The Tradition of Thanksgiving That Can’t Be Beat

This week, we celebrate a holiday that I consider my favorite. Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for the blessings of good health, with the love of family surrounded by the material things I crave. Hey, I was told that the Republican candidate’s win for presidency would make the country great again. I’m supporting that trend with new living room furniture.

I am hosting and with the help of my cousin, we are preparing a Thanksgiving feast surrounded by traditions and nostalgia. My traditional day will start with watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. It was always a “hope to do one day” item (I refuse to call it a bucket list as I am not kicking any bucket anytime soon) to witness the blowing up of the parade balloons in Central Park. The challenge is I can’t cook a Thanksgiving dinner if I go to a balloon party the night before. The dinner has always won out.

As if the holiday decor hadn’t gone up in the retail stores yet, I look to the movies being played that day to introduce the Christmas season. The “March of the Wooden Soldiers” and “Miracle on 34th Street” are my all time favs. I find the first hilarious and the second just plain heart warming. In addition, there are reruns of Thanksgiving sitcom episodes that use the holiday as a platform of comic relief to the stubborn turkey that won’t cook right or the family member that gets on your nerves. My all time favorite episode was the one from the Bob Newhart Show where he and his buddies are left to cook a turkey during many football games and many glasses of alcohol without female intervention. It results in no turkey and the ordering of Chinese food. Try saying Moo, Goo, Gai, Pan drunk.

There has been years where things have not gone as smooth as pumpkin pie. We once owned a condo-hotel in Vernon and it was my idea to celebrate the holiday there. Aside from not having it there in the first place, things I should have done before carting all my ingredients and pots, was to check the oven’s ability. The traditional way I cook a turkey is to start roasting the bird at a searing temperature of 400 degrees for the first hour. This consistently set off the fire alarm making the hotel staff very unhappy and resulted in them coming to my door with daggered looks warning me (in ever so polite terms) to knock it off. I am still apologizing to my husband and son for spending the first half of that day waving a dishtowel over the smoke detector.

Holiday tradition and nostalgia being paramount, it should be no surprise that my favorite part of the day is the playing of Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie. For those of you who do not know it or have never heard it, you are too young to be reading this blog or you grew up isolated from silly hippie songs. It’s a funny story about a naive man who came from the idyllic Norman Rockwell town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts and his experience in 1967 with the draft board. In any case, allow me to present for your listening pleasure a Thanksgiving tradition that can’t be beat.


The Value of the Winners

There were two races this week; the NYC Marathon and the election of our next President. Two unbelievable races. The emotions at the end of each were unexpected in both. The first was an experience I did not expect to love as much as I did. The second (and I’m not going down the road of who won) was so unexpected and so poorly predicated that all I am left to say is that the beliefs and values I was taught in journalism class seemed to have been forgotten when reporting during this election run.

Let’s talk about the marathon. Who won, who cares. This race is about the everyday runner and their everyday supporter. I am proud to say my son Anthony ran the grueling course of concrete streets and thundering bridges to finish the 26.2 miles in 3 hours and 22 minutes. These runners are not professional athletes but everyday people working to make a living and have this desire to push themselves outside the norm. In the final miles when their legs can barely carry them they struggle but get to the finish line. For Anthony, I saw the commitment in his face focused on meeting his personal goal. To Anthony and all the other runners, I am in awe of all of you.

But the experience was not just for the runners; it was for all the families and friends standing along the route checking the app that traced their movements, then, when they appeared, we all shouted encouragement to their runner and our’s to keep going just a little more.  I see strong values in these marathoners whose name is not blared in bold type in the headlines or given 15 minutes of fame on a Entertainment Tonight segment. These ordinary people have values that are not measurable in money. I just hope it leads to their success whatever that may be. The good guy should win.

Having said that, the presidential election concluded this week. I’m so glad it is over, yet the results were like deer in headlights. I didn’t see it coming and I’m not the only one. Experts from The New York Times, The New Yorker, and late night comics including every opening monologue of Saturday Night Live leaned left and we believed them. I don’t blame the comedians. Their job is to make fun of anyone and everything. Who I blame for getting it wrong is the journalists who have forgotten their values; the morning shows that focused on foolish banter about the political race in order to get viewers attention, the newspapers that predictably supported whoever party they always supported, good, bad or indifferent. There’s no sense of value here that makes you believe there is any substance in their choice. Just shock journalism for the sake of a good read or story. It was not what I was taught when studying writing in college. My teachers insisted on reporting the news without a bias approach. It seems that philosophy has rotted into a Twitter feed of substance abuse.

Both races are now over. I look forward to Anthony’s next race which will be the Boston Marathon in 2017. I also look forward to the next four years in the hopes that the commitment made will be fulfilled.  In the end, I believe that values and the good guys/gals will win. Mr. President, you owe the everyday person that much.

Winter is Coming

winter-is-comingIt is the day after Halloween and the four bags of candy we bought are still in the caldron I placed them in. I think we had three groups which didn’t make a dent in the supply of treats. But it is over and so is the warmer weather. Next is the slow decent of the temperatures reaching a pinnacle somewhere around late January. One day it was 75 degrees, the next 55. I’m not sad. I just move on.

I have learned to adapt. Only last year, I was Zumba-ing. I gave it up last month when I twisted my leg trying to keep up with the instructor. I’d like to think the teacher didn’t understand me by making speedy twists that made me look spastic and playing indiscernible music that was just loud. I do yoga now. It’s a quiet workout, with serene stretching which I need more anyway to keep the joints limber.

I use to ski downhill. I do cross country now. If you haven’t tried it, it is more challenging than you think. Maybe I don’t love it like I did downhill, but I’m not afraid of falling and it is less threatening to the knees. Plus the drink at day’s end tastes just as fulfilling.

I don’t see my life as changed as much as I see it has evolved to what I worked so hard to get. I raised a family, got the home I wanted and through a series of satisfying days, it all rolled up into a mature state of mind. I’ve shed the things that I don’t need or can do without. I can do without hurting myself trying to do something I’m not comfortable with or capable of anymore. Those things have been modified or replaced. No loss and all the gain.

So with winter coming, I hope it snows enough to get me on those skis where the vistas are beautiful and the pubs pour nice wine and beer. I want the holidays to be filled with friends, new and old. I want family around me particularly my new little one. We will certainly travel – where I’m not sure yet but it is in discussion or it may be spontaneous. And when winter finally does come, I’ll be ready.