Ever since my wife died two years ago my kitchen has been effectively abandoned, neglected, and useless. The stove has not been turned on, the grilles are dusty. The microwave is an impoverished substitute. The kitchen shelves have sparse content, no flour, cereal, salt, or sugar, the basic elements of any civilized kitchen are absent.
The most evident inadequacy involves the refrigerator. Its sole content has been Diet Cokes and bottles of beer with an occasional package of hot dogs for a big occasion, a pretty sterile site.
Making the morning coffee has been the kitchen’s only creative enterprise. Until Cheri, the kitchen angel, arrived on December 23 with her sleigh heavily loaded with goodies for the family Christmas Eve bash, the Night Before, awaiting the clatter of tiny hooves. Fruits and veggies and eggs, bread and butter, crisp salad makings, croissants, and all sorts of trimmings, Brie and salmon, crab, sliced honey baked ham, potatoes au gratin. The kitchen woke up to its usefulnesss.
In anticipation of the Christmas Eve event Cheri had gloriously crafted seven different hors d’oevres with baked mushrooms and salmon and brie. Saliva gushed. Fresh cranberries and champagne became the theme for the bubbly Christmas Eve punch which was wonderfully ladled from our heirloom crystal punchbowl that has come down to me from numerous generations. Home baked lime pie delighted the opportunity. The setting glistened. Numerous candles and wood fires in the fireplaces lit the evening. The kitchen purred its approval at its inclusion in the big event.
In his epic poem, Ulysses, Tennyson likened the losses that he was experiencing as he aged to the lack of polish, the un-burnished dullness that accompanies lack of use. He strongly advised “to shine in use.”
My unused kitchen had lost its luster not because it was old, but because it was not used. Now it is reborn being fully used, and thereby helps make each day a salutation.