Posted in Lore

Celebrating the Giving in Thanksgiving

During my 5k walk benefitting two local food shelves on Thanksgiving morning, I looked up and let the fat snowflakes hit my face.  It was a soft snow with little breeze, and in an instant I felt thankful.

UntitledI was feeling my age upon waking that morning.  The bones creaked and the muscles were rigid.  I poked my head out of bed a few times before I left, testing the layers I’d chosen, finally settling on the long-sleeve cotton shirt we received with our race packets, my food bank hoodie, and a pair of grey sweatpants.  I laced up my old-lady white sneakers, and loaded the shelf-stable groceries in the back of my son’s vehicle.

This year marks our second annual Thanksgiving walk/run for hunger.  Last year the thermometer read a daunting one degree Fahrenheit.  I learned a few things about the 5k/10k races, specifically involving winter weather.  As a runner’s sweat drips down his or her back, stalactites form on the seat of the pants, forming —  for lack of a better term —  butt-cicles.  It’s true.  My son’s facial hair froze into a grampa-white beard and mixed with the evidence of his mile-5 nosebleed.  He was terrifying despite the smile on his face.  Although these are not the reasons I don’t run, they definitely justify my rationale.

Today was about thirty degrees warmer than last year, but the snow lent a sense of adventure.  About 15 minutes after we saw my son off on his 10k run, the rest of us lined up for the 5k.  Once the runners had all passed, the dog-walkers, strollers, and I settled into a brisk, yet slower, pace.  My joints had stiffened standing in the cold, and they ached as I began.  I snapped a few pictures, found some good classic rock on Pandora, and firmly secured my earbuds.

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Somewhere in the middle, I looked up into the swirling white, and I felt thankful.  And I thought about that word — Thanksgiving.  Giving thanks.  Certainly I am thankful to the people who organized the race, and to the food shelves who will put the proceeds to good use, and to my body for being able to carry me a whopping three miles on a frosty morn, and to my employer who gives me Thanksgiving off — even thankful to the earth for the crisp air and swirling snow.

UntitledBut there is more to it than thanks.  There’s giving.  In the end it doesn’t matter who or how you thank.  Whether you offer up prayer, or thank the cook, or tip the waitress.  Thanking is polite.  Giving takes more.  Here, as I looked before and behind me, were all these people who took time away from their kitchen, or got up early, or scheduled Thanksgiving dinner just an hour later, so that they could give of themselves.

And after all the participants have gone home, or finished their Bloody Marys (just sayin’), there are people who are cleaning and clearing the route of signage or trash, sorting and storing the collected food, packing the race gear away, and accounting for expenses and proceeds.

So while I’m thankful to all the people who provided a way for me to give last Thursday, I’d like to change my definition of Thanksgiving from a day to give thanks, to a day to be thankful for the opportunity to give.  I don’t give as much or as often as I could.  But while my body is able, to participate in this annual event seems like a perfectly splendid way kick off this season of giving.

Peace . . .
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Posted in Lore

To Whom Do You Give Thanks?

English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymo...
English: “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanksgiving may well be another frontier over which Americans choose to become ever more divided.  Yes, even the dinner table — on a national holiday, in a country that guarantees our civil liberties — can become a battlefield for our beliefs.

I am dismayed at how many people have been telling me to have a “happy holiday” this week.  I simply cannot believe that the word thanksgiving is cause for offense to anyone.  I am thrilled that we finally accept that there are many different beliefs in this country.  I am ecstatic that we are aware of the many different holidays that occur at this time of year.  But I thought that Thanksgiving was one holiday that we could surely all celebrate in unison.

The Pilgrims were thankful to God, specifically their Christian god, for all they had been given, including religious freedom in this new world.  They celebrated with the Pokanokets who were, themselves, no strangers of thankfulness to their creator.  The Pilgrims thanked God for providing these natives who had taught them how to live in this strange and coarse wilderness.

It was this first flight from religious restriction that allows us the privilege to accept, respect and incorporate so many different beliefs into one society.  Are we not all thankful — every race, color, religion, gender, or creed?  As an Atheist, am I not thankful?  You might ask, to whom does an Atheist give thanks, if not to a god?

I am thankful to those who have fought to defend my civil liberties.  I am thankful to my parents for the tangible and intangible gifts they continue to give me long after their death.  I am thankful to my children, with whom I exchange love unquestioningly.  I am thankful to Bubba for all he gives me to smile and laugh about.  I am thankful to my employer who shows appreciation with a paycheck and benefits that allow me to live a healthy, happy life.  I am thankful to the intelligent people who have given me all the technologies that make life easy and fun.

There is so much to take for granted, or even bitch about in this life.  Thanksgiving is a time for all people to remember not only the things we have been given, but be thankful for them.  Observing thankfulness spans all cultures, nations, and religions with all the beliefs they bring with them.  Gratitude, we have learned, is a healthy, healing undertaking.  For one religion to claim rights to Thanksgiving because some of the first people to observe it were Christian is like saying the Native Americans gave us high fructose corn syrup because they showed us how to plant corn.

Peace . . .

To whom and for what are you thankful today?

Posted in Lore, Room and Board

A Thanksgiving Spin-Off

black-friday-shopping-chaos_01

Thanksgiving did not happen at our house.  There was no turkey, no mashed potatoes, and no pumpkin pie.  I spent the day being very thankful there was no cleaning or dirty dishes.

Instead we opted for a new holiday.

Black Thursday

According to Wikipedia, Black Thursday is a term used to refer to events which occurred on a Thursday. It has been used in the following cases. (I am paraphrasing here for your convenience.  There is no test at the end):

..~~*~~..

And yes, thanks to the materialization of Christmas, it is also the Thursday before Black Friday, known to the civilized population of the United States as Thanksgiving.

One can glean a couple points from this list.

  1. Really bad things happen on Thursdays.
  2. The Retail Black Thursday is bad enough to make this list.

..~~*~~..

Black Thursday is a fairly new occurrence.  It is a spin-off of Black Friday.  Spin-offs are born from something people just can’t get enough of.  If you can’t get enough Happy Days, they make Laverne and Shirley.  If you can’t get enough Black Friday, they make Black Thursday.

We were naive little babies scouring the newspaper ads on Thanksgiving morn.  “See the pretty t.v.s?  Look at those nice prices!  Ooh!  To which store shall we go?”

We decided on Kmart.  The first 40 minutes of Black Thursday were celebrated in a line, about 50 yards from the front door.  Minnesota had stirred up a real blizzard and possibly a little holiday spirit.  As with any classic holiday story, several things were learned:

    • If you are smart you will line up behind a lady with a spring-loaded hair clip.  Snow can pile up in a good 3-inch drift on one of those suckers.  Watching it can help pass time and distract you from the pain of icy extremities.
    • Scope out your locations carefully.  Some are more likely to offer a good fist fight.  The worst we found was some guy with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth telling other people “Shut up.  Do I look like I’m budging in line?  Shut up!”  If we couldn’t get a t.v., I was at least hoping for a YouTube submission.  Didn’t happen.
    • If you’re going to wag your finger at someone across an electronics counter, have the common decency to yell a bit.  Some of us want a YouTube video.
    •  Kmart doesn’t care if they don’t have what you saw in the flyer.  They know you will leave some money behind.  I didn’t brave the arctic for 40 minutes to walk out empty handed.  Pot of GoldAnd that was when I found the greatest deal ever on boxes of Hershey’s Pot of Gold chocolates.  I spent just over $7 on chocolates that Thursday night.  That is $7 more than I have spent there in the last three years totaled.
    • Many friends can be made standing in a northeaster for 40 minutes.  Your friendship will end the minute you reach out for the t.v. they had their eye on.
    • Show up at least three hours in advance with your Thermos, sleeping bag and folding sports chair.  Otherwise, you might as well hop into your warm bed and wait until morning after the plows have come through.

..~~*~~..

Black Thursday will probably not be celebrated in our house next year.  I’ve learned there isn’t anything for sale on Thanksgiving that I need more than what I have at home already.  As Marcie told Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, “Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that’s what they mean by ‘Thanksgiving,’ Charlie Brown.”

We drove off that night together laughing in spite of ourselves . . .

..~~*~~..

Posted in Fun

From the Watery Depths

diverThat feeling when the high-diver misses his mark, his body rotating juuuust a fraction of a degree too far, and his body contacts the surface of the water with an audible slap . . . you lean forward, willing him to surface . . . not daring to breathe . . . and he POPS out of the water with a wave, gifting you with a sigh of relief . . .

This is how I know you must feel upon seeing my post!  I am here waving and telling you I have emerged from:

  • Black Thursday (known to some as Thanksgiving), Black Friday, Cyber Monday
  • The germ-laden shopping crowds
  • The Apocalypse
  • The near-loss of my to-do list
  • Burning my left hand on the turkey roaster
  • Multiple high-fructose corn syrup crashes
  • Blunt trauma to the instep
  • Over-consumption of animal secretions

*If that isn’t enough, we remodeled the basement family room.  It wasn’t a huge renovation, but in involved paint, entertainment-center cables, and the blending of his and her decor.

I’d like to spend the next few posts elaborating on these points, gradually ascending the ladder to the bloggers 30-meter platform.  For now . . . APPLAUD! . . . I have broken the surface of my watery peril.  Waving, I smile, ready to dive in again.

*No animals were harmed in the making of this holiday. 

. . . oh wait . . . there was that 20-pound Honeysuckle White . .
Posted in Lore

Life Changes

It’s been a long weekend.  I went off the grid, just North-West of the Middle of Nowhere.  I’ve caused some grief with just about everyone I love.  Thanksgiving was on its way, and I just couldn’t pick a date.  You see, I like my kids to go to my ex’s side on the holidays since he has a lot of family over there.  There is just me, Bubba, and the dogs over here.  We’re important, but they can stop by and see us anytime.  Grandparents, as I painfully know, are not on this earth forever, and must be cherished.

I needed to pick a non-Thanksgiving date for a turkey dinner.  The trouble is, the kids are grown with lives of their own.  Everyone has Thanksgiving day off of work, but to find another date was impossible.  No matter how I worked it, I would have been leaving one child out.  I couldn’t seem to make that call.  Which one would have to show up for the microwaved plate of leftovers?  Or maybe I was just making excuses.  I just couldn’t deal with the planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning of traditional meal.  I was in a funk.

Stovetop stuffing, deli turkey, steamed carrots, mashed potatoes, and homemade rolls sufficed for Bubba and I.  We ate like boars on the t.v. trays watching something from Netflix.  It sounds worse than it was. 🙂

Friday was spent packing and cleaning for the weekend North-West of the Middle of Nowhere.  Whether it was the weather — a cold winter storm blew in — or the work of getting ready, my arthritis kicked in.  It was a long achy trip up there.  The ache lasted through a good part of Saturday.  For this, and a few other reasons I don’t care to mention, I wasn’t very good company.  I was still in my funk, and Bubba paid for it.

North-West of the Middle of Nowhere:

This morning, Monday, I am back in the center of Somewhere.  I have taken the day off from work.  The coffee shop looked toastier than it is.  My vanilla soy latte has cooled, no longer warming me from the inside.  It took three tries to get their wireless password right.  Checking out my notifications led me to a new blogger I had not seen before.  I liked her blog name insearchofitall.  It reminded me of my tagline Seeking all things . . . .  I started reading her current post, In Search of Giving Thanks.

The line that caught my eye reads, ” . . . life changes and we have to be adaptable. Isn’t that what the pilgrims did?”  

Yes.  Life changes.  The changes rarely come easily, even if we have waited and hoped and planned for them.  Some changes never come no matter how hard we try.  Some changes are thrust upon us whether we like it or not.  We must cope the only way we know how.  For me, it is a trip to the coffee shop, time alone, list-making, and some well-pulled bootstraps.

We are each pilgrims in our own life.  Life changes and we must adapt.  Life changes and we need to go forward.  There is no other direction than forward.  I am stronger than I look, both physically and emotionally.  I have lived through things I thought would break me in two.  I have showed my best side when I didn’t think I had one.  I have kicked ass when I didn’t think I could take one more step.  For myself and all of which I am capable, I am thankful.

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone.