Bookmark

Bookmarks for me, mark more than just a placeholder for a page in a book—I guess they are more like a tiny time capsule, which seem to mark an event, adventure or period in my life.  Just recently, I had a friend make a remark about my bookmarks, “I am always fascinated what I will find in your books,” he remarked.  Actually, I had never given it much thought until his comment.  Yes, I had used something handy in the moment and then later found old airline ticket jackets, receipts from restaurants, post-it-notes with cryptic messages, raffle tickets, old napkins with handwritten notes and envelopes or simply little scraps and bits of paper that were repurposed into commission to hold a place of importance in the book I was reading at the time. But, it seemed to be “My normal” and usually I took no notice. How odd an observation, I noted to myself, with a sheepish shrug and smile.

Yesterday, however, I pulled down a newer version of The Joy of Cooking, that has found a home atop my refrigerator. (I say newer because the first copy I received was decades ago—upon graduation from high school—from friends of my Mother, as a gift.)  This newer reprint was purchased as my “Florida” version in 2001.  I liked it because of its tables of equivalents and conversions and I used it as an encyclopedia of sorts in the world of baking chemistry, recipes, and basic homemade standbys such as buttermilk biscuits which I could find at a glance; the old 1948 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia collection served the same function growing up regarding inventions and world facts.

But, yesterday, after a lengthy disappearance, I found in one of its pages, a reappearance of a Sainsbury’s label for cranberries. Sainsbury’s was a grocery store I frequented when I lived in England for about six months.  The Cranberries weight measured in grams and the “display” date and the “Best” before date labeled 27 NOV and 28 NOV respectively.

During my stay, the Thanksgiving holiday appeared on my calendar and I insisted on a small Thanksgiving dinner.   Before my trip, I never realized the imbedded importance of what this holiday meant for me.  In my core, it screamed American and for all our criticisms around the world, I realized in 2006 that in spite of living in another English-speaking country which very much represented our history and roots—there were some extremely notable and discernible differences in the way in which our entrenched thoughts and beliefs impacted our present day workings.

Yes, I navigated the right-hand drive—with extreme concentration; it was so easy to slip back into the autopilot of the more familiar American—left-hand drive.  Yes, there were a few words that were particularly “English” and that just made it more fun.  And, yes, there was the occasional derogatory comment about ‘the Americans’, but I was unfazed.

The single most important difference I noticed, was the mentality—that good old American—nothing can stop me now attitude, that I believe separates us and the freedom others seek when they arrive on our shores.  This is the same fortitude that has spurred protests, freedom of expression and the drive for something better—always better.  We may have our share of rotten apples—for no society is ever perfect, but we will sort and sift and find a better way to give everyone a chance to live in harmony with ourselves and our neighbors.

Surprised, that, it is this “time capsule,” a bookmark, the Sainsbury’s Cranberry label and buttermilk biscuits, that reminds me today, that I am proud to be an American.  I know we will get through all this chaos.  It will be sorted out and we will be stronger and more united for it in the end.  Because, that’s who we are!

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