5 Things I Love About Thanksgiving… The “Other” Holiday

White twinkle lights, evergreen boughs, colorful bulbs and bright, shiny paper parcels wrapped in red satin ribbon are all appealing to me. They truly are. But as I grow older, the gilded pageantry of Christmas has taken a backseat to the November holiday that I love even more.

“Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.” Ann Curry proclaimed from inside of my television years ago when she was still on The Today Show. And I remember thinking how odd that statement was. How could anyone enjoy any holiday MORE than Christmas? Isn’t that something akin to blasphemy? Though as she explained her reasoning, I began to understand. And since that moment, I have looked at Thanksgiving in a whole new light.

You see Thanksgiving, to me, is everything that’s wonderful about Christmas without all of the crappings trappings of the Big Day. It is food and family and time off from work without all the shopping, running, spending and decorating. It is like a Christmas dress rehearsal without the pressure of ticket sales, a live audience, props and costume changes.

I don’t know if everyone else can say the same. Perhaps you’re Turkey Day is a real pressure cooker. But for this gal, I find it particularly blissful for the following, five reasons:

  1. It is a day for sleeping in because I am NEVER trusted to cook the meal. I usually bring the rolls… and believe you, me, it is best for everyone that way.
  2. It is a day for laughing with and corrupting my seven nieces and nephews without having to compete with various new iThings, Star Wars Legos or the latest CD by One Direction.
  3. It is the annual celebration of Carb Fest USA… a.k.a. the typical American Thanksgiving meal. Seriously, when else can you get away with serving at LEAST four starches in one sitting? A culinary scenario that includes stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, buttered rolls, cranberry sauce, fruit salad, pumpkin, pecan and cherry pie ALL chillin’ atop the SAME table at the SAME time = a Carboholic’s fantasy!
  4. There are no gifts required. And I am not listing this one as some stingy, selfish, shopping-hater (even though at times I can be). I mean that no money—other than that which was spent to prepare or provide the meal—was spent on more “stuff” that we probably don’t even need. No expectations were set other than that of gathering together, giving thanks and (hopefully) enjoying the company of those we hold dear.
  5. It is usually the day that ends with my family breaking out a copy of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and we all smoosh together in one room to watch and recite the entire thing — from Counsin Eddie’s dog named Snot and his infamous Crime of Fashion in the form of a black dickie… to fried felines, squirrels on the loose and Jelly of the Month clubs.

Whatever your Day of Thanks brings to you and yours this year, hopefully it includes some thankfulness (of course), some laughter, some love and at least ONE thing with whipped cream on top.

I am not operating under any delusions that I will ever BE this woman… but I like the idea of her.

Responsible Non-Parenting?

Biologically speaking I’ve not been dealt the winningest hand when it comes to reproduction. I’ve known for many years that children are most likely not in the cards for me. And even though it has, at times, been a bitter pill to swallow… I’m coming to terms with it as time goes by.

I’ve begun to think of myself as a non-parent, both now and for always. So it caught me by surprise to be recently asked by my physician whether or not I plan to have children anytime soon. Looking ahead to a wedding and a marriage, I suppose it was a perfectly reasonable question to answer.

But before I answered his question, I asked one of my own. “Look. I am staring straight down the barrel of 38.” I said very matter-of-factly as though he wasn’t already aware of my “advanced age” as he sat there staring at my crow’s feet with my chart and entire medical history in his lap. “At what age does it become irresponsible for me to have a child, Doc? How old is too old?”

He looked at me, slightly taken aback by my inquiry. After a brief, awkward pause he launched into a mini-sermon about how many “less than ideal” mothers are out there raising children. Some of which are very young, very immature or who lack the proper resources to care for a child. And if I am even questioning my age as a potential concern — then I am exactly the type of “responsible” person who should be having children if I wished to do so.

But you see that’s just it. I’m not sure whether or not I “wish to do so.” Biology aside, I’ve considered myself a non-parent for so long that I’ve become rather attached to the lifestyle. You know the one. It includes (but is not limited to) sleeping in, watching what I want on TV, eating meals that are not square, taking trips whenever and wherever I want to and having exorbitant amounts of “ME” time during which to ponder potential world domination.

I have watched as my friends disappear—one after the next—into the matrix of motherhood. I stand at the edge watching them dissolve into the mystical world of two a.m. feedings, car seats, play dates, Sippy cups, Cheerio containers, sleep deprivation and constant sitter hunting. And it scares the crap out of me.

My mother (along with just about everyone else) tells me that it is different when it’s your own and I’m sure that it is. But perhaps it is not only more “responsible” of me, but truly best for all concerned parties if I were to stay right where I am—on the outside of the Mommy Matrix—wrapped up in my down comforter with the remote, some travel guides and a really, really good bottle of wine.

Guilty Pleasures

Every Wednesday I post a status update on Facebook as I gear up to indulge in my favorite guilty pleasure — watching Revenge on ABC. I am absolutely addicted to that show. I don’t know if it’s the scenic Hamptons, the high-flying, preciously-charmed, jewel-adorned lives the characters lead, the clothes, the plotting, the scheming, the backstabbing or simply watching skinny, beautiful, evil people inhabiting a place so foreign to an Ohio gal like me. Nonetheless, I was hooked on the show after watching the first 20 minutes of it when it premiered last fall.

There is a small group of Facebook friends (maybe 8 to 10) who also admit to loving the show and each Wednesday we gather together in cyberspace and enjoy a little pre and post-Revenge dish session.

This week I mentioned to a friend (while dishing) that the show was my “guilty pleasure”— singular—indicating that I had only one. However, upon further review I must come clean and admit to myself and (just for fun) everyone reading this that I DO have other guilty pleasures. Many, many guilty pleasures in fact.

For instance… JUST TO NAME A FEW…

  1. Sleep. I can knock out 12 hours of sleep like nobody’s business. If allowed I would probably give the cat a run for his money.
  2. An Over-Indulgence in Paper Products. I go through napkins, paper towels, tissues and toilet paper like they’re going out of style. And now that I’m not working and home much of the time… I have become acutely more aware of just how much I use. Just ask Lee. He has begun clipping coupons for all things paper since I moved in.
  3. Pizza. I could eat it seven days a week if possible. In fact, ever since I was little and Friday night was pizza night at our house (no exceptions because it was my mother’s one day off from cooking) I EXPECT to eat it at least once a week. And if I don’t get it… I feel deprived. I know it’s probably “wrong” to have such a thing as PES or more formally known as “Pizza Entitlement Syndrome” what with whole nations of people starving and all… but I can’t help it. I am obviously hardwired by now.
  4. Pillows. I can’t get enough of them. Big, fat, fluffy, goose-down pillows for sleeping, pillows for throwing and propping and accenting. When I am out shopping I will ALWAYS cruise the pillow aisle and I can justify the purchase of a new pillow like it’s my job. But I don’t have ANYTHING with this shade or this shape or this pattern or this softness… anywhere in the house! Therefore, I MUST purchase this pillow. It would be a crime NOT to.
  5. Decorative Candles That I Will Never Burn. I know that I’ve addressed this in a previous post so I will not say much more on the matter other than to say that along with the PES, I should probably see someone about it. It’s becoming a real problem. At some point we are going to run out of shelf/table/counter/closet space and become overrun with decorative candles and I will wind up on an episode of Hoarders or some other abnormal-psychologically-voyeuristic cable show.

So… dear readers, please share with me (because I’d really like to know) what are some of YOUR favorite guilty pleasures? The sky is the limit and I promise that your secret will be safe with me. Well, me and anyone else who happens to click on this link today.

All I Ever Really Needed to Know (About Sharing My Life With Another Person) I Learned in Kindergarten

After a lengthy discussion about where the couch, recliners, end tables and lamps would go I paused and asked him a question. “We’ve each been on our own for so long now, do you think it will be hard to adapt to sharing our ‘space’ with one another?”

“I hope not.” He cautiously replied. “I hope that I’m an easy person to live with. Then again, no one’s been around to tell me otherwise. I might be a total jerk.”

I laughed, as I knew that he was too good of a person to be a jerk to live with. I’m certain we’ll annoy one another with our unique habits and differing needs for personal space… but that’s all part of learning how to go through life with another person. The topic then led me remember that famous writing by author Robert Fulghum called All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Because it’s really all the exact same stuff packed into a different framework.

The following is an excerpt from his writing:

Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.

These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work some every day. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

My personal Top Ten List of the points, however that REALLY stand out:

  1. Share (this MIGHT be the hardest one of all)
  2. Play fair (or fight fair I suppose also applies)
  3. Don’t hit people (DUH)
  4. Say you’re sorry (even if you’re not sure who’s wrong)
  5. Flush (and put the seat down, please)
  6. Live a balanced life (in my opinion… “Balanced” means play ALWAYS outweighs work)
  7. Take lots of naps (so you don’t kill each other)
  8. Watch for traffic (or trouble)
  9. Hold hands (no matter who is looking)
  10. Stick together (no matter what)

It doesn’t get any better than this…

I always knew I had certain “tendencies” toward the doing of absolutely nothing. But nothing quite confirms that suspicion like a nice, long holiday break.

It has been exactly one week since I’ve been at the office and four days since I had any obligation of any kind. And it feels great.

There is a little part of me (notice I said little) that feels I MUST be doing something… I SHOULD be doing something. And yet, I don’t. I’m sure this enjoyment of doing nothing will eventually wear off.

Perhaps I will tire of staying up until 2 a.m.—laughing and imbibing with friends—then sleeping until 10:30 a.m., getting dressed at 4 p.m. and doing it all again. Perhaps not.

Either way, come Monday I will have to get up and get back into the game.

Until then… there is a perfectly good spot for me… on the couch.

Me… Naughty?

Last December I came home to find a red plaque hanging on my backdoor. It had 4 simple words on it, presumably for Santa. It read: I have been naughty. And I knew right away who the culprit was… it was my dad. He is famous for finding these unique little items that no one has ever seen and then leaving them in surprise places for you to discover.

For example… a few nights earlier… at nearly 11 p.m., I discovered a hobby horse at the top of the ladder up to my loft and it scared the shit out of me! Hobby horses are a joke between my father and me that goes back to elementary school… but that’s another story for another day. Anyway… this hobby horse was just sitting there… silently centered in an obviously very carefully chosen location. It felt just like the sort of thing a killer would leave to let you know he’s there… right before he leaps out of hiding and murders you.

I know, I know… I watch too many movies.

But back to the “naughty” thing… I honestly don’t know where he is coming from telling Santa I’ve been a naughty girl. I mean honestly, I think I am just a misunderstood, passionate person with a unique zest for life who requires a healthy amount of “me” time and who also happens to have a bit of a preoccupation with the macabre.

Dear friends, read the following and tell me…

Is It Wrong To…

1. feel like sleeping until noon everyday and then seriously entertain the idea of doing absolutely nothing after that?

2. expect that radio stations ought to play music instead of combing through the minutia of pervy Herman Cain’s sexcapades as well as the cognitive integrity / mental stability of each of the Republican Party candidates for the entirety of my 20 minute commute into work?

3. yell obscenities (with the windows up of course) or honk the horn at the driver in front of me who doesn’t use his/her turn signal, drives under the legal speed limit, cuts me off, or just doesn’t follow the rules of the road in general?

4. drive 10 MPH in front of someone who has been tailgating me for the last 15 minutes when they can’t pass me because of oncoming traffic and then floor it when they are able to pass me? Oh… and to thoroughly ENJOY this while I am doing it? I mean… absolutely, totally and completely DELIGHT IN IT to the point of drunken giddiness?

5. find joy in feeding the dog peanut butter just so I can watch her try for over an hour to get it all off of the roof of her mouth?

6. fantasize about taking an ice-pick to all of those inflatable Christmas lawn decorations? You know… to every last one of them that I see? Or after I’m finished unleashing my misguided torrent of rage on all of those unsuspecting Santas and Rudolphs… then to consider driving around and actively searching for more in which to slay? Or should I say: sleigh? Get it?

7. continuously assault you, the reader, with bad puns purely for my own enjoyment and simply because I can?

8. wish for a winter storm SO severe, and SO widespread that it knocks out power to everything within a 50-mile radius, making the roads impassable and thus causing everyone to stay inside for days and days with nothing else to do but sleep, read and play UNO, Monopoly, Yahtzee or Scrabble? Or did I mention sleep?

9. insist… when playing Monopoly… on being the banker in order to eventually cheat everyone, dominate the entire game and ultimately win? You know, like bankers do in real life?

10. text message a last-minute decline of attendance AND my sincerest apologies for not making it to the Christmas party / family gathering / function where everyone was expecting me by pulling a “Marcia Brady” and saying that “something suddenly came up” when in actuality I just didn’t “feel” like going because truthfully, I would much rather be outside slaying inflatable Christmas lawn decorations?

See, I don’t particularly think there is anything odd, strange, “twisted,” “sadistic,” “demented” or “naughty” about any of those things… but then again… maybe that’s just me.

Nevertheless… I guess I will find out in less than one month whether or not Santa agrees.

Me? A Morning Person?

As many of my regular readers probably already know… I am NOT a morning person. In fact, I am not even really an “awake” person. I love sleep. I adore sleep. I like falling asleep, staying asleep, going back to sleep, talking about sleep, writing about sleep, planning for my next sleep and finding extra time in my schedule for… you guessed it… sleep.

But, you see… I started something this week. It was kind of an accident and now it has snowballed into this whole “morning person” thing. And well, let’s be honest… mornings interfere with sleep… So I have what you might call a bit of a dilemma on my hands.

While trying to make an important deadline for work, I stayed up one night until I just hit the wall. It was only midnight, but I could go no further. So… as much as I HATED the thought of it… I had but one choice. Go to bed right then, set the alarm for an hour and a half earlier and get up and go to the office in the wee hours so as to meet said deadline.

And you know what? I got up, I ate a healthier, low-calorie breakfast, I encountered little traffic on my commute and the time alone at my desk proved to be quite productive. By the time my co-workers began to arrive, my early-morning-I-hate-everyone-and-am-bitter-because-I-am-awake fog had begun to lift. I felt alert and ready to tackle whatever challenges the day had to offer.

However, as with anything worthwhile… there is a price. By 5 p.m., though there was definitely still work to be done, I was done. I could work no more. I was tired and cranky and ready to hit the couch in my favorite baggy t-shirt and sweats. Well, I thought… I guess I’ll get up early again tomorrow and finish up this work before the real day begins.

This time, I went to bed one hour earlier and set the alarm for two hours earlier than usual. I got up, ate the healthy, fiber-packed breakfast, sped to work like a demon, got the best parking spot and finished several projects before anyone else dared darken the doorway.

By today—the third day—co-workers and Facebook friends have begun to wonder what the hell I’m doing up so early. (Like I’m not wondering the same exact thing…) “What are you doing up so early? What are you doing up so early?” everyone keeps asking me. And I tell them that I’ve just been finding the mornings to be a great time to get work done…

Not to mention that (as an aside) I’m secretly hoping the uber-early, super-healthy, low-calorie breakfast of champions combined with multiple cups of coffee may help me shed these unwanted pounds in time to break out my sweater dresses. Because, let’s face it… no amount of Spanx or control-top panty hose is going to hide an extra 10 pounds when it comes to body-hugging knits.

Anyway… back to mornings. So I guess what I’m saying is that there may be hope for me yet. Perhaps I can finally make peace with my alarm clock and stop abusing the snooze button after all. Maybe I can be a morning person! Maybe one day I’ll even get up and do one of the five different yoga DVDs currently collecting dust in a basket by my bed! Or go for a walk in the brisk, morning air… or take up kickboxing again…

But hear this… Morning person or no morning person… Nothing… and NO ONE is going to TOUCH my 12-hours-at-a-time-weekend-sleep-marathons.