Thanksgiving and other awkward things

So, I wrote this on my new tablet, which is to say I thought I posted this around 1800 hours local and now it’s midnight. Oops…

Turkey has been in the oven a couple of hours with an hour to go. A pan of sage dressing & one of sweet potatoes w/onion & garlic just joined it. Apples are stewing with spices. A big ol’ bowl of green beans is making friends with chopped garlic to prep for steaming, diced golden potatoes are in their stock pot of water, passively soaking up heat from the oven to expedite boiling them for mash while the turkey rests. Scarborough Fair bread is rising ahead of schedule, so we’ll have extra starch to go with the other carbs. Cream is whipped & ready to go atop the pumpkin pie I always buy because a) I like store-bought pumpkin filling better than (almost) any home recipe I’ve tasted and b) it’s easy.

In short I have time on my hands. So I go online and read the news, I watch TV, and I do a lot of thinking. Dangerous thing, that.

I hear & see all the usual Thanksgiving cliche jokes about men watching football while women slave away in the kitchen over a meal that will be eaten in 20 minutes and take four hours to clean up, and it irks me as it always does. First, it’s wrong, if that’s what happens. Second, I don’t know why it should be so much work. I do NOT work hard on Thanksgiving. There’s a lots of things in the oven for hours, yes. But work time? Not really. I do all the shop & chop prep in the prior couple of days — and slicing things while watching my favorite recorded TV shows is just keeping my hands busy. Turkey day is mix, set to cook, clean as I go, and do a lot of relaxing. Movies & TV rather than sports, but I definitely get in my recliner time, so to speak. And the cleanup? Anything still dirty after supper is Spouseman’s job. Period.

No, we don’t go out & about. We keep quiet holidays, Spouseman & me. Our families are scattered wide across the count

ry and we are nesters. Thanksgiving is about contemplation, gratitude for the bounty we collect and consume, and lately, a lot of bemusement at the weirdness of the holiday itself.

I worked retail for 23 Christmas seasons. (True confession, I loved the challenge of Christmas season in retail. It was FUN. But then I worked in a bookstore, so it was a wee bit different than most retail. ANYway. ) Thanksgiving Day often marked my last real day off until the new year. It was the calm before an exciting storm, a breather before the home stretch, the last chance to marshal up physical reserves and buckle up the emotional armor. For all those reasons I have long loved the third Thursday in November.

Also a bunch of staple foods I love go on steep sale, so I can stock up like a squirrel preparing for cold winter. This day is a tasty “once-a-month cooking” occasion that once saved me hours on exhausted work days and now just saves me hours.

Notice I didn’t mention loving any of the theoretical reasons for Thanksgiving? That’s because those reasons, as have been pointed out by people far more eloquent and knowledgable than me, are purely dangerous bullshit. I loved the Pilgrim story when I was 6 and 7 years old (who wouldn’t? Spunky underdog rebels being embraced by their new neighbors?) but I am a history teacher’s daughter. As soon as I could read she began to inoculate me against the comfortable mythology of colonial heroism. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a detailed survey course, but a foundation of “white Europeans were NOT good neighbors” was well-laid. Any lingering nostalgia was rubbed out over the years as the holiday’s “ideals” became fetishized even as its dirty, bloody roots were dragged further into the open.

So anyway. I love this day off, but not because it’s Thanksgiving. All the Thanksgiving lies are pretty awful, really. But this day can be a time-away-from-work festive gathering day AND an educational springboard to raise awareness of poisonous lies. Events can be more than one thing.

True confession 2. I also love Christmas, but in the same way I love Thanksgiving–not the materialistic consumerism, not even the Christian holiday itself, but as a storyteller, all the layered mythologies that swirl around midwinter appeal to the deepest parts of my psyche.

Also I was raised in Advent traditions, and they hold a special spot in my heart. What’s not to love about elevating the quiet work of preparation to a place of honor, and appreciating the importance of anticipation as a facet of celebration?

But that’s a post for another time.

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Telling stories again

I saw some articles on two topics recently that made me stop and say, “Hm.”

Topic 1, how the United States military is drawing from an ever-smaller pool of soldier families and geographic regions, so there’s a growing disconnect in the public view of what the military is and does and what it ACTUALLY is and does–because fewer people in general come into contact with serving military members. (And the articles discussed that can feed prejudice and dehumanization and a wide array of other dangerous issues…)

2, how the concept of evil and what evil groups have done in the past has become so abstract, so disconnected from the daily experience and the personal narratives of whole  social groups. This feeds the human tendency to create false equivalencies between groups exhibiting similar behaviors (Nazis vs anti-Fascists, for example.) Supporting false equivalencies is also Not Good.

Basically, both topics boil down to the problem of “people losing a sense of the importance of things.” Awkward phrasing, but there it is. It’s an awkward situation when things past and the distant become deniable because they don’t feel real.

I don’t know how to be that detached from the world.

I suckled history at my mother’s breast. Well, I would’ve done, if she’d breastfed me, but women didn’t much in the era when I was born. She was a history teacher, though, and an english teacher, and my father was an avid consumer of history and narratives himself, and loved to share every new discovery, yes even with his babies. History was never a school subject for any of us Morris kids. It was all around us, everywhere we went, and it connected everyone we knew.

Visiting ANY destination meant collecting fascinating tales of the local heroes, villains, any gruesome disasters, and other trivia.  Meeting people resulted in stories about their backgrounds and how they came to be where we were. Learning to sing Waltzing Matilda so we could serenade the new neighbors from Down Under came with stories of Australia’s culture and founding, so we knew why there were swagmen as well as what a billabong was…just to name one of many, many such memories.  And dinner conversation could turn to any old topic that struck Dad’s fancy, from apocryphal tales of obscure British monarchs to Russian folk stories that offered insight into political decisions we were seeing on the nightly news. (Because yes, we watched TV over dinner. As a family.)

I thought all families were like this until I started visiting friends’ homes for meals in fifth & sixth grade. Not so much, it turns out. Nope. Kids were seen & not heard most places, or else we were sent to eat and socialize without supervision.

Teaching moments, that’s what some people call the sharing of knowledge and life experiences as they relate to past and present. I call it conversation. Seriously, I don’t know any other way to relate to people.

I think all of us need to look closer at wherever we happen to be, ask when and what, where and who, and then share those tales for their own sake. Histories. HERstories. OURstories. This casual tale telling keeps fresh the easily-dropped point that people are people.  Relating then to now through narratives brings together past and present, distant and near, them and us, so we understand better how all these things are connected.

And most importantly, it reinforces the reality that what we do now is how history happens. Or so it seems to me at the moment.

Okay, I’m done. Until next time.


Random thoughts

True love means harmonizing the songs of separate lives. I do not stop singing my own song simply because my partner sometimes bellows off key. This is a metaphor, by the way. Spouseman has a wonderfully resonant tenor singing voice.

Did anyone else watch Wonder Woman doing WWI battle action and think, “Hey, she’s the team tank?” That was my first thought.   In both the main battle scenes she drew aggro from the boss enemy so her DPS teammates can pick off the mobs/adds. And in another scene her team gets together to specifically launch her at the enemy. Literally.

Games have always shaped culture. It’s just getting more visible.

In case you wonder what I mean when I mention I’m pickling things, this is my basic recipe.

Pickling mixture
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 tsp salt
1/2 cup hot water

Occasional additional ingredients, depending on what I’m pickling: peppercorns, mustard seeds, dill seed, onion flakes, garlic cloves…sky’s the limit there.

Heard standing in line waiting for a delicious grilled cheese at my local tasty-foods establishment (Dave’s Finer Foods)

Staffer: “It’s for the lady with the blue hair”
Dave (who knows me personally) “She doesn’t have blue hair!”
Staffer: (eyeing my observably blue hair)  “…”
Dave: “It’s blonde! And it’s blue. So it’s blueberry blonde!”

Blueberry blonde. Heh. I like this and may steal it for future use.

Best status I’ve ever scrolled past on Facebook:

“Does anyone know offhand when the llama costume contest is?”

I said random, and I have delivered.