I was in the store just after 6 this morning, beating the crowds to get my Thanksgiving supplies. The clerk said to me, “I can see you’re in charge of the vegetables this year. You have all the fancy things.” She was holding a cabbage and a bunch of radishes.
And I thought of you, Great-Grandma. I thought of you and your cousins, up early to get to the market to get the good cheap cabbages and radishes and the other winter vegetables of the north, get them before they were picked over. Get the family fed. All the fancy things.
Great-Grandma, you’ve arrived.
You’re looking over my shoulder as I marinate the thin-sliced beef for tonight’s noodle soup, nodding, oh yah, you can stretch a lot of soup out of that much meat, don’t need much to make it soup, to make it taste fine. Especially with a dab of pepper there, yep, hardly anyone will taste you didn’t put much meat in there, mostly carrots and radishes cut real thin. And noodles, lots of noodles, that’ll make it last. You can feed those big men for days on that soup, they’ll never guess how little you spent on the meat. Good girl.
I wouldn’t even tell you that’s not what I’m doing. I’d just say, you wouldn’t believe how cheap I got this big thing of dates–up on University there’s a Persian grocery that sells them, a quarter the price of a regular grocery store. They have a streetcar you could take there again, just like in the old days. Sit down and have some dates. Have some pecans with them. Take a load off your feet, Great-Grandma. Didn’t you hear the lady at the store? You’re one of the fancy things now. All those days of making it last, making do: you’ve made it.