towards the cat.

She loves her friends, loves her family, and loves her mother, even when her mother is unlovable.

She knows how to apologize when she is wrong. She asks questions when she doesn’t know. She is most like her father in that she accepts people at face value. She is stubborn as hell, a blessing and a curse.

Sicily is studying in France for a year, not only because she wanted to but also because she was utterly terrified to do so. She is 16, and she left her home and all of her friends because even at this young age she recognized that you can be afraid and still do the thing anyway.

I have used this quote before when it comes to my child, and I will use it again, as it always applies:

“Having a child is consenting to have your heart walk around outside of your body.” ~Maya Angelou~

I never knew how deep love could go until I met Sicily at 11:20 pm on May 4, 2000.

When I asked her what her favorite foods were (foods that I make – Frito Lay’s Honey BBQ Twists were not an eligible answer), her answer reflected very different periods of her life.

1). Latkes: “Because it reminds me of Nana and Pop-pop when I was little.”

2). Roast chicken with mashed potatoes and crunchy broccoli and carrots: This is something I made frequently when we lived on five acres in Georgia. Her reason? “Because it is simple and nice.”

3). “That beef curry over rice that you used to make all the time at the house in Medfield (our temporary rental in Baltimore while our current house was rehabbed) because it makes me feel warm.”

That beef curry is pretty much the most comforting food you can put in your mouth. It fills the house with  a delicious smell, and the spices knock off even the deepest chill. If you are sick or feeling sad, that beef curry is filling and comforting and makes your nose (and maybe eyes) run just a little. If you are well, it reinforces that fact that all is good in the world.

It is not a true curry in the sense that you can throw it together in the time it takes for the rice to cook, but I never claimed to be a curry expert. I made it because I wanted to try something new, and it was a roaring success.

That Sicily picked these three humble, warming dishes is reflective of the person that she is. On this second day of 30 Days of Thanks, I offer my humble gratitude to her for becoming the person she is and to the universe for allowing me to have the experience of being her parent.

What (or who) are you grateful for today?