“I just don’t know what to celebrate on Thanksgiving,” said my friend. “I want to spend the day with my family eating Turkey, but I hate what the day represents to so many of my friends.”
I understand completely. How can we celebrate a day that marks the beginning of the end of the Native Peoples who lived here before my ancestors came and murdered them? And yet the tradition of gathering with friends and family to celebrate what we’re thankful for has a strong place in our culture. I’ve celebrated this day since childhood. How do we make peace with it?
Take out the Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock and all that BS about the friendly Native Americans. Focus on what is real: Gratitude. What are you thankful for? Really look at it. Because that’s what we’re really celebrating on this day. Look at everything you have and say “Thank You.”
Thank you for my health. Thank you for the food on my table and the friends in my life. Thank you for indoor plumbing and clean water and the roof over my head. Thank you for the generosity of strangers who help me every day. Thank you for all the little things I take for granted and the big things I call gifts. Thank you for my life.
I acknowledge the crimes of my ancestors and I am grateful that I can make amends by learning and doing better. That’s what our country is struggling with right now, and we need to struggle with it. Glossing over the atrocities by celebrating a myth perpetuates those atrocities. The reality is that our country is young and volatile and full of bloodshed. It is also beautiful and hopeful. We can celebrate our history and mourn those who died from that history. Eat that turkey and pumpkin pie, celebrate your family, but leave Plymouth Rock out of it.
Today is Gratitude Day. Be grateful for all that is good in your life.
Festivus, first depicted on the television show Seinfeld, is a secular holiday that allows for the Airing of Grievances. Got a complaint about a person? Air it out on December 23rd.
In that spirit, I would like to Air my Grievances about writing.
- I hate my compulsion to write. I am addicted. The need haunts my dreams, makes me grumpy when I don’t have the time to write and makes me resent everyone who interrupts my writing. Overall, writing makes me a bitch.
- My life is filled with imaginary characters who talk all at once and demand my attention, even when I’m surrounded by real humans. Writing makes me look like a crazy person.
- I have spent thousands of hours of my life pursuing perfection in writing. In those thousands of hours, I may have written four perfect sentences. Maybe.
- I have arthritis in my hands from thousands of hours of writing.
- Writing has made me a hoarder. There are boxes of journals, stories, half finished novels, outlines, bad poems and rejected manuscripts filling my attic and stuffed under my bed.
- Writing is life threatening. I will always get a great idea for a scene or story while driving. I will risk my safety and the safety of others to grab my cell phone in order to record that idea.
- Writing is boring. I would rather pick fleas off my dog than edit my novel. But like all good addictions, I will write and edit and write and edit until I go mad with boredom. This is why writers drink and their dogs have fleas.
- I’m sure I used the wrong “than” in the above section. And I am a horrible speller. But I will continue to butcher the English language because that is the only way I can get my writing fix. Being a writer and a horrible speller is a curse.
- I am terrified of rejection, but am compelled to write and submit and write and submit in a never ending cycle of masochistic misery.
- Writing makes me a narcissist. Everybody thinks their life story would make a great book. I am one of those people.
What are your grievances about writing?
Mother’s Day. Bah! Humbug!
Mother’s Day raises old ghosts. Those childhood ghosts crash into my bedroom and make me feel like I’m eight years old again and all alone in the dark. It doesn’t matter I am actually 49 and able to take care of myself. The specter of abandonment wanders out of my closet and won’t leave me alone.
There’s no need to explain or share details about my childhood. Those who experienced something similar know how it feels to grow up lost. My childhood doesn’t come close to what other’s coped with, but it left me scarred regardless. It left me with a deep hunger nothing can satisfy. I long for safety, security, and the knowledge my mom will be there no matter what. I accept it wasn’t her fault, but that can’t change the feeling. I’m a mom now, and my daughter has grownup knowing she is completely, unconditionally loved. But my sadness won’t go away.
The sadness gets stronger every Mother’s Day. But This year will be different. Instead of mourning what I never had, I will celebrate what I did.
I mothered myself.
I grew up troubled but still believed in myself. I was afraid, but kept trying. I learned and grew stronger and trusted despite how many times I was shown I shouldn’t. I taught myself that I matter. I found ways to feel more secure. I made a million mistakes but learned from every one. I never gave up on myself.
Which is what we want from our moms, right?
So this is for all the motherless children. For all who mothered themselves and fell down and kept trying and never gave up. For the ones who think no one will love them. The ones who became parents and figured out how to raise those children.
Buy yourself some flowers. You are wonderful.
Happy Mother’s Day to us all.
Enough with the guilt trip; I say Happy Holidays because I have friends from many different religions. I celebrate the Winter Solstice with my pagan friends and Christmas with my Christian friends. I’ve shared a meal on Hanukkah with Jewish friends and I have sent good wishes to my Muslim friends during Ramadan. By saying Happy Holidays I am wishing everyone good cheer. I am opening my heart to everyone.
Perhaps it’s easier for me to be inclusive this time of year because I’m not a Christian. I respect the teachings of Christ, but I don’t believe in Messiahs. I believe we are all god’s children, no matter the color of our skin or faith we follow. If you are Christian and believe December 25th is the actual date of Christ’s birth, then I wish you a Merry Christmas. However, when I say Happy Holidays to others don’t condemn me or complain about the war on christmas. The war is a figment of your imagination, just like flying reindeer.
We live in a nation that is filled with people from all over the world. Enjoy that. It says right there in our constitution there should be a separation of Church and State. Support that. If Starbucks want to sell red cups this year, drink your overpriced Latte and shut up.
Happy Holidays to everyone. Spread the good cheer, share your wealth, love your neighbor and drink another eggnog. Tomorrow, we can start arguing again.
Bright red sparks shine like stars in the black night, rising up on waves of smoke and heat. A half smile moon looks down on the people dancing and singing around a bonfire. This is a clan of artists, bohemians, hippies, healers, millennials, elders, rich and poor, all stretching eager hands toward the brilliant heat of the bonfire. Let the warmth fill you. The darkness is diminishing.
This is my clan. After a year of sadness, fear and exhaustion, I join this gathering. In the past, I would have known everyone, but today I’m surrounded by strangers I feel I know. We all know the hosts, the dear people I call my Aunt and Uncle, although we’re not related. They are my family simply because they love me and I love them. My uncle in the plaid outfit takes my hand and commands, “Have some fun for a change!” Yes Sir.
My father dances around the bonfire in a flame red coat and crown, dressed as the Sun King. My sister takes my hand and we remember how much we love each other. The night goes on as the fire burns down, but we stay awake, waiting for the first glimpse of sunlight. The longest night will soon be over.