P.S.: It’s not my year for paper plates

I see a lot of people these days practicing gratitude – some as a daily practice and some for the month of November on Facebook.

Daily gratitude posts, along with the occasional puppy video and pictures of my grandson are the only things that have kept social media from morphing into the seventh circle of hell this year.

And since I don’t apparently feel thankful enough on a daily basis to make those posts I will do my whole month of gratitude right here, right now.

It is more important than ever, I believe, to turn toward acknowledging what is currently making our lives good.

Times like this – holidays like this – are specifically designed to make us stop and look up and find the victories in our beautiful lives and acknowledge them … with gratitude. And it’s probably even more important to do this if your life doesn’t feel so beautiful. Either way, remember the reason for the season, and that is giving gratitude.

Even if your family ain’t right.

I am thankful for a family that developed a tradition we have trademarked the “Annual Paper Plate Walk of Shame.” We are nothing if not tradition-filled as a family.

The big tradition is, if you jack up a dish you bring to Thanksgiving, the next year you will be the bearer of paper goods for the celebration.  It’s a beautiful and passive-aggressive tradition my entire family appreciates. It’s kind of like our less medieval version of the Scarlet Letter, only with way less pearl clutching and the letter is “C” for Chinet.

The precipitating event for this punishment of culinary indiscretion was exacted by a member of my own family who shall remain nameless … for now. This person (they know who they are) was in charge of one of our family’s Thanksgiving necessities – rolls, many and hot and with a lot of butter.

The suspect over-kneaded the rolls that year and what resulted was an impromptu war with tiny flying bread missiles after dinner. Later, the neighborhood kids used the rolls for a pickup game of street hockey.

That was the year paper shaming became a valued and time-honored tradition.

Since then, we’ve had cherry cream cheese pie with imaginary cherries; deviled eggs with questionable lineage; the near-disaster with the rolls of 2016;  and dryer-sheet fresh broccoli rice casserole. You read that right – somehow a dryer sheet ended up in a casserole a few years ago. It’s a mystery to this day, and now part of the legend of the tradition.

Everyone in our family pulled together last year when in an unheard of move where nobody was assigned the rolls and nobody noticed it until Thanksgiving Eve. Then we ALL noticed it and went shopping again and ended up with like 200 rolls. It was seriously like all our secret decoder rings went off and we sprung into action like the bread fiends we are.

In other words, we may not even have paper goods this year. But we better have rolls.

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How turning the other cheek saved me

I just want to laugh today.
And when I want to laugh, I try to find something tragic and turn it into something funny. That’s what people who value the power of humor understand – that comedy and tragedy are two sides of the same mask.
So, this week I’m taking some of my pain and using it, hopefully, to make you laugh.
Also, the word politics will not once be used.
(Quick sidenote: I have this one friend whose name I won’t mention, but her initials are S.h.a.w.n.e.e., who will find this hysterically funny because she has a morbid obsession with people falling down. If this doesn’t end up on her refrigerator, I’ll feel cheated.)
I’ve never been accused of being graceful, at least not to my face.
The word “graceful” was not used to describe me as I lay in the middle of my yard a few years ago after a short but brutal and bloody bout with a rollaway dumpster.
And, it sure wasn’t used to describe me as I lay on my back in the middle of Petco’s parking lot last Friday surrounded by a crowd of people I was not aware had congregated on my behalf.
It was misting that day, and I was wearing a pair of black boots – now known forever as the Boots of Satan – that were apparently not designed to successfully carry my body from the car to the door on slick asphalt.
When you add a nervous Weimaraner to that equation, the short answer is I was doomed before I even began.
 Erma remembers nothing.
Bobby and I took our two Weimaraners to Petco Friday to get their nails trimmed – my feet have been gouged recently, but that is a different and not as funny story.
It had been misting all day and was cool out, so I was wearing my favorite boots. I was even wearing makeup and had put some effort into how my hair looked. I was feeling sassy and ready for anything, with the one exception of falling in public.
It was in the middle of the parking lot that I reached over to take Erma’s lead from Bobby, which turned out to be the last unaided movement I made for the next several hours.
I don’t know if a mouse sneezed or what, but Erma took off like she had just arrived on Normandy Beach and that’s when I found out my favorite boots have no tread. Like, none at all.
My feet came out from under me and I landed with all my weight on my tailbone. Not to be dramatic, but I thought for a minute I had completely broken my back in the Petco’s parking lot.
I don’t know what happened to Erma, or anyone else for that matter, because my eyes wouldn’t open and I could hear my own heartbeat in my ears. At least I think it was my own heartbeat.
The dogs, I’m sure, were confused about why I was taking a nap in the parking lot on their rare outing, but I couldn’t bring myself to care as I was sprawled out all over the asphalt.
I’m pretty sure I gave ridiculous directives to Bobby, like “Save the dogs,” and “I think I broke my ass.”
I don’t know why in situations like this – as well the infamous dumpster bout – it takes me a significant amount of time to deal with reality and pain at the same time. So I just don’t, and apparently lock down.
Another thing I do when placed in sudden pain is something I call “using all of my words.”  There was a lot going on, and I probably did use all of them but my dogs are used to it by now.
When I did finally open my eyes, what I saw were several kind-faced strangers and as well as  employees at Petco’s holding in their hands everything that had flown off my body. One woman was holding my glasses, another was holding my purse, and yet a couple more were holding things that had been thrown out of my purse.
This is why I’m glad I don’t carry clean underwear in my purse for times likes this.
My husband helped me sit on the curb and all I could think to say to my new sympathetic fan club was, “Hi y’all. I was hoping nobody saw that.”
It was awkward, and I’m pretty sure I had asphalt in my hair. Also, I wasn’t sure if I was going to walk like a newborn calf when I did try and was really wanting the crowd to disperse so I could test out the tailbone.
It was a Christmas miracle, y’all, I could walk! Like an injured baby calf.
I spent the next few days on a heating pad and eating chocolate for its healing powers.
It worked.
By Monday a series of bruises had emerged on my body, providing a roadmap to where, specifically, my dignity left my body. It was the left butt cheek.
My left butt cheek literally had my back, and I will never doubt it again.
But I am still looking for my dignity, and a new pair of boots.
The moral of this story, I think, is this: My ass was saved by turning the other cheek.
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