October 25th, 1899
My dearest Gil,
Let me begin this letter by wishing you had the happiest Thanksgiving possible in Toronto. As much as I already miss Avonlea and Green Gables, now that I’m back in Charlottetown, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to spend such a holiday away from home. Rest assured, you were sorely missed this past weekend, most of all by me — although I know for a fact that Bash and Delly are a very close second. Even Hazel and Marilla kept bringing you up at all times, and worrying about whether “they feed you at that big university of yours.” I truly hope you weren’t very lonely and found a way to make the best of the situation (and that you are indeed well-fed!). Please do tell me about your experience, I would love to know how the big city celebrates, and how it compares to our little island. Did your club organize some kind of feast? Did the majority of your peers spend the holiday with their families, or are they also away from home like Ben and yourself?
If I know you at all, you probably used all that extra time burying your head in your textbooks. In other circumstances, I would tease you and remind you that the world would not end if you did take a break, but in the spirit of sincerity, I’ll confess to also finding solace in an otherwise dreadful Geometry tome whenever it got too quiet around the house and the pain of your absence became unbearable. You see, I thought I had become an expert in missing you. I missed you when you left all those years ago, even though I did not dare admit that to anyone, least of all myself. I was prepared to miss you when we were tangled in miscommunication and I thought all hope was lost, because I thought (rather foolishly, in hindsight) that at the very least you’d have a happy life in Paris, even if I wasn’t a part of it. Most of all, I’ve missed you these past two months like I was missing a limb. Somehow, knowing the missing was not one-sided anymore only made it worse, because now I know what it’s like to hold you, and be held by you. To look into your beautiful eyes, which Ruby once said were “full of romance,” and be certain that I’m the cause of such a look. To kiss you. However, nothing prepared me for how devastating it would be to finally know all of that and having to face an Avonlea with no Gilbert Blythe in it. Needless to say, only my profound hatred of Geometry was enough to distract me from such powerful melancholy.
I apologize. I promised myself I would not dwell on my own sadness knowing I at least got to see our family. I can’t seem to control myself anymore when it comes to opening up to you, though! It’s like the moment my pen touches paper my heart just pours out with the ink and I can hardly contain the words as I write them. (I can practically see you smirking and raising your eyebrows right now as you say “only as you write?” and I’d thank you to keep your opinions to yourself, my dear!)
I’ve now resolved to only speak of happy matters for the remainder of this letter, or at the very least try — after all, having the time to reflect on this holiday has, unsurprisingly, made me furious. Did you know the Mi’kmaq were invited to what is considered one of the first Thanksgiving feasts with the European settlers? And that the holiday itself was inspired by the way the native peoples celebrated the fall harvest? My blood boils at the hypocrisy of one of our most beloved national holidays being so connected to native tradition, while simultaneously our country tears native families apart and kidnaps their children. How can I reflect on the blessings of my life, which are many more than I deserve, when I still don’t know if my dear Ka’kwet is okay, or even alive? I will shed light on the cruelties we, as a nation, are inflicting on our native brothers and sisters if it’s the last thing I do, Gilbert. On a related note, I enclosed in the envelope one of the flyers for our club meeting as per your request. I am ever so grateful for your support in this affair, Gil, I hope you know that.
Now that I let that off my chest, I will tell you how I spent this weekend.
As our Thanksgiving family dinner was scheduled for this past Monday, Cole invited Diana, Ruby, and me over to Aunt Jo’s mansion for a long-awaited Storybook Club reunion on Saturday afternoon. I don’t know how much you know about our little club, except that maybe Billy Andrews destroyed it thus provoking the infamous fight between him and Cole. Since I said I wouldn’t dwell on unnecessary negativity, I’ll spare you the lengthy list of insults that come to mind when I think of that cruel, coward brute (okay, just those three!). Needless to say, we were ecstatic to meet with Cole again, and we had a lovely afternoon recalling our old stories and freighthopping adventures. Oh, Gilbert, I must confess it was the first time in weeks I was glad you weren’t right there by my side. You see, on that fateful day when we tried to help save Miss Stacy’s job, Cole pulled me aside at the train station right before he told me he’d be staying in Charlottetown. You and I had been walking together and right when you climbed into the train he said “you know Gilbert has a crush on you right?”. I still shudder in embarrassment when I remember my vehement “no, he doesn’t!”. Of course, Cole remembers it too, and let me tell you: he had a field day when the topic of our courtship was discussed. If it weren’t for Ruby and Diana, I would’ve wiped his smug little smile right off his face right there in Aunt Jo’s parlour.
The rest of our Avonlea friends had already made the trip home on Friday, so it was just Ruby, Diana, and I who caught the Saturday train. Although the pain of coming home without you was already acute, I will say nothing made me happier than running into my dearest Matthew’s arms when I saw him waiting for me at Bright River station, and then into Marilla’s when we finally made it to Green Gables. I miss them dearly already. I made sure to pass on your well wishes and thankfulness, which they appreciated greatly. They wish you well. I believe they miss you too, probably just as much as Bash and Hazel, although I suspect they didn’t bring you up as often as they would like for my sake. They truly are the best parents I could’ve ever wished for.
I finally saw Bash, Hazel, Elijah, and sweet Delly at church on Sunday morning. Although he gave me one of the warmest hugs of my life, you weren’t wrong about Bash’s teasing. He was only getting started though, as it seemed that his favorite pastime during Thanksgiving dinner was to try and see how red my face could turn. I’m an extremely pale redhead, Gilbert —the answer is crimson!
As we were hosting, Marilla took charge of the Thanksgiving menu, although I offered to help. Namely, I decided to cook one of Mary’s recipes. I made her lentils with rice and tomatoes, a recipe that seemed simple enough for me not to ruin (no liniment was used this time, you’ll be glad to know) and that Delphine could easily eat. I thought this would be a nice tradition we could start since it was her first Thanksgiving. Marilla roasted a turkey and I helped her with the mashed potatoes and squash. When the Lacroix’s arrived they brought with them Hazel’s delicious fish stew. We had quite a feast! My absolute favorite part of the day was sweet Delly’s cry of joy when she tried the lentils and rice — she absolutely adored it. The fact that it was Mary’s dish that drew such a reaction was not lost on anyone, and very few eyes remained dry through the bittersweet moment. As I suspected, I am tearing up again as I recall Bash’s sad smile, and Elijah excusing himself for a moment. I never talked much with him, but when dinner was over and we were saying our goodbyes, he thanked me profusely. Apparently Mary’s lentils and rice were one of his favourite meals as a child. I didn’t realize he would probably recognize the dish, so I was happy I could do it justice.
Oh Gilbert, I miss Mary dearly. Her kindness, her strength, her humour, her guidance. I think she would be happy to know that we finally stopped dancing around each other. Deep down, I think had she been there she would’ve knocked some sense into the both of us months ago. I can only hope we didn’t make her roll her eyes and groan in frustration too often, and that she is smiling down on us now. There are so many things I wish I could ask her, but her radiant spirit lives in Delphine, and I will make sure she grows up knowing what a wonderful mother she had!
Miss Delly, by the way, has started walking! It should be a crime how fast she’s growing up. According to Bash, she gave her first steps a few weeks ago, and I was overcome with pride when she greeted me by clumsily stumbling into my legs when she first saw me. She’s the sweetest little thing, but she’s also very determined and I can already see a hint of Bash’s cheekiness in her. I’m afraid she’ll be a menace by the time you come home for Christmas. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Christmas... I can’t help but think it’s still so far away, yet it’s also the next big holiday, so it also feels right around the corner! Please, tell me the details of your arrival as soon as you know them. I don’t want to waste a single second with you. The moment you set foot on the island you will find me promptly attached to your hip, and I pity the mortal who dares to try and pull me away. Come to think of it, I believe I have always orbited around you. A part of me was afraid that if I didn’t make an effort to keep a distance, I would inevitably crash into you like a meteor. Now that I’m certain I will land safely into your arms, I am not so worried. I would say I even anticipate it.
Speaking of celestial bodies, I can hardly wait for our little meeting under the stars. I promise you I will stay dry and warm, and that Diana will know where to find me should I be too entranced looking at the night sky and thinking of your beautiful words to remember curfew. Honestly, Gil, the moment I read you comparing the stars to my freckles of all things, I thought I would combust. I’m so often rendered speechless when I read your letters and see the way you see me. You have to understand, I spent so many years of my life being ridiculed for absolutely everything about me. I truly never thought I was anything special, yet you speak of me as if you were describing some beautiful ethereal being. You so easily love the parts of me that I was taught to hate, and I have trouble reconciling the notion. However, I will not stop you from continuing to say such things until I do believe them. At this point, I don’t think you’d even listen if I tried.
I must close off now, it’s quite late and Diana is sighing loudly every few minutes, which means she wants me to blow off the candle and go to sleep already. I can’t conjure more words to express how much I miss you and love you, so I will oblige. I’ll see you beneath the stars, my love.
With all the love my heart can muster,
Your Anne with an E