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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We don’t have to agree, but we do need to talk

I had begun a blog this week on a fabulous Geico TV commercial featuring the rarely-acknowledged triangle soloist.

And it would have been good, but my heart wasn’t in it.

The commercial features a concert with a triangle soloist putting his heart and soul into his moment in the spotlight.

Granted, it’s a commercial selling insurance, but in my humble opinion, triangle guy should be nominated for an Emmy for his acting, a Grammy for the musical performance and whatever award exists for the comedic value – it’s the trifecta that made for one of the best commercials I may ever see in my life.

Then Las Vegas happened. Another mass shooting in our country, and I could not concentrate any longer on triangle guy.

As a nation, we can and must do better. It is well past time to talk about it and find solutions.

Call me naive, but I’m sure an answer exists that will be suitable to most everyone, and more importantly, save lives.

I alone don’t have those answers, and neither do you. But together … it’s possible.

I want to be very clear: I have been a gun owner since I was 18 years old. I am, I humbly offer, a really good shot. Further, I have had two members of my family murdered with guns. I get both sides of the issue better than most.

But fundamental human rights will always win with me.

My grandson is two years and four months old. In his short life, the United States has seen 19 mass shootings with the first one of his life happening in his home state of South Carolina. four days after he was born.

Killed in these mass shootings have been 194 of our neighbors, with several hundred more injured.

I recognize I’m not in a good geographical location for this conversation, but a conversation needs to be had. This isn’t about politics, it is about human lives, the safety of which should be our utmost priority.

Like everyone else, I don’t have the answers, but I have ideas.

Some things I think are worth looking at include requiring liability insurance for gun owners; requiring the buyer’s medical information bureau file before selling a gun; banning the sale of an apparatus that can turn a semi-automatic weapon into a fully-automatic one. Those are just a few.

There are those who would say these things infringe upon their constitutional rights, but I can’t think of a greater infringment of my rights than laying on the ground with a bullet in me.

I’ve heard great ideas from many people who are looking for solutions, and who are not bolted into their way of thinking no matter what. It’s going to take a lot of compromise to get this done, but now is the time to start.

To fix this, everyone is going to have to give up something, but it is doable.

I’m sure discussions about how to prevent this from happening again have been had all over the United States this week, just like in our office.

We don’t necessarily agree on all of the solutions, but each of us brought some good ones to the table. It was a starting point, and if we can do it in our office, it can be done on a national scale.

More than 10 years ago, one person – ONE – tried to get on a plane with a bomb in their shoe. Thankfully, they were unsuccessful. Because of that, today we all have to take our shoes off to get on a plane.

Nobody says that is an infringement on our civil rights because it worked.

Do not let the bad guys win. Do good because it’s good. Act out of love, not fear. Be kind.

We all want the same thing, really, and as my favorite poet Maya Angelou said, “We are more alike, my friend, than we are unalike.”

Show up at the table with that in mind. Show up on Facebook and Twitter with that in mind.

So do your good because you know it’s good. Don’t grab the bait on social media that encourages hatefulness and discourse among the people you live among. It’s not worth it.

I want to find answers because I think life shouldn’t look like this for my grandson. So, do it for your grandchild, your grandparents or your third cousin, twice-removed. But, please, let’s talk and stop this madness.

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Giving thanks in a year that will be remembered as one to forget

We are nearing the end of the month of thankfulness, as if there is a season designated specifically for that.

Still, social media is full of people giving their daily lists of all the things they are thankful for, and I read them all.

It is not at all disingenuous, to take the time every day to remind ourselves what we’re thankful for at a time when I and many others I know feel like 2016 will be remembered as one to forget.

I don’t participate in social media’s daily thankfulness because 1) I’m very undependable in that area; and 2) sometimes it’s just nobody’s business what I’m thankful for and would just clue you into my neurosis that you always suspected but have now confirmed.

Why 2016 has sucked for me is probably no different in essence than why it sucked for many people, which is what connects us all. But seriously, 2016 –  Bye, Felicia.

Two years ago, for Christmas, my son bought for me a five year diary that has just a few lines a day to write in. The same days each year are stacked atop the later ones for comparison, I suppose. I made, and kept,  a commitment to write in it daily.

As I said earlier, the past year has not been a fun one for me. Where I used to just write in that journal the mundane bull to remind myself that some things don’t change, I began to remind myself of what I was thankful for.

Sometimes it is easy-breezy. That’s when I know it is a good day. Other days, it appears I have scrawled something desperately hopeful on the page to continue in my glass-is-better-than-half-full mentality, even if it was statistically unlikely the glass was even moist. It has become a daily practice.

What is written within those pages are, for the most part, nobody’s business. But what re-appears daily, is something I don’t mind sharing and something I think I have in common with many of you and Thanksgiving is a good time to mention it.

Group of people hugging outdoors; sunset

I am thankful every day for family and friends – and by family, I mean my beautiful and natural dysfunctional one, as well as my in-laws who accept this outlaw, and those I have chosen and been chosen by as sisters. There are many of those.

Every one of you have made days bearable, and made me laugh until the tears could do nothing but run down my leg.

I can only hope I have returned the favor and unconditional love in some way to someone else.

You have helped me survive and reminded me that no matter what, life is meant to be lived – and with immense joy.

And without a doubt, I am thankful for everyone who reads what I write and indulges this thing I love.

I hope on this day of thanks we all recognize those people and things that make our life wonderful and richer.

Blessings to each of you.

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You have the right to pursue happiness. Be thankful for the guts to catch it.

“The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” -Benjamin Franklin


mister pollo

Happy and sexy Thanksgiving to y’all

 I don’t participate in the daily gratitude  disclosure on social media, mostly because I don’t like being told what to do. (Although my legs and I have been participating in the nation-wide No Shave November, even though it’s supposed to be only for men and their faces. I’m a lazy rebel in that way, I suppose.)

Also, I tend to dump all of my words at once, so that I don’t have to think of something every single day, because I know I’m gonna have a bad day in November and break the invisible cycle. Nobody wants that, so I’m going to do it all right here, all at once.

I’m eternally thankful my bathroom scale doesn’t hate me, because Thanksgiving is the very worst day to be my pants, and the day after is the worst day to be my scales.

My pants typically hold a grudge about having to compete with turkey, dressing and a liter of gravy for the real estate known as my waist. But my scale just stays behind my bathroom door and waits for me to come back when the time is right, usually around April.

I’m thankful it’s not illegal to dance in my car, or I would be writing this from jail. The law frowns on repeat offenders, as well as not keeping your hands at at the 10 and 2 positions on the steering wheel.

I’m thankful I live and work among people who value humor, encourage independent thinking and understand my aversion to the Wizard of Oz and the texture of satin sheets. In other words, I have a lot of gratitude for those who let me pursue and catch my happiness no matter how it’s defined.

And, I’m thankful for saltine crackers because they cure all kinds of ills.

By the time you read this, I will be surrounded by my children, laughing and giving an extra silent thanks this holiday requires.

I’m genuinely thankful for my children every day, but something about the holidays and them living in faraway cities gives me cause to feel a little extra gratitude because their geographical location no longer allows me to take their presence at every holiday for granted.

I won’t be taking their presence for granted Thursday when we eat far too much, play innocent board games with the aggression of Roman soldiers and sing Minnie Ripperton’s Lovin’ You in remembrance of my Dad. Thanksgiving at the Hamilton House is always the very best.

So there you have it – my gratitude in a multi-paragraph nutshell.

Please, pursue your happiness. Then catch it and share it.

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