Random Saturdays – Thanksgiving Guide for Aliens

We do not have the kids this Thanksgiving (and I’m writing this post before Thanksgiving).  It took longer than normal to figure out what we’d do for Thanksgiving this year because we didn’t have to figure out when we’d pick up the kids, what activities they had, what activities our friends and families had, and how to be as efficient with our time as possible so that everyone got to see the kids and nobody’s friends or families were forgotten.  When we realized that we wouldn’t have the kids this year and that nobody had offered any solid plans for us to add to the calendar, we had no idea what to do with our time.

I had been talking to some friends about their different plans for the holiday and I read many articles in magazines and online about how to plan a stress-free Thanksgiving or how to deal with the stress of Thanksgiving.  There are also plenty of articles on how to decorate, clean, and cook for Thanksgiving.  I love Thanksgiving!  I love that we, as a country, set aside a time to be grateful for anything and everything.  If an alien visited the U.S. during Thanksgiving, though, how would we explain Thanksgiving?  I mean, there’s history with Pilgrims and Native Americans and whatnot, but that would mean nothing to an alien.  How do we explain how we celebrate Thanksgiving now?  The obvious answer is that we’d compile a list of Must Dos and post it on the internet for all the aliens to read.

Thanksgiving Guide for Aliens

  1. Figure out when the most people are the most available.  Is everyone off on Thanksgiving?  Would meeting the weekend after work better?  Does anyone have child custody, probation, or Mogwai time restrictions that must be followed?
  2. Find a location big (or small) enough to hold the available people.  This could be someone’s house, a restaurant, or the neighbor’s backyard since they have a better landscaper than you and are out of town this week.
  3. Make a menu.  This is really important because the timing of everything else depends on when the food will be ready to eat.  My family always had Thanksgiving dinner.  Ben’s family always had Thanksgiving lunch.  I’ve even heard of Thanksgiving brunch.  It really doesn’t matter as long as the person cooking and the person arranging the location for eating are on the same timetable.  Everyone else can do whatever they want as long as they don’t make the person cooking wait to eat.  It’s even better if everyone makes a little something so that no one person has to do all the work.  I say this (a) having made entire Thanksgiving meals from scratch by myself because my perfectionist attitude and my tastebuds told me to and (b) my antidepressants now make me really unmotivated to do much of anything 90% of the time, despite my tastebuds.
  4. Cook, travel, gather, and eat.  Don’t argue (or fight) over something dumb.  This is a time to enjoy family, friends, and food.  As long as you have a sliver of one of those, then you’re doing well.  Don’t instigate arguments.  Don’t be snarky.  If someone says something snarky to you, ignore it.  I always feel sorry for those people because they are bursting with so much negativity that it just spews from their mouths like stinky farts.  Also, if you’re with your loved ones, then it’s safe to assume that they did not mean what they said in a way that would hurt you.  They either have diarrhea of the mouth or it sounded better in their heads.  Even if you know this person just likes to complain and pick arguments, consider it a mouth fart and be glad that you don’t mouth fart.
  5. Sleep.  Watch the parade.  Watch football.  Play games.  Eat way too much.  Read.  Go for a walk.  Enjoy this time because it will be a memory in the past before you know it.

That’s my guide to Thanksgiving for aliens.  There’s no need to thank me.  I just like to volunteer out of the kindness of my heart to check things off the Alien Invasion Preparedness List.

H A P P Y   T H A N K S G I V I N G !

Or Happy Random Thursday if you are not in the U.S.!

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Random Saturdays – Welcome Holidays!

The holiday season is here!  If you’re old like me, you find yourself saying, once again, “I can’t believe it’s already November.  Where did the year go?”  If you love the holiday season like me, you are also excited that the holiday season is here.  Canada has already celebrated Thanksgiving, and Halloween and Election Day have just passed in the U.S.  The next big U.S. holiday is, of course, Thanksgiving.

The holiday season is also the birthday season in my world.  From October – March it’s a non-stop birthday celebration.  I used to be one of the few summer birthday people that I knew.  Now that I’m married, half of the family have birthdays during birthday season, and the other half of the family has birthdays in the summer.  I’ve always felt sorry for people who had birthdays around the holidays because their birthdays are overshadowed by the big holidays, especially if you’re born around Christmastime.  That’s why I try to make a point of giving separate Christmas and birthday presents to Christmas babies.  Plus, there are so many great sales during the holiday season that it should be easier to shop for holiday season babies.

Oh and shopping.  There’s the neverending fight between shopping vs. meaningful holidays.  I really don’t think that they are mutually exclusive.  I believe you just have to be aware of the meaning in holidays and you have to try to share that meaning with others when you are giving gifts.  This is especially tricky with kids because they are naturally inclined to just want stuff, lots and lots of stuff.  If we don’t teach them to be grateful for what they have and to think about what they can give and do for others, then they turn into ungrateful adults who have the nerve to think they can actually criticize gifts given to them and favors done for them.  That is the type of attitude that kills the holiday spirit and turns everything into a debate about the “true” meaning of any given holiday in a bad way.

This was our first holiday season together. The kids are about twice the size as they were then. My stomach is about twice the size s it was then. (From left to right: Dora, Lego, Ben, Minecraft)


I am American and I celebrate Thanksgiving.  I love the food.  I love time off from work.  I love spending time with my family and friends. When I plan Thanksgiving at my house, I always try to do it as low key as possible, but then find myself stressing myself out by trying to cook everything perfectly and make the house look immaculate.  I do it to myself.  Not once has anyone ever criticized me for not having enough food, the right food, a dirty home, ugly decorations, etc.  It’s all in my head.  With the kids, I’m trying to be more aware of that and remember that if I stress myself out over this crap that doesn’t matter, then they will learn to stress themselves out over crap that doesn’t matter as well.  Just as bad, they may start stressing others out about crap that doesn’t matter and think they are entitled to criticize the cooking and entertaining abilities of others.  So, I’m trying not to pass stress and judgement on to my kids.

Then there’s Christmas.  Let me say now that I am not Crhstian but I do celebrate Christmas.  I grew up Christian, spent many years in a crisis of faith, and have finally found myself in a good spiritual place, the details of which I am not going to delve into during this post.  I celebrate Christmas because it’s what I grew up with and it represents a time of giving and spending time with loved ones for me.  When I had the Great Santa Claus Crisis around the age of 10, my mother told me that she believed in Santa Claus because he was the spirit of giving.  So, no matter how old you were, you should always believe in Santa Claus.  No matter how much or how little you got in your stocking, you should always believe in Santa Claus.  I decided to adopt that belief as my own.

We just had the kids write their letters to Santa because we won’t see them much in November and we wanted to make sure that Santa had plenty of time to get their letters.  They asked for some surprising gifts, but also had interesting conversations with Santa.  Dora was concerned that Santa might not like the milk and cookies she wants to leave for him.  Minecraft told Santa that if he were lucky, he would get cookies and milk.  Lego just wanted to know if Santa and Mrs. Claus were doing okay up in the North Pole.  They all decorated their letters with colorful pictures and included phrases like, “Santa’s #1!”  Three years ago, their letters to Santa just told Santa what they wanted.  It might not seem like much, but to see their thought processes go from “Here’s what I want,” to “How are you. Here’s what I might do for you.  I think you’re great!” is pretty cool.  They also helped each other write their letters, with no help from Ben or me.  We did have to get onto them once for arguing over marker colors, but they worked together well otherwise.  Now, I can add cooperation, mental growth, and emotional growth to the great things that Santa represents for me.

As I typed this, it was about 6:30 AM and I had been awake for three hours with a terrible headache.  The kids were just picked up for school by their bio-mom and Ben had just left for work.  The cat was running circles around the house, chasing invisible toys.  The Excedrin has moved from making my head a bit numb to making me rather dizzy and the cat has begun her grooming routine, signaling that she is ready to curl up with me for her morning nap.  I’m going to take the cat’s advice to end this post and get some rest.  I hope that you are as excited about the holiday season as I am and that it holds as much meaningful promise for you as it does for me.  Happy Holidays!

Pimp It Mondays – Debediah

Behold! Da Debediah!

Behold! Da Debediah!

Here and there, I’ve mentioned Debediah, so I think it’s time that I give a bit of history on him.  Debediah is a character that my friends and I developed on blustery fall evening over Thanksgiving leftovers and an uproariously hilarious game of Scattergories.  You know how it is, you’re all under the pressure of a timer, all words have to start with D, and you’re just trying to write something down.  It makes sense at the time, kinda, but as everyone takes turns saying his or her answers, you start to realize that your Timer Reasoning might not be the best.  For “biblical names”, most of us put names like Daniel and David, but Teresa wrote, “Debediah.”  She didn’t have to feel bad though, because for “things that you plug in”, Lauren wrote, “Dude”.  It was such a funny answer that we gave her full credit.  I might have put some very inappropriate answers down for many of the prompts, but I was honestly surprised that nobody else had those answers.  At any rate, through much laughter, happy tears, and cajoling, Teresa and I began to act like Debediah for the rest of the night…and the rest of the trip.

Debediah is an old Southern gentlemen.  We don’t have his specific history, but we have enough to make him funny.  He’s like a more interesting Colonel Sanders.  I like to think that he never owned a plantation because he was not so much a rich, landowning racist as he was a stylish bon vivant.  He may or may not have any money at all really, and may have just travelled the world through a combination of luck and kindness from strangers.  What we do know is that something timey wimey happened and he ended up in the present day.  Technology confuses him, but he doesn’t care enough one way or another to really be crotchety about it.  He may or may not like women because he’s a Southern Gentlemen (kinda like how Americans have a hard time figuring out if a man from England is gay or just British), but he does find modern female attire both appalling and tantalizing.  He also likes to dance, his signature dance being especially impressive.

Debediah has his own Facebook page, Google+ page, and a Twitter account.  Cathy drew his profile pic and I did the first comic for him.  Our next step was to record a Google hangout, but it’s been difficult getting everyone to schedule a time to be online together.  I was waiting to do the hangout before I did another comic, but I’m thinking now that I should just do a bi-weekly comic and we can tape our Google hangouts whenever they happen.

(Aside:  I just realized that I wrote “tape” as a verb rather than “record”, which is something that people did before the year 2000.  I was going to fix that, but since I’m talking about Debediah, I figured “tape” would be impressive to him.)

Pimp It Mondays – Cathy’s Guide to Goals

Today is the last day of 2012, which means that everyone is examining the past year and planning the coming year.  My friend, Cathy, did a series of blog posts in December designed to help readers figure out their goals.  Her suggestions are realistic and very accessible.  You even get to make lists, rate things, draw circles, etc.  I’ll probably be referring to her blog when I’m setting up my various calendars for the coming year – yes, calendars, plural.

Exploring Your Depths – Goals I

Cathy and I are both organizing nerds.  We get excited by hot Italians highlighters and file folders.  We like to plan things out and have some sort of structure to our daily lives.  Even so, Cathy’s taking a break from planning in January because she’s a bit burned out from all of the holiday planning she’s done lately.  The great thing about Cathy is that she can plan and organize, but she can also roll with the punches.  I admire that she can take a break from her planning when she feels like she needs it.  I plan to take a break from cookies in January because I feel like I need it.

As for my plural calendars, I took a break from multiple things in life over the past 2-3 years.  I slowly fell out of many of the good habits that I had.  Last year was especially difficult because I started the year with a new job, finishing up my bachelor’s degree (it only took me 15 years!), and feeling hopeful about the coming year.  Sometime around the summer, my summer migraines set in, my eczema flared the hell up all over my face, and my knee still wasn’t working correctly from the jogging injury a year and a half earlier.  All the hope I had at the beginning of the year began sneaking out the front door.  Then my mom, step-mom, dad, and best friend all had surgery within the span of a month.  At that point, I just gave up.  I began waking up to go to work, coming home to overeat, and then going to bed until I had to go to work again.

For Thanksgiving, some friends and I visited Cathy and her sister.  It was a great trip with plenty of serious discussions as well as ridiculous conversations that led to the creation of Debediah.  The trip completely rejuvenated me and inspired me to finally get going on this blog and get back into the routines that keep me healthy, happy, and sane…ish.  This is where the plural calendars come in – they remind me of my routines, progress, and non-routine items.  I use them to remind me when to pay bills (I only autopay certain bills because convenience charges are BS), track my health, and track projects.  Thanks to Cathy, I even have a calendar of hot Italians cute animals that makes me feel good every time I see it.

So here’s to 2013, may it be a great year for us all!