Thank Yew: My Thanksgiving

photo of turkey pictures
So, I’m not going to rant about how half of the history that they teach in elementary schools is horrifying lies. Or even really complain about how when Lincoln founded the US’ Thanksgiving as an official national holiday with a specifically prescribed date, his statement of the subject makes it sound like a holiday for Americans who are of Abrahamic faiths.

Because, you know what? Unlike more official religious holidays, Thanksgiving is really just an American holiday, with its religious undertones purely optional. Even if, as my family did, you only celebrate the Santa-and-getting-what-you-want side of Christmas (I refer to it as “Santamas”), you still probably call it Christmas and may have noticed what the first six letters of the holiday are. You still hear crazy people who believe that any cashier giving them a generic religious greeting rather than one specific to their own religion is contributing to the collapse of America and dooming the world to catastrophe. Thanksgiving is just, well, Thanksgiving.

And speaking of Thanksgiving, have you heard this nightmarish song from the same total weirdo who produced Rebecca Black’s Friday? Patrice Wilson’s latest victim . . . I mean “client/star,” is Nicole Westbrook. I had it in my head all day on Thanksgiving—until I listened to Songs For An Evil Queen, a two-disk playlist which my best friend recently and painstakingly assembled especially for me because he is the best person ever.

I do not really like Thanksgiving food. I mean, cheese does not really factor into the meal very much. Or at all. I like cranberry sauce (but mostly I love the cranberry sauce that I used to get from Boston Market. That stuff was the best and way better than canned or homemade cranberry sauce, though I have not had it in a decade), but until I was in my early teens, I just did not see an upside to Thanksgiving. Sweet potatoes? No thank you. Stuffing in which my mother has hidden mushrooms and who knows what else? I’d rather die. Green bean anything? Don’t insult me.

And then I discovered that Hidden Valley Ranch dressing is a magical serum that transmutes uninteresting meat like turkey into a delicious food. Specifically, a delicious vehicle with which to ingest ranch dressing. It can’t be just any ranch, though. Hidden Valley. Other ranch dressings are … nightmarish imposters.

I should know. At this point, I am an expert in ranch dressing.

After the meal, usually cooked by my mother (this year, it was the two of us, my grandmother, my eldest aunt, and my mother and aunt’s cousin who is delightful but whom I see much less frequently). This was the first Thanksgiving since the family dog died (she passed away on the fifth of October of this year), and the fourth Thanksgiving since my youngest sister died (e. coli at the NC State Fair; fortunately, the livestock are now separated from where children are allowed to go. It would have been nice if they had done that before 2009). My youngest sister, Jaime, died on 2 November 2009 and would have turned fifteen on the twenty-eighth of November of that year, so Thanksgiving often falls on an awkward time for my family.

This year, I had a wonderful time with my relatives. I drank a bit too much delicious wine and the pies were not opened until it was just me with my mother. When I am done writing this post, I am going to go eat a slice (read: one quarter of the entire pie) of blackberry pie, because hot damn pie is delicious. After I was done visiting family, a wonderful friend of mine came over—after having more than one Thanksgiving—and he and I watched Justice League because it is an awesome show that we both missed out on when it first aired.

Also, Disaronno, my favorite beverage on the planet, was involved. On the rocks, of course. I did not make it into an amaretto sour like some kind of . . . monster.

And, of course, I considered the things for which I am thankful. No one at our table prayed openly or anything like that; that has never been a part of my Thanksgiving experience, though my grandmother and aunt, at least, are Christians. We mostly exchanged stories, most of which we had all heard before. Old people are adorable.

I considered the things for which I am thankful. A non-exhaustive list? I am thankful for my magnificent friends who are the only reasons for which I have not given up, moved to as cold of a place as I can find and found some life-sucking job that will pay me enough that I can play video games and, in all likelihood, reach five-hundred pounds through simply no longer having any motivation to interact with other humans in person. Even just keeping in contact with them online is enough to keep me sane. Or close enough.

I am thankful for my wonderful and absolutely out of her mind insane mother. She is all kinds of weird but she cannot help it.

I am so thankful that I have a computer that works, and works well. Computer troubles leave scars in your soul.

It has been such an honor to write for Zelda Lily and I absolutely love doing it. Even on weeks like this one when I almost forget until the last minute because my schedule has been crazy.

I am writing a book (the first part of a series). I am so thankful that it is coming along nicely, that I have a detailed outline of the book’s events already assembled in order and a clear idea of where the series is heading. I am especially thankful that my unreasonably awesome best friend is my collaborator. He is so brilliant and, while I would be writing even without him, the stories and characters and settings would not be the same without him. Plus, he’s often the voice of reason when we are blamestorming, and that is all kinds of necessary. I hope that, next year, I am thankful that we are done writing this book and that we have found a publisher.

I finished the first draft of another chapter just before writing this, in fact.

I thanked the Gods for being awesome, but I did so in private.

I am especially thankful that President Obama was reelected. Thankful that I will never have to say “President Romney” unless I write a story about a gloomy alternate universe.

Happy belated Thanksgiving, you beautiful people. I hope that you enjoy your delicious leftovers if you still have any.

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Letting Go Online

I don’t even know where to start with this one.

My first cousin, a childhood and adolescent best friend, passed away very suddenly this week. She lived in Brooklyn, and I in southern Delaware, and we hadn’t seen each other in a few holidays. Little did I know that the most recent happenstance of holiday celebration would be the last time I’d ever see her again.

I stumbled through the first few days of the week in a shocked stupor, and I found myself on Facebook, for the first time today, at a loss of words. Upon signing on for the first time after I’d received the awful news, I immediately thought:

“I have a deceased person on my friends list. Someone dead. Someone who’s never going to like any of my stupid comments; someone who’s never going to celebrate another birthday, or have their newsfeed inundated with Games of Thrones references again, because there’s NO ONE ON THE OTHER END OF THIS CONNECTION.”

Realizing all of this, I think, was the precipice of sick this whole week. My guts felt like they were tied all up in knots, and all because of Facebook. Facebook, who’s always going to be there to let me know that my cousin’s thirty-third birthday – one that she’ll never celebrate – is coming up. Facebook, who’s keen to remind me via “Circle of Moms” emails that my cousin’s five-year-old daughter got an A+ in finger painting last week. A five-year-old who doesn’t even realize that Mommy’s not coming home ever again. FACEBOOK, who, probably in a few weeks or so, will tell me to “catch up” with my deceased cousin, since it’s been awhile that we’ve spoken. Thanks for that, Facebook.

Sometimes, Facebook? I hate you.

I hate that you’ve made us all so connected, even when we’re miles apart in geography and circumstance. I hate that it’s so easy, so comforting, to get lost in your loved ones’ pictures and videos, because it’s like being a real part of their life. I hate the false sense of security that you lull us into in pretending like everything’s roses with your “upcoming events” feed that promises birthdays, anniversaries, and RSVPs to long-awaited family reunions.

A deceased Facebook friend is like having an open telephone connection to someone who’s sleeping on the other end of the line. Permanently. When does one finally hang up?

*Previously published on Hello Giggles

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Being Brad Pitt’s Mom Means You Can’t Have an Opinion

Photo of Brad Pitt and Mother Jane

Before joining forces with Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt was known primarily for being hot, an endeavor he was remarkably good at.  He has moved from eye candy to political awareness, though, and he has shown to be even better at this undertaking.  Whether giving time and money to victims of Hurricane Katrina or raising awareness about issues such as same-sex marriage, Pitt is a guy that’s used his popularity to get more than laid.

But does that mean that his entire family agrees with him?  Apparently not …

From Yahoo News:

In a letter to her hometown paper, the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Jane Pitt writes that Christians, like herself, should not refuse to vote for Mitt Romney just because he is a Mormon. The published response to an earlier opinion in the paper describes President Barack Obama’s opponent for president as “a family man with high morals, business experience, who is against abortion, and shares Christian conviction concerning homosexuality.”

What I don’t understand, though, is why this is news.

My mother was raised in an extremely right-wing family.  As she grew into adulthood (at the height of the sixties, I might add), she developed her own ideas and opinions, becoming quite liberal.  There were never any turkey-throwing incidents at Thanksgiving over politics or anything, and I had no clue how different her views were from the rest of her side of the family until I was nearly an …

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‘Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding’: A Film Review

photo of peace love and misunderstanding poster pictures It’s been a while since there’s been a good, strong, well-done feminist film and I’m excited to say that ‘Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding’ is one of them. It stars Elizabeth Olsen, Catherine Kenner, and Jane Fonda, which is a winning combo, ladies.  This movie chronicles three generations of women who are trying to find a way to understand each other after years of familial disintegration. Written by Joseph Muszynski and Christina Mengert and directed by Bruce Beresford, ‘Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding’ is a film about understanding, multi-generational empathy, and learning from both your mistakes and your success.

I really liked this film because I’m a young feminist who has recently become very close with my grandmother, who is not a feminist in any way. I think Zoe’s (Olsen) struggle in being a young feminist is interesting to watch as she navigates through both her grandmother and mother’s relationship (the two haven’t spoken in 20 years).  Zoe’s mother (Keener) is the complete opposite of her mother (Fonda) and has never allowed her children to meet their grandmother. But when marital problems hit, she packs up the kids and heads back home to her mother (‘Hope Floats’, anyone?). Over the course of a few summers, they get to know each other and begin to repair a very fractured relationship, all the while learning about each other and life itself along the way.

Feminism is present in many forms in this film. Grandma Grace is a second-wave feminist flower child who loved the 60’s and free love and feels women should do whatever they want and feel is right. Diane (Keener) was born at Woodstock—and has rebelled against it ever since. She is an uptight New York lawyer, highly educated and financially self-sufficient. She sees her mother as a flippant selfish woman. Then there is young Zoe (Olsen) who’s somewhere in between both of them. Her feminism is not fully formed yet, and watching it mature is the fun of this film.

I really liked the idea of this film because feminism itself is so fragmented and dysfunctional. You have people like us that think you can be feminine and feminist then you have people that think you have to be very masculine to be feminist. You have slut-shaming and slut walks. People who think that being a stay-at-home mom is feminist and some that think only if you are self-sufficient and making your own way are you a feminist. It’s a very confused path and this movie illustrates that with its multiple generations and nuances of relationships. Anyone who enjoys feminism and chick flicks should probably check out this movie.

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