How Thanksgiving Really Is

A lot of times after a big holiday we have a letdown, a time when we sit back and reflect on all the preparations and hurrying and worrying to make sure everything is perfect, and wonder, after all we did for a few hours of family time and food, was it worth it? All the work, that is.

The turkey’s been eaten, and leftovers put away. Casseroles are covered and refrigerated for tomorrow. Leftover pumpkin pie sits on the counter in case someone wants another piece.

All the work and preparation and it’s over in an hour or so. And everyone is exhausted.

Yes, we gave thanks for time together, and yes it was wonderful, although it certainly wasn’t like a Norman Rockwell painting. It never is. And for those of you who don’t know what I’m referring to, please look up Norman Rockwell and his work. Then you’ll understand.

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At our house, it was a small gathering. Our daughter and her family, and her dad and me. And that was fine.

Now the Thanksgiving crafts Ashley brought for the kids to do didn’t quite turn out too well. Grandpa complained his crayons weren’t coloring right. Little Ryleigh lost interest quickly. Probably because she didn’t feel good. So Rachel and her mom got to have all the fun, including making a Thanksgiving hat for Daddy. Even one of our dogs decided to join in the fun and try to eat a couple of the kids’ crayons. Didn’t know yorkies liked crayons….

The food was good, even though it wasn’t all necessarily homemade. There’s nothing wrong with stovetop stuffing, turkey gravy in a jar, ready made mashed potatoes, and a frozen pumpkin pie. But I did make two casseroles myself. And Ashley and the girls made cinnamon buns from my mother’s recipe, which is our tradition.

We didn’t carve the turkey at the table; that’s just not practical. Good thing, though, because the electric knife decided to die on us when my husband started to cut it, and our son-in-law had to use his deer knife to carve the bird. He did tell us he’d cleaned it after he last used it out in the woods!

We didn’t dress up in our best clothes, like we did as kids at our grandma’s house on Thanksgiving. But we did eat in the dining room. We didn’t use our best china, but we didn’t use paper plates either. Good thing we used unbreakable dinnerware, though! You can imagine why with two little girls….

The grandkids had fun, even though they didn’t eat much. One ate three helpings (kid-sized) of corn pudding and one ate mostly cinnamon buns! Our daughter put ketchup on her turkey while her husband used hot sauce. Who else does that? And why?

The grandkids were actually more interested in running into the living room to try to play my piano and in the next minute go look out the window for Santa Claus. Rachel even said she thought she saw him on the roof and made her Daddy go look! But I guess he’d already left because they didn’t find him.

I wonder if he was starting to make his list early!

The dogs were unhappy because they weren’t allowed to be in the dining room with us, half because they wanted to be with us, and half because they knew the kids were dropping food on the floor and they wanted to help with the cleanup!

But don’t worry about their holiday dinner! They discovered the cloth napkins and tablecloth I’d thrown on the steps to take upstairs to the laundry room, and they were more than happy to grab those and run around the house with them.

Guess they wanted their Thanksgiving treats as well!

Family Thanksgiving pictures? The closest we got to that were pictures of the grandkids helping their mommy make the cinnamon buns and taking pictures of the kids modeling the Thanksgiving paper hats they’d colored.

Now tell me the truth…was your Thanksgiving more like ours or more like the picture perfect scenes you see on tv commercials and magazine ads?

I think I know the answer already. And I really wouldn’t want it any other way. After all, it’s our family, and that’s just how it is!

And if you’re wondering how my husband was able to handle all this after his heart procedure two days ago, well, that’s another story, for another time. While we wait for it to be rescheduled now that the insurance company has FINALLY sent the doctors their approval! Things do work out for the best after all. Because Thanksgiving day would have totally worn him out.

And now it’s on to getting ready for Christmas. And there’ll surely be more stories and memories to cherish.

Being Thankful 2021

(Be sure to read through it all for a surprise at the end.)

It’s almost Thanksgiving again. We’re all trying to plan our meals, figure out who will join us at our feast, as well as what everyone can bring. 

We’re trying to figure out how to prevent arguments at these family and friends dinners because, well, some of you don’t get along with each other that well, and have such uncompromising ideas that you’re afraid dinner will turn into a battleground.

People are already complaining that the cost of our traditional Thanksgiving meal is too high. We can’t get this or that and we just can’t have our dinner without it.

People are complaining that many retailers who traditionally opened after dinnertime for an early start on Christmas shopping won’t be doing it this year. They’re actually letting their employees have off to spend time with THEIR families instead of trying to deal with pushy shoppers who complain that what they stood in line to buy is gone already! 

It just isn’t fair! 

Who said life is fair? Who said we have to have certain things for dinner because it’s tradition? Is Thanksgiving going to be ruined if we have to eat chicken instead of turkey? Not, it’s not quite the same, but you do have food on the table.

You don’t want to have certain family members there because you don’t agree with them on certain things? Maybe they don’t agree with you either. Maybe you can agree to disagree for one day and leave that conversation out of your day?! Or maybe you can just forget about them this year. But do you really want to do that?

Maybe things will be different next year and you can see them then. Or maybe they won’t be around any more and you’ll never get the chance to be with them again.

Tomorrow is not promised. Next week is not promised. And next year is not promised.

When we start making holidays, say Thanksgiving for a start, only about the food and who’s cooking it, and what we can or can’t have, there’s a problem.

When we make Thanksgiving about who we don’t want as our guests instead of welcoming family members to join us for a time of fellowship, gratitude, and thankfulness, there’s a problem. When we refuse to go to our family Thanksgiving dinner because some one or two people we don’t want to see will be there, and give up going and being with others we love, there’s a problem.

When your traditional after Thanksgiving dinner early Christmas shopping can’t happen because retailers decided to give their employees off to enjoy their own families, there’s a problem.

I think we’re forgetting what Thanksgiving means. It’s not about the food. It’s not about shopping. It’s not about refusing an invitation because you don’t like someone who’s also invited, so you’d rather complain that you have nowhere to go. Because you do; you just choose not to.

And yes, I find myself starting to do that as well. I forget, too. But then I was prompted to start writing this, and as I wrote, I saw too many things inside myself that I was doing wrong.

I found myself pushing to make sure I had all the good items we “always” have for our dinner. Yes, we did get the turkey early, but we didn’t pay a fortune for it because we found a sale rather than just complaining about prices. Complaining has become the new thing to do, hasn’t it?

And if we have to change up the menu slightly from what we traditionally have, well, maybe we’ll like the changes so much we’ll keep them for next Thanksgiving. And cranberry sauce? Yeah, it’s tradition but no one really eats much of it.

As long as we can have my mother’s recipe cinnamon buns we’re good. And I ordered the hot roll mix she always used so all we need is for our daughter to make them!

And the dinner guests? Since my family lives several hours away, and my husband’s family lives halfway across the country, our dinner guests are our daughter and son-in-law and their two daughters. Over the last several years we’ve usually had several friends in the same situation; family out of town and they couldn’t get there. Or they’re newly separated or divorced and well, we won’t go there. Or some of our daughter’s friends who couldn’t get to their family celebration that year.

There’s always room at our table for one more, and many times it’s someone who’s invited at the last minute because we didn’t know they had nowhere to go.

The shopping after dinner? I can truthfully say I’ve never done that. Not even wanted to. After a big dinner and cleaning up afterwards, the last thing I want to do is go fight the crowds fighting over bargains on things they don’t really need or gifts that the recipients might not even want.

What’s wrong with stores actually letting their employees have a holiday off? Is the almighty dollar so important that the retailers should be open no matter what? Personally I’m glad a lot of them made that decision. Let families have a full day together, and that means those of you who used to take off shopping as soon as dinner was over. Spend time with the ones who are important to you while you can. The stores will be open the next day. And there will be merchandise to buy.

Now, to make our Thanksgiving even more interesting, a few days ago, a new complication was added to our Thanksgiving plans. But it’s added at the top of our “Being Thankful” list. 

My husband who’s had a history of heart issues (read his story in the Matters of the Heart series on this blog) was unexpectedly notified that after a year and a half of waiting and delays (Covid and insurance, among other things) he finally had an opening for a very important but hopefully minor heart surgery, if any heart procedure can be called minor. Two days before Thanksgiving. We took the appointment.

After a rushed several days of preparation for surgery, final meal planning and some prep for the actual dinner, and yes, finishing up the majority of our Christmas decorations, notifying our family and friends, I think we’re ready. 

Tomorrow morning he will be having a device called the Watchman inserted laparoscopically into his heart. The device is designed to prevent blood clots from breaking off and possibly causing a stroke. Which means he will finally be able to go off blood thinners at the beginning of the new year. And he should be home the next morning.

So you see, our Thanksgiving won’t be the same as other years, either. But with the help of our daughter and other friends, as well as a great surgeon and his team, we’re going to have a truly thankful Thanksgiving Day.

It may not be traditional, but it’s going to be blessed. And full of heartfelt gratitude.

So I ask you now…what are you going to be thankful for this Thanksgiving? Are you going to be grateful for what you have or complain about what you think you’re missing?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dressing up the Dogs???

Yes, we do dress our dogs up on occasion, although not as much as we used to.  And yes, that does include Halloween. They’re actually not real fond of it, though, as you can imagine.

But being puppy parents to two adorable and extremely spoiled Yorkies means we really have to do things like that. It’s sort of an unwritten law for those of us who are owned by Yorkies.

I’m sure most of you have seen the cute pictures all over Facebook and Instagram of Yorkies wearing clothes, and not just for Halloween.  Those pictures look adorable. The dogs look so happy, and you think, “wow I have to have one of those dogs so I can dress him/her up, too.”

Well, that’s a good thought. However, actually doing it and taking good pictures are two entirely different matters. 

Dogs don’t like to get dressed up. At least ours don’t. Oh, they tolerate it. But they really act embarrassed. You will see a few pictures here, but you have no idea what we had to do and how long it took us to get what pictures I’m posting. How the photographers online get such photos I don’t know! Either the dogs are extremely well trained or the photographer took a thousand pictures to get that one!

A couple of years ago, however, we had a brilliant idea to enter the pups in a Halloween pet costume contest at a local restaurant. We had a couple of weeks to plan for it, and knew we had to get the perfect costumes for Benji and Chloe. 

And what could be more appropriate than bride and groom outfits! Complete with a veil for Chloe and a top hat for Benji! Online ordering is an awesome thing and Amazon had just the perfect outfits! 

But it wasn’t enough to just have them dressed for the part. We even got Chloe a “bouquet” of flowers (actually a fancy dog toy felt flower bouquet that we wouldn’t let her chew on). We also had a dog toy cake but it had birthday candles on it, so that wouldn’t work. 

Then my husband had a perfect idea! Something he knew would be just the thing to clinch the prize for the most adorable doggies in the Halloween parade! Instead of just walking them up on stage, they would make their grand entrance as “newlyweds” in their own little car.

And it just so happened that our daughter and son-in-law had a pink (of course) remote control car they’d bought for our granddaughter, and they were happy to bring it for us to use.

So we were all set! Except for the two stars of the show not being too happy about wearing their outfits! Maybe it was “pre-wedding jitters”? Or Chloe had changed her mind about her dress and wanted a different style?

Anyway, the show must go on, and so must the Halloween Pet Contest! We promised the pups we’d give them treats if they behaved, so that Sunday afternoon we all met at the restaurant, including our daughter and son-in-law and our little granddaughter (who wanted to ride in her car!) and my best friend.

Of course, the contest was held outside in a beautiful setting by the water. Picnic tables were set up and ready for participants and diners as well. There was even a special menu for the dogs to order from!

There were quite a few dogs there, all in costumes! And like Benji and Chloe, some of them didn’t seem overly happy to be dressed up either! Or maybe they were just nervous to have to go onstage. Benji was more interested in barking at the other dogs like a crazy person (or dog) and Chloe just wanted to take her dress off and run and play with them.

Maybe this wasn’t a great idea after all?

But we’d come this far, so we went for it!

All the dogs had their chance onstage.  There were some really creative costumes; dogs dressed as hot dogs, a beer can, clowns, a police officer, a scarecrow, and even a taco!

Then it was our turn. We put Chloe’s veil on her, put both dogs in the car, and held our breath as my husband controlled the car that slowly rolled along in front of the stage. And amazingly both pups stayed in the car! And everyone there loved it!

The winners were decided by audience vote. We held our breath to see who’d win. And yes, Benji and Chloe won! By one vote, but they still won! 

We were awarded a gift certificate from the restaurant (which happens to be one of our local favorites), and the pups got to order lunch from that special dog menu! 

Would we do it again? Well….that depends on the dogs. But I think they’re going with the “once is enough” answer!

Note: The restaurant is Blue Pete’s in Virginia Beach. It’s a locally owned establishment situated on a small body of water known as Muddy Creek. The atmosphere and food are great, and so are the owners!

Why Flamingos Don’t Like Halloween

You know that flamingos really like a good party. That’s evident in everything they do. But Halloween isn’t necessarily a time they enjoy, and when you think about it, their reasons really make a lot of sense!

Orange doesn’t look that good with pink, or so the flamingos think. And since Halloween colors are mostly orange and black, well, all the decorations and costumes for Halloween clash with their beautiful pink plumage. And flamingos want to always look their best!

They briefly considered this feather boa and feather hat, but decided no. Not them. Not their style.

Then they thought about Halloween costumes….and that was a big “NO” as well. After all, they just didn’t want to look scary. They totally disregarded witch costumes, skeletons, ghosts….all the traditional ideas. Flamingos are fun-loving, vivacious, and well, flamboyant birds. These outfits, although popular with their human friends, just wouldn’t do! Neither did bales of hay.

And then if they were going to have a party, well, the décor would have to be mostly orange and black with all of those Halloween type decorations….skulls, skeletons, black cats, and (horrors!) witches in those ugly drab style-less black robes and pointed hats stirring black cauldrons of steaming who knows what! No, that simply wouldn’t do. The skulls with flowers, well, that wasn’t an option either. Even an elegant-themed Halloween party would have to use some of those colors and props or it just wouldn’t work.

At least they did find a couple of cute shabby chic pink pumpkin decorations to use around the house, so they were able to at least have a little touch of “elegant” Halloween décor.

Still, they really, really wanted to have a party of some kind. They just wouldn’t call it a Halloween party.

So now what to do?

Fortunately they were able to find some pink Halloween-themed plates, even though they were for a kids’ party, so they decided to have an afternoon tea party/dessert party instead. With the option of champagne and wine, of course, rather than tea! And they were also able to find pink Halloween cookies and even a couple of pink Halloween cakes.  And they all had a lovely time.

And what will they be doing on Halloween night? Why, handing out pink wrapped candy to all the trick- or-treaters that show up at their door. And being thankful they didn’t have to put up with that traditional Halloween décor or those “tacky” costumes. After all, flamingos DO have a certain reputation of flamboyant elegance to uphold!

Photo Sources: Header Photo: redshedgardenandgitfs – 1st Row: – claires.com; the hat hive – 2nd Row: – amazon; plowandhearth; amazon – 3rd Row: via Etsy – LushsCreations; blogspot.com – 4th Row: – twinkletwinklelittleparty.com; thewondrcottage.com; blacktwine.com; via etsy; via etsy; source unknown; LaurenConrad.com

A Season of Love?

Today is December 1. There are 24 days until Christmas. It’s the season of love; of hope; an almost magical time when we can actually begin to feel that spirit of anticipation. Of knowing that good things are going to happen.

It’s a time in which we should all begin to focus on what’s really important instead of complaining, griping, and spreading falsehoods and baseless theories about how things have been stolen away. Insulting others and name calling in order to make themselves look, well, I don’t really know what they think it makes them look like, but I think it makes them look small and petty. And even calling for people to rise up against others, many of those neighbors, friends, and even families, just because they don’t agree with you.

Christmas is a time to celebrate when love came into the world in the form of a tiny baby. A baby knows no hatred, bears no animosity to others. A baby looks at the new world around him and sees only wonder and awe. He sees not black and white, but a multitude of colors that fascinate him and cause him to want to explore each and every one.

So why are we so fixated on trying to make the world into something it is clearly not anymore? Why, especially in this season of love, are we so fixated on spreading so much hatred?

This has been a difficult year. Many people are still unemployed. Many are worried that they won’t have enough money to eat and keep a roof over their family’s head, let alone get gifts for their children. Many have lost loved ones, not only to the pandemic, but because their hatred is stronger than their love. And that’s sad.

My husband and I have lost friends this year to Alzheimer’s and cancer. We have also lost friends who do not agree with us, and rather than agreeing to disagree, have insulted us, called us horrible names, and even telling us we cannot be Christians because we disagree with them.

This is not the way to show love to anyone. And it’s certainly not in keeping with the spirit of the Christmas season.

Many people who read this will dismiss my words and say I’m being ridiculous. Many will say they have every right to say what they want when they want and to who they want. Yes, they do, unless they are trying to incite violence.

However, is it the right thing to do? And what does it say about them? Are their hearts that hard?

This is the beginning of the Christmas season. The season of love.

Can we maybe, just for a few weeks even, try to live that way?