A lot of people love Vermont. Even just the idea of Vermont. But not me.
These people view Vermont as a quaint neighborhoodly place with cul de sacs, people walking their dogs, and children playing on their bikes. But these people never lived here. Sadly, the reality is ten times nicer.
Children play freely not worrying about cars because all the vehicles in our neighborhood inch along. Dogs march happily, on leashes, as if prancing to a Boston Pops album. This joy is the nightmare I face everyday.
Desperate for unending isolation in a year defined by loneliness, the only reasonable solution is more isolation. But this is not to be found in Vermont. For instance, this summer, while socially distancing, an anonymous neighbor left a pint of cherry tomatoes in my mail box. The recklessness is stunning. No note, no ego, just a gesture of faith in our common humanity. I ate the tomatoes with disdain.
Another neighbor named Flossie offered me yellow tomatoes and yellow squash. Fortunately, I hate yellow squash with the passion of passion fruit. Again, I ate the tomatoes. In fact, what little consolation there was to be found in this graciousness was the appreciation that I was wreaking havoc on the local tomato population.
This brings me to today.
My neighbors Fran and Lisa are nice to me. It’s source of distress. This week Fran left a note on my door asking if I would like a “care package” because (since my mom died) I have done most holidays alone. I called her back and asked, “how much Fran?” Fran replied, “oh, nothing I just like to cook around the holidays.” I tried not to acknowledge her generosity, but I failed, which balanced out my emotions.
Today Fran came by and said I could use the turkey she was dropping off for sandwiches. Mercifully, she left quickly, only to return 10 minutes later. “I brought you some gravy.” For the love of god, Fran. I said thank you and locked the door in case there was a pumpkin pie on its way.
And then there was Lisa, who brought the main course today.
Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy (take note Fran), green bean casserole, broccoli and mashed sweet potatoes. Despicable. It didn’t even need warming up. Who does that? Brings a full turkey meal, delivered on Thanksgiving and keeps it warm the whole time. It’s as terrifying as it is beautiful.
And so here we are. Back in my neighborhood. A full stomach from a day of free, delicious, properly gravied food courtesy of my neighbors. It’s a shocker in 2020.
This holiday reveals the truth about Vermont. Vermont is a place where everyone takes care of each other. I’m sorry there isn’t a happier ending.
My story tells that terrible truth. Vermont is sickeningly sweet, and my neighbors glow with the light of a thousand dancing stars.
Happy Holidays, if you dare.