The 12-ish Gifts of 2020, New Year’s Eve Edition: Fiction, Faith, Food, and HAMILTON

In retrospect, I should have expected that 2020 might not be the healthiest year since when the bells were ringing in the New Year, I heard them from inside the ambulance that was going to bring me to the Emergency Room. I had made the mistake of eating a cookie that I didn’t realize contained nuts and suffered an anaphylactic reaction. Fortunately, it wasn’t too bad, so they gave me medicine and released me around 4:00 and some nice Uber driver who had signed off for the night picked me up and took me home.

So, it won’t take a lot for this New Year’s Eve to surpass last year’s––just saying.

However, there have been some great gifts today for which I am grateful.

For one, I finished reading my last book of 2020, and it was a perfect culminating book for me. It was When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole. There are some issues with the book, but for me it was kind of like Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code) meets Black Lives Matter. It is a thriller, but it is based on the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood in which affluent young White families are buying up the homes of long-term Black residents. While not as scholarly as Dan Brown’s work, it contains a lot of really interesting (and I’m assuming true) history of the rise and fall of Black communities.

The thing I really liked the most about this book was seeing the whole situation unfold from the perspective of the protagonist, a young Black woman who is trying to save her home and her neighborhood from seriously “White Privileged” forces. Told first person, we get the raw reactions and thoughts about the whole situation. I mentioned in an earlier post that one of my books-of-the-year was Caste, which was just one of several non-fiction books I read to better understand White privilege/supremacy, etc. In this book, I got to read about that topic through the emotional response of a Black person to White actions. It is like it moved the ideas from my head to my heart.

The plot has some close-to-Dan-Brown levels of improbable behavior and situations. But that was secondary to me. And it had a surprise at the very end that I hadn’t expected, but found very satisfying. So that’s my fiction.

On to Faith. I was part of the New Year’s Eve service tonight at our Spiritual Center. I thought it was really good. We acknowledged the parts of 2020 that we didn’t like––the disease, the deaths, the disappointments, the delays, the difficulties. We also acknowledged the good––the successes, the new loves or jobs or homes or accomplishments, or whatever we consider our “wins” from the year to be. I felt it was a great way to process and release this year and prepare ourselves for 2021 being something different.

For Food, my son and I had some miscommunication about tonight’s plans when basically meant we couldn’t do the quick-cook meal I had planned to make right after our Service because he was tied up after that until at least 11:00 PM. But it’s a holiday and we’re staying up until midnight away so…we can be flexible, right? I had bought a chicken to cook this weekend, but on a whim I searched the Internet for “midnight chicken” and…HIT THE JACKPOT. At least for me…

I got a recipe, but more than that, I got a story from chef Ella Risbridger. I’ll share it below:

“There are lots of ways to start a story, but this one begins with a chicken. It was the first story I ever wrote about food, and it begins with a chicken in a cloth bag hanging on the back of a kitchen chair. It was dark outside, and I was lying on the hall floor, looking at the chicken through the door, and looking at the rust in the door hinges, and wondering if I was ever going to get up,” explains Ella Risbridger, author of new cookbook Midnight Chicken (named after this very recipe).

“Perhaps, I thought, lying on the hall floor, I will just stay on the hall floor forever, and sink through the laminate, and into the concrete, and down into the earth. But this is a hopeful story. It’s the story of how I got up off the floor. It’s also the story of how to roast a chicken, and how to eat it. This is a story of eating things, which is, if you think about it, the story of being alive. More importantly, this is a story about wanting to be alive.

I love this woman’s philosophy, so I’ll need to check her out more later. Tonight, I took her recipe, changed it enough that if it doesn’t work, it’s my fault not hers. But it is cooking as I write this, and I have high hopes. It will not be cooked until close to midnight, so I can’t tell you yet if it worked. The sauce, though, did taste good to me…

Which brings me to HAMILTON. I’ve written before that HAMILTON saved the 4th of July for me, and dragged me into the Christmas Spirit. So it seems appropriate that I end the year with Hamilton. In this case, it is a song by Phillipa Soo, who plays Hamilton’s wife Eliza, that I think is a perfect New Year’s Song. I send this sentiment to all my readers, and look forward to more good times in 2021. Thank you all for reading. I’m grateful for you all.

2 thoughts on “The 12-ish Gifts of 2020, New Year’s Eve Edition: Fiction, Faith, Food, and HAMILTON

  1. Don’t you love it? I wish I could sing it to all my friends in person, but this will have to do. Of course, what I REALLY wish is that I could sing it like her….but you all are probably better off hearing it by her even if by video, lol


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