Thanksgiving Is Getting the Shaft

What happened to Thanksgiving? I feel like it has become the fruitcake of holidays. Sure, it’s a day everybody acknowledges and celebrates but it’s not something you’re that passionate about.

It seems like more and more Thanksgiving has become a roadblock to December 25. An event to mark off your to do list, to get through, even endure, so you can go back to celebrating the holiday Thanksgiving interrupted – Christmas.

I’ve seen this slowly happening for the last decade and then about two years ago it seems that Thanksgiving got a real kick to the curb. It used to be that someone putting up a Christmas tree right after Halloween was considered eccentric. Now it’s not out of the norm.

Years ago I surrendered my angst about Christmas decorations going up in retail establishments in October but I never thought homes would be all ho, ho, ho’d right after the last Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup had been handed out for trick-or-treat.

Even the Hallmark Channel known for its very traditional take on the holidays has abandoned any sense of turkey day decorum. This year for the first time in their almost 20 year history the channel went 24/7 on Christmas movies starting on October 25. Et tu Hallmark, et tu?

I’m telling you it’s the equivalent of getting Santa Claus’s blessing to go full Christmas before you even shop for a Halloween costume. It’s shocking to me and I think very rude to Thanksgiving, mean girl even.

It’s like Christmas is the disco ball of holidays and Thanksgiving is a 20-watt light bulb sitting all alone in the middle school cafeteria.

This makes me sad and has emboldened me to start a movement. I’m going to call “I’m With Thanksgiving.” People should rise up and support this day of reflection, gratitude and gluttony because Thanksgiving needs its spotlight back!

And I mean real spotlight not some half-hearted effort to give the holiday a shout out – Thanksgiving poinsettia I’m talking to you.

If you haven’t seen the Thanksgiving themed poinsettia at your grocery store let me educate you on this insult to floral, fauna and good taste.

The plant is either the color of a sweet potato casserole that appears to have gone bad or worse watered down gravy made with a powder mix that would send your great grandmother spinning in her grave. It’s desecrated even further with chunks of gold glitter.

I don’t know whose idea this was but it needs to go down as one of the worst floral trends ever. Surpassing even those gigantic Texas homecoming mums. In fact I might start another movement called “Free the Poinsettia” because just like Thanksgiving this plant deserves so much better.

Can anyone please tell me why have we forsaken Thanksgiving? To me it doesn’t make sense because Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday.

It’s a judgment free zone to stuff yourself senseless and just like a good piece of chocolate pecan pie it needs to be savored not overlooked and rushed through as a prelude to Black Friday sales.

Tomorrow I urge all of you to help me take Thanksgiving back to its glory days. Really dig in and enjoy the holiday. Surrender Santa and focus on the turkey. Relish those mashed potatoes with real butter and form an intimate relationship with the only true stuffing – cornbread.

You’ll know when you’ve achieved Thanksgiving nirvana. It’s when the waistband of your pants has gotten uncomfortably tight and yet, like a true champion, you power through another piece of pie. A day like this should be heralded not given a poinsettia so unattractive it has the power to turn you right off your mom’s green bean casserole.

 

 

Premature Christmas

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 8.14.13 AMIt’s taken a lot of discipline and dedication to make it to this day without giving in or being weak. Oh, how I’ve wanted to not just succumb but to throw myself in with the herd and celebrate being one of “those people.”

But, I can’t. I. Must. Stay. Strong. I’m almost to the finish line. All I need to do is gut it out for 24 more hours and I’ve done it. I’ve achieved my goal, no forget that, it’s not a goal. A goal is something you’re aiming to accomplish. What I’m talking about is so much more important than any goal. It’s about obeying your mother which you don’t approach with a half-hearted, namby pamby “I’ll try.” No, maternal obedience from an adult daughter demands, a “must do” attitude.

This steadfast compliance in the face of overwhelming temptation is why it took everything I had while buying leaf bags at Lowes to not lovingly gaze at a fresh evergreen garland with a sassy overlay of candy canes and a sprinkling of faux snow that screams Santa + Jack Frost = Best Friends Forever. You see, I was raised from a very young age to embrace one of my mother’s most fundamental edicts – thou shalt not decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving.

This used to be one of my mom’s easier rules to obey. Back in the day most folks didn’t even put a tree up until December Uno. It was downright weird to see anyone going full holly jolly before you could actually start opening a flap on your Advent calendar. This was primarily because everyone had “real” Christmas trees. Time travel back to the 1970’s and the fake Frasier Fir was so flammable some counties had outlawed it. Never mind that it looked almost as artificial as the facelift my great Aunt Ethel got in Guadalajara, Mexico circa 1972.

Once faux Christmas trees reached an authenticity level so acute that it could fool even the most discerning of squirrels the last remaining barrier to premature Christmas decor was breached. Now, it’s almost impossible to not I spy at least one neighbor with Christmas lights up in October. The neighbor might not have the lights on but they’re up and if I follow my mother’s rule to the letter that’s still a no, no.

I always admired my mother’s keen passion for keeping Thanksgiving as a separate event and not smooshing it together with the Christmas season so it becomes like a piece of chocolate in a s’more. You know how when you eat a s’more you get a taste of the chocolate, but it’s totally overwhelmed by the gooey, bulky show off that is a charred marshmallow. That’s exactly what she thought happened to Thanksgiving when you’re carving the turkey next to a fully flocked Christmas tree.

Growing up, especially as teenagers, my sister and I would delight in aggravating my mother by pointing out people in town who had Christmas decorations up early and to be truthful early to my mom was anytime before the first weekend in December. When a salacious marital cheating scandal happened to a prominent citizen my mom’s very pious response was, “Well, what did anyone except from that woman. She had Christmas up before you could even buy a Butterball in the grocery store. I’m telling you it speaks to character.”

When I pressed my mother for details about how exactly putting Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving was a moral defect. She looked at me like I had just asked if writing thank you notes was ever optional and responded, “You don’t skip over Thanksgiving just because something better in the form of Christmas is lurking all bright and shiny around the corner and you don’t skip out of a marriage for exactly that same reason. It would behoove you to remember that young lady.”

Remember it I did. And as much as I have always wanted to get started on putting up Christmas decorations early (because what woman with a holiday To Do list a mile long doesn’t want to start getting stuff done) I lived in fear my mother would find out and have a very dignified, and somewhat reserved, hissy fit. (Think of it as a long, drawn out, sigh of devastating disappointment.)

This year is the first Thanksgiving I’ll celebrate without my mother. She passed away in March. My sister called me and asked if I was going to start decorating early. I told her no way because I believe with all my heart my mom is still with us and she would somehow manage to express her disapproval from the great beyond.

“I feel the same way,” my sister shared. Then we both started laughing. My mother maybe gone but her Thanksgiving spirit or “Holiday Decoration Timeline” is still living large.

Hey, while we’re talking about Christmas do you know what you make a great gift? My Snarky book series. If you haven’t experienced a Snarky book yet may cover_1-3-21I gently suggest you give it a try like right now. Yes, my friend just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents!  You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂

 

Tabled Manners

0f41ba2c52be0afcfb0d953850545a84Many a Thanksgiving dinner has been ruined by manners and I don’t mean bad manners. I’m not talking about Uncle Charlie who has the disgusting habit of picking his teeth at the table with the remnants of the turkey wishbone. Yes, the whole caveman dental procedure can turn you right off your sweet potato casserole which is a tragedy because who wants to say no to a vegetable dish that features, maple syrup, a box of gingersnap cookies, corn flakes and mini marshmallows? Not me that’s for sure.

Trust me, dining with a Neanderthal D.D.S. is nothing when compared to breaking bread or a turkey leg with someone who has just graduated from “protocol” school. Basically, it’s a place where you go to get all mannered up and then, if you happen to be vaguely related to me, show off what you’ve learned at Thanksgiving. Can you say best meal of the year ruined?

I knew I was in trouble when the Thanksgiving table was set with enough silverware, goblets and plates that it looked like a Crate and Barrel and Williams Sonoma had mated. No, correction not just mated, but had a wild, passionate, Vegas fling. There were seven forks per place setting! Seven. Who needs seven forks?

When I verbalized this question I got a side eye and then some shade thrown at me by little Miss Protocol. She explained, oh so concededly I might add, that the forks were meat, salad (duh, I’m not a total rube I get that) dessert, shrimp, snail, fruit and pastry. And then there were spoons for days. Did you know there was something called a bouillon spoon?

If you’re right now patting yourself on the back thinking, “Why of course I knew there was a soup spoon, that’s what a bouillon spoon is you backwoods heathen.” Just stop, right now and wipe off that self-congratulatory smile. Apparently a bouillon spoon is different from a soup spoon. The B.S. (that’s my little name for it) is meant for clear broths only.

My first thought is who wants a clear broth as part of their Thanksgiving dinner? I don’t need my palate cleansed. If you do that you’re missing out of the delightful taste of mashed potatoes still hanging out on a back molar and at least one bicuspid mingling with a soupcon (see I’m classy, I just used a French word) of canned cream of mushroom soup and a curly fried onion from the green bean dish. That’s the essential Thanksgiving flavor profile right there. No one should mess that up. It’s, it’s . . . un American! So, if you ask me that bouillon spoon can take a hike right back to whatever freedom hating drawer it crawled out of. U.S.A, U.S.A.!

As for Miss Protocol, by the end of dinner that night I was glad I had a bounty of forks because I wanted to use all of them to go on a stabbing rampage. Primarily, because out of the seven forks taking up space at each place setting only two were used. Yep, the good old meat and salad fork got quite a workout while the other five forks just laid there on the place mat like lonely brides that had gotten stood up at the altar.

I must admit I felt smug that Miss Protocol and her silverware fetish couldn’t rattle me. Yes, yes, I wanted to stab her, but that was for her attitude not because I was in anyway intimidated by the mystery that is the chocolate spoon. (Spoiler alert it’s not made of chocolate. It’s a scoopy looking spoon that you use to eat chocolate. Go figure.) The truth is, and I’m not bragging here just stating fact, that I’m extremely proficient in all things etiquette related.

How could I not be? My mother hailed from the deep south. I was not only a registered member of Cotillion where I learned very important things like a gentleman always carries three handkerchiefs. One for your nose, one for show and one to give away to a lady in need. I was also a Brazos Belle, a Symphony Belle (both requiring you to walk/sway in very large hoop skirts, thank you very much) and while not a debutante would consider myself debutante adjacent. (It’s like you’re a deb, but you’re saving your parents a boatload of cash by not actually making your debut. Okay, I just made the debutante adjacent term up. Hmm, maybe it needs to go on my resume. Yeah, you’re right,  probably not.)  If all that doesn’t say “I know a shrimp fork from an oyster thingamabob than nothing does. Oh and I almost forgot to add that I have had a subscription to Southern Living magazine since the day I got married. That, right there, maybe the most important.

So based on this list of non accomplishments, but reeking of Scarlett O’Hara, I feel very confident in my etiquette knowledge. Make that I did feel very confident until I recently took an etiquette quiz and FAILED. It was a napkin question that took me into deep F territory. I’m so embarrassed that for years I’ve been doing the whole napkin in the lap thing wrong. Did you know that you’re supposed to wait to put your napkin in your lap until your hosts have been seated and they have placed their napkins on their upper thighs? I thought as soon as your hosts sat their backsides in a chair it was go time for the napkin. But no it’s like a napkin waltz and I’ve been messing up the choreography.

Worse, I, being a little braggy, challenged my kids to take the etiquette quiz with me. I thought I had it in the bag because despite my best efforts my children can be remedial in the manners department. (I can’t be the only one who gets a case of the vapors when a child pulls out a cell phone at the dinner table.) Here’s the tragic news. They both bested me! I was stunned and in immediate need of  a gentleman to surrender his  handkerchief so I could dab away my tears.

When I asked them how in the world they scored better than I did my son answered, “We both guessed that the stupidest answer must be the right one.”

“And the napkin question. Is that how you answered that one? You just looked for the most ridiculous answer?”

“No, I knew that one.”

Flabbergasted I asked, “Are you telling me you knew to wait for your hosts to put their napkins in their lap before you do?”

My son smiled and confessed, “Nah, I just wanted to mess with you.”

“That right there mister is bad manners. It’s not polite to mess with your mother.”

“Polite no. Fun yes.” He muttered as he sauntered off leaving me in an etiquette shame spiral.

I rolled my eyes and forced myself to let my napkin humiliation go. Taking a page from the Scarlett O’Hara playbook  I told myself, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

You know what’s always in good taste? My Snarky book series. If you haven’t experienced a Snarky book yet may cover_1-3-21I gently suggest you give it a try like right now. Yes, my friend just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents!  You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂

 

Dear Snarky – We’re Having Thanksgiving at a Relative’s House Who Can’t Cook

Dear Snarky,0db510e857caa82347f72ce8908414c0

Our Thanksgiving is about to be ruined. Every year my family rotates who host the big turkey dinner. This year it’s my brother and sister-in-law’s turn. The problem is neither of them can cook, like at all. The bigger problem is they don’t know it. Five years ago we had the dinner at their house and it was almost inedible.

Now, it’s their turn again. Is there anyway we can avoid this disaster? And please don’t say we should all bring food. We did that last time and my brother said we really hurt my sister-in-laws feelings. Ugh.

Signed, Hungry Family

Dear Hungry Family,

Shame on all of you. In fact, you deserve to eat icky food on Thanksgiving because you’ve waited FIVE years to do anything about this. C’mon you’ve had half a decade to figure this out. That’s plenty of time to have started a new family tradition of everyone bringing the sides and desserts or working on the Thanksgiving rotation so your brother and sister-in-law wouldn’t host until 2050 or something.

So suck it up and since you can’t enjoy the food give thanks for family togetherness

And P.S. I’d still bring at least a pie or something.