An untraditional tradition

I used to marvel at Granny’s Thanksgiving turkey-ing.
Golden brown on the outside and moist and delicious inside.

I had no idea how she did it, and she wasn’t sharing her secrets with anyone.

Her turkey was so decadent one could eat it free of gravy and without any of the accompanying sides. It was good enough to stand alone.

When I finally decided to try my hand at cooking the bird, I did a decent job.

Even the old gal said so herself, although she had thrown in her commentary about what she would do differently.

“Did you thaw your bird out long enough, Sug?” she asked, her tone telling me she thought I had not. “And next time, make sure you cook it longer on low, instead of trying to rush it.”

My husband only had Granny’s turkey a couple of times before she quit making it; I don’t think my child ever had the honor of blessing his taste buds with it. A deprived childhood, in my opinion.

My child only had memories of disgusting Thanksgivings.

The year Granny put the turkey in the pressure cooker, yielding a mess that the evil beagle refused to eat, and she ate, well, I am sure you know what beagles eat.

The following year, Mama ordered something equally uneatable.

The next year, I tried ordering a complete dinner that was supposed to be already cooked and just needed it reheating.

Cracker Barrell made the dinner the following Thanksgiving.

While tasty, it felt weird not to have a carcass to shove back into the fridge when we got done.

Thanksgiving, which is usually such a joyous holiday marked by eating and football, had become a day where we dreaded eating.

“I don’t really like turkey,” Lamar confessed when I was trying to figure out what to make this year.

If I was honest, I didn’t either. If it wasn’t Granny’s, it wasn’t really fit to eat.

“As far as I am concerned, we can just have the sides,” he continued.

“What kind of sides are we talking about?” Cole wanted to know.

“Well, you have to have potatoes,” Lamar began.

“Two kinds of potatoes,” I said. “It is Thanksgiving. It is completely acceptable to have two kinds – some kind of sweet potato and mashed.”

They agreed.

“Mac and cheese?” I suggested. Both nodded.
“Peas?” Cole added.

Of course, peas. You can’t have mashed potatoes and not have peas.

“Some kind of roll,” Lamar offered.

I nodded, wondering which would be best: biscuit or roll.

“What about dessert?” I asked.

“Pie,” Lamar said.

“What kind?” I asked.
“Apple,” Lamar said.
“I don’t like apple.”

“I do. Cole does,too.”

“Cole likes any pie,” I said.

“What kind do you like?”

“Pecan, lemon meringue, or key lime.”

“Maybe cake?”

“I can make a cake,” I agreed.

“Do we need anything else?” Cole asked.

“Like what?”

“Could you make salmon?” he asked.

I could. Salmon croquettes sounded better than turkey and wouldn’t take as long.

“So, our menu is a bunch of sides, salmon croquettes, and cake?”

They both nodded.

“Neither of you will miss turkey?”

Both shook their heads.

“Alright. That’s what we’re doing.”

A turkey-less Thanksgiving is what it will be. And with it, the beginning of an untraditional tradition.

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Differing opinions

A friend of mine commented on Facebook the other day that he noticed a few people had unfriended him because of a political post he had shared.

I missed the post – I am trying to stay off Facebook for the most part lately – but found it sad someone unfriended him over his opinion.

His opinion.

Now, granted, years ago before we had social media, we didn’t discuss politics among friends or family because we knew not everyone shared the same views.

Back then, we didn’t feel the need to share every thought that came in our head at every given moment.

In today’s digitally driven world, we declare our views every three seconds and state, “My wall, my page – if you don’t like it, you know where the unfriend button is.”

That is not what this friend did at all; if anything, he probably shared something showing his patriotic beliefs and someone took great umbrage with it.

It’s sad because regardless of what political party we tend to align with, we are all Americans. We’re all members of the human race. We all have to get along. We have to work together, live together in our communities, and find ways to make things better here at home.

Granny would have never stood for this nonsense.

She always said as much as some people irritated her, she didn’t give up on them because of their opinions.

“Opinions are just like a certain body part,” she would say, “everyone’s got ‘em and needs to keep ‘em to themselves.”

But here lately, our differing opinions are driving us apart.

If I unfriended everyone I disagreed with, I would have no friends left, except maybe the account a friend set up for her dog.

Even then, he doesn’t seem to be too cat friendly and well, I am a crazy cat lady.

I was discussing all of this new-found discord with Mama the other day and she found it downright bizarre.

“Takes everyone working together to make the world go ‘round,” she said simply. “My best friend was on the totally opposite side of me politically. It didn’t matter. We were friends.”

“How did y’all not fight about politics?” I asked.

“We didn’t discuss it. I knew what party she voted, and she knew the one I voted,” Mama explained. “We talked about our kids, what y’all were doing, what we were going to get for dinner at work.”

In other words, they focused on the things that brought them together and made them friends; not the things that would tear them apart.

I know I have let a lot of the political hoopla get to me over the recent years. It used to not bother me and was something I just politely declined to participate in.

But it is hard to avoid now. Everywhere we look, we are being forced to have an opinion, and to pick a side.

Being passionate about your beliefs and knowing where you stand is important and probably as American as apple pie.

However, alienating someone because they have a different opinion than you is just wrong.

I thought about the person that was unfriended.

The father of one of my dearest friends for over 15 years.

And, no matter our different opinions on things, I remembered the kindness he extended us some 14 years ago that stays with me. An offer that we didn’t have to accept but it was graciously offered and appreciated.

He didn’t ask who we were voting for, he didn’t ask our opinions on matters that now seem to cause deep division among friends and family.

He just knew people he cared about may be in a predicament where he could offer some grace and compassion.

It hurt my heart to think someone had unfriended him on some silly social media platform because he shared something that he agreed with.

We used to seek to understand why someone liked something we didn’t. When my child was 4 if I had told him I didn’t like something he did, he would seek to understand. Why didn’t I like it? What, if anything, did I like about it?

He wouldn’t call me names and cut me out of his life.

But that’s how we handle things now. We want to shut out those who disagree with us even slightly.

And it only promises to get worse.

“People are really going to be fussing and fighting and slinging mud,” Mama warned as we talked about the coming months.

“With the midterms?”

“No,” she said. “College football.”

And that should be what we really argue about.

A modern-day impropriety

According to my dear, crazy redheaded Mama, the end of civility fell upon my generation.

Hers, she claims, had a sense of decency.

“We didn’t talk the way you and your friends do. It was unheard of,” she declared one day.

I was not sure what she was referring to; she thinks everything that I say is inappropriate, even when I am merely stating a fact.

“What are you talking about?” I asked her, not really wanting to know.

“The things you say in mixed company. It’s not proper.”

Mixed company was Mama’s definition of men and women. And based on her boundaries, saying pretty much other than “Hello,” was rude and improper.

“What did I say?” I asked.

“More like what didn’t you say. I can’t believe you talk that way around menfolk.”
I can’t believe my mother uses the phrase “menfolk.” How old was she exactly?

“Mother, just because your generation was so hung up on silly stuff does not mean mine is,” I said. “Generation X-ers are a little bit different.”

Mama sniffed. “It’s still is rude and just shouldn’t be done.”

What got her knickers in a knot on this particular day was my recounting of what I had said to the owner of the feed store about Doodle.

I had commented the parking lot pup was part pitbull, and while we weren’t sure what she was mixed with, we felt certain her southern hemisphere was pittie because she had a wiggly backside.

Except, I said the other b-word that meant backside.

Mama had a fit.

“I can’t believe you told a man that!” she cried.

“What?”

That! How could you?”

“Mama, they hear worse than that on the radio or the news. Trust me. Me saying that word is the least offensive thing that was said that day.”
“It’s not a matter of offending someone. It’s a matter of talking properly. A woman is not supposed to talk like that in front of a man,” she stated.

In Mama’s world, this should have been put in the Bill of Rights or engraved on stone and handed to Moses. She had a list of certain categories and words that she felt like should not be mentioned in front of or in discussion with members of the opposite sex. It would be easier to list the ones she found acceptable – food, weather, and only non-controversial books.

“I don’t know if you have jumped into the 21st century yet or not, Mama, but men and women have been having discussions on these topics for a while now. I am sure you have watched television; they talk about all kinds of things you deem improper on TV.”

She sighed. “And that’s probably why I prefer reruns of Perry Mason to some of these shows. Your uncle and I tried to watch an episode of Mom one night – I thought I would like it because the taller woman had been on West Wing with Mark Harmon. You know he’s Gibbs and I have always liked him. Anyway, it was the most atrocious thing I have ever seen. We turned it. It was embarrassing to sit there and hear that kind of language with my brother sitting three feet from me.”

“Mama, are you really this hypersensitive?”

I could hear her bristle on the other end of the phone. “I don’t consider myself hypersensitive. I just think that there is no decorum left in your generation and those that came after it. Nothing is sacred, and everything is up for discussion, and it does not matter who is present.”

Mama, bless her heart, would have a huge fit if she had ever heard some hardcore rap music.

I am not sure why she has been so unyielding in this area, but she has. She has always been mortified about me discussing anything she deemed the least bit delicate within earshot of any men I knew, unless I was married to them. And even then, she thought it may not need to be shared.

“I think you are being awfully silly. I think most women discuss these things in this day and age,” I said.

Good lord – I had been reduced to using the phrase ‘in this day and age’ – I was officially old.

“I am not silly,” she insisted. “I just think, if you look back on the course of history and start looking at when things started going wrong in this world, you will notice it began with language. Our language helps set us apart and give us boundaries. People who may not have had much money still knew how to talk properly. Now, everyone talks so plainly, it makes them look unintelligent and uneducated. People just say anything now – and don’t care who hears it. And it brings us all down.”

There you have it.

The downfall of civilization was brought about by the impropriety of our language, at least according to Mama’s theory.

Not for the faint of heart

I remember the day I turned 29.

It was 16 years ago – yikes, that’s hard to believe.

But the day I turned 29, I took the day off from work.

I worked out twice that day, hoping to fight off the effects of gravity and the aging process.

I didn’t even eat any birthday cake, something I never skipped.

I grieved.

It was my last year in my twenties.

I felt ancient, as if my youth and life were over.

I was about to enter a new decade, my thirties.

Little did I know those years would fly by in the blink of an eye.

I went through a divorce, got remarried, had a baby, moved a couple of times, and went through about 4 different career changes.

No wonder by the time I hit my 40’s I was exhausted.

My spunk and sass seemed to have been replaced with, “Eh, it’s not worth the energy fighting over.”

Blasphemous talk for one who is a quarter Irish.

“Cole, when I was younger, I would have….”
I recount tales of my younger hot-tempered responses and how I stood up fiercely for myself and for others.

Now, I just hope to avoid any disagreements, so I don’t have to worry about it for days on end.

The aging process has not only affected my emotional response but my physical as well.

Remember when Dolly Parton declared, “Time’s marching on, and eventually you realize, it’s marching across your face?”

Yeah, well, Truvy got that one right.

She just left out the battlefield extended in all directions.

The other day in the bathroom, I saw not one, not two, but four grey hairs sticking up from the midst of a field of black, dark brown, and whatever other colors are mixed in there.

I screamed.

These had popped up overnight.

The greys could and would be covered with some liberal painting of color at my next appointment.

An easy fix, I told myself.

But some of the other things were not so easy.

For one thing, the few pounds I would gain from too much cheesecake no longer come off as quickly as they previously did.

Just five short years ago, I could just skip my afternoon bag of M&M’s and drop whatever weight I had gained.

Now, I am still struggling to lose the weight I gained three years ago.

“Once you are over 40, you will find it’s not so easy to lose that weight,” Mama informed me one day.

I told her I was already learning that.

“So, you may want to lay off the cheesecake. And the candy. I know you think they are their own food group.”

I groaned my disapproval of her advice.

“Your body is going through some changes now that you may not like and may be embarrassing, so you need to pay attention to what you eat and do.”
I was in my mid-40’s and finally, my Mama was giving me the talk about my changing body.

And as much as I hate to admit it, she was right.

“I have cut out everything that tastes good and you want to know how much I have lost?” I asked one day.

“How much?” a friend asked.

“I gained 2 pounds. Two pounds! And I think I pulled something trying to squeeze into my imitation Spanx.”

“Honey, how old are you now…?”

No response was necessary.

To add insult to injury, as if eating kale and gaining weight with multiple greys dotting my hairline were not enough, I had something else happen.

Adult acne.

As a teenager, I somehow dodged a bullet and had clear skin.

Maybe Mother Nature thought I had enough going against me and told pimples to find another canvas to land.

But here I was, trying to figure out which cream, gel or serum to apply first: wrinkle cream, lifting cream, brightening gel, or acne treatment. And vitamin C treatment. Did you know you face needs vitamins, too? It does.

“Maybe you put too much gunk on your face? Could that be it?” Lamar asked, watching me slather various things on my face one morning.

“Given the fact that middle aged women seem to blame everything on our hormones, that’s mighty brave talk for a skinny man to use,” I warned.

He got the hint and went into hiding until later that day.

But the real kicker was even more painful than the esthetic issues I was experiencing.

“It’s going to rain today,” I announced one morning.

“Weatherman on TV said it is going to be clear,” Lamar said over his coffee.

“I don’t care what they said, it’s going to rain; maybe snow.”

“What makes you think that?” Lamar asked.
“The way my neck is hurting, it is going to do something. Trust me. I may not have Doppler, but I have a neck that lets me know.”
“Good lord, you are not old enough to start sounding like Granny.”

Guess what?

Around 3 p.m. that afternoon, it started sleeting.

“Told you,” I said. “My neck knows.”

This getting older thing is not for the faint of heart.

But, it sure beats the alternative.

 

Forgiveness is harder than it sounds

I am going to admit something not too pretty here: I have a hard time with forgiveness.
I can hold a grudge and think up reasons to not forgive someone all day long.
It’s not healthy, I know.
And sometimes, forgiveness comes with conditions. Or at least, begrudgingly.
My hardened heart comes honestly, I think.
My Granny prided herself on her unforgiveness.
She could tell you how long it had been since she had last spoke to someone, why they had quarreled and give you every reason why she was justified in her anger.
“I ain’t spoke to her in 55 years, and I ain’t got no plans to speak to her now,” Granny said about someone one day when she heard they were gravely ill.
“They may pass away,” I told her.
This did not sway Granny. “I doubt it,” she said. “They are too mean to die. And more than likely, this is a ruse to see how many flowers they get or who still cares. They won’t be getting that from the likes of me!”
I thought she was made of some tough stuff to feel that way – to not care that someone may pass away without resolving those unmended hurts. But Granny did not care.
Mama, for the most part, can carry a grudge herself.

 
She still to this day cannot stand my first grade teacher.
Granted, the woman should not have been allowed in a class room, but Mama still cannot let go of her hatred towards that woman.
“Mama, I don’t worry about that woman,” I said one day after Mama was commenting her disgust. “And that was how long ago? Can you do like an overplayed Disney princess and let it go?”
“No, I cannot. She probably scarred you and countless others. She had no place in a classroom.”
True, that woman should not have been allowed to mold young minds. But she’s probably close to a 100 years old if she’s alive now…. surely she had asked for some sort of penance?
Mama didn’t care.
I sighed. I had my own grudges to nurse.
Don’t you hate it when you are comfortable with your grudges and justified in your anger and things keep popping up in your face?
Topics focused on forgiveness continually pop up on your emails, news feed and other areas.
You start to think, “Hmmm…maybe this is some kind of message?”
And then someone you simply adore starts talking about the very thing.
Forgiveness.
Oh, bother, as Winnie the Pooh would say.
I had heard all this forgiveness stuff before – who hasn’t? – but had not put it in action yet.
Like my Mama and Granny before me, I had taken great pride in not forgiving someone or letting a hurt fester to the point it was beyond repair.
I had let my heart get darkened and hardened, leaving out the possibility that maybe I was wrong or that maybe the other person had been going through something else.
I sat and listened. Truly listened, I wanted to add.
I listened to hear how we are supposed to forgive and let healing happen.
And how forgiveness really is something we are supposed to work on.
“But what if…” I thought.
They didn’t know what this person did to me.
It didn’t take into account the pain I had felt or how that person had treated me.
Nor did it mention that I may be completely right in my anger or feelings.
I was, too.
Let me tell you, if you sat down and heard my side of things, you’d realize I was right and that the other people were wrong and they didn’t deserve forgiveness or compassion or even kindness.
I didn’t want to forgive.
Didn’t that mean it was OK what they did?
Didn’t it mean that I was giving in and letting their actions go unnoticed?
I thought about all the people who had wronged me – the people who had lied, the ones who had let me down, didn’t do what they promised, and who had ended up hurting me when I least expected it.
How could I forgive that?
And here was someone I thought so much of, saying how we needed to go to the person and explain how we – not them, we – had been affected by the situation and ask for forgiveness about how we had felt and reacted.
We – or rather, me.
What if I had reacted in haste or pain and taken things the wrong way?
What if I had been the one in the wrong – and not the other person?
What if I had missed out on having someone I loved in my life because I had been an equine rear for too long without going to them?
I could hear Granny’s voice in my head, telling me it didn’t matter, it was never our fault, we were never wrong and no one – no one deserved forgiveness, least of all us because we never did anything wrong.
She may have been right; this is something I have struggled with for over 40 years and undoubtedly will a bit longer.
Holding grudges and having a hardened heart was something we had nurtured for quite a while and had elevated to an art form. But sometimes, forgiveness isn’t for others; it’s for us.
And maybe, some forgiveness is in order.
Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the novel, “The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery.”

 

 

The first ever non-diet resolution (1/6/2016)

This is maybe the first ever time I have not started the New Year with some grand resolution of losing at least 10 pounds.

It’s not because I didn’t really make “resolutions” this year, but because I discovered the other definition of resolution was “contentious matter” and that’s what they seemed like to me.

No, I decided I wasn’t going to mention a diet at all this year.

Do I need to lose weight?

Oh, my thighs yes –I need to lose weight.

I always think I need to lose weight, even when I didn’t but this time, I did.

But this year, I wanted to be more mindful in attacking the objective instead of just writing at the top of a list “Lose weight.”

I wanted to figure out why I had gained weight to begin with.

There’s some behavior involved that if I don’t deal with it, will only keep recurring.

I knew my behaviors too well.

I am an emotional eater, which means if I am happy I eat; if I am sad, I eat; if I am nervous, I eat. Whatever the emotion – I eat. It’s much better than addressing the real cause behind the emotion, at least temporarily.

Add to that food allergies/intolerances and sensitivities and I have a perfect storm to be chubby.

I can eat something and blow up like a puffer fish.

I know this and I eat a piece of cheesecake anyway.

Then I spend days in agonizing pain, angry at myself for eating something I shouldn’t anyway.

Focusing on a diet that promises I will lose 10 pounds in two weeks is not going to help me.

“I don’t think you need to lose weight,” Mama said on New Year’s Day.

“Mama, the only female in this house who likes being chubby is Doodle,” was my reply. It was true. The pittie mix was proud of her curves. As a matter of fact, I need to get some of Doodle’s attitude. “I am going to get back to my normal weight but I am not setting it as a resolution. If I do I’ll give up by the third week of January along with everyone else.”
And then, when Valentine’s Day hits, I will just pig out on candy in red foil hearts because hey, I had already failed at my resolution, so I may as well eat 37 pieces of chocolate.

So this year, instead of trying to do some crazy crash diet and getting mad at myself because I broke down and had a spoon of Nutella at 10 a.m., I am going to be mindful.

I am going to listen to my body and myself – if I am eating out of an emotional response, what is the emotion?

I will be mindful in how I feel and respond to those feelings.

What do I need to deal with?

Is there a better way I can process the issue besides eating?

None of the stuff I know I can’t have, either.

My health needs to be a priority. Pain can be well, crippling. I have hurt so badly I could barely move. It’s not fun. My husband will tell me if something hurt him that bad, he wouldn’t eat it; I tell him I wish it were that easy. It’s not.

Probably most importantly, I am also going to stop hating myself.

Instead of beating myself up when I do need a spoon of Nutella – who doesn’t? – I will process it and move on.

I am not going to associate guilt and shame with food any more.

I’ve done it long enough and it’s probably a huge part of the problem.

So no more of that nonsense.

If I eat a piece of cheesecake knowing I will hurt for three days and be puffy, I am just going to eat the dang cheesecake.

Even more so, I am going to enjoy it.

Nope, I told everyone, I was not going to list ‘lose weight’ as my resolution this year.

Instead, I am going to take control of this whole torment with food once and for all.

It’s one resolution I can stick to.

 

So long, 2015

2015, I am glad to see you leave.

I wish I could say it’s been fun, but it hasn’t.

The past 12 months haven’t been horrible, but, they just haven’t gone as I thought they would. I had goals.

I had plans.

I had aspirations.

I had ten pounds I wanted to lose and a pair of skinny jeans I wanted to fit in again.

I had a room to de-clutter and turn into an art room.

It now has more junk in it to go through in the post-Christmas chaos.

Isn’t that the way every year goes though?

The number of people I considered to be friends has decreased a bit more, as with each passing year I learn who is really my friend and who is just around when it’s convenient.

I am fine with that.

I have learned it’s OK to have quality over quantity, especially in this area.

I found out we can endure far more than we ever imagine. I have witnessed people in my life somehow make it through things that would have bested a giant.

I have learned some people can amaze us with their strength, their perseverance, and their faith.

I think, however, there has been enough tests, and enough trials and tribulations to last a lifetime.

2015 hasn’t been all bad, however.

There have been moments where my faith in people have been restored.

Small miracles have come through.

Good things have happened, even if not on the scale we wanted.

We’ve found gratitude can help us stay focused.

We’ve learned the small things do matter and that manners make a difference.

We have more technology than we could imagine, and can watching things on demand, read books on our phones, and can Facetime with someone across the world.

And still what we crave the most is a hug from someone who really cares about us.

2015, you have been full of ups and downs.

You’ve given us horrifying, heartbreaking news any time we turned on the TV.

Then, Steve Harvey messed up announcing Miss Universe and the world had something new to tweet about.

Your weather has been moody as my Mama was my senior year and before hormone replacement therapy was widely used.

If anything, between the 70 degree December, torrential downpours, and resurgence of bugs that should be hibernating in cocoons, you are making the 1982 version of Mama when she ran out of cigarettes late one Sunday night seem more stable than your weather patterns.

No, 2015, I am glad to see you go.

I am welcoming in 2016, with open arms, great dreams, and big goals.

I am believing this year will bring in better things – new beginnings and better opportunities – and that somehow, even when we don’t believe it, that miracles will happen and good will win.

I am counting on this year being so much better than 2015.

Instead of being glad to see the year end, it will be as a year where great and wonderful things happened.

Not just for me, but for all of us.

I think we all are long, long overdue.

 

“What was Thanksgiving like when you were a little girl?” Cole asked as I was making plans for this week.

“It was nice,” I said, before I gave it much thought.

“Just nice? Was it different in any way?”

What was different? I had to think. When we get caught up in our day to day busy-ness, we forget the moments that became traditions and memories.

My Thanksgiving began when it was still dark, as I wanted to get up as early as possible to enjoy the day. Granny had started cooking the night before when she got off work, and her turkey would already be a golden perfection, just waiting until we all ate.

I would sit in the den, listening to her humming in the kitchen and she would wrap me under a quilt, tucking the end under my feet to keep me warm.

“What do you want for breakfast?” she would ask.

I swear, the old gal was downright sweet when she was cooking. Something about being in the kitchen suited her soul.

“I don’t know,” I would say, knowing what she would offer.

“You want me to fix you a sandwich with the first slice of turkey?”

I would nod and minutes later, she returned with a sandwich of white bread generously coated with mayonnaise, salt, pepper and warm turkey.

“The parade will be on later,” she would tell me, turning on the TV.

Granny spent most of the day in the kitchen but it was worth it – she had homemade coconut and banana cakes; Mississippi mud cake; and sweet potato and chocolate pies. Two separate pans of dressing – one with onions and one without for me and my uncle Bobby.

It was a rare day during the week that I had all of my family home in the same time frame – Pop and Bobby were home, instead of working. Mama usually had worked the night before and with it being a holiday, she normally worked then as well, but she’d watch the parade with me.

Cousins, aunts and uncles would wander in throughout the afternoon to watch part of the football game or just visit.

To me, it was a perfect day.

I don’t even remember any Black Friday sales when I was a little girl – if there was, we didn’t go. Granny had the Sears Wish Book and that’s where she was doing her shopping.

Normally, we were still digesting the day after Thanksgiving.

It changed, when I met my ex, as I started celebrating Thanksgiving with his family.

I never realized how much I missed my own family’s celebration until I got older and things had changed so much it could never be re-created. And, just like that, everything was different.

It was a simple, idyllic time, surrounded by family, during an era free of fear and worry. The news was not filled with horrors or stories that make your heart ache. Or at least it wasn’t for me, because I was a child.

I didn’t know there were things in the world to fear.

How was my Thanksgiving different?

So much has changed in more than 30 years.

The world is such a different place now, a real life dichotomy that can be terrifying and full of hope at the same time. Things are so different now than when I was a little girl.

There’s a more hurried pace and the time together is so much shorter. We are lucky to just have Thanksgiving dinner with family now, those times of Thanksgiving spanning over several days are long gone.

But there we are, we find ourselves surrounded by those we love and are thankful for.

“Not much has changed,” I said, kissing his head. “It’s still a day we focus on all we are grateful for.”

Indeed, and we truly have so much.

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/18312/

The Insomniac’s Hypothesis

I am deeply envious of those who get a full night’ sleep.

Lately, I have been able to only sleep for a few hours, wake at 2 a.m. (give or take a quarter) and then lie there, tossing and turning, sleep eluding me.

I’ve taken to sleeping on the couch because Lamar is an extremely light sleeper. Or he claims to be; yet, a few years ago, when I had a 45-minute coughing fit, he didn’t even open an eye.

The worst is when you are really, really tired and you lie down, thinking how badly you need that good restful sleep. You can be so exhausted you can’t even blink. But the minute your head hits the pillow, your eyes are wide open and your mind is spinning like it’s on a hamster wheel.

Such has been my nights as of late.

As I wearily lie there, my mind tries to trick itself into slumber by thinking of the craziest things. Or perhaps the craziest thoughts come to me because of my lack of sleep.

I found a rerun of “Seinfeld” in the wee hours and was awake long enough to see Elaine’s hairstyle go through some pretty dramatic changes. I also wondered what kind of skin care she uses because she hasn’t aged at all. I spent far too long wondering about that before my mind drifted to other things.

Such as: Do dogs ever get sleep deprived? I mean, mine sleep a lot – do they ever feel like they don’t get enough sleep?

Why does Doodle like to eat my shoes? Did she have shoe envy?

Why does Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream taste so much better than other vanillas? And on that train of thought, why do the pumpkin and egg shaped Reese’s cups taste better than regular ones?

Was I the only person in the world who didn’t like pumpkin spice lattes? Or pumpkin flavored anything?

Was Facebook really going to start charging us per month, and sell all our photos?

What if Mama was right and everything in “Star Trek” would come true one day? Even worse, what if Mama was just right – about everything.

Were we out of our emergency mayonnaise? I hadn’t checked the shelf in a while. The one in the fridge may be the last one in the house.

I panic if I run out of mayo.

These are just some of the inane things running through my head as I tried to make myself fall back to sleep.

None of them worked. Instead, these random questions ricocheted through my psyche like a pinball.

I tried to remember when “Seinfeld” went off the air – it was ’90-something.

I wondered if I got a perm, if my hair would look like Elaine’s when she wore it loose and curly.

Did I have any hidden caffeine other than coffee in the morning? No.

Someone suggested it may be hormonal changes coursing through my so-young body.

At the time, I scoffed it off; at 2:30 a.m. I was wondering if that could be the case.

The dull headache of sleep deprivation began just as the realization I was not going to fall back to sleep washed over me.

“I’m just not going to fall to sleep tonight,” I muttered aloud.

Doodle lifted her head and looked at me, but was back asleep as soon as her head rested on her cushion.

I looked at the time on my phone. Another hour and 15 minutes had passed.

I played a few rounds of Candy Crush; it didn’t help.

Finally, finally, after another hour or so, I felt myself yielding to sleep. I could feel the sleep settling in as my breathing grew shallow.

Sleep, precious sleep, I was going to sleep as long as I could – it was never too terribly late, mind you, as I can’t sleep past a certain time.

And Doodle won’t let me. She’s my back up alarm clock system.

I was hoping I would feel rested when I woke up, instead of like I was a grunting, stumbling Walker in makeup.

Sweet, glorious sleep.

Just as I felt myself drifting off, it happened.

The alarm went off.

I tried to re-create the almost-sleep atmosphere, but all my attempts were futile.

I got up and pushed the “auto” button on the Mr. Coffee.

Maybe sleep would find me later. If not, I could always philosophize some more while I watched another rerun of “Seinfeld.”

settle for more

Settle for More (April 1, 2015)

A friend and I were chatting one night, catching up on things and the conversation turned to our usual wistful, wishful discussion of how life was really going.

You know, the real conversation that occurs when we get beyond the superficial stuff.

And once we had the stuff about our hair, makeup, latest diet out of the way, we got down to the nitty gritty.

“How are you? Really?” we asked each other.

When you’ve been friends a while you know there are often things that go unsaid.

“I just thought,” she began, “I don’t know…that life would somehow be….”

Her voice trailed off.

I understood exactly what she meant.

Different. She thought by the time she hit 40, life would be different.

More settled, more secure.

More exciting, more fabulous.

I had thought so myself.

In fact, when I was younger, I thought by the time I hit my 40’s – which, when I was younger, I thought was some ancient age – I would have acquired all the success I could handle and would be sitting somewhere, content with life.

No, I wasn’t drinking, either. I was in my late teens when I had this delusion.

A professor once told me frustration is when our expectations and our realities are not jelling.

If that is the case, consider me frustrated.

Make that a lot of us.

When I graduated college, I thought there was nothing I couldn’t do.

I was going to do great things, set the world on fire.

I see that hope, inspiration, motivation in young people now when they graduate, thinking it will be them that change the world.

But life happens.

Not that life is bad.

It’s not – life has a wonderful, beautiful way of putting us where we need to be sometimes.

It’s just that somehow along the journey, we realize we get off track towards our hopes and dreams.

Those things we thought we’d achieve, do, accomplish – the great American novel, the rock n’ roll album, the wild, crazy dreams – never get fulfilled.

And we settle for things that are far less than those dreams.

We settle for jobs that pay the bills instead of feed our souls.

We settle for situations that really don’t make us happy.

We settle for lives of quiet desperation, fueled by unfulfilled dreams that leave us yearning for things we think are so out of reach.

The great secret, I told my friend, was that really no one’s life has gone the way they wanted – for the most part, anyway. There may be a few that did but more than likely, they all had something that wasn’t perfect, some area of their life that didn’t turn out quite how they wanted.

“And that doesn’t mean life is bad,” I reminded her. “It just means that sometimes, we get sidetracked from our dreams. We stop focusing on what we want, and we just…”

“Settle,” we said in unison.

Someone posed the question in a group over the weekend: “What would you like to change about your life?”

I thought long and hard before I responded.

Other than having some issues with forgiveness or my inability thereof, I wouldn’t change anything.

Sure, there were mistakes. I learned from them.

Yes, there were opportunities I didn’t take that would have been really, really incredible – and would have maybe given something more substantial towards retirement than the $1.75 I have lingering somewhere.

And sure, a lot the experiences and circumstances brought heart ache, disappointment, and made me feel devastated. They didn’t all get me closer to my dreams, or even put that much money in my bank account.

But they all made me me.

Just like the detours and experiences in my friend’s life had made her beautifully her.

We had grown up and thought we deserved the mediocre jobs and the fake relationships.

We thought we deserved to be talked to harshly and treated poorly and even worse, thought it was okay.

“So how do we change this?” she asked. We both were out of wine and the conversation had gotten far more serious than Malbec can handle.

“We settle again,” I said, hearing her sigh. “But this time, we settle for more.”

We start acting like we do deserve better and go after it with the same optimism and foolish belief we can do anything we set our minds to. We take the life we have, and we make it the very best it can be.

Because just because life doesn’t turn into the fairy tale we thought it would be, doesn’t mean it is still not something amazing.

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/16248/