Hiding Out in My Car

Did you know that Americans consume 20% of their meals in their car? Instead of being disturbed by this nugget of information my response is yum.

I’ve had some of the best meals of my life behind the wheel. I’m not talking about fine dining, of course, but when you can hand off a teething infant to your husband, flee to your escape pod and enjoy a chicken sandwich with honey mustard from the Chick-fil-A drive thru where the only sound is you sucking down a chocolate shake it can be a luxurious dining experience.

My car is my safe space, my retreat, my very own tiny home. It’s where I go to hide – from my family. Yes, my kids are years past the teething stage, but I still, at times, sequester myself in my vehicle.

After a spring break trip last year where I, at times, felt like I was being held hostage on a hormone roller coaster called “Extreme Mood Swing” – come for the death-defying drops and stay for a G-force so intense you’ll need years of empty nesting to recover – I eagerly informed my brood that as soon as we arrived home I would be going to the grocery store.

I was gone four hours. Four blissful hours where I set in my car, reclined my seat back and read a book while enjoying a Culver’s butter burger with fries. I was so happy and content I didn’t even feel a smidge of shame when I went through the Culver’s drive thru again, two hours into my post vacation recoup, to get a cookie dough concrete. That meal ranks up there with one of the most delicious epicurean events of my existence.

The only down side of hiding out in my car is that sometimes I’m busted by my family.  After all these years they’ve only, kind of, caught on to the fact that my many trips to the store are in reality mental health breaks.

A couple of weeks ago, right before Christmas I was about to lose it. I still had gifts to buy, cookies to make, a freaking Secret Santa (Just why on the Secret Santa? Why don’t we call it what it really is? A week of buying crap from the Target five dollar bin for your co-worker) and a mother and brother-in-law in town. I had to make a run for it.

Under the auspices of needing gift wrap I bolted for my car and high tailed it to one of my top 10 happy places – the Freddy’s drive thru where I order a Chicago dog. Once I got my food, I pulled into a parking space, blasted my car’s butt heat, pulled up a book on my phone and settled in for time a renewal.

After about an hour I got the dreaded text “Where R U?” which meant is was time to return home. Two hours later the whole family piled into my car to look at Christmas lights and that’s when my lie was discovered.

My car reeked of Chicago dog. If smells had a rating it would have been at DEFCON 1. I had put the Freddy’s bag on the passenger seat, which also had its heater on, and I think that served as a turbo intensifier. It was as if I had a hot dog with extra onions aromatic diffuser in my car.

The Chicago dog odor prompted a flurry of questions from “Did you bring everyone Freddy’s? To “Is that you’ve been doing for the last hour?”

I felt duty bound to confess. So, I shared with my family that I did indeed a Chicago dog for lunch – eight hours ago.

Don’t judge. Every mother needs her secrets.

Death by Snow Villages

My first words of wisdom for 2018 are be careful what gifts you ooh and aah over because it could come back to bite you in the butt – big time.

Thirty long years ago I received a darling Snow Village from my mother-in-law as a Christmas present. For those of you blissfully unaware of the wonder of holiday tchotchkes a Snow Village is a brand of ceramics that depict winter scenes with yuletide flair. There’s train stations, diners, ice cream shops, ski lodges etc.

My first Snow Village was an old-fashioned movie theatre, dripping in snow with White Christmas on the marquee. I was delighted by the gift since I was newly married and had zero in the way of holiday decoration.

Now three decades in I’m buried in Snow Villages. My lovely mother-in-law has given me at least one Snow Village every year for Christmas and I think they maybe the death of me.

Alert readers may now be recalling how I wrote about pine garland trying to kill me in December of 2016, but that was operator error (me, a six-foot ladder and a hammer – what could go wrong?) The Snow Villages are out for blood and it has nothing to do with me being an idiot.

Let’s start with examining where the attempted murder took place – my basement. There you’ll find more than 60 Styrofoam boxes strewed on the floor. Each Snow Village is packed in a Styrofoam box designed to fit their unique structure. Putting the Snow Village back in its correct box is such a tight squeeze that the sound of gently cramming the village in its storage coffin creates a sound so shrill and nerve shattering that it makes fingernails on a chalkboard sound like Brahms Lullaby.

Now imagine hearing this sound 30 plus times. It feels like my brain is seizing. I even wear my lawn mower earmuffs and it’s still like my auditory canal is getting a beat down from a masonry drill. I’m sure in some CIA prisoner de-briefing room there’s an agent wearing NASA grade hearing protection repeatedly putting Snow Villages into their Styrofoam boxes in hopes of eliciting a confession.

Once I’ve cheated death and survived putting the Snow Villages back in their Styrofoam pods it’s time to move onto part two of the storage conundrum or as I like to call it murder by Christmas crates.

Due to the unique size of each Snow Village you can’t fit that many into those large red and green bins you get from Target. This means in Snow Village math that I need almost two dozen bins to house the villages. Then I must stack each of these large plastic units in the icky part of my basement that looks like’s an abandon concrete munitions storage bunker from WWII.

As I’m standing back and admiring my brute strength and majestic stacking ability that created four rows of bins that measure 5 crates high the whole monument to my organizational skills starts falling. First the top crate in the middle comes for me, like right at me, as if I was a bullseye in a carnival shooting gallery. Then they all start tumbling. It was an avalanche of plastic.

I start screaming, but in the deep sub terrain space of your basement no one can hear your cries for help. As I lay on the cold concrete floor covered in Christmas bins I think about crying and selling all the Snow Villages on Craig’s List. But then I bucked up.

These Snow Villages will not vanquish me. I got up, restacked the bins, albeit this time only four crates high, and told myself that perhaps next Christmas the villages would get a time out in the basement that would last the entire holiday or eternity.

Trend-Less

Being a “trend forecaster” sounds like a great job. Mainly because you never have to be right. You’re forecasting not stating fact. This means nobody can call you out for getting anything wrong and if they do you just shrug your shoulders and cite unforeseen mitigating circumstances. Basically, you’re golden.

That said, even though being a trend forecasting sounds low stress I think I would be awful at it. Not only can I not predict a trend if my life depended on it, I have vehemently pooh-pooh emerging trends, as in “they’ll never last,” that have become cultural zeitgeist.

One of my biggest missed predictions were stainless steel appliances. Way back in 1998 I was redoing my kitchen and the guy at the Sear’s store (yes, this was so long ago Sears was THE place for your appliances) told me I should hop on the stainless-steel bandwagon.

 I scoffed at his suggestion, got on my high horse and proclaimed “stainless steel should only be in two places – morgues and hospitals.” I then went on to say that “the look would die a quick death and the only people dumb enough to buy stainless appliances were serial killers.” I also added that law enforcement should start some kind of database to track who buys stainless steel appliances and use it as tool to profile predators.

Well, well, well, lookie there it’s 2018 and stainless steel appliances are still all the rage. I feel like I need to find that nice Sear’s employee and write him an apology letter.

My other huge “OMG that’s never going to last” were yoga pants. When women started becoming obsessed with Lyrca leggings I was all about the deep diss. I compared them to the stirrup pants a lot of us wore in the 1980’s. Really, how could I not? They’re the same minus the stirrup. Elastic waistband – check. Lyrca infused material – check. Basically, tights disguised as pants so retailers can charge 10 times as much – check.

Never could I have imagined that yoga pants would not only take over the fashion world and become a di-riguer part of almost every woman’s wardrobe, but also launch entire retail chains like Lululemon.

Then there’s that freaking Elf on the Shelf. The Elf emerged on the scene when my children were very young. I was its target demographic – a mom who wanted to make Christmas perfect. Every mother I knew was enthralled with the Elf when it first hit the stores. At my children’s school I was the lone dissenter.

I openly mocked the mothers for falling for something that was 1) Creeptasic. 2) Took attention away from Santa Claus. I’m a purist. When it comes to the North Pole Santa is my main man and no elf should be sharing or hogging the spotlight and 3) Required a lot of daily effort plus you had to weave a tangled web of fibs, that in my opinion, the elf was unworthy of. (See point #2)

I was beyond certain that the Elf would be a tacky flash in the pan. So, yeah, I think we all know how that turned out. More than a decade later the Elf is going strong. It’s got a girlfriend, there’s a line of “couture” clothes for the Elf and it’s spawned board games and Elf pets.

Seriously could I be any more clueless about what people are going to like? Hmm, maybe that’s my talent being out of-touch or maybe, and I like this one a whole lot better, I’m just too cool to gauge what the masses will respond too. Yeah, let’s go with that. Definitely that’s what it is.

Apparently I Suck At Giving Pep Talks

My spirits have been crushed. Everything I thought I knew about myself is now under review. I keep thinking “How could I have been so unaware, so unable to read a room?” Apparently, I’m living in an alternative universe where I think I have certain unique talents only to find what that the one thing I thought I excelled at I actually have zero aptitude for.

I have, for years, thought that I was the master of the pep talk. I believed I was the go to person for anyone seeking an inspirational speech that artistically combined words of wisdom with the just right of amount of sass delivering the perfect melding of a bear hug with a kick in the butt.

I even thought my pep talking abilities were so superior that I would offer up them up to strangers that I thought were distressed from people in line at Target to Quik Trip employees. Recently my pep talk mojo was unceremoniously crushed like a piece of driveway chalk getting run over by a three-ton SUV and my children are to blame.

It happened when I was with my daughter in California. She was there to do auditions for a college program. Right before she went in to perform I, believing I was the goddess of pep talks, started my soliloquy of “go get’em” and “you’ve got this.”

As I’m delivering what, I’m certain was solid gold, my child uttered three words that forever changed my life. They were, “Mom, just stop.”

“What do you mean just stop?” I asked very worried that she was being overcome with emotion as the greatness of my pep sank it. My daughter, gave me a side eye while sharing very matter of factly that I give the worst pep talks ever and it would be better if I just didn’t say anything.

Wow.

I did exactly what any parent would have done in that situation – totally think your child is overcome with nerves and can’t handle the majesty of her parent. Yes, I totally blew off her comment and continued to bask in the power of pep.

The next day, my son picked us up from the airport and just to ensure (really I was fishing for a compliment) that my pep talks were, indeed, legendary I asked him on the ride home, while laughing because hello it was hysterical that my pep talks were anything but exceptional, if I gave “the worst pep talks ever.”

He, not missing a beat, answered yes as in “Yeah mom, they’re painful.”

Hmm, I pondered, not ready to believe what I was hearing, “Do you mean like so inspiring they’re painful? You know like a good pain or do you mean that the truth that rings through them hurts, but in the best motivational sense?”

“No, I mean they’re cringe inducing, like we can’t wait till you stop.”

Oh. My. God. My life’s true calling is a fraud. What I thought was a gift is a gaffe.

I was so low there was nothing else to do but, that’s right, give myself a pep talk. I went into turbo pep mode and by the time we got  home I felt not only better, but also vindicated. I pepped myself into thinking my children are fools and wouldn’t know awesome if it smacked them upside the head. Someday they would realize the wonder of their mother and until then I would proudly pep on.

So, if anyone needs a motivational pick me up you know where to find me.

Holiday Traditions That Need To Go

I’m an unabashed holiday freak. (Although I draw the line at putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween. That’s just showing a deep disrespect and disregard for the seasons.) I love the month of December like Santa loves the heated seat in his sled. I’m all about the ho, ho, ho and holly jolly. That said, there are some traditions and trends that I’d like to see get permanently put in cold storage at the North Pole, even, gasp, a few of the classics. So, hold on tight to your peppermint mocha because it’s about to get frosty.

Present Parity

I doubt every family does this and I accept 100 percent responsibility for the gift counting issues I’ve created within my family. For you see, I have raised children who still insist that each of them has an equal number of presents.

It started when my oldest was still in Thomas the Tank Engine pull-ups. To help him learn to count, I would stack all his presents and together we would go through them. Then, when his sister came along I did the same thing. The result is now two kids who display an obsessive-compulsive disorder in regards to gift equity. I know most of the reason they still do this is because one of their main hobbies is to annoy me. So, last year, I took to wrapping empty boxes to create an equal tableau. Alas, I was thwarted by a sarcastic child who remarked that her brother’s presents seemed to display a “higher quality gift wrap experience.”

Opening a Present on Christmas Eve

As a kid, I lived for Christmas morning. To take the edge off, my mother would let us open one present on Christmas Eve. I would get all excited, clawing through the gift wrap and ripping open the box like a rabid bear. That exuberance ended upon discovering – Ta-Da – pajamas. Freaking flannel pajamas. Talk about an epic letdown that not even a fistful of candy canes could cure.

Finally, after a couple of Christmases I wised up and told my mother I wanted to open a present that wasn’t going to be PJ’s. Surprisingly she acquiesced. I was thrilled until the gift was worse, much worse than pajamas. It was house slippers from Sears. Ugh.

This is why, as an adult, I have instilled a no-present-opening policy till Christmas morning. No one needs their holiday mojo messed with by starting out the best day of the year with the lamest gift in the pile. Also, I’m very thrifty and I’m on team holiday pajamas that make their debut November 1. That way you can ensure that you’re getting the most wear time out of your family’s elf-themed fleece.

Themed Holiday Dinner

I’m still angry, years later, over how the traditional Christmas dinner I lust after 364 days a year was ruined by a relative trying to be a mini “International Martha Stewart.” This relative, who shall remain nameless, instead of doing the whole sweet potato casserole with gingersnaps and the turkey and dressing yum of it all, decided to create an authentic Nordic menu for dinner.

Answer me this, who wants to dine on Rudolph on December 25? Yep, you guessed it. Reindeer was what’s for dinner and it was being served with a side of oat-rye-spelt clusters and dill-cured arctic char. Blech! There’s not enough hot glögg in Norway to make that palatable.

Here’s my tried and true advice for the holidays – stick with what you know. For example, a couple of days ago I saw a recipe for an updated green bean casserole. It looked very green and lush and I was seriously tempted to upgrade Christmas dinner with this more gourmet version. But then I read the recipe. It was devoid of cream of mushroom soup and those French’s curly onion thingamabobs.

Say what? How do you make a green bean casserole without the cream of mushroom soup? It’s like saying you’re going to make a chocolate cake and then not adding chocolate. That’s crazy talk. As for not having salty, greasy, crispy, onions on top, well, I just literally have no words except – sad – because that casserole would have made me sad and no one needs to feel that on Christmas.

Cheating on Your Christmas Tree

Remember the good old days when folks stayed in a monogamous relationship with their Christmas tree? You had one tree and it got all the love, attention and holiday cheer. Now, a lot of us have become polyamorous with our trees. There’s a faux-flocked Frasier fir in the family room, a white spruce holding court in the living room, Noble firs in the kids’ bedrooms and even an artificial “slim” Montana pine in the kitchen. We’ve become a society where one tree is no longer enough to satisfy us. It’s a sickness that’s impacting the holidays.

What’s wrong with sharing your love with assorted evergreens? Many things, but if I had to pick just one it would be that an abundance of trees equals a lackluster decorating ambience. Think about it. When there was just one tree it got all the ornament ardor. When you add in another couple of trees to the mix it can look, oh no, there’s that word again – sad. Each successive tree looks a little less festooned. A little less TLC’d. It’s just not right I tell you. Let’s make holiday decorating great again and embrace the one tree way of life.

Healthy Holiday

This concept just needs to raise the refined white sugar flag and surrender. A healthy holiday, of course can be a reality. And if you’re all about doing a 30-day fermented juice cleanse and training for a mud run triathlon in December, then you have my condolences. Seriously, my thoughts are with you during this difficult time. I get it. I really do. You’re a health beast, but what I don’t get is when the health beast becomes the holiday buzz kill.

Hey, just because you’re suffering from cookie dough deprivation don’t try to smother my gingerbread joy by doing an oral calorie count of what I’m consuming. Or worse, plug my food intake into the death clock app on your phone and share that my current rate of shoving spoonfuls of shortbread batter, containing loads of sugar, bleached flour, and raw eggs into my mouth is taking 3.5 years off my life.

This is not news I want to hear, pretty much ever, and much less during the holidays. It’s a total Scrooge move and it’s bad karma to harsh someone’s holiday vibe. The holidays should be a delicious, no-judgement zone. You can get all superior about your workout and kale and cauliflower smoothies on January 1.

Let’s all now grab a cookie smothered in buttercream frosting, or double fist a cookie and a hot cocoa with whipped cream, doused with red and green sprinkles and a candy cane garnish (I’m looking at you healthy holiday) and toast to the glad tidings the season brings, that far outweigh all the annoyances I just featured on this list.

Dear Snarky – My MIL Is Mocking My No Lactose/Gluten/Sugar Lifestyle

Dear Snarky,

My mother-in-law is being a huge jerk! I have put my family on a gluten, sugar and lactose free diet and I sent her an email to get rid of any foods that fit into those categories when we come to visit for Christmas. She replied and said she would need proof from a doctor that the diet was a “medical necessity” before she “ruined” Christmas.

I’m furious. I don’t need a doctor’s permission to cut crap out of my kids’ diets. Furthermore, who does she think she is the food police? I told my husband we’re either not going or staying in a hotel? The worst part is he’s taking his mother’s side and telling me to “chill out.” I’m thinking of just blowing the whole thing up and staying home. I’m I right about this?

Signed, Healthy Mama

Dear Healthy,

 As a sugar loving fiend, I must confess that right now I love your mother in law. #slayer. But, I’m going to put my long-term relationship with desserts aside to help you out. Here’s my sugar-free advice. You were a jerk to send your mother-in-law an email telling her to pretty much empty her kitchen out. There were much better ways to coordinate meals that fit your new dietary guidelines than being a diva. As for calling your mother-in-law the “food police” may I suggest you look in the mirror.

 Here’s what I think is happening. You don’t like your mother in law and you’re ticked about having to spend Christmas with “that side of the family” so, to use a parenting term, you’re acting out. You need to buck up, do some grocery shopping once you get to your mother-in-law’s, adhere to your eating plan without creating a scene, and not ruin your children’s Christmas. This whole thing is not about your new diet it’s about control and I suggest you control yourself.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With an Attitude 😉 – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or PM on my Snarky FB page.

Texas Football and The Five Stages of Grief

I hate football. Okay, that’s a little dramatic, so let’s make that I hate watching football with my husband. Specifically, any game that features the University of Texas. Good Lord, it’s like experiencing the five stages of grief over four quarters.

I thought I had seen the worst of it when KU beat Texas last year for the first time since 1938, but that had nothing on the Thanksgiving weekend loss to Texas Tech. It got so bad I left the family room and went upstairs to do my daughter’s FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid that all the colleges make you complete before they’ll offer up any scholarship bounty.)

That’s right people I would rather fill out an invasive, pain in the butt government form, that tells you your password is incorrect when you know for a fact that it is not since you took a screen shot of your password five minutes earlier, than endure another agonizing second of my husband moaning about the Longhorns.

It starts out with denial. My husband, who has watched this alma mater lose for, I don’t know, a decade is always stunned that they’re losing – again. It begins with the lowly whimper of how can a team that has the financial backing and clout of THE University of Texas be this bad? How can they not recruit better? Why are all the best players at OU? And on and on.

This is followed by an anger usually directed at Mack Brown. Apparently, all roads lead back to the former coach leaving the “cupboard bare” before he left in 2013. Never mind that it happened almost five years, an entire team and two coaches ago, it’s still Brown’s fault or, as of a month ago, the current offensive coordinator.

Then we enter the blame phrase or as I like to call it crazy town. How a grown man can think the fact that I threw away (I’m going with misplaced) his “good luck” Longhorn stuffed animal is the reason his team is losing is insane.

The worst is when the depression sets in followed by my husband vowing that he’s “done with UT football.” This is when I roll my eyes while muttering, “Yeah, until next week.”

And just because I’m so over all the angst I feel duty bound to play the role of Mary Sunshine by announcing, “Sure, the Longhorns lost to Tech at home, but let’s think of the positive. Before the game there was speculation that the Tech coach might lose his job. That Texas win will probably keep him employed for another year. In the grand scheme of things that’s a W.”

I’ll admit that cheery look at the game was not taken well, but I was just trying to offer up some perspective.

Many times, as I have set in the stands or on the couch watching my husband, watch the Longhorns I have pondered what it must feel like to care so deeply about a sports team. I just don’t get it. I want to get it, but I don’t.

My football philosophy is I came for the snacks and stayed for the halftime show. If I have any ultimate football devotion, it’s for the brisket nachos that I ate one fine fall day seven years ago outside the UT stadium. They were my everything. Spicy and sweet with a hint of heat and unlike my husband’s football team they didn’t disappoint.

The good news for my husband is that with a 6 and 6 record UT will be playing in a low tier bowl game. The bad news is I’ll have to endure it.

Cookbook Love

Settle in my friends because it’s time for me to do a deep dive into one of my favorite topics – how technology is robbing people of living a full life. To illustrate this point, I need to look no further than recipes. Yes, recipes. Confused? Stay with me because it will all soon become very clear.

Today, if you want to find out the best way to make, let’s say, a killer, mac and cheese you just type that into your phone and literally hundreds of thousands of recipes will be at your fingertips. And the first one you see will always be from the site All Recipes. (Pro tip – skip it. Who cares if it has four stars and 1,539 reviews and counting. It doesn’t explain how to make a roux which means there’s a 90 percent chance your mac and cheese will taste like the gunk you use when your kid has to construct a paper maché globe for a fourth-grade history project.)

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with using a digital device to find a recipe. I get it. It’s fast. It’s easy. You can download ingredients right to your shopping list app. Yet, you’re missing out because you’re depriving yourself of the sensory experience of not only finding that perfect recipe, but making it part of your family lore.

Full disclosure – I’m a cookbook freak. I collect and read cookbooks like other people read novels. So, I’m going to admit there’s some inherent bias in my thought process. That said, I still know I’m right because when you find an amazing recipe in a cookbook it can be an emotional experience.

There’s the joy of discovery, the years of tweaking a recipe where you write in the cookbook how you added a little of this and that. Then there’s that momentous occasion when a recipe becomes a beloved part of your family. It’s the day when you open a cookbook and behold the wonder of a page stained with greasy goodness or spilled vanilla or molasses.

A well-worn cookbook is like a best friend. As soon as you hold it in your hands you immediately feel at ease. It has the power to transport you to another time or event in your life. I even have my “go to” cookbooks (Junior League of HoustonSouthern Living 1983 Annual Recipes, and the 1982 Better Homes and Gardens) where if I want to feel like my mother is still with me I just open them up and inhale.

Right before Thanksgiving my dining room table was piled with cookbooks. I have a ritual of going through my favorites while I write down my grocery shopping list. As I was blissful perusing them certain family members mocked me for my old-school ways. “Why wasn’t I using a cookbook app?” “Did I know I didn’t have to handwrite a list?” And my personal favorite, “The 80’s called and my mom answered.”

That last one got to me. So much so, I went a little cookbook cray. I called my daughter into the dining room, sat her down and made her sniff cookbooks.

As she plunged her nose into each one I asked her if she could smell her grandmother? I picked up the Christmas With Southern Living from 2000 and told her to inhale and experience the memories of her first Christmas. Never mind that in December of that year she was still an infant and not on solid foods yet this cookbook still held the scents of that season.

Did she think I was losing it? Probably. But, I know my techie child just might be coming around to my way of thinking. I recently caught her sniffing the cookbook that has her favorite gingerbread recipe. I couldn’t have been more proud.

Dear Snarky – I Lied So I Could Skip Thanksgiving With My Family

Dear Snarky,

 I’m in big trouble with my mom. I’m 25 and an E.R. nurse. This Thanksgiving I was exhausted and really over my entire family. I had worked some long shifts at the hospital and the last thing I wanted to do was go to my mom’s house and cook and clean while the men in my family sat on their asses.

So, I lied and told my mom I couldn’t come for Thanksgiving because I had been called in to work at the last-minute. As I’m laying in my bed binge watching Stranger Things and having a great time, my mom, unbeknownst to me, is on social media gushing about how thankful she is to have a daughter who works so hard at the hospital even on a holiday.

 Well, thanks to one of my bitchy co-workers who left a comment on that post that my mom was mistaken because I wasn’t at work, or “at least not working at my regular hospital” I get busted.

 Now my mom is furious and being a real drama queen saying she’s “heartbroken that I lied to her.” How do I make this right? The family theatrics are more than I can handle.

 Signed, Sorry, But Not That Sorry

 Dear Sorry,

Okay, girl you know you have to apologize to your mom for lying, but right after that you’re going to have to give her the hard truth.

Bluntly share that going to her house and having the women do all the work while the men in the family do next to nothing is just not your jam anymore. Explain that you have a demanding job and you’re not into being a maid and cook during the holidays. That said, you don’t expect to be treated like a princess, but you do need your down time and as a grown woman you have the right to skip a family holiday.

Hopefully, your mother will understand. If not, that’s her problem not yours, and maybe, just maybe, she’s also might be tired of waiting on everybody and this will be her motivation to free herself from some of the holiday drudgery.

Now moving on that pot stirring witch of a co-worker. Say nothing. She wants a response. She wants to know she “got you.” Don’t give her the satisfaction. If she brings up your mom’s Facebook post just smile and say, “It was sweet of you to let me mom know I wasn’t at this hospital” and leave it at that. Let her wonder where you were and what you were doing. It will drive her crazy.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With an Attitude 😉 – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or PM on my Snarky FB page.

Tablescapes Confuse Me

I’m a little dismayed about what I’ve been seeing on social media in regards to Thanksgiving. A good two weeks ago I started gazing at oodles of Thanksgiving posts and not a one was about food. (Mercifully there were zero gratitude posts. Although, I do miss mocking the humble brag disguised as a gratitude post. As in “I’m thankful for my second home in Hawaii and our private jet time share.”)

Now to be sure there were a lot of glamour shots of dining room tables, but they were empty of anything yummy or even edible. All the pictures featured tables that were already set for Thanksgiving with captions like “I’m ready!” or “I can’t wait.”

These tables were la-ti-da fancy because when I say “set for Thanksgiving” set should be in all caps because these were not dining room tables with some silverware, plates, Pilgrim napkin ring holders and turkey salt and pepper shakers. Umm no, what I was gazing at were “tablescapes.”

Tablescapes are described as “works of art that express the creator’s interpretation of the season.” Turkey and pecan pie step aside because apparently Thanksgiving is now interpreted as a celebration of gourd-topia. There were glitter gourds, bejeweled gourds, fabric gourds, flocked gourds, plush gourds, decoupage gourds and even gourds covered in buttons. (Yeah, I know weird.)

The gourds ran the length of the table and usually had a fat ribbon or some sort of organza looking material intertwined amongst them and assortment of silk leaves and what appeared to be pheasant feathers. Then there was the illumination. About every couple of inches there were candles casting off a twinkle onto the gourd city. It was all very beautiful (except for the button gourds) and I thought it looked like decorations at debutante ball for gourds. You know if gourds did that sort of thing.

Regardless of the beauty of the tablescapes I have to tell you not only I’m a not a fan. I just don’t get it. First, because setting your table two weeks early is a public health concern. Unless your dining room is ensconced in a plastic bubble how can you set your table that early? Won’t your china, crystal, and silverware collect two weeks of dust, cat hair and dog dander. I mean it’s all just sitting out there in the wide-open space that is a dining room like a Swiffer collecting 14 days of pre-Thanksgiving fur castoffs and the refuse of the random family member sneezing fit. Ewww.

No onto the bigger problem with tablescapes in general. They take up too much room! As in they consume valuable food real estate. Where are you going to put the turkey, the dressing, the mashed potatoes, and the sainted sweet potato casserole? Not on the table, that’s for sure, because the freaking gourds are taking up all the space. Answer me this what’s better on a table a gourd with a shimmer overlay or the gravy boat within arms reach?

On Thanksgiving the food is the star. The turkey is the A-lister, the green bean casserole and the pumpkin pie the supporting cast. It’s time to start a free the table movement! We need to take back the Thanksgiving table to ensure the next generation knows that it’s not about the inedible frou-frou. It’s about celebrating foods that are besties with butter. It’s all about the stuffing (yourself and the cornbread variety.)

Now will someone please move the sparkle gourds and pass the squash casserole.