Christmas Turkey

Mário de Andrade

Our first family Christmas, after my father’s death five months earlier, had decisive consequences for family happiness. We have always been familiarly happy, in this very abstract sense of happiness: honest people, without crimes, home without internal fights or serious economic difficulties. But, due mainly to my father’s gray nature, to be devoid of any lyricism, of an incapable exemplar, padded in the mediocre, we had always lacked that enjoyment of life, that taste for material happiness, a good wine, a water season, acquisition refrigerator, things like that. My father was out of a good wrong, almost dramatic, the thoroughbred of the killjoy. My father died, we are sorry, etc. When we arrived around Christmas, I was sure that I could no longer remove that obstructive memory of the deceased, who seemed to have systematized forever the obligation of a painful reminder at every lunch, in every small gesture of the family. Once I had suggested to Mom the idea of ​​her going to see a tape at the cinema, what resulted were tears. Where he saw himself going to the cinema, in heavy mourning! Pain was already being cultivated by appearances, and I, who had always only liked my father regularly, more out of a son’s instinct than out of spontaneity of love, saw me to the point of upsetting the good of the dead. , this is, spontaneously, the idea of ​​doing one of my so-called “follies”. That had been my splendid achievement against the family environment since very early. Since the early days, since the high school days, when I regularly got a reproach every year; since the kiss on the sly, in a cousin, at the age of ten, discovered by Tia Velha, a detestable aunt; and especially since the lessons I gave or received, I don’t know, from a servant of relatives: I achieved in the dollar reformatory and in the vast parenting, the conciliatory fame of “crazy”. “It’s crazy, poor thing!” they spoke. My parents spoke with a certain condescending sadness, the rest of parenting seeking an example for their children and probably with that pleasure of those who are convinced of some superiority. They had no freaks among their children. That’s what saved me, that fame. I did everything that life presented me and my being demanded to perform with integrity. And they let me do everything, because I was crazy, poor thing. This resulted in an existence without complexes, of which I cannot complain about anything. It was always the family’s Christmas dinner. Relish supper, you can already imagine: supper like my father, chestnuts, figs, raisins, after the Mass of the Rooster. Stuffed with almonds and nuts (when we discussed the three brothers because of nutcrackers …), stuffed with chestnuts and monotonies, we hugged and went to bed. It was remembering this that I broke up with one of my “follies”: – Well, at Christmas, I want to eat turkey. There was one of those surprises that no one can imagine. Soon my spinster and saintly aunt, who lived with us, warned that we could not invite anyone because of the mourning. – But who spoke of inviting anyone! this craze … When did we eat eat our lives! Peru here at home is a party dish, all this devil’s family comes … – My son, don’t speak like that … – Well, I speak, ready! And I let my cold indifference for our infinite parenting, say that coming from pioneers , how well I care! It was really the moment to develop my theory of crazy, poor thing, I didn’t miss the opportunity. He gave me a great tenderness for mother and aunt, my two mothers, three with my sister, the three mothers who always made my life divine. It was always that: someone’s birthday was coming and only then did they make turkey in that house. Peru was a party dish: a filth of relatives already prepared by tradition, invaded the house because of the turkey, the patties and the sweets. My three mothers, three days before, knew nothing about life but working, working in the preparation of very good sweets and cold cuts, parenting devoured everything and even took little packages for those who had not been able to come. My three mothers were barely exhausted. The turkey, only at the burial of the bones, the next day, is that mommy with auntie still tried on a loaf of leg, vague, dark, lost in the target rice. And that’s right, Mom was the one who served, collected everything for the old man and the children. In fact, nobody really knew what turkey was in our house, turkey for party. No, nobody was invited, it was a turkey for us, five people. And it had to be with two farofas, the fat one with the kids, and the dry one, gold, with a lot of butter. I wanted the chatter stuffed only with fat farofa, in which we would have to gather black plum, nuts and a glass of sherry, as I learned at Rose’s house, very much my companion. It is clear that I omitted where I learned the recipe, but everyone was suspicious. And they were immediately in that air of blown incense, if it would not be Dianho’s temptation to enjoy such a delicious recipe.

And very cold beer, I guarantee almost screaming. It is true that with my “tastes”, already quite in tune outside the home, I first thought of a good wine, completely French. But the tenderness for mom won over the crazy, mom loved beer. When I finished my projects, I noticed well, everyone was overjoyed, in a damned desire to do that madness in which I broke out. Well, they knew it was crazy, but everyone made themselves imagine that I was the only one who was really wanting that and there was an easy way to push me … the guilt of their enormous desires. They smiled, looking at each other, shy as stray doves, until my sister resolved the general consent: – It’s really crazy! … The turkey was bought, the turkey was made, etc. And after a poorly said Mass of the Rooster, our most wonderful Christmas took place. It had been funny: as soon as I remembered that I was finally going to make Mum eat turkey, I had done nothing but those days to think about her, to feel tender for her, to love my beloved old lady. And my brothers too, they were in the same violent rhythm of love, all dominated by the new happiness that the turkey had been printing in the family. So, still disguising things, I made it very easy for Mom to cut the whole turkey breast. For a moment, in fact, she stopped, slicing one side of the bird’s chest, not resisting those laws of economy that had always dulled her in almost poverty without reason. – No lady, cut it all! Only I eat it all! It was a lie. The family love was so incandescent in me, that I was even able to eat little, just so that the other four ate too much. And the pitch of the others was the same. That turkey eaten alone, rediscovered in each one what daily life had completely drowned out, love, mother’s passion, children’s passion. God forgive me, but I am thinking of Jesus … In that very modest bourgeois house, a miracle worthy of the Christmas of a God was taking place. The turkey breast was entirely reduced to large slices. – I serve! “It’s crazy, really” because why would it serve, if Mom always served in that house! Between laughter, the big full plates were passed to me and I started a heroic distribution, while sending my brother to serve the beer. I immediately took care of an admirable piece of “shell”, full of fat and I put it on the plate. And then vast white slices. Mom’s harsh voice cut through the anguished space with which everyone aspired for their part in the turkey: “Remember your brothers, Juca! When would she imagine, the poor girl!” that that was her dish, that of Mother, my mistreated friend, that she knew about Rose, that she knew my crimes, that I only remembered to communicate what made her suffer! The dish was sublime. – Mom, this is the lady’s! Not! Do not pass! It was when she could not do so much commotion and started crying. My aunt too, soon realizing that the new sublime dish would be hers, he entered the chorus of tears. And my sister, who never saw a tear without opening the faucet too, burst into tears. So I started saying a lot of insults so I wouldn’t cry too, I was nineteen … Devil from a beast family that saw turkey and cried! stuff like that. Everyone struggled to smile, but it was now that joy had become impossible. It is that weeping had evoked by association the undesirable image of my dead father. My father, with his gray figure, would always spoil our Christmas, I was damned. Well, he started eating in silence, struggling, and the turkey was perfect. The soft meat, of a very tenuous fabric, floated between the flavors of the farofas and the ham, occasionally wounded, restless and re-desired, by the more violent intervention of the black plum and the petulant encumbrance of the pieces of walnut. But Daddy sitting there, gigantic, incomplete, a reproach, a wound, an inability. And the turkey, it was so delicious, Mom finally knowing that turkey was really delicious worthy of the born Jesusinho. There was a low struggle between the turkey and Daddy’s figure. I imagined that bragging about the turkey was strengthening it in the fight, and, of course, I had decidedly sided with the turkey. But the dead have viscous means, very hypocritical to win: I didn’t even brag about the turkey that the image of Daddy grew up victorious, unbearably obstructing. – Only your father is missing … I was interested in that fight between the two dead. I came to hate Dad. And I don’t even know what genius inspiration suddenly made me hypocritical and political. At that moment that seems to me decisive in our family today, I apparently took my father’s side. I pretended, sad: – Really … But Daddy, who wanted us so much, who died from working so hard for us, Daddy in heaven will be happy … (I hesitated, but decided not to mention the turkey anymore) glad to see us all together as a family. And they all started very calmly, talking about Dad. His image was diminishing, diminishing and became a bright star of the sky.

Now everyone ate the turkey with sensuality, because Dad had been very good, he had always sacrificed so much for us, he was a saint that “you, my children, will never be able to pay what you owe to your father”, a saint. Papa had become a saint, a pleasant contemplation, an unavoidable little star in the sky. It did not harm anyone else, a pure object of gentle contemplation. The only one killed there was the turkey, dominating, completely victorious. My mother, my aunt, we, all flooded with happiness. I was going to write “taste happiness”, but that was not all. It was a great happiness, a love for everyone, a forgetfulness of other kinships distracting from great family love. And it was, I know it was that first turkey eaten in the family recess, the beginning of a new love, refurbished, more complete, richer and more inventive, more accommodating and careful of itself. A family happiness for us was born then, which, I am not exclusive, some will have it so big, but more intense than ours is impossible to conceive. Mom ate so much turkey that a moment I imagined, that could hurt her. But then I thought: oh, do it! even if she dies, but at least once in her life she really eats turkey! The lack of selfishness brought my infinite love to me … Then came some light grapes and some sweets, which in my country bear the name “well-married”. But even this dangerous name was not associated with the memory of my father, who the turkey had already converted into dignity, into the right thing, into a pure cult of contemplation. It was almost two o’clock, all cheerful, shaken by two bottles of beer. Everyone went to bed, sleep or move in bed, it doesn’t matter, because a happy insomnia is good. The devil is that Rose, a Catholic before she was Rose, had promised to wait for me with champagne. To be able to go out, I lied, I said I was going to a friend’s party, I kissed Mom and winked at her, so I could tell where I was going and make her suffer her bit. The other two women kissed without blinking. And now, Rose! …

Mário de Andrade (1893-1945), was born in São Paulo, showing an early inclination for music and literature. His interest in the arts led him to carry out in São Paulo, in partnership with Oswald de Andrade, the Modern Art Week, which opened new perspectives for Brazilian culture. His work, essentially Brazilian, reflects a humanist nationalism, swimming in the mystical and abstract. “Macunaíma”, based on folk themes, is generally considered his masterpiece. The text above was taken from the book “Nós ea Natal”, Graphic Arts Gomes de Souza, Rio de Janeiro, 1964, p. 23 ..

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