The more things change, the more they stay the same – Thanksgiving, for one example. Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday characterized by food, family and giving thanks for one’s blessings. That tradition has not changed since the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621.
My own Thanksgiving, however, has been fraught with change over the years. The guest list alters, the menu varies, my blessings wax and wane but wackiness is the one constant. Thanksgivings past I’ve experienced more crazy meals than stuffing recipes – one year in particular I can recall the family entertaining Martin, a helicopter pilot from New Zealand who regaled us with tales of his encounters in New Guinea with Pygmy cannibals. No matter what the menu consisted of that year it was a guaranteed success because he was a guest and not the meal.
Some years I’ve cooked a spectacular feast made from scratch while other years have been a downright disaster such as the year of the tasteless Tofurkey. This year fell into the basic albeit unimaginative category due to a shortage of time, the lackluster economy, and general holiday burnout. When Daughter #1 graciously offered to donate her free turkey I gratefully accepted. However, Daughter #1 did not deliver the gratuitous turkey until the day before Thanksgiving and the turkey arrived in a frozen solid state. A vegetarian myself, this didn’t vex me but carnivorous guests were arriving in less than 24 hours expecting a traditional Thanksgiving dinner so I spent the first half of Thanksgiving eve attempting to quick thaw the bird and the remainder of the night with my hands up the turkey’s derriere trying to extricate that frozen bag of innards. Frostbitten hands aside, the turkey eventually thawed, Thanksgiving was saved, dinner was served and the holiday went on with food, family and blessings intact.
That notable epigram “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” also holds true for Hubert. When I recently heard that the brother of a close friend was planning a vacation in France (with a side trip to Strasbourg, no less) I supplied him with copies of all of my Hubert etchings set in Strasbourg just in case the opportunity to do a little reconnaissance presented itself. True to his word he did investigate, kindly devoting a portion of his short stay to visit the scenes depicted in my etchings and he meticulously photographed the identical buildings. Despite the fact that at least 100 years have passed since Hubert etched those scenes in Strasbourg, remarkably the sites have changed very little. Yes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. That unfortunately also holds true for the fact that, still, no one knows my Hubert…