Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last Thanksgiving, I wrote about how Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s not even the turkey and the sweet potatoes and the pies that I truly love (although, of course, these things are good, too.). But it is the feeling that I’m supposed to take a break and just remember everything I have to be thankful for. It’s hanging out with my family, who I hardly ever get to see, and forgetting about writing for a few days. It’s taking the time to think about how lucky I am and remember all the good things in life, rather than dwelling, as I’m sometimes prone to do, on the negative. It’s my house filled with too much laughter, too much food, and too many people lying in the living room watching movies.

As a kid my family always used to travel from our home near Philadelphia to spend Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ house in Pittsburgh. I loved Thanksgiving then for the same reasons that I do now, only then it was different family I was seeing, a different living room filled with laughter. When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of my grandmother basting her turkey in her tiny kitchen and my grandfather glued to his chair with the television remote. I think of my grandmother trying to stuff us with food until we felt like we were going to burst and my grandfather slipping all the kids money as we ran by him, I still think of these things, even though my grandfather passed away a few years ago, and my grandmother has Alzheimer’s which makes it impossible for her to cook now, or travel to be with us, or even remember from moment to moment.

I think of these things, and I am grateful, that I had them, these moments with my grandparents and my family, these moments that stuck out of my childhood as things to be cherished. And that now there is a new generation of kids to run laughing through the day, a new generation of grandparents to love them and smother them with food and hugs. I think of these things and I am thankful for all of them: good memories, good family, good moments, a lot of love in my life, and of course, laughter.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Imperfection

I've watched commercial after commercial of the picture-perfect family sitting around the Thanksgiving table and honestly I look at that like it's just a figment of the director's imagination. When it came to my family of origin, I never had a holiday like that. Not one. It was always, always crazy and chaotic. Yo, Tracy. Girlfriend. Count yourself in on one major blessing right now. You are one fortunate woman. But I'm sure you know that already. You are such a sweetheart.

Now, I don't want to make this post a tell-all on my wacky family, but I can't resist giving a few hints as to the level of our family dysfunction. Never did we sit down for Thanksgiving dinner before 9:00 p.m., and never was it to a home-cooked meal. On the contrary the food was ALWAYS pre-ordered from the club we belonged to. And by that time of night my mother, God rest her beautiful soul, had inevitably had a few too many. (She grew up in the Golden Age of Cinema as a Hollywood actress when martinis and cigarettes came with the job). Once we'd finally sit down at the elegant table adorned with my grandmother's antique linen table cloth, fine china and sterling flatware, and upon discovery that the turkey was as dry as a bone from the extra hours it spent in the warming drawer, and that there wasn't enough gravy to go on both the turkey AND the mashed potatoes, my poor mother yells - well screams, "THIS YEAR WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A PEACEFUL THANKSGIVIIIIIIING."

Years of therapy later, here I am a Novel Girl.

I will say this about dysfunction. Dysfunction=Conflict=Great Writing Material. So that leads me to the chief reason I'm thankful for 2009. My dream came true after a very long fourteen years. I am finally a published author! I have no idea what 2010 will bring but I'm pretty sure it will hold its share of ups and downs. This past year brought my highest high and unfortunately my lowest low. But I thank God for His sovereignty and for the life of a beautiful young man, someone whom I've always thought of as my other son. My family has hope in knowing that Josiah David Berger is alive in Heaven and waiting to someday welcome my boys and me to his eternal home. Here's to you, Josiah. Never did you miss a chance to encourage me over the years while writing Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter and I'm so thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve everyone!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Will Be Thankful If My Son Sleeps At All This Weekend

I completely concur with Tracy. Thanksgiving was, like, two months ago, right? Sigh. It's hard to believe that at this time last year, I was still waiting for A Bump in the Road to come out and for my agent's notes on Not Ready for Mom Jeans. In fact, it's strange to think that none of us Novel Girls had a book out yet. And now we're all embroiled in the fun balancing act that comes with promoting one book, writing another, copyediting a third, and so on.

This year for Thanksgiving, my husband and I are packing up the old Ford Explorer and hauling our two-year-old and dog down to Cincinnati, Ohio to visit the inlaws. I've been looking forward to the 24/7 help with childcare, I must admit. (Although I'd be much more excited if my son hadn't recently learned how to get out of a pack-and-play, which should make those four days pretty...sleepless.)

Thanksgiving is late this year, so it feels strange to celebrate it and then have it be December the following week. Not to be delayed, all of the stores around here have already put all of their Christmas decorations and presents out. And our local radio station has already started playing Christmas music 24/7. I'm loving it now, although ask me in two weeks if my ears are bleeding from hearing Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" eleventy billion times.

And since I just turned in my acknowledgements and dedication for Mom Jeans, I'm in a thankful mood. So here is a brief list of things that, in 2009, I am thankful for:

1. Writing full-time: A true blessing in disguise, the ability to not split my focus between writing, a day job and my toddler has been the most wonderful gift. Whenever things are a bit difficult, like when my son won't take a nap or has a meltdown in a public place, I remind myself that everyday, I get to do things that I love--spend time with my family and my writing. And that, my friends, is worth a little public embarrassment.

2. My family and friends: If nothing else, holidays and social outings always provide me with good book material and tons of laughs. Their love and support always keeps me laughing and confident.

3. My fellow writers: This past year has been an orientation into the writing world, and I couldn't have done it without the support and camaraderie of my fellow writers, especially The Novel Girls! Writing is fun, publishing is not always. It's so great to have a support system of people who truly "get it."

Now, I could go into a list of things I am NOT thankful for, like the Chicago Bears football team this year, but we'll just end on a positive note, OK?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Turkey Time x Two

So, we're nearly to another Thanksgiving. Didn't we just celebrate Thanksgiving like yesterday? It sure seems that way!

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was always at our house. The activity would actually start earlier in the week. My mom would cover our dining room table with slices of bread, so they'd stale in time to make the dressing. Then, the night before, we'd tear up the bread into chunks, bake a few pies, and do any other prep work my mother could think of.

And then, on Thanksgiving morning, I'd wake up to the smell of turkey roasting. That's because my mother would get up at the crack of dawn to get the turky into the oven, so it would be ready for an early afternoon dinner. Man, I loved waking up and smelling that turkey.

The rest of the morning was filled with tasks like peeling potatoes, cutting vegetables, and setting out treats (like pumpkin bread) for people to munch on while waiting for the actual dinner. Family would start pouring in late morning, and our house would almost burst from the amount of people.

It was noisy, crowded, and fun. Oh so fun. I loved every minute of it.

Things are different now. Some years, I host Thanksgiving. Other years, my parents still do. This year, we're doing both. Yeah, I know...crazy, huh? But my parents are having Thanksgiving on Thursday, and I'm hosting a second Thanksgiving on Friday. This sort of happened on accident. You see, I planned on having the turkey get-together this year, and went about setting everything up and making certain purchases (like, you know, a turkey). And then, just a few days ago, my mom announced that they were going to have the full dinner at their house.

So this year, we're having two. And I'm okay with that. Kind of. Other than all the cooking I wouldn't have had to do if I'd known earlier, that is.

Besides which, my gathering will be a lot smaller now, which means it will be much more relaxing than normal. So there's the silver lining!

How about you? How are you spending your Thanksgiving this year?

For a little Thanksgiving fun, check out the Turkey Fling game. It's weirdly addictive...