This time of year (in America) people are pondering the gathering together of family to celebrate a holiday that was made up in 1863 as a way to (symbolically) bring a divided nation together. It would be good if that’s what it still meant, because we have a divided country now.

Very vivid in my memory is my family’s first Thanksgiving back in Colorado after living for six years in Nebraska where my dad worked for Strategic Air Command as a wargamer. It was 1966. We’d moved to Colorado Springs and dad went to work at NORAD. We’d been in Colorado Springs maybe six weeks.

My dad hadn’t wanted to move back to Colorado. He knew his physical abilities were deteriorating rapidly. With MS back then, before there was really any treatment, stress could have a yugely deleterious effect. My mom, facing my dad’s deterioration, didn’t want to be alone. Her closest sisters lived in Denver.

So we moved, rented a house and hosted Thanksgiving which involved buying a fancy new turkey roaster.


I think we used it once…

I was homesick for the small town in Nebraska where we’d lived. I was 14, almost 15. I had had my first boyfriend in Nebraska meaning my first kiss and hand-holding. I was very occupied with YEARNING and listening to The Association sing Cherish. My brother was a kid. I didn’t have friends in the Springs. I sat in the basement watching college football, rooting for the Cornhuskers and trying to care about the outcome because, damn, that was NEBRASKA.

As my mom tried to orchestrate a small family reunion (Aunt Martha, Aunt Kelly, Cousin Linda, me, Kirk and dad) I just wanted it to be over. I wanted the radio to go back to playing the top 40 Rock Hits of the Week (that mattered a lot to me when I was 14). I didn’t even want the days off from school. I wanted normalcy, but it was not to be.

The turkey roaster cooked the turkey OK, but it wasn’t the same as an oven. The skin wasn’t golden and the meat fell off the bones. The dressing was tasty, the gravy had giblets in it (ew), the green bean-mushroom-soup-canned-onion-ring casserole (Aunt Kelly’s, “Bless her heart, Kelly could never cook.” True that), all of it was beige and brown except Aunt Martha’s Jell-o salad. It was the best part of the meal (I made it for a family Thanksgiving a few years ago and it surprised everyone — yeah it’s old-fashioned but it’s really good and refreshing, and so everyone agreed after trying it, though the young’uns initially laughed at it — whether in fear, ridicule or surprise, I don’t know).


Kinda, sorta. Cream cheese and walnuts (should be on the bottom). Lime Jell-o and pineapple, raspberry jello and cranberries on top. No idea what the mint leaves are doing…

We were all seated around the table (“Martha Ann, made the centerpiece,”) set with the “best china” and the silver-plate and the crystal stemware and the grownups had champagne and my dad had muscle spasms and I yearned for my boyfriend in Nebraska and my brother just wanted to get back to his drawing table in the corner of the basement and continue drawing cartoons.

It didn’t really occur to me until this morning that people who resist the way holidays interrupt their normal lives might have the most to be thankful for. It’s no small thing to like your life.  ❤

Holidays… Just Say No


We are in “the holiday season.” It’s the one thing that wrecks winter. To make things worse, it comes earlier and earlier every year. I mostly just hold on until January second and savor the islands of non-holiday that pop up from time to time during this strange nightmare.

What’s wrong with it? Mainly, it’s just too long. Even the local thrift store closed its doors two weeks ago to put out the Christmas stuff. Mid-October? Christmas starts with Halloween which is, itself, now a pretty big “holiday.”

Here’s how I think it should be.

Halloween should return to being ONE night when 20 somethings have parties and kids go trick-or-treating. The next day everything goes back to normal. The 20 somethings have hangovers, and the kids have bellyaches.

Then, all is quiet until a few days before Thanksgiving when mom deliberates whether to buy a frozen or fresh turkey or who wants turkey anyway? Let’s have ham. Or something. That lasts for a weekend and by Sunday everyone is thoroughly sick of each other and turkey.

Then the biggie rolls around, but not until around December 12 or so. “Should we get a tree?” pops into the conversation. A tree is procured, decorations are dragged out, the tree is decorated, presents are bought and everything moves toward the moment in which visions of sugar-plums dance around in the kids’ heads.

Yesterday a Plow & Hearth catalog arrived in my mailbox. It makes an impossible promise — “225 NEW ways to celebrate” (not likely). These “ways” are “things,” stuff that made it through Trump’s tariffs. All this stuff is available to all of us to make our holidays great again. I don’t really KNOW how a battery operated candle in a jar with a cardinal painted on the front is going to transform anything permanently.

Is happiness measured in stuff? I mean really? I got both miserable and happy yesterday and there was no “stuff” involved. I queried an agent I really wanted to represent my book. She answered positively, asking for the first fifty pages of The Schneeballs (ha ha) go to America. I sent it. Yay!

I got an email yesterday declining the manuscript. THAT’s when I saw I’d spelled her name wrong.


Nothing like being relentlessly confronted with one’s flaws.

What was there to do (besides self-loathing) but head out with Bear into the big open. We walked, enjoyed the remaining snow, the light, the snowy mountains and were met by three mule deer does who’d been foraging on some half-frozen alfalfa in a fallow field.

Thanks nature for making it all better. ❤

I came home and pondered where else to send the Schneebelis and decided to send it to a publisher who specializes in books about Mennonites and Amish, Swiss family history, etc. No word yet. I’m, meanwhile, formatting the book to self-publish it. It’s something to do that could lead to a pretty book, anyway. And really how important is it? It isn’t.

As for me, I don’t know what my holidays will bring. I’m pretty broke after the expenses of the summer, but I’ll be taking a turkey to the food bank. I have the feeling that my holidays are going to be me, the dogs, country roads, maybe a tea party, and, god-willing snow without -20 temps. Maybe even the opportunity to X-country ski. I plan to celebrate Thanksgiving at the Sand Dunes. ❤

Thanks for reading my Scroogeish rant.