Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Stepping On My Seasonal Soapbox

The music, the decorations, the sale ads—the holidays are already here. While I promise to get back to humor next time, today I have to step on my seasonal soapbox.

fall

Like a lot of people, I sometimes find this time of year to be hard. Between the loss of family gatherings due to time and distance, the rampant and unnecessary consumerism, no holiday break, a dash of deep depression and a partridge in a pear tree, I would much rather just skip to January 2.

There won’t be a big family meal, and come Christmas there won’t be many—if any—gifts. Times are tight and money is even tighter, regardless of the date on the calendar.

I’ve never been bitter because we don’t have money for things, but I do get annoyed that others are so obsessed with those things.

However, I get it. It’s easy to feel pressured to buy things, eat foods that don’t make you feel good and stress about spending time with people you might not enjoy all that much except in small doses.

When that’s no longer an option, you learn a valuable lesson—be better, not bitter, and be thankful for all that you have.

So this time of year I really have to distance myself from certain things online and on TV, as I can’t stand seeing people filmed on Black Friday – ravenous for deals on TVs, cameras, phones, etc., people in malls pushing others over, obsessed with getting things.

Then they show Christmas Day.

The mall is quiet. People are home with their families. The holiday is over. Until the next shot when it’s Dec. 26 and people are right back at the mall again, ravenous for after-Christmas sales and replacing the gifts they didn’t want. It’s like somehow Christmas didn’t happen for some people. It didn’t fill the hole. It wasn’t enough.

It’s different when you’re a kid, or at least it was for me, and so I understand that it’s different for parents.

The holidays were a magical time with no worries, only wonder. The fact that parents can take the time to create fun traditions and keep that magic alive is priceless, and something I keep with me now.

Growing up I was lucky enough that every holiday dozens of people in my big Polish family would be crammed around tables full of food and conversation. And while I might remember a few of the special gifts that I got, those “things” aren’t first on my mind.

What I remember much more are the things that we did and said, making the food that we ate and places we went every year.

So this year with every Black Friday ad, every person complaining about “surviving the holidays” like it’s a terminal illness, I’m going to try not roll my eyes.

Instead when they complain about feeling burdened to buy gifts, I might kindly remind them to connect to why the person they’re shopping for is special to them and how they want them to feel when they open the gifts.

Instead of overcommitting to events that just leave them drained, try to take a moment to stop and take in the sights and the smells of the season. Step back and ask, “What do I want to remember?” And if they have kids, “What do I want them to remember?”

Because even though some things are unavoidable—crazy uncles making “breast or leg man” jokes around a dead bird carcass stuffed with stale bread, awkward company parties, people freaking out over red cups at Starbucks—there are some things we can control.

We can be thankful for things that we have and make the memories that we want to keep–and that doesn’t cost a dime.

(Steps off soapbox, trips, has a piece of broccoli fall out of my shirt that fell in there sometime while I was eating dinner.)

Let the season begin.

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Things That Are Better Than Shopping

This is the time of year when I get cynical and want to hibernate even more than usual. Why? Because after a week of people talking about how thankful they are, they trample each other in store lines to buy things that they don’t need.

But instead of focusing on the negative, I made a list of the simple pleasures that don’t cost a thing and are a million times better than standing in line at 4 o’clock in the morning.

Things That Are Better Than Shopping

Getting gas before the price jumps up.

Remembering my online passwords on the first try.

Finally being able to pee after having to hold it forever.

When people wave a “thank you” to me after I let them merge into my lane.

Baby goats. And sloths.

When everything I’m cooking gets done at the same exact time.

Being able to get a bunch of stupid little chores done while that food is cooking.

Heated car seats.

Having those stringy things on a banana come off with the banana peel.

Noticing the long lines at the grocery store but having a cashier open a new lane right when I get there.

Getting a card in the mail.

The smell of the bakery and the coffee aisle at the grocery store.

Having somebody else wash my hair.

Finishing a good book and knowing I have another book waiting that I can start next.

Seeing senior citizen couples holding hands.

Thinking the toilet is going to back up and then having everything flush down okay.

Sitting in a car that’s made really warm by only the sun.

Finding one more piece of (insert favorite food thing) in the cupboard when I thought it was already gone.

Hearing babies laugh.

Getting the Final Jeopardy question/Wheel of Fortune bonus round puzzle right when none of the contestants do.

Memorizing automated phone menu options so I can fly through the call.

Having an actual person answer the phone instead.

Pulling the crusts off my sandwich in one long complete piece without breaking before eating them first.

Sneaking through a public restroom door before it closes so I don’t have to touch the handle.

Starting a new piece of gum.

Having my arms full of something and picking the right pocket that my keys are actually in.

Carrying laundry in my arms from the basket without dropping even one sock.

The smell of toast.

Cleaning the lint trap of the dryer and pulling it off in one strip.

Noticing a beautiful flower growing in weeds or a barren plot of land.

Nodding to a stranger doing the same thing in silent understanding.

Finally sneezing after feeling the sneeze coming on for what felt like forever.

Getting to my destination exactly when my favorite song ends on the radio.

Drunk nuns (if you haven’t read it yet, click over here.)

Even if you are into shopping—no judgment, as I’ll assume you’re not one of the “tramples small children for TVs” people—what would you add to the list?

Need a holiday gift? Avoid the stores and buy the books!

And…the nun is drunk

My mom brought home her nun friend from the old people’s place to join us for Thanksgiving, so the day was entertaining…and exhausting. 

I’ve never brought Sister up before, but she’s a trip. Any time she leaves the home she gets a little excitable, especially when she gets into the wine, and Thursday was no exception.

Now there is no accurate way to describe her for a visual, but the closest I can come is to say she’s a 5-foot-tall stripped down version of Cinderella’s fairy godmother, but a little more troll-like.

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Imagine darker gray hair, take out the wand, add a habit for certain situations and stick her on a motorized cart with a basket on the front. Sister has MS and although she can walk, she usually drives the cart up and down the aisles of the home with the resident dog securely placed inside the basket. 

Anyway, Sister was waiting outside in her oversized sweatshirt, sweatpants and sandals with socks when we picked her up from the home.

The five minute car ride revealed that she recently met a 30-year-old who wasn’t married, which she—a nun—found odd. When it was pointed out that I was single and that Sister was a nun, this prompted her to declare that yes, she did actually know “shitload of ‘normal’ people” who weren’t married, like her dentist and that one secretary at the doctor.

As we walked into the house, we were also told that at some point we had to go to the store—on Thanksgiving— to get her a new electric toothbrush.

Enter wine—not converted from water, but alcoholic nonetheless.

Sister tried to situate herself on the couch. This resulted in her falling in the couch crack, flipping the recliner part of the couch open and almost flying heels over head over the back. Recovered, she took a sip of her “spirit” and engaged  my mom’s husband in a conversation about cheese and Mexican saints.

I “helped” my mom in the kitchen, and by “helped” I don’t mean fisting a bird, but rather making sure she had a beer.

The meal itself was full of stories.

Some I had heard before, others I hadn’t about her traveling the world, accidentally legally changing her name to her “nun” name instead of the one she was given as an infant and how she knew she wanted to became a nun at 18, but that her mom wanted her to run the roads to make sure, at least going to prom with a boy.

“They were just one date things,” she said. “I never tried to get laid.”

“However,” she continued, taking a sip of wine and leaving a mashed potato ring on her glass. “Some of the girls from the school used to go to the sand dunes and lay around with the boys. I was sent with them, but I don’t like sand.”

At that she picked up the turkey leg and continued gnawing on it like a carnivorous Catholic cavewoman.

“Is this the Super Bowl?” she asked as I turned up the Thanksgiving football game between Detroit and Green Bay. “Did you know people bet on these things? I heard sometimes the players lose on purpose and throw the matches. Is that what the Lions are doing?”

The next 30 minutes were spent explaining football to the buzzed nun, who kept claiming that her “craziness” was due to the eight mini peanut butter cups she had before dessert and not the wine.

“Are we the yellow pants or the gray pants?” she asked as she propped herself back on the couch, sipping her wine through a straw. “Ooh! Who has the ball—the ‘G’ or the ‘D’? Are there any points out there? Can I take my wine home with me?”

She didn’t forget about the toothbrush.

After once again implementing our makeshift Catholic catapult to get the nun in the truck, we made our way to the store, which was 10 minutes from closing. Sister honed in on what she wanted, grabbed the $7 Oral-B model from the ad and engaged the cashier in a conversation about her tartar issues and the dinner she just had.

As were walking out, a couple of men were walking in, which prompted Sister to proclaim with a huff, “The store is closing in five minutes, good sirs. I suggest you either hurry yourself up or come back again tomorrow, as that poor man hasn’t even had dinner yet!”

“Can you believe how rude some people can be?” she asked as we boosted her back into the truck—again. “Now where are my peanut butter cups? Do you think the ‘Gs’ or the ‘Ds’ won the game? When can we do this again?”

Oh good lord.

Say a prayer for us all.


As determined by random.org, the winner of the free copy of the book or Amazon card and the chocolate pretzel treats is: Laura Grimes

Please send your address to me at Sunshineach@comcast.net and I’ll get that package right out!

For everyone else, now that you know you’re not getting a free copy, you can go here and find out how to order it for yourself in a couple different ways. It’s literally the cost of a movie ticket, and you don’t have to put up with people talking through the previews…or tipsy nuns.

Turkey Rhyme Time

I know most of you are busy doing Thanksgiving things and shopping and not reading blog posts from little ‘ol me, but I thought I would amuse myself by presenting to you a poem (and a small gift) of thanks, as illustrated by the incomparable Natalie Dee.

Because quite frankly, I’m thankful for her every day.

(clears throat and steps up to the podium…)

I’ve already published a Thanksgiving post,

But given this whole book ordeal.

I thought that I needed to say thanks again,

To those reading after their meal.

gravy-guzzler

Now that the turkey has seen better days,

And your stomachs are full of good food.

It’s time to remind you that shopping from home,

Can help out much more than your mood.

Remember that book that I told you about?

The one that I just threw together?

Amazon has it available now

And will ship it despite crappy weather.

Truth being told I’m not comfortable here,

Asking you to buy the book.

And tell all your friends and then write a review,

But those are the steps that I took.

you-wont-need-legs-where-youre-going-little-pie-dude

Because sometimes my pride gets put up on the shelf,

For things that are bigger than me.

Like animals needing a shelter or home,

So I reached out and what did I see?

People responded with comments and notes,

Or sent out that post in a tweet.

For someone not comfortable doing all that,

I was kind of knocked off of my feet.

A click of the mouse or a Tweet of a link,

And people were made more aware.

Not only of me and the book that I wrote,

But of animals needing more care.

And even if only a few of you guys,

Actually do buy the book.

Those few extra dollars will go to good use,

(And not to my hacked pocketbook.)

I promise my next post is not quite this lame,

And grandma will make an appearance.

There’s drama involving a fork stabbing claim

And a tablemate’s strange disappearance.

Yes, things will return to their once “normal” state

In the weeks and the posts up ahead.

But I’ll still try and urge you to buy up the book

And help keep the critters well fed.

(And undead, but that didn’t sound quite as rosy.)

We know holiday shopping is now in full swing

And a book is so easy to wrap.

But I won’t start becoming that whiny-ass girl

Who annoys everyone with this crap.

he-has-a-better-life-in-your-guts-now

So I’ll end this right now with a wish sent to you,

For a holiday great from the start.

On this day of gratitude I give to you,

A humble thanks straight from my heart.

As a small thank you, I would like to offer a free copy of the book—and possibly some of my chocolate pretzel treats—to anyone who leaves a comment and then tells someone else about the book and the post, either online or off.

You don’t have to tell me that you did. I trust you.

If you don’t want the book, no big deal and no hard feelings! I will send you a $10 Amazon gift card and a bag of pretzel treats that I licked and then rolled on the floor.

I’m kidding—about the health violations, not the gift card.

So you have until Sunday night to leave a comment here about anything—it’s like open mic night at the bar. In fact, feel free to recite a beat poem about holiday family dysfunction while we snap our fingers or bust out with your rendition of “Baby Got Back.”

Then while you’re still riding that adrenaline rush, go tell someone about how buying the book can save a kitten so I can quit being that whiny-ass girl.

A Thanksgiving PSA

Now that we’re into November, there are a few things you can expect.

Funny-Thanksgivingsomeecard

The first is a rant from me about what you can expect: 

Thankful Lists

You will be inundated with blog posts, stories and articles about what people are thankful for. Those are fine and dandy, but this will not be one of those posts. If it were, I would say I’m thankful for most of my family, friends, baseball and pesto. Unless you’re a real ass, I will assume you are also thankful for the good things in your life.

I say practice an “attitude of gratitude” on a daily basis, not just when people gather around a bird carcass stuffed with stale bread.

Stuffing

People will make a big deal out of “Surviving the Holidays” in reference to meals like it’s the apocalypse. Apparently the appearance of extra food is something that requires careful planning and strategies to navigate, as eating reasonably sized portions of traditional foods is a foreign concept to people once the leaves start to fall.

The last time I checked, turkeys were not an endangered species as of yet and green bean casserole and pie can actually be recreated in months that don’t end in “er.” In addition, there is nothing more annoying than listening to people complain about all the food they ate.

Remember the attitude of gratitude? Be glad you have the option and scoop a little perspective and moderation on top of those taters.

Family (Dys)function

People will also make a big deal out of “Surviving the Holidays” like it’s the apocalypse when it comes to family, and on this note, I can’t deny the fact that stuffing the bird with Prozac shouldn’t be discounted.

As Johnny Carson famously said, “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.”

While my situation no longer includes large family gatherings—something I kind of miss—forcing a bunch of people to “be merry and bright” on a specific day at a specific time without any dysfunction is asking a lot.

There will be one or two people doing most of the work while the others linger around and ask when the food will be done. Kids will be screaming, but that will be marginally less annoying than the cousin telling you what you’re doing wrong with the yams and with your life.

The highlight will be when your crazy uncle inserts one too many jokes about “being a breast/leg man” or “tying the legs together to keep things moist”and eventually lands on the the magic phrase that sends your aunt storming out of the dining room to sit in her car.

Decorations

While I would like to keep this centered on Thanksgiving—Christmas/consumerism rants to follow—I have to add in decorations, as this is about that time of year when a) people start complaining about the early appearance of Christmas items in stores and b) others are busy hanging old socks from the fireplace mantle and sprigs of dead plants from doorways in hopes of a kiss.

Soon displaying bright blinking lights and inflatable characters in your front yard will not warrant a neighbor watch meeting you are conveniently not invited to to discuss the “trashing down” of the neighborhood. And while I agree that it’s best to get those outdoor decorations up before the snow flies, when it comes to the inside décor, let’s keep the reindeer hidden until the turkey trots away.

PSA Conclusion

I suppose my unsolicited advice is to not freak out about “surviving the season,” as that places unnecessary stress on a situation that usually brings enough stress of its own. Plus, it’s annoying. Be thankful for what you have and remember that once Thanksgiving is over, you get to do it all again with the same group of crazy bastards a month later for Christmas.

For that, I am most thankful for Vodka.

Oh! And for Studio 30 Plus, as this post is in response to this week’s prompt:

Being Thankful

You can blame them.