Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Post-Holiday Relief

23 Dec

There’s nothing like being home for the holidays–not that most of us have a choice in 2020–but as much as we look forward to the holidays, they really are a pain in the rear to actually get there. Dealing with personalities, cooking, cleaning, supplies… is it worth it?

Unlike most of you, I’m already done with my winter holiday. Hanukkah lasts eight nights, but you deliberately try to tone it down compared to Christmas. One, you’ve got more time to get it right, but two, you don’t want to get burned out on latkes and dreidels and jelly donuts too fast, because it’s gotta last a week. This year, we had the challenge that half of the kids’ presents didn’t arrive in time, thanks to the shipping glut that happened due to COVID. However, they’re older now, so when we told them they would get their presents later, they weren’t terribly upset. Besides, they got a pretty good haul so far, so nothing to really complain about.

Then came the perennial problems–not enough candles. This year, we actually got a hanukkiah/menorah for each of us this year, which was a big thing! That way, everyone could light their candles. Each menorah takes 45 candles; start with two, add one every night, and that’s a lot of wax, really darn quick. We actually had a TON of candles leftover from last year, but now we had four menorahs to light. Whoops. By seventh night, we were running out. I ran out to Target and… wouldn’t you know it, they were all sold out, because corporate HQ doesn’t believe there’s enough Jews in Phoenix to send more. However, the nice guy working there pointed me towards some birthday candles which worked just as well (and burned cleaner). We ended up using all but two candles by the last night. Whew!

Of course, I could say this about any holiday. Thanksgiving this year–which I didn’t blog about–was really nice, but my wife and our friends wanted to experiment with a vegan meal. Now, I don’t actually need the turkey or any meat, but there’s a lack of options when you’re being strict about no meat/no dairy.

The sages used to call the month between the High Holidays and Hanukkah the “bad month,” because there was nothing to celebrate. But considering you had to go through three holidays in two weeks, it was good to have four weeks off before the next holiday. Is it worth it? Yes. But just like any vacation, it’s good to recover after you come from the trip. I’ve got vacation coming up next week and I’m hoping to take the kids up to the mountains to see snow, but that’s flexible, based on Mother Nature and the vagaries of timing.

What do you think? Are the holidays worth it? Do you work more trying to relax than you do at your paid work? Let me know about it in the comments below!

Let Gratitude Be Your Attitude

27 Nov

Sure, we focus on 2020 and how awful it has been, but yesterday, I was able to have a moment to remember what I’m grateful for. So let gratitude be your attitude and let’s name them.

I still have my job.

To be fair, I wasn’t terribly worried, since my job tends to be recession-resistant, but budgets can shift overnight and projects that you’re working on are no longer funded. So I’m grateful that I still have a job and we’re still putting food on the table.

We still have our health.

Apart from one nasty head cold, my family has avoided the doctor pretty well this year. My wife has tested negative for the swine ebola monkey pox flying death.

I still have most of my relatives.

Sure, I lost my grandmother, but she was 91, and I had my chance to say goodbye and return to my hometown again. Otherwise, my brother-in-law’s father passed away, which caused a family hubbub over that meant I couldn’t go to their house for Thanksgiving, but I got to see my other brother-in-law (Editor Ed), and for that, I’m far more grateful.

My bar is still open.

Now this may seem fickle to you, but this is not a certainty these days. Having shutdowns crippled many restaurants, and especially bars, and bars often didn’t have the “carryout” option that restaurants did. So many of them closed for good. Bar Lives Matter–because we are running out of spaces for casual interaction with people. If you don’t go to church, and you don’t belong to an organization that actually meets, you’re limited to social media… and boy, what a fun-house mirror that is.

Simply talking to people who do not believe the same as you, were not raised the same way, and do not have the same life experiences makes your world a lot richer. Plus with a couple drinks in you, you’re able to be honest with each other, and realize what separates us is not that important.

My son’s finally doing better in school.

This whole online school thing is terrible–my son went from being an honor roll student to flunking half his classes. It took a lot of work, but we finally got him back up to acceptable. Now I could give some choice words about his principal and what I think she should do with her bad self, but in the end, we didn’t leave and go to a school that was meeting in person because this is the school my son feels at home with. (But Lord, we came close.)

His school lets him go to campus twice a week–classes are still online, but at least, he’s going somewhere different and connecting with his friends. This has hit him the worst out of all of us. My daughter only had a month break from her school and they were back in person, but my son hasn’t been in a regular classroom since March. Plays–what he lives for–aren’t happening. D&D games are over and he hates doing MORE stuff online. And half his friends are still deathly afraid of human interaction. So the fact that he’s passing all his classes now is a God-send.

What are you grateful for? Don’t focus on the negative for one day a year and feel free to comment what is best in your life. I’ll see you tomorrow.

Thank Heaven for Large Mercies

26 Nov

One day a year, we’re reminded to give thanks for all the wonderful things that have happened in our life. Although we’re tempted to remember how bad 2020 has been for us, if the Pilgrims could get over their bad times in 1621, so can we.

Imagine you’re living in a comfortable urban life in the Netherlands, you’re free to worship, maintain your own community, but you belong to what we would call today “fundamentalists.” You see your children becoming worldly, (relatively) tolerant Dutchmen, and you know that if you stay, your community will disappear in two generations. You can’t go back home to England, so someone comes up with a solution, and you jump at it.

So you get to an alien shore, and by remarkable providence (in this case, previous plague), the land is open and no one is trying to kill you for it. Here is where you realize, you don’t know how to farm. Or you do know how to farm, but Massachusetts is a completely different horticultural zone, so what you remember from temperate England doesn’t work in snowy, rocky New England. Your crops fail, you don’t know the local plants to scavenge well, but you can fish. No one knows or cares that you there. No one’s coming to rescue you. Odds are, your settlement is going to die off in the next winter.

Then comes Squanto (at least, that’s what you think his name is) to show you how you’re doing it wrong, to show you wild game in the area, and what plants are good to eat. Here is the last survivor of the tribe who’s land you’ve moved into and he does more than what is decent–he helps you survive. Not only that, he convinces the tribe next door to help you out.

So you have a big feast with things that look familiar, but are alien. Maize–it looks like corn, so let’s call it that. Pumpkins. They’re close enough to a gourd that we get the idea. And then this pheasant-like thing we’re calling a turkey. Sitting around the table with these savage-looking people who you can barely understand, but have ensured that you have enough food that you will last until the end of the next growing season. You will live… and that is the greatest thing to give thanks for.

Now, I should mention that “no good deed goes unpunished,” but to be fair, it wasn’t the people at the feast who caused the Pequot War… it was the cousins of those Pilgrims who came in the second wave a year later that decided that the Indians had to go. But instead of going down that rabbit hole, just understand that simple act of thankfulness. Having a feast when you were about to starve to death. Not being able to go to the local bar for a month pales in comparison.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Maybe tomorrow, I should write out what I’m thankful for, but for now, feel free to comment what you like.

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