20 Things I’m Thankful For This Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-pinup01In the spirit of the holiday, I’m going to list things in my life I’m thankful for. There’s a lot, so that’s good, but I’ll limit it to 20. I hope you all have a great holiday! Whether you are spending it with friends and family, or with anxious strangers waiting in line to spend money… Happy Thanksgiving!

What I’m Thankful for is:

  1. My super awesome, fantastic, hilarious, handsome, beardy boyfriend. He’s the best. He makes pancakes for breakfast… and dinner. He’s my partner in adventure. He’s pretty rad, and I’m pretty lucky.
  2. My health. God knows I should be dead by now, but somehow, some way… here I am. Thank you universe!
  3. A place to crash. I’m lucky. I know people all over, so I always have a place to rest my head. It’s essential for a traveler. 
  4. I completed NaNoWriMo! It is the second time in ten years of competing. I feel proud, and joyful! I did a happy dance and drank an expensive soda to celebrate. 
  5. Cold temperatures and rain. After a year of heat in Texas, it feels nice to put on a sweater.
  6. My friends all over the world.  And I mean that literally. I am so blessed. I have the best friends! I might not see them every day, or year, but they know I love them. So to all of you who have my back out there in California, Colorado, Seattle, Portland, Boston, Austin, Prague, Mexico, Germany, New York, Chicago, Hawaii, London, Budapest, Korea and even here in Houston and all of the places I forgot to list – Thank you! I love you all.
  7. Ice cream, wine, coffee, and cheese.
  8. I’m thankful that my gay and lesbian friends are finally getting the respect and equal rights they deserve. Took long enough!
  9. I’m thankful that my FB friends got tired of listing things they were thankful for around day 7.
  10. tumblr_mwh3dryoiQ1qjev1to1_1280Kittens. Every day.
  11. My voice. I did nothing to deserve it. I didn’t work hard at it, and I don’t practice. I just love singing. And I was blessed with a pretty darned good voice. I’m humbled and happy to have it and share it, even if it is just at karaoke or in the shower. If I couldn’t sing, I’d find some other way to make myself feel that good. And that would take a lot of kittens.
  12. The opportunities I’ve taken, and those I didn’t. I’ve had awesome opportunities at my feet dozens of times. Some I have taken advantage of while others I let fly by. I don’t regret any of the choices I’ve made, but I sure am thankful I’ve had them.
  13. All of the great kids I’ve been able to hang with this past year. I miss all my little friends, all of them. Especially you, Cora.
  14. My family. Both the one I was raised with and the one I have made.
  15. Naps. I’m thankful for naps.
  16. I’m thankful for condoms. And the freedoms that they give. Bless you.
  17. My computer. And the internets that come with it.
  18. Airplanes. My life wouldn’t be the same without them.
  19. Modern Family, The Simpson’s, Amy Pohler, Louie CK, Sarah Silverman, Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld and every one who makes me smile and laugh. Life can be tough. Thanks for making those hard days a little easier.
  20. Art. I’m thankful when I see it, and I’m thankful to be able to make it. It brings me joy.
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Minimalist Living: Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-poster1Thanksgiving could be a time to strip away all of the superfluous stuff in our lives, and get to what is really necessary. It could be an opportunity to spend meaningful time with the people who mean the most to you. Eat together, talk, and laugh together. Spending three hours in the kitchen, or in front of the television watching football isn’t “meaningful time”.

These days Thanksgiving is about cooking huge meals, over-eating, and getting “good deals” on Black Friday. This is the opposite of showing “Thanks” for what you have. One doesn’t show gratitude for what they have by purchasing more things. It’s backward. I like a good Turkey as much as the next gal, but I am not about to go out and buy a 22 pound bird and all of the trimmings just because it’s a holiday. I can celebrate with less and feel better about myself in the process.

I’m not trying to get anyone to shun Thanksgiving. I’m hoping to get folks to think about the way they celebrate. Does your Thanksgiving revolve around spending money? Are you planning a new outfit? Are you buying new serving platters, food, or decorations? Are you preparing twice or three times the amount of food you really need? In order to celebrate Thanksgiving in a thoughtful way, we need to begin with ourselves.

Try starting some new traditions that support your lifestyle. Try hosting a Thanksgiving potluck. We did this in Prague a lot. People brought something to eat, and a plate and silverware! We didn’t have enough plates, bowls, spoons etc, so instead of spending money on new stuff, we asked people to bring their own. It was great fun, and there were hardly any dishes at the end of the night.

Another good idea is to eat out. Choose a nice restaurant (Sorry, Chili’s doesn’t count) that has a prix-fixe meal. Each person is responsible for their own meal, and split the cost of the booze. Doing this make the meal much more relaxing, and often times can end up costing less than hosting it at your home. The best part is there is no mess, no dishes, and no folks sticking around long past their welcome.

Thanks For Nothing

My first Thanksgiving stateside in seven years left me in shock. Why would you need THREE turkeys for twelve people? For a person such as myself, a person who takes only what they need and not more, a person who is conscious about waste – it was very frustrating. On top of that I watched a mother leave Thanksgiving Dinner so that she could go stand in line for Black Friday. She left her sweet little baby (4 months old), and her toddler so that she could shopping. It seems ironic to me that Thanksgiving is supposed to be “about family” and she left hers to go spend fifty bucks on a plastic kitchen set. I hung out with that baby all night. Mom came back empty-handed and annoyed that no one had saved left overs for her. Priorities.

Black Friday is a blight on the face of America. It is like a big zit right on our collective nose. The rest of the world hears the horror stories and is left scratching their heads, wondering “why?” And I don’t have an answer. It seems that somewhere along the way Thanksgiving has stopped being about family and friends, and getting a few days off work. Thanksgiving is now all about consumption at home and at large. After you stuff yourself full of enough fatty foods for three people, why not head down to the Wal-Mart and wait in line for ten hours only to be pushed through the doors by a horde of bargain hunting assholes? Thanksgiving is supposed to be the one day Americans say Thank You for what they already have. It seems ironic that we chose that particular day to be excessive.

Buying an XBOX on sale isn’t worth fighting traffic, crowds, or leaving your family on Thanksgiving. Hell, if I have to be there, then YOU have to be  there. You get me? The folks who participate in Black Friday aren’t really getting any super awesome deals. It has been proven. On top of that you have blatant consumerism mixed with angry mobs. It’s gross. You don’t need gifts piled high to the ceiling on Christmas. If you show love for your family by buying them plastic toys, electronics, video games, or a Cabbage Patch Doll – you’re doing it wrong. You are teaching your family that money and things are important. You are helping your family buy into the notion that Thanksgiving and Christmas are all about what you get, and how much you got it for.

If that’s Christmas then I say – BAH HUMBUG.

Thanksgiving Playlist

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t like Thanksgiving. For me it is nothing but overeating and sloth sprinkled with a few family fights over silly things like politics or who has to wash the heaping pile of dishes. Ugh. No thanks. This will be my first Thanksgiving in America since 2005 so I am trying to be a little more positive. I am going to bake some soft, frosted Pumpkin Spice cookies and get a new fall outfit to sooth my dampening spirit.

I am thankful for so much. I am thankful for my boyfriend who makes me happy everyday. I am thankful for my job and the cute little brats I get to hang out with and teach. I am thankful for books, music, pizza, pancakes, boots, coffee, my penguin slippers and the new warm blanket my mommie sent. I am thankful for all that I have – everyday. Here is a playlist of gratitude. Play it while you bake some pies.

  1. Little Old Wine Drinker Me – Dean Martin 
  2. The Slackers – Thank You 
  3. Beans and Cornbread – Louis Jordan 
  4. Caveman – Thankful 
  5. Homeward Bound – Simon & Garfunkel 
  6. Making Pies – Patty Griffin 
  7. We All Want To – A La Mode 
  8. Nothing Short of Thankful – The Avett Brothers 
  9. Everybody Eats When They Come to My House – Cab Calloway 
  10. Talking Turkey – Electric Six 
  11. The Long Way Home – Tom Waits 
  12. Maximum Consumption – The Kinks 
  13. Charlie Parker – Carvin’ the Bird 
  14. Eat It – “Weird Al” Yankovic 
  15. Alcohol – Bare Naked Ladies 

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays. Even as a kid I didn’t care for it. Forced fancy dinners always make me uncomfortable. Our family always held hands, prayed and then we had to go around the table and say what we were thankful for. Answers were usually “All this lovely food”, “my family” or “just being here today” Way to phone it in, family! When I got a little older and realized what we were actually celebrating I begun to loathe the holiday. I won’t go into the politics (because I have done so many times already) but I don’t think it is polite to say thank you to someone while you are screwing them over. I don’t like over indulging on food for one day a year as a way of showing you are thankful for all you have. It is insincere.

A Prague Thanksgiving is far more sincere than one in America. Since I have moved here the holiday has actually started to mean something to me. It has nothing to do with pilgrims and Indians, but it means something. Us expats here in Prague really are thankful for every little thing we have. We are thankful for our friends who are living the same crazy life we are, and we are thankful for our Czech friends who help us figure out what the hell we are doing. We are thankful for even being able to find a frozen turkey in the market, not to mention having a friend who has an oven to cook it in. We are thankful that we can go back to America to visit, but we are more Thankful to be able to leave again. We are thankful that we have friends and family back in the states who are supportive of the life we are living with out being judgemental – most of them. We are thankful that we don’t have to eat Aunt Minnie’s cranberry sauce this year and that the new flatmate came with plates. We are thankful for every knife, fork, spoon and glass in our flats – even the ones that came free with the Happy Meal.

It’s easy to be thankful for everything you have when you have three of everything. When was the last time you actually appreciated the fact that you HAVE an oven? It’s different to be thankful for everything you have when you are miles from family and cutting your turkey with a butter knife. Perspective a gift that I am thankful for everyday.

Paradise by the oven light

Holy shit you guys…I just put my first ever Thanksgiving Turkey in the oven. It’s 12:30 on T – Day. I hope I did it right. I put lots of carrots, celery and onion in and around the bird, put some garlic under its skin, laced it with Dijon mustard and some butter and topped it off with some white wine. Is that right? I don’t know. I did remember to take out the plastic bag of giblets, and much to Byron’s dismay I am not going to fry them up and eat them. Gross. It’s kind of fun making something new and in a foreign place where you can’t tell if you are buying salt or sugar because the packaging looks the same and you can read the label.

Our little group of displaced expats is trying our best to make Thanksgiving a real holiday. It’s funny, because to the rest of the city today is just another day. I could hardly tell it was Thanksgiving because the grocery stores are not lined with displays featuring cans of cranberry sauce, disposable roasting pans and marshmallows for the sweet potatoes. I was lucky to find a frozen turkey! It was mixed in with the dozens of frozen ducks, possibly looking for asylum from the nasty American holiday. No such luck my little gobbling friend, no such luck.

Our menu seems to be as follows: Brent is making potato corn chowder, Scott is bringing the mashed potatoes, Ben’s doing the green beans, GB and Davey are in charge of appetizers, Summer is doing a green salad, and of course I am making the final mockery of the holiday by roasting the bird. I kind of picture it like that scene in Brigitte Jones’s Diary where they eat the blue soup. At least we’ll all be drunk. It’s not Thanksgiving if I don’t get drunk by 8:00p.m. I will defiantly miss the Mac n cheese and the after feast festivities that always include Karaoke, at Rainbow’s house. I never thought I’d be nostalgic for Thanksgiving, given that I have always loathed this holiday. It has always been about forced festiveness, gluttony, football, having to wash a shit load of dishes and try not to offend the stupid, Rush Limbaugh loving, fascists I was forced to break bread with. People who say things like, “Being gay is just offensive.” Uh huh. Real fun. That’s why spending Thanksgiving with a group of liberals in Berkeley was astonishing to me. We would toast to a new Presidency and talk about cool bands and movies. I loved it. There was games and reefer and karaoke. That, THAT, is a good thanksgiving.

I know you are dying to know how the bird turned out, so I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. It was amazing! I swear! I made a Thanksgiving Turkey and it tasted good! And not just good, it was really tast

 

y and juicy and well, perfect. People were having second helpings and everything. I felt pretty good about it. Davey said I get the Thanksgiving MVP award … sweet.

It was one of the best Thanksgivings I can remember. Our new little family gathered and made it happen. Sure there was paper plates and we had to share bowl, but it was ours. The food was all-delicious and there was an abundance of wine. Brent’s potato corn chowder was amazing and Mary and Scott’s mashed potatoes were fantastic. We had a lot of potatoes, but heck it’s Prague. Who could ask for more?
Our new neighbor Jen (who we met at TEFL and lives across the hall from us – coincidence) also came and brought some yummy ice cream for dessert. We had a blast. The 20 Questions computer game astounded everyone as usual. Ben was amazed that it knew “lint” and at one point we became convinced that it could hear us so we began whispering the word we were thinking of. We laughed a lot. I think my favorite moment was the spontaneous karaoke like jam to the Meatloaf classic, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”. Davey, Jen and myself did the whole song – in parts – it was fantastic! Ben was shocked and amazed that we all knew the words to the song that he had never heard before. I told them all that my best friend back home is probably having some sort of conniption fit and doesn’t know why. Jenn (J-LO) hates, loathes, heck I might go as far as saying despises that song. Which is strange because I think she actually likes Meatloaf – or as we like to call him…The Loaf. Anyway.
That was Turkey Day – Prague style.