The Smoking Thanksgiving

Change is smokingturkehard especially when it comes to trying to “update” your holiday traditions.

Back in early October I made a momentous announcement to my family and like any announcement that would shake my husband and children to their very core I did it over Snapchat and text. Snapchat so they would actually read it, and text to date and time stamp it in case I ever needed to do the, “I told you this back in (insert date and time here) and here’s the text to prove it.”

As I feared my family took the “big news” like huge, whining babies. When I hit send on my proclamation that Thanksgiving would be “a-changing” there was a communal freak out. I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t have included my four-point plan for a Thanksgiving refresh with bullet points in the text, but I was proud of all the work I had put into it. Not to brag, but it was PowerPoint worthy.

The problem, of course, isn’t me. It’s my family. They are very averse to any change regarding the holidays. Good Lord, they still bring up, at least a couple of times a year, the horror of the Thanksgiving of 2005. The heinous act that was committed 13 years ago was that we went out to eat for Thanksgiving (first and last time) and it was – brace yourself for this unspeakable act – a buffet – deep breath – at a casino.

In my defense, we had just moved to Reno, Nevada and all the best restaurants were in the casinos and they advertised really scrumptious Thanksgiving menus. How was I, a recent transplant to the gambling state, to know that we would be seated in the overflow dining area situated amongst a valley of hundreds of slot machines.

This resulted in us being serenaded with the nonstop ping, ping, ping of the one arm bandits while being basted in cigarette smoke from the ardent casino patrons. The smoking was so ferocious that a nicotine cloud seemed to be lingering over the dessert section. The pumpkin pie tasted like it has been infused with tobacco juice.

I will confess it wasn’t very Martha Stewart-esque. It was more like how I would imagine Thanksgiving would be in hell, but I’m guessing there wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving in hell because, you know, it’s hell. What would you even be thankful for?

This one-time misstep has resulted in my family being very anti any changes in their holiday ritual. A couple of years ago I wanted to eat Thanksgiving at 6 pm instead of our customary 2 p.m. and you would have thought I told my kids I didn’t love them anymore. The angst was real.

This year, though, I thought things might be different. After all, everyone is a whole lot older and should be able to roll with change better. I was, of course, wrong. And here’s the kicker; all I wanted to do was elevate our dining ritual. It was just a couple of tweaks like replacing the sweet potato casserole that’s more mini marshmallows than actual vegetable with a yam soufflé, and RIP’ing the canned cranberry because nothing says gracious entertaining like a burgundy tube of goo tatted with rings from the can it was birthed out of.

I also wanted to buy the pies. This was the one that really elicited a protest. Apparently I’m living with such devout food connoisseurs that a store-bought pie is verboten. It’s hard to explain that level of devotion to “everything should be homemade” when you know your daughter is on a first name basis with the Taco Bell drive thru employees and got “depressed” when the nacho fries were no longer on the menu.

In the end I had no choice but to totally cave to their tyranny. In the spirit of family harmony and holiday traditions I’m keeping everything status quo. It’s basically self-preservation, because I don’t want to hear for the rest of my life how the turkey day of 2018 was the worst ever. I’ll reserve that distinction solely for the “Smoking Casino Thanksgiving.”

 

 

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.

Dear Snarky – Thank You Note Throwdown at Thanksgiving

Dear Snarky,real-feelings-thanksgiving-dinner-funny-ecard-fkn

 My two sisters and I are so angry that our niece has never written us thank you notes for the wedding presents we gave her that we are planning on staging a manners intervention on Thanksgiving.

 We feel like we have to do something because her mom, our sister, sure isn’t making sure her grown daughter writes them. What has happened to people’s manners? Who doesn’t write thank you notes for wedding presents?

 Our niece has to be told she’s failing her family and P.S. my mother would be rolling over in her grave to know that one of her granddaughters’ was that lazy and ungrateful.

 The only problem is my husband. He says it will ruin Thanksgiving. What do you think Snarky?

 Signed,  Manners Police Because Someone Has to Be the Bad Cop

 Dear Manners,

 Oh my, I feel like there is a whole lot more going on here than a wedding thank you note, like years of family drama and deep-rooted hostility.

 My short answer is ditch the intervention. I agree with your hubs it will, 100 %, ruin Thanksgiving and I’m getting the vibe that you and your sisters just might love drama and pot stirring.

 Now on the thank you note issue. I’m going to reverse my longstanding position on handwritten thank you notes. Are they awesome? You bet. Should you get your feelings hurt if you don’t get one to the point of creating family division? Um no.

 If you sent a gift than yes you need to know it was received, but I now think any expression of gratitude is fabulous. I would much rather receive a sweet text from my nephew with a photo of him holding my gift and blowing kisses than a generic four line thank you note card.  Yep, times have changed.

 As for your niece – let it go. If the lack of gratitude upsets you and your sisters that much than don’t get here anymore gifts. There’s a strong message about how you feel. But for the love of turkey and dressing don’t let a thank you note destroy your holiday because that “Manners Police” would be a humongous etiquette gaffe a thousand times worse than not writing a thank you note.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky, “21st Century Advice With An Attitude” email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or send me a PM on the Snarky FB page. 😉

 

Turkey Issues – The Struggle Is Real

We all have personal miles6cda45495482169ad2bdb2d9fe468866tones that signify we’ve crossed the road from child to adult. There’s the entry-level ones like getting off your parent’s cell phone bill plan and using those twenty percent off Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons because saving money has suddenly become very important.

Then there are the really big watershed moments like getting married and having children. For me one of my “hey you’re a grown woman” milestones was cooking a turkey for the very first time.

I’m not going to lie turkeys scare me in all forms – fresh, frozen and free range. Have you’ve ever seen a turkey up close and personal? I have and they’re jerks.

When I was growing up in Texas wild turkeys roamed around my neighborhood like they owned the place. They were the poultry version of mean girls. They would strut around with their cranberry congealed salad colored snood and wattle and give you what can only be termed as a very assertive and hateful gobble as if they were demanding your allegiance to their reign as poultry royalty.

I spent the better part of my childhood screaming and making sure I didn’t run afoul of fowl. I still believe to this day that the whole weirdo snood and wattle thing is a sign that aliens, somehow in this space-time continuum, hooked up with turkeys. (Alien/poultry crossbreeding – it could’ve happened, just saying.)

It didn’t help my gobble, gobble phobia when one Thanksgiving morning I witnessed my mother doing, what seemed to me at a very impressionable age, unspeakable things to a twenty pound Butterball. As I turned the corner into the kitchen I saw my mom scalding the turkey with hot water, then she started giving the bird a real beat down, going all Ali/Frazier circa 1975 on it.

As if that wasn’t enough after she stopped the brutality and took a few puffs on her Winston’s 100’s she stuck her hand, like her whole entire hand and wrist, into the turkey and begin ripping stuff out.

I don’t remember anything else after that. I either passed out or have repressed the traumatic memory. All I know is that after that I was on team “I never want to touch a turkey.”

I was able to stay on that team for years until I had a family with children and a husband that wanted a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving. Oh sure, I could have bought a ready-made turkey from a grocery store or even had my husband do the honors, but I had made the momentous decision that I was going to conquer my turkey fear and give in to the bird.

I started out by doing extensive research and discovered just why my mother, all those decades ago, was going WWF on a turkey. She had not sufficiently defrosted the Butterball and due to wanting her family to eat before midnight my mom had to resort to extreme thawing measures up to and including turkey water boarding with boiling water and poultry pugilistics.

Armed with this knowledge and wanting to stop my family’s cycle of culinary violence the first momentous decision I made was to go the fresh, not frozen turkey route. The second and much more troubling was deciding where to get the fresh turkey. All my earth mama friends, and by that mean women who would rather die than pack a Smuckers Uncrustable in their kid’s lunch, were all about the farm to table scene which is not as cozy and mason jar”ish” as it sounds.

Oh no, in regards to Thanksgiving dinner the term farm to table was very literal. As in you went to a farm and selected which turkey you wanted slaughtered for your holiday meal. I have a strict, never wavering, rule that I don’t ever want to know my protein before I eat it. No, how do you do’s, or eye contact should ever be made with anything that will someday be making a trip down my digestive track.

This is why after much soul-searching I went to Whole Foods and opted for one of their fresh turkeys. When I walked out of the store carrying my just purchased reusable grocery bag (because I felt like otherwise I would be judged “So Not Whole Foods Worthy”) laden with an organic fifteen-pound turkey, from a farm that thankfully I never had to visit, I felt grown up. I was an adult who was going to cook a turkey like a boss.

Once I got that bad boy home I was still energized and the next day I was ready to embark on part two on my adventure – baking the bird. Armed with Playtex kitchen gloves that went up to my elbow, I began the most perilous part of my journey skin-to-skin or, in my case, plastic glove-to-skin contact with the turkey.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-10-36-52-amYuck!

It was bad enough that I had to basically give the turkey a spa treatment in the sink, but when it came time to remove the giblets or whatever it’s called from the “body cavity” of the bird I had to take a break and let the waves of nausea pass. Finally, with the aid of kitchen forceps (aka salad tongs) I successfully delivered a packet of gunk from my turkey.

Next up was seasoning and while I could vigorously massage in pepper and thyme like a nail technician giving a salt scrub pedicure the one thing I couldn’t do, no matter how many pep talks I gave myself was the whole Hannibal Lecter procedure of burrowing under the turkey skin to add “flavor.”

According to the recipe I was to use surgical precision to separate layers of bird epidermis all in an effort to place pats of mustard chive butter and twigs of rosemary to “create a flavor profile” that was “bar none.” Was I cooking or honing serial killer skills?

I was this close to calling it quits, but instead decided to throw out Plan A – which was the fancy cookbook I was following on how to cook a turkey and go to Plan B – redneck. Oh yeah, I was going to stick the bird in a vat of oil and deep-fry that sucker.

This was my kind of recipe. It had three sentences. Put oil in a stockpot. Place turkey in oil. Fry. Never mind that also included with the instructions was a skull and crossbones symbol and dire warnings about the possibility of grease splatter catching you or your house on fire.

I got my biggest pot, poured what looked to be a gallon of cooking oil in it, turned the burner up and plunged the turkey into a hot tub of flammable liquid. Yes, there was splash back and I have a scar on my inner forearm from the kick back of poultry meeting Wesson oil causing what I’m sure was, at least, a second degree burn, but it was so worth it.

That Thanksgiving my turkey wasn’t close to perfect. (Parts of it were even charred, but I got around that by referring to it as “Cajun style” which I thought might amp up my kitchen cred.) But it didn’t matter because I felt wonderful. Not even the sight of my family burying the meat under their mashed potatoes or discreetly draping some squash casserole over a wing dampened my glow.

I had conquered my fear and I had never felt more grown up. Or quite possibly that could have been the wine and painkiller I had taken to deal with the agony from the burn talking. Whatever. The important thing is I did it and I never did had to do it again.

That’s right ten years and counting and I’ve never cooked another turkey. One and done! That’s the upside to being an adult sometimes you can do exactly what you want and this grown up said no to cooking anymore turkeys.

 

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. 🙂

 

Admit it – We’ve All Wanted to Escape From Our Family on Thanksgiving

Andthg_37 now for something to make me really unpopular . . . I’m going to confess that I don’t get what all the fuss is about regarding having to work on Thanksgiving. Right now, all of my social media newsfeeds are flush with what I’m going to call the “No Work Thanksgiving” movement.

Based on the fervent “likes”, “shares,” and “retweets” one would think working on Thanksgiving is a major societal problem of the 21st century. The thing that really makes me laugh is the sanctimonious chatter about how working on Thanksgiving is “robbing people of family time.” Yeah, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. And in the spirit of full disclosure I’ve worked many Thanksgivings and LOVED it! Like skipping out of the house, loving it. (I also loved the money because I really needed the money.)

Before you think I’m anti family (or anti my family) let’s examine the holiday. It’s not even a religious occasion. I would understand this level of outrage if, indeed, it was a holy day. But it’s a Federal holiday that came about in 1863, when, President Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday in the month of November as a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Okay, I will now concede that sounds religious, but really, how many people go to church on Thanksgiving?

And if you’re going to be angry about a holiday that’s gone full retail where’s the Fourth of July fury? That’s a huge day in American history, but no one cares that Victoria’s Secret dares to cheapen the birthday of this great country of ours with a “Let Freedom Ring” three thongs and a cheekster for $13 sale.

It’s also a day that requires hours of hard culinary labor. Anyone who says they don’t believe people should have to work on Thanksgiving must never have hosted the holiday at their home. Sure, the reward of toiling in the kitchen is grand and glorious. You, for doing all the pre meal prep, cooking and cleaning, get the thank you gift of gazing upon the wonder that is your Uncle T.J. stuffing his face at the speed of light so he resume his prone position on the couch to watch football.

As for the whole “robbing people of family time” argument let’s be honest here. Most of us don’t have fairy tale families where our Thanksgiving is 24-hour extended kin group hug. For a lot of us, a whole day consumed with a cornucopia of relatives, in a confined space, with no chance of escape, is akin to tip toeing barefoot through the hot coals of hell. Add in second cousins, who have been drinking alcohol since 10 a.m. and you have me volunteering to work every holiday. In fact, many times as I have been bolting for the door to get to work my husband has begged, “Please, please, take me with you.”

The “No Work Thanksgiving” moment doesn’t just focus its ire on the merchants that chose to be open on Turkey Day there’s also a heaping helping of disgust for folks who dare to shop on mashed potatoes with gravy Thursday. Lots of time is spent on social media dissing people camped outside a Best Buy to get a “bitching deal” on a TV that’s bigger than most people’s first homes.

Here’s my take on that. If you have a family member (or members) that has chosen standing outside a Best Buy instead of gracing your table for Thanksgiving you should be rejoicing, like Hallelujah chorus rejoicing, because you’ve been saved for spending an entire day with this level of nitwit. In fact, I would go so far as saying you need to write a thank you note to Best Buy for their awesome system of herding and corralling humans that don’t need to be free ranging it on Thanksgiving. It’s like having a babysitter for the ickier part of your family tree.

(Now, just to be fair, I must also defend the Best Buy campers. I’ve been told by some that they have a “great time waiting in line” and that it “beats the hell out of spending the day with family.”)

As for the folks that hit the malls and Target Thanksgiving evening all I have to say is you go girls (and men being forced against their will to Kohl’s for their fleece sale). Two years ago, I interviewed a group of woman, four sisters-in-laws, who were having a blast Target on Thanksgiving night. They didn’t really care about the shopping. For them it was all about taking a break from a surly mother-in-law and husbands who needed to up their game on the kid watching duty. Technically, they were family members spending time together. They just weren’t doing it at a table while passing Great Grandma Eunice’s sweet potato, cornflake, and marshmallow fluff casserole.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

Betrayed By Better Homes and Gardens

Thanksgsweatsiving is a week away and I’ve done nothing to get ready for the holiday. Usually by this time I, at least, have made out my shopping list, but, ugh, I can’t seem to get my act together. I place the blame on the November issue of Better Homes and Gardens. The magazine has never had an adverse effect on me before, but now it’s guilty of killing my entertaining spirit. My turkey day joie de vivre has been crushed. All because of the high expectations brought forth by BHG. Why, oh why, have you betrayed me Better Homes and Gardens?

Here’s the deal. I don’t read Martha Stewart Living because it’s like looking at a fashion spread in Vogue. Would any human and/or alien who inhabits our galaxy wear the outfits featured in Vogue? Hell, no. It’s the same thing with Martha. The magazine is a cry for help. It’s not even aspirational reading. It’s – if you spend three days handcrafting linen napkins and then one whole day turning that creation into origami table art – go check yourself into a mental health care facility because it’s evident you are suffering from some sort of undiagnosed psychological disorder that’s being played out in an entertaining fetish. I always thought of Better Homes and Gardens as a safe haven of sorts. It’s readable and relatable. There are pages of recipes and tips that I can actually use and do. Then I received this month issue.

The thing that got me wasn’t the cooking or decorating tips, but the suggestions for welcoming house guests. The magazine calls it “five star hotel indulgences.” I call it scary. Let’s do a quick rundown of some of the recommendations. First up, hand-crochet holiday slippers. WTH? If a family member or friend gave me slippers she or he had knitted I would be freaked out. So many spooky questions would be running through my mind. When did they have the time? Why did they make the time? What did they not do to make the time? How did they know my shoe size? And most importantly, are the crocheted slippers some sort of process in a ritual serial killing? For me the knitted footwear is screaming, “Haul ass to the nearest Marriott Courtyard.”

Then there’s the guest room decor suggestions. Sure, it’s the usual suspects – fresh flowers in an heirloom vase and homemade harvest granola enriched snacks. But there’s also the recommendation to supply your guests with bandages and First Aid supplies. Am I the only one that thinks this is a red flag for the whole serial killing thing? Work with me on this. If you walked into a guest room and saw medical triage supplies would you or would you not be alarmed?

This issue also features a cutesy door hanger template you can use for your guests. One of the areas on the hanger was for “House Hints & Rules.” The magazine on their sample door hanger wrote “No treats for the dog” and “Backyard gate sticks.” Hmm, is this because the dog likes to feast on human remains? And about that backyard gate, I bet it sticks, as in sticks so much you’re never, ever, escaping.

I could be over thinking all of this and I fear the real problem is that I have a social disorder of my own. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being a guest in other people’s homes, but if they’re making a November 2014 Better Homes and Gardens fuss I’m going to be uncomfortable. Great hospitality to me is when my sister says, “I made a Costco run and there’s a tub of Artichoke dip with your name on it. Knock yourself out.” Or when a good friend asks, “Do you want one or two dogs sleeping with you?” That’s my kind of gracious living. It makes me feel at home and welcome. I don’t need flowers, an organic chunky knit throw artfully gracing the guest bed, or hand ground hummus. I just want to spend time with my loved ones and know that I’ll be able to reciprocate.

One of the problems with putting on the Ritz for house guests is that your overly indulgent hospitality may limit the number of invitations you’ll receive in return. Your guests could think, “I’ll never come close to replicating this” and be embarrassed to extend a “Hey, let’s do this at our house next year” invite or even return for a visit.

Wait a minute, wait a minute, maybe that’s what’s going on. Maybe this whole “five star” hospitality thing is a way to passive aggressively thin your houseguest herd. Oh, well played Better Homes and Gardens, well played.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

 

Dear Snarky – Still Stuck at the Kiddie Table for Thanksgiving

Dear Snarky,10384343_1569011313310456_5708472324052755564_n

I’m going with my fiancé to his parents’ house for Thanksgiving. We have been dating for three years and for the past two years his mother has made me sit at the kids’ table. Hello, I’m 26 years old! This Thanksgiving I’m sure she is going to pull this stunt again. Should I stand up for myself and refuse to eat at the kiddie table (that is not even in the dining room BTW) or do I suck it up and not cause a scene?

Signed, Turkey Trouble

Dear Turkey,

 First off, I feel the need to offer you some premarital advice. Are you sure you want to a marry a man who can’t pull on his big boy britches and tell his mother that his soon to be wife will be dining at the same table as the rest of the adults? Also, your future mother-in-law sounds like a handful so be sure, very, very, sure you’re ready to marry into that kind of drama.

 As for the kids’ table – I would happily sit there and own it! Bring some cute crafts for your fellow diners and have a blast while counting your blessings that you’re not stuck eating with the adults who no doubt are either grousing about the country going to hell in a hand basket or Aunt Shirley’s and Uncle Stewart’s recent couple’s colonoscopies.

 Your bliss (faux or real) at eating with the kids will also show your future MIL not to mess with you because whatever shade she throws your way you’re going to turn it into a rainbow. 

 If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With An Attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.

Thanksgiving Throwdown

Thanksgiving at my parent’s house is what my husband and I like to call the “indigestion express.” It’s not my parents’ fault. They’re wonderful. It’s my three older siblings. They’re all loud, exceedingly annoying, opinionated and full of themselves. In other words nothing like me. I’m shy, reserved and thoughtful.

Okay, I’m none of those, but I like to think that I’m the least annoying member of my family. Not exactly, high praise, I know. One Thanksgiving many years ago, in the B.C. era, Before Children,  my sister and I got into it at the dinner table. It all started with the mashed potatoes.

There I was, oh so innocently, scooping myself a second heaping helping of mashed taters when the dinner conversation turned, like I’m sure it does at most families Thanksgiving dinners, to world annihilation. My eldest brother posed the question: If the world was under attack by aliens and you could pick only two family members to help you fight the horde of space invaders who would choose?

Talk about getting my feelings hurt none of my siblings picked me.  I got a little ticked off and asked why would no one would want me on their alien annihilation team? My second brother piped up and said it was because my smart mouth would result in instant death if we were captured and then my sister uttered the phrase that kicked me right in my overly full stomach. She said, “You couldn’t handle the physical exertion it would take to defeat the aliens.”

I stared at her, my mashed potato mouth wide open in shock. “Are you kidding me,” I said. “I could so take you.” She smirked at me and then shoveled a spoonful of sweet potato casserole in her mouth.

Let’s pause the tale here for a second so I can fill you in on the back story and by that I mean a brief history of the my “sister relationship”. My sister is a scant 17 months older than me. We are polar opposites in every way. She is a super smart and I’m, to be kind, let’s say not so super smart. To follow behind her in school was misery. Teachers, dismayed by my lack of  upper cranium brain matter, would actually say to me, “Are you sure you’re Rebecca’s sister?”

She burns. I tan. She has black hair, I have light brown. The most glaring difference, she’s skinny. I’m well, to be kind again, not so skinny. I don’t begrudge my sister anything not even most of her naturally thin body. The only part I’m beyond envious of are her legs. Her shapely, thin, freaking legs.  She’s cankle and thunder thigh free.

Many of you know that I’m a longtime cankle sufferer (see “Cankle Nation”) and to say I covet my sister’s lovely lower calves and trim, petite ankles is a gross understatement.  Also, my sister is not just skinny.  She’s a delicate skinny where I’m more hearty, curvy, peasant stock. Growing up she always had to buy her clothes in super slim sizes. At age 10 I was wearing women’s clothes and a women’s size 10 shoe. Talk about life not being fair.

Now, back to my Thanksgiving tale. We left off with my sister smirking at me. I wasn’t going to let that go without a comment. “Rebecca,” I said authoritatively, “who had your back all through school when kids on the bus would tease you about being four eyes or a nerd? That would be moi. I was like your mafia bodyguard. Trust me, you wouldn’t have made it through elementary school unscathed if it weren’t for me.”

She shoots back, “I didn’t say you weren’t big and (pause) scary.”

Oh no she didn’t! Those were fighting words. I was ready to pick up a turkey leg and indulge in an extreme case of poultry assault that’s if I could get to the turkey before my husband.  He looked mad enough to slap her with or without the aid of a domesticated game bird. My second brother, David, always up for a good time says, “Why don’t you two have a contest to see who’s in better shape? We can do the best 3 out of 5 events.”

I didn’t care if it was a triathlon to hell I was going to do it.  I eagerly said, “I’m in because you, Rebecca, are skinny/fat whereas I am fat/skinny.”

“What’s skinny fat mean, you freak?” she asks.  Before I could answer my mom butts in and says we are all acting juvenile and she’s ashamed of all of us.  My dad, adds, that all of this is “very uncivilized.”

I point at my sister and say in a very mature tone, “She started it” and then explain to her that skinny fat means she maybe thin because of her freakish metabolism, but she is not  in shape. Then I drop this bomb in front of my parents, “And you, Rebecca, smoke!”

My parents in unison gasp and stare at my sister. They are horrified that she’s smokes. In my head, “I’m saying ha, ha, you’re in trouble now.” After my sister explains to my parents that she “barely smokes” (please, how can you barely smoke?) and only touches a cigarette when she’s stressed doing an audit. She’s a tax accountant, for God’s sake, she’s always doing an audit which pretty much means she smokes all the time.

After my parents have been calmed down with false assurances that my sister is quitting smoking for good after tax season we continue with the contest discussion. My brother proposes that the contest takes place the next morning and will feature five events. The Pumpkin Pitch, the Pool Freeze, the Wood Stacker, the Turkey Trot and the All of the Above Obstacle Course.

The winner gets bragging rights to her sister superiority. The loser has to clean up the Thanksgiving kitchen which will not be cleaned tonight and will sit and stew in it’s own grease waiting for the loser to do their duty. My mom did not like the idea of the kitchen not being cleaned right away. It took a lot of cajoling from us to convince her that the world would not end if she went to bed with dirty dishes in the sink.

The next morning I woke up ready to take my sister down a peg or two. After a hearty breakfast of pumpkin and pecan pie I couldn’t wait to get started. My brothers in an effort to make the contest “more interesting” decided it would be fun to place bets on their sisters. Everyone had their money on my sister, except my husband. He bet all he had, 20 bucks, on me. My parents declined to take part in our “childish pursuits,”  although they did watch the action.

The contest began with the Pumpkin Pitch. We went to my parents backyard where each of us got six pumpkins to throw. Whomever throws the pumpkins the farthest wins. My sister, skinny/fat went first. She totally sucked. I gleefully taunted her by saying, “I guess all those hours sitting at a desk and “barely smoking”  have really hurt your upper body strength.” She managed to flip me the bird without my parents seeing.

I was confident I could not only beat her at throwing pumpkins but shame her. A little known fact about being a T.V. reporter you have to carry heavy equipment. Those camera tripods – not light (especially back in the day) and not only do you get to carry heavy equipment, but you get to drag it up and down the steps of the Texas State Capitol building – in heels.

You also on a fairly regular basis, have to chase politicians, the Governor, and assorted other state officials around the Capitol all while jumping over camera cables, sprinting towards elevators to shove microphones in their faces and in your down time using your T.V. gear to do biceps curls. It was an aerobic, strength training/conditioning workout everyday.

Now, I could use my work workout to shame my sister – excellent.  I picked up my first pumpkin and it soared into the neighbor’s yard, same with pumpkin 2 – 6. Winner, hands down – me!  That potato smirk my sister gave me last night was wiped off her face.

I was even more excited about the next event the Pool Freeze. We  had to jump in my parents non-heated pool, current temperature 61 degrees, and see who could swim the most laps in 10 minutes. I knew I had this one in the bag. My sister is big sissy about cold water. I’m more of the Polar bear persuasion. Yes, body fat can come in handy while braving cold water.

Ready, set, go and off we jumped into the water. My sister hit the pool and began screaming about how cold it is. “It’s too cold to swim. I’ll get an upper respiratory infection,” she wailed.

I shot back, “Shut up and swim” and began to do laps with flip turns just in case I got bonus points for finesse. Once again, I’m victorious.

It’s two to nothing when we begin the Wood Stacker event. The goal is to see how much wood (from my Dad’s woodpile) we can fill up a wheelbarrow  with then race with the wheelbarrow to the other end of the yard, dump the wood and race back to get more wood. Whomever has the most wood on the other side of the yard in 10 minutes wins. The pressure was on. If I win this event it’s over. I’ll be up 3 – 0 and my sister is kaput.

My hearty peasant stock worked to my advantage. I grabbed wood and flung into that wheelbarrow like my life depended on it and then hauled down the yard balancing the weight of the wheelbarrow with my sturdy arms. My cankles were on fire, but I didn’t care I was going for the W!

Oh yay, 10 minutes is up and I’m the w-i-n-n-e-r!  My woodpile was twice the size of my sister’s. Yes! I wipe wood bark off of me and get ready to accept my award for awesome when my skinny/fat sister starts shouting that “it’s not fair, it’s not fair!”

I  yell back, “What’s not fair sore loser?”

She starts pleading her case that the first 3 events played to my strengths because I have “man hands and shoulders.” (Is it a crime that ladies gloves don’t fit me?) No one said anything. Her unkind, but perhaps accurate statement sucked the air right out of the backyard. The silence was so eerie neighbors outside hanging their Christmas lights came over to see what was going on. It was my mom shouting “Rebecca, shame on you!” that broke the silence.

I then had to put my dude size arm out to stop my husband from what I”m sure was going to death by fist on my sister. (God, I love that man.)  “Okay, you immature little baby” I say. “I tell you what let’s combine the next two events the Turkey Trot and Obstacle Course into one and it’s winner take all. Plus, the loser has to do the Thanksgiving dishes for the next – decade!”

The Skinny/fat crybaby was all over it. We waited as my brothers set up the final challenge.

I, after getting a pep talk from my husband, was feeling confident, but a little scared. We had a one mile turkey trot through the neighborhood, then we had to swim 10 laps, after which we would dive to the bottom of the pool, grab 6 pumpkins, chuck them out, then pick them up, put them in a wheelbarrow and race to the back of the yard. My biggest problem would be running. I don’t like to run. I enjoying walking, skipping, dancing, but not running. To beat my sister though I could endure it.

The starting line is my parent’s driveway. My brother honks his car horn and we’re off.  Damn if my skinny/fat, “barely smoking” sister doesn’t take off like the mighty wind. Crap. I had hope to pace myself, but no, now I have to full-out run to stay even with her.

Thank goodness, I had put not one, but two jog bras on it because my girls were taking a beating. I figure I can let her stay a little ahead of me because I can make up time in the pool. But then my pride kicks into overdrive. I can’t let her even win the race. I must and will vanquish her in everything.

It was as if I was being fueled by my less than perfect childhood memories. All of a sudden my man hands and shoulders, my thunder thighs and cankles, my now size 11 feet all worked in unison to make me into some kind of wonder woman. My body moved faster than it ever has before or since.

I’m flying. I zoom past her and dive into the pool fully clothed, come up for air, take off my shoes, burn through 10 laps, toss out the pumpkins, grab that wheelbarrow and haul ass to the back of the yard! I not only won, I won big. My sister hadn’t even finished her laps in the pool. My family is cheering, the neighbors are cheering and my husband is pumping his fist in the air. It was a magic moment.

I stood there soaked, cold and with a chest that felt like it was going to explode. I had never felt better in my life. My brothers rush over to announce me as the winner and to give me my award – last night’s greasy gravy ladle. My husband starts chanting, speech, speech – so I raised my gravy ladle high and say, “This my family, neighbors and friends is for big girls everywhere – never, ever underestimate the power of the cankle!”

More cheers erupt. I then give my sister the ladle and suggest, very kindly, that she get to work cleaning the kitchen for the next 10 years.

Happy Thanksgiving!