My Family Killed Thanksgiving

My Family Killed Thanksgiving

And now we're going to cook it.
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For some families, Thanksgiving Day means the womenfolk in the kitchen and the menfolk watching football. For some families, the womenfolk and the menfolk both watch football. In some families, the cooking is carried out by whichever-folk are inclined and the football-watching is the same.

This is not so for my family.

My family is a family of contradictions, a family that will scream at the television during the Olympics and fight tooth-and-nail over where the best Mediterranean food in the Portland Metro area is (my grandfather insists that it’s in his kitchen, but the rest of us disagree).

My family takes Thanksgiving way too seriously.

Planning for Thanksgiving begins several months in advance. No one is exempt from cooking. Everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, is given some responsibility for the menu. The menu must be haggled over accordingly. Fights will be had over the contents of the stuffing, over what vegetable to cook and leave on a plate as the obligatory nod to health food. Little to no health food will be consumed.

Thanksgiving in my family is about consuming vast amounts of the tastiest, most fattening food in the shortest possible amount of time and falling into a coma shortly afterward. Blood has been shed over the making of pies. Every year, my grandfather will suggest that we cook duck instead of turkey. Every year, he will be voted down.

Once the menu is agreed upon — or more accurately, everyone gets tired of arguing about it and capitulates – it’s time to buy groceries. Sometimes we do this in groups. Other times, we go it alone. Both approaches have their drawbacks. There’s safety in numbers, but numbers will slow you down; a death sentence in Thanksgiving crowds. Alone, you’re vulnerable to being picked off by stressed-out moms with overfilled shopping carts.

Every year someone gets lost in the warrens of the grocery store and emerges an hour or two later, shell-shocked and missing several of the items they were supposed to purchase. Typical protocol is to castigate this person for being “weak” and “shaming the family” and send someone else in to retrieve the missing items.

Cooking commences early on Thanksgiving Day. Kitchen space is at a premium, and so are ingredients, because despite the exhaustive list-making and trips to the grocery store, something that someone needs will inevitably be forgotten. The person with the missing groceries will not leave the house again.

Rather, they will lurk in the kitchen, attempting to pilfer the missing ingredient from someone else’s stash. Guard your groceries, and your counter space, with your life. Don’t get involved with the queue for the oven. If possible, choose a dish that requires no baking time. You do not want to fight with the turkey for space. You will lose.

Somewhere in the cooking process, there is always a lull of sorts, as things bake and boil and simmer (and, in one memorable year, grill). Members of the family collapse onto the couches to rest, complacent. If you are wise, you won’t be fooled. Stay alert, because the last 20 minutes before dinner is served are the most hectic.

If you can survive the last-minute rush in my family’s kitchen on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday shopping will be a cinch. Not even a shopper stampede can compare to the feeling of nearly being bulldozed by the turkey on its way to the table.

Have a happy Thanksgiving, and as you enjoy your idyllic family gathering, send up a prayer for those of us engaged in a culinary battle of wills. We envy your calm and peace.

But our food tastes awesome.

Cover Image Credit: room317 / Flickr

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15 Things Only Lake People Will Understand

There's no other place you'd rather be in the summer.
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The people that spend their summers at the lake are a unique group of people. Whether you grew up going to the lake, have only recently started going, or have only been once or twice, you know it takes a certain kind of person to be a lake person. To the long-time lake people, the lake holds a special place in your heart, no matter how dirty the water may look. Every year when summer rolls back around, you can't wait to fire up the boat and get back out there. Here is a list of things you can probably identify with as a fellow lake-goer.

1. A bad day at the lake is still better than a good day not at the lake.

It's your place of escape, where you can leave everything else behind and just enjoy the beautiful summer day. No matter what kind of week you had, being able to come and relax without having to worry about anything else is the best therapy there is. After all, there's nothing better than a day of hanging out in the hot sun, telling old funny stories and listening to your favorite music.

2. You know the best beaches and coves to go to.

Whether you want to just hang out and float or go walk around on a beach, you know the best spots. These often have to be based on the people you're with, given that some "party coves" can get a little too crazy for little kids on board. I still have vivid memories from when I was six that scared me when I saw the things drunk girls would do for beads.

3. You have no patience for the guy who can’t back his trailer into the water right.

When there's a long line of trucks waiting to dump their boats in the water, there's always that one clueless guy who can't get it right, and takes 5 attempts and holds up the line. No one likes that guy. One time my dad got so fed up with a guy who was taking too long that he actually got out of the car and asked this guy if he could just do it for him. So he got into the guy's car, threw it in reverse, and got it backed in on the first try. True story.

4. Doing the friendly wave to every boat you pass.

Similar to the "jeep wave," almost everyone waves to other boats passing by. It's just what you do, and is seen as a normal thing by everyone.

5. The cooler is always packed, mostly with beer.

Alcohol seems to be a big part of the lake experience, but other drinks are squeezed into the room remaining in the cooler for the kids, not to mention the wide assortment of chips and other foods in the snack bag.

6. Giving the idiot who goes 30 in a "No Wake

Zone" a piece of your mind.

There's nothing worse than floating in the water, all settled in and minding your business, when some idiot barrels through. Now your anchor is loose, and you're left jostled by the waves when it was nice and perfectly still before. This annoyance is typically answered by someone yelling some choice words to them that are probably accompanied by a middle finger in the air.

7. You have no problem with peeing in the water.

It's the lake, and some social expectations are a little different here, if not lowered quite a bit. When you have to go, you just go, and it's no big deal to anyone because they do it too.

8. You know the frustration of getting your anchor stuck.

The number of anchors you go through as a boat owner is likely a number that can be counted on two hands. Every once in a while, it gets stuck on something on the bottom of the lake, and the only way to fix the problem is to cut the rope, and you have to replace it.

9. Watching in awe at the bigger, better boats that pass by.

If you're the typical lake-goer, you likely might have an average sized boat that you're perfectly happy with. However, that doesn't mean you don't stop and stare at the fast boats that loudly speed by, or at the obnoxiously huge yachts that pass.

10. Knowing any swimsuit that you own with white in it is best left for the pool or the ocean.

You've learned this the hard way, coming back from a day in the water and seeing the flowers on your bathing suit that were once white, are now a nice brownish hue.

11. The momentary fear for your life as you get launched from the tube.

If the driver knows how to give you a good ride, or just wants to specifically throw you off, you know you're done when you're speeding up and heading straight for a big wave. Suddenly you're airborne, knowing you're about to completely wipe out, and you eat pure wake. Then you get back on and do it all again.

12. You're able to go to the restaurants by the water wearing minimal clothing.

One of the many nice things about the life at the lake is that everybody cares about everything a little less. Rolling up to the place wearing only your swimsuit, a cover-up and flip flops, you fit right in. After a long day when you're sunburned, a little buzzed, and hungry, you're served without any hesitation.

13. Having unexpected problems with your boat.

Every once in a while you're hit with technical difficulties, no matter what type of watercraft you have. This is one of the most annoying setbacks when you're looking forward to just having a carefree day on the water, but it's bound to happen. This is just one of the joys that come along with being a boat owner.

14. Having a name for your boat unique to you and your life.

One of the many interesting things that make up the lake culture is the fact that many people name their boats. They can range from basic to funny, but they are unique to each and every owner, and often have interesting and clever meanings behind them.

15. There's no better place you'd rather be in the summer.

Summer is your all-time favorite season, mostly because it's spent at the lake. Whether you're floating in the cool water under the sun, or taking a boat ride as the sun sets, you don't have a care in the world at that moment. The people that don't understand have probably never experienced it, but it's what keeps you coming back every year.


Cover Image Credit: Haley Harvey

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An Open Letter on Maintaining Your Peace

A letter dedicated to those who didn't set resolutions conventionally. You do it on your own terms!

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To everyone on Maintaining Your Peace,


With the start of the new year, there's so much pressure to achieve this by that date or have this halfway done before another. Then, more added pressure to formulate a goal or resolution before January ends (if you didn't have one before).

I am always cheering for goals to be made and met, however, there's one point I want to continue to emphasize: maintain your peace among it all.

Some people may associate not working on a goal or toward one as meaning your blank slate (the new year) has gone to waste. This is absolutely not the case for each individual. Some people see a breakthrough at the beginning of the year while others don't experience an open door until the very end. I have been on both ends of the spectrum.

I am not writing this as someone who is a professional, but merely a writer that hopes others don't feel stressed about creating their goals at the same time as everyone else seems to be. Sometimes, it helps to let yourself breathe and analyze. From there, you can get a clear sense of what you want out of the year. However, I will say that it is never good to sit for too long. Even if it is a small aspiration, don't let your blank slate remain as is. You never know what could happen within the year!

Maintaining your peace can be a simple walk you take every day or reading a book. It has no definitive meaning on what it takes to makes sure you're in relaxing spirits. It would also help to even get a list together on things you enjoy to help make this year as stress-free as possible. That in itself is still an aspiration.

Don't let other people make you feel bad for not having a long list of things you want to accomplish this year. Life isn't always about making resolutions at certain times. It's about, rather than timing, making them because you want to or need to.

I hope you gain perspective for yourself and on your own time.


Positively,

Jessica

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