Home for the Thanks Giving

I’m not entirely sure I should be allowed to have time off. As soon as vacation begins, my brain drains out through my ears and I become incapable of doing anything productive. I woke up yesterday at the beginning of my six day respite from the office and did the following:

  • IMG_3855Watched Sesame Street, not ironically. (Still a great show).
  • Watched Live with Kelly and Michael. (Still a bad show).
  • Read an Jane Evanovich book in one sitting. For a fun drinking game in reading Love Overboard, drink every time you see the words kissing, pirate’s blood, and rip those panties to shreds.
  • Cried on a bus while listening to a This American Life episode.
  • Floss. (Teeth hygiene is very important).

I’m also sniffling. My head feels swollen and my nose won’t stop running. This fun bodily development began yesterday morning, probably as a common symptom of “leisure sickness.” My parents’ house envelops me with home cooked meals, free laundry services and soft couches. The energy I use daily to make trains and speed walk along crowded sidewalks has all but evaporated. All that remains is a sweatpants-wearing version of myself who uses all her physical effort just to pour a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. 

In the spirit of giving thanks, I’d like to raise a glass to every parent and family member who generously welcomes home their 20-something hapless children who eat their food and spread various belongings across every room, offering nothing in return except dirty laundry and a sheepish smile. If you’re lucky, they might even tell you about their life before hoping in the car and trying to rekindle old high school relationships.

Thank you.

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Hopeful Thankful Season

‘Tis the season– the season for seeing the first dusting of snow, filling shelves with bottles of Cab & Merlot, building fires in the wood stove, and casting stitches for knitted hats, mittens and scarves. The radio stations praise jingling bells and baby boys and Black Friday enthusiasts are setting their alarm clocks across America. Reserve a turkey and plan the menu. The holiday season is here.

This year my Thanksgiving, as many in the past, will be held at my parents’ house. The morning begins with fresh coffee, breakfast bread and the low hum of parade commentary drifting into the kitchen where preparations are in full swing. As cars arrive, hugs are delivered and tinfoil dishes are slid into the oven. Tradition is butternut squash soup served in hollowed turkey-shaped dishes and Grandpa’s pumpkin pie with a healthy dollop of whipped cream. The dining party is small–five wooden chairs arranged at the table–but the quality of the company far surpasses the quantity of faces and names.

I am thankful for these people around my table and seated elsewhere throughout the world. I saver their unyielding support and generosity as I do my braised carrots and mashed potatoes, thyme and time again. Behind everything in my life that I am thankful for–my job, my home, my travels, my future– there is a friend, family member or stranger who contributed to my thanks.

Who are you thankful for?

Giving thanks often begets feelings of guilt. The Philippines will not easily recover from their country’s devastation. Wars are being fought, children shot and voices left unheard. Who am I to sit in a warm house with a full stomach and fuller heart while others struggle for so much less? But guilt does not help the world. Guilt neither feeds the hungry nor protects future generations. It is hope, not guilt, that arises from thankfulness and paves the way forward. Hope is the kindling that fuels the fire of change. Hope pulls us from our beds each morning and tucks us in every night with the promise of a new dawn.

This year on November 28th, wherever you are and whoever you are with, give thanks for all the people and moments in your life that have made you who you are today. And with this thanks find hope in things to come.

photo (13)Want to have a sustainable Thanksgiving? Check out last years blog: Giving Thanks Sustainably.

A Blue Crumbles Christmas

The Pandora station is set to Let It Snow, online gift sales have skyrocketed and Hershey’s kisses in red and green are flying off the shelves. Finals weeks is in full swing and stress levels are high. Starbucks’ gingerbread lattes are back, the boys next door are sitting around a fire wearing Santa hats and my calendar is on its very last page. Christmas time is here. 

On Thursday, members of the Bucknell Dance Company went to a local senior citizen home to perform for some of the residents.  We arrived a little before 2pm and the room had already been prepared, an amphitheatre of wheelchairs and Velcro sneakers. I pushed play on the CD player and the dancers began. This is what the holidays are about, I thought as feet jumped and bodies spun in time to the music, sharing our joy with others. At the end of the performance, we passed around small cards with pictures of snowmen or candy canes, the words Happy Holidays scribbled in blue pen. It was a small gesture to be sure but I couldn’t think of a better way to spent two hours on a bright crisp December afternoon.

 Late last month, my friends from freshmen year created our very own pre-Thanksgiving dinner to celebrate friendship and attempt recipes our moms had painstakingly explained over the phone. There were logistical issues–foldout tables, number of chairs, size of the turkey–but by 6pm, the food had arrived and everyone had a place at the table. Plates were filled with turkey, salad, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potato casserole, fresh-baked bread, roasted vegetables, cheesy potatoes, pies, cupcakes and wine. We gave thanks to long-lasting relationships and great food while asserting our independence. All too soon we would be conducting our own orchestras, harmonizing the casseroles dishes with the turkey pan and number of placements required for a Thanksgiving meal. It was a glorified game of playing house and by the end of the meal, the men were going back for second helpings of pie while the women took to the kitchen, complaining about the lack of counter space and missing Tupperware lids. 

Our house, fondly named Blue Crumbles for its historically weak building foundation, recently geared up for the holiday season. Tonight we will be hosting A Blue Crumbles Christmas complete with festive chocolates, cheese dip and my mulled wine recipe from Denmark. The tree is decorated, the lights are up and the stockings are hung with care. Although none of us can believe the fall semester of our senior year will be over in a few short days, we are celebrating in the only way we know how. Hot chocolate, friends and a little bit of peppermint schnapps.

My life is still very much that of a college student. I attend class, do homework and see friends without the added worries about a mortgage, enough vacation time or reconnecting to loved ones. No matter how many people get accepted to graduate school, get job offers or finish Teach For America placement tests, the words grown-up and mature remain distant spots in the horizon. But these are not fixed destinations for we are always growing and maturing, experiencing new “firsts” and meeting new people. The holiday season is the chance to examine the beauty in your life in the same way one examines a snowglobe amidst flakes of white.

But for now, let’s be thankful for good food, great friends and families who love us. While fear of the future– fear of the unknown–will never completely subside, we should all snuggle up with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate knowing the figurings in the swirling white snow are just where they belong.

Happy Holidays.