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Flowers on Thanksgiving
Article ID: 7536
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,533
Times Read: 4,880
Author: Gaia Ivorywitch [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: December 6th. 2003
Times Viewed: 4,880
Of all the days to be working, I thought. Thanksgiving Day. Oh well, it's not as though I were missing anything right this minute. I really would have liked to be cooking like a fiend, but this morning I settled for arranging flowers. My mundane trade is a florist. In a grocery store. So I get to be a 'fake' florist just like I'm a 'fake' Witch to some. I found that thought amusing. I got to leave the cooking to my mother-in-law. I would get off work just in time to make a hasty hour's drive north to gorge myself on copious amounts of turkey and various other Thanksgiving delicacies.
This particular morning I was thinking of who might need flowers over the next few days and thought specifically of the ladies' group from the church up the road. They traded off the responsibility for getting flowers for the sanctuary every week. More than once I was faced with a Sunday morning full of panicky church ladies who had forgotten it was 'their turn' to get the flowers. They had no idea that a pagan 'infidel' was the one they depended on for rescue. Carnations, I thought, just the ticket.
I made the dozen carnations and put them in the cooler and was busy cleaning up the resultant mess when I looked up to find a young man in Navy whites standing in front of me. White? In the winter? I thought he must have been stationed somewhere very warm.
"I need your help." He said.
"That's what they pay me for, what can I do for you?" I replied, laying aside my shears.
"I need flowers. For a grandmother...that I've never met. I also need flowers for a mother that I've only met once." He said nervously.
Stifling my immediate curiosity, I gestured to the cooler. Somewhere in those few seconds, I felt the Priestess hat settle on my head, as well as that of Mother and Grandmother.
"Third door. I just put those in there. Carnations are really popular with older ladies. They used to be the 'in' thing in their day, so most of them prefer carnations over roses."
"All right. That price includes the vase?" He asked, looking surprised.
I smiled, "You've just hit on the other reason they are poplar with older folks. They're not as pricey as roses, but then we have a good deal going on those as well." I gestured to the sale sign for our dozen roses at more than ten dollars off the regular price.
"Those are unusual," he said, admiring the striped red and yellow roses.
"They're called 'Abracadabra.' " I answered.
"Ah... yes, the miracles of genetic modification." He mused.
"Yes, " I said, "But while they're nice, I'd rather have seeds that will reproduce. That's the downside to GMO's." I remarked.
"You're kidding, right?" He asked.
"I wish I wasn't. Most GMO's are programmed to not even produce seeds. Or, if they do, they're not viable. So if you want a particular tomato, you have to buy seeds again next year because any you save will just turn to dust. Shame isn't it?" I said.
"Makes you wonder. Next we won't be able to get rainwater without paying somebody collecting a tax on it or something." He said.
Clearly he wasn't the normal happy go lucky kid. I judged him to be about twenty-five. I bit my lip again and said, "Would you like to take those to your mother?"
"I wasn't thinking of a whole dozen, I'm in a car by myself. I don't think I could manage both of them. It's too bad you don't have some in the smaller vases like these." He said.
"I can do that!" I smiled, "I have four left I think, would you like one, two or three?" I said, my handle on the cooler door.
"Three. That would be great!" He smiled for the first time. Good, I thought, he's relaxing a little.
As I gathered up the roses, greenery, and a budvase, I took a deep breath and asked the question that was plaguing me.
"A grandmother you've never met and a mother you've only met once? Mind if I inquire as to the circumstances?" I said, carefully keeping my eyes on my work.
"She left when I was thirteen months. I was raised by my dad, and then my aunt when he didn't want me no more. It's a very strange family situation. But, I'm in the military now, and here I am, buying flowers for dinner at my uncles' house. I got in late last night. Staying at the Motel 8 up the road. They're not too good with wakeup calls. I asked for one at 9:15...it never came. Story of my life. So now I'm running late, well not too late, but enough to make me even more nervous." He said, all in one breath, I thought.
"I was wondering," I said, "see, my daughter gave my first grandson up for adoption, fast forward about twenty years and you could be my grandson standing in front of me." I said, mistily. I finished the budvase and swiped the counter clean.
"Oh, there was no adoption in this case. She just left. And I just went to live with my aunt. I don't think anyone gave it much thought beyond that. But I'm in the military now and that's all in the past." He said.
"Yes, that will certainly broaden your perspective." I replied.
"You're not kidding. Is there an ATM in this store? And a wine section?" he asked.
"Sure, right up front by Customer Service, but no wine section. We only sell beer and wine coolers and you can't buy those on holidays or on Sunday in Tennessee." I informed him.
"Really? How strange." He said.
"Yes, part of the legislated morality that is Tennessee. Unless they're Catholic, they won't miss it. But if they're Baptist, or anything else around here, I wouldn't recommend wine at all, so you're safe." I joked.
"I was raised Catholic, sort of. I went to a Baptist school though, and my mother I think was Pentecostal for a while. I've seen a lot overseas though. I've seen Muslims and Buddhists, and lots of other stuff." He mused, eyeing for the first time, the pentacle around my neck.
"Oh, then definitely no wine." I said, letting the rest go. "You can leave these here and come back if you like. That way you have both hands." I said.
"Thanks," he said, "I'll be right back."
My eyes followed him as he made his way to the front of a grocery store. I took a deep breath and gave all the pent up emotion I was feeling and touched each blossom, each piece of greenery, with a fervent wish that this young man find what it was he was looking for from his family on this day. I also wished for acceptance and reciprocity and peace for him and his family.
I know something of being the outsider. I've been the outsider in my family all my life. My heart went out to that grandmother, who, like me, never got to hold her grandson when he was little, never got to spoil him and watch him grow. It certainly wasn't my choice and I couldn't imagine it being hers either. While I didn't know for sure what the details were, I was positive this young man was walking into an emotional minefield and that was no less true for the family he was trying to get to know. I grabbed a paper towel and tilted the vase over the sink and let out some of the water. I saw him returning as I sopped up the excess clinging to the glass vase.
"You want to be sure and put water back into the vase. This green stuff here is Oasis, and it needs to stay submerged in water for the flowers to last. Carnations last a long, long time anyway, but if you keep them watered they should last a couple weeks." I said, handing him the vase and reaching for the budvase of roses.
"Listen, thanks. You've been a big help. Just talking about it made me feel a little less like biting my fingers off. I don't have any nails left!" he said, laughing.
"You're more than welcome. Good luck, and don't eat too much too fast." I said, as he walked away.
Again, I watched as he left, wiping the counter clean again. Then a thought occurred to me. Appalled at my lack of manners, I dried my hands and followed him to the front of the store.
He was waiting to give his money to the cashier. I walked into the line behind him and laid my hand on his shoulder.
"You know, I forgot something. I want to thank you for what you do." I said, barely able to keep the tears from my eyes.
He inclined his head, opened his mouth, and closed it again, nodded and shrugged. Clearly, it wasn't something he heard often, if ever. I turned away before he could see the tears in my eyes. I hoped those women appreciated this young man they barely knew. I hoped they took the time he was giving them and put it to good use. He was probably only home for a short time and had nowhere else to go. Who knew if he'd ever even see another Thanksgiving?
In a blinding flash of insight, I suddenly knew why things had worked out that I was working this day. Maybe my wish for the young man would smooth the way for him, maybe not. I sure felt good that I'd had the opportunity to see that sometimes things do come around and people sometimes get second chances at things others never miss. I silently wished for such a chance for me if at all possible.
In a world where choice is not always an option, the gods knew I needed that little bit of comfort. I could give more details, like the fact that I have two more grandchildren now, and that my life continues to be juxtaposed between Mother, Daughter, Sister and Priestess. While I would not trade my life now for anything, there are scars that will never quite heal. I truly hoped that young man would be the balm for both his mother and grandmother's hearts and that they would, in turn, give him a sense of belonging, even for a day. I hoped it wasn't too selfish of me to hope for a little of the same for myself. I smiled, holding the experience close, and went back to work on Thanksgiving Day. It just wouldn't do for those ladies not to have their flowers for church on Sunday.
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Author's Profile: To learn more about Gaia Ivorywitch - Click HERE
Bio: Gaia is a 39-year-old Gaian Witch, Wiccan Initiate, and Pagan Minister and native Memphian. Her areas of interest include Herbalism, Astrology, History and Mythology, Writing Ritual, and exposing historical inaccuracies passed off on the Pagan masses. She has been a practitioner of Witchcraft for nearly 25 years. She is a mother, grandmother and magickal/mundane counterpart to Willow. She now resides in Knoxville, TN where she serves the Nature Spirit Community Church as Outreach Coordinator.
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