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3. Other Things Media Consumption Writing Life

Post-Thanksgiving Post

No worries, this isn’t a long, rambling post listing all the people I’m thankful to know, the experiences I’m grateful I’ve had, or all the physical & tangible things I’m privileged to have in my life. I’ll save that post for the alternate reality where I become hugely famous and have to give a thank-you speech in front of a live studio audience after I receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. Or something like that.

This is more like a school report on How I Spent My Weird American Holiday Thursday.

Spouseman & hibernate on Thanksgivings. Lots of reasons–for the longest time, we had no other close family in the same state, and/or the day was my single breather between 6 weeks of frantic retail holiday prep and 6 weeks of frenzied retail holiday shopping, neither of us enjoy large gatherings much…the list could go on, but ANYway. It’s just not a holiday we’re comfortable “celebrating. It has a huge identity crisis and a bunch of unpleasant cultural baggage attached. What is the day dedicated to? Pilgrims? Mayflower? Ugh, no, thanks. Gratitude? For what? Everything? <waves vaguely>

Attending mandatory large family gatherings with hefty dollops of guilt & stress, getting excited about overreating, watching NYC parades & regional football games, and plotting huge consumer spending sprees are strange traditions, that’s all I’m saying. I don’t know how most of those things are even related to gratitude, but I suspect television marketing may be involved.

BY THE WAY, DID YOU KNOW THE UNITED STATES USED TO JUST THROW “DAYS OF THANKSGIVING” ALL WILLY-NILLY, LIKE, JUST FOR JOLLIES, WHENVER THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FELT SOMETHING NICE HAD HAPPENED WORTH CELEBRATING WITH A DAY OFF? WE DID!

(Okay, there’s lots more to it, but my point is, “National Day Of Thanksgiving” didn’t start off having ANY association with harvests, bad colonialist propaganda or lies about Pilgrims, much less the whole family, food, & football traditions. Here’s a nice explainer from last year: https://billmoyers.com/story/a-national-day-of-thanksgiving/ if you’re interested.)

But. I. Digress.

In this household, the only tradition of the third Thursday in November is that I cook a lot of food that goes on steep sale this time of year, Spouseman washes a lot of dishes, we eat some tasty treats but not so much we feel sick, we game or read or watch something fun, and then we enjoy not having to deal with any complicated meal prep or food shopping for at least a week. Yay!

Here are some pics from this year’s Kitchen Fun part of the day.

Everything on the plate was from scratch this year. I even made cranberry sauce from scratch for the first time (cranberries were SO CHEAP OMG) I have a soft spot for the canned gelatinous goop, and by ignoring half the recipe instructions I was able to make mine gelatinous & goopy but nicely tart, too. It’s a big win & will be repeated.

I forgot to take a picture of the mashed potatoes in their gallon container, but tbh those don’t present well except on a plate anyway. Spouseman said he liked the rolls best because they were small & cute. They were also a late addition to the menu. It’s the world’s easiest bread recipe, quick & fun to make.

Here’s a pic from the relaxation part of the day.

Pip is good at modeling proper relaxation.

We’re re-watching Great British Baking Show from the beginning because it’s relatively wholesome & brainfree, and I’m reading Sherry Thomas’s Lady Sherlock series, also a book called Naked Statistics that I somehow missed back when it first came out. And I’m playing on the computer, and Spouseman is getting in a lot of gaming time. Today is day two of all that fine action, with a full weekend of more ahead. It’s what we do. Shopping? THIS weekend of all weekends? OH, HELL NO.

And that’s my annual Thanksgiving post. If you’ve gotten this far, I would like to use this excuse to issue thanks in print to all you wonderful people who read my blathering here, who recommend, gift, and review my existing books, and who offer continued patient encouragements to me during this ongoing, glacial, writing-the-next-book phase I’m still slogging through.

(I think that was a proper sentence. I’m not going back to change it. ANYway.)

That’s all for now. Until next time!

Categories
3. Other Things Writing Life

Passing (holiday) thought

Speaking of problematic (weren’t we? Was I arguing w/myself again? Whatever. Here be the thought.)

Thanksgiving.

Family. Politics. Obligatory travel. Racist origin story based on lies…all that. In the United States there’s no getting away from the trappings and pressures of “Third Thursday In November.” Not even the relentless seasonal creep of Christmas season can stop it. 

Holidays are stressful enough, and this one kicks off Consumer Frenzy Month ™ so I support spending it however you like within the boundaries of your necessities & eating whatever you want, and be damned to all the Every Proper Celebration Needs and Thanksgiving Must-Haves not to mention the Do This For The Best Thanksgiving Evers. 

Starting a long weekend off & big traditional turkey feast you cooked all by your own self?  Great! AMAZING, even. ENJOY!

Day of peaceful solitude w/video games, boxed rice & beer? ALSO GREAT!

Working in a hospital, firehouse, or police station, on the front lines of an emergency or serving in a military unit today? THANK YOU! You’re a part of what’s worth giving thanks for every day–social institutions and support through sacrifice.Bolting down a meal with family before racing off to work retail overnight with barely a break for a sandwich and a dive into the bathroom? THANK YOU TOO (and I’m sorry. See postscript below.)

Spending it on the road for work, at a restaurant, or in a rest stop? SAFE TRAVELS and may you find something of goodness and joy during your working day. 

Me, Imma go enjoy the rest of my quiet day, writing more about the mayor of a ghost town. Football on the TV, all the easy holiday foods & the turkey prepped & ready to go in later, Spouseman puttering about the house, friends online..I have so many reasons to give thanks. Far more than a single day can hold.



cranky postscript: I am NOT thankful I live in and time & place where transporting & selling consumer goods is considered a critical job on equal footing with emergency services, military duty, and law enforcement…but not considered worth a critical job’s pay on holidays, but hey, that’s me.

Categories
3. Other Things Detours Writing Life

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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