Why Thanksgiving Is the Best Holiday of the Year, or Why Thanksgiving Is the Sh*t

Thanksgiving funnyI usually don’t name favorites when it comes to holidays because a holiday is a holiday and any reason to be away from work for a day and/or celebrate with people I love is groovy, regardless of the reason.

It’s kind of like picking your favorite kid. (Actually, I can totally do that because I only have one. Next analogy please.)

It’s like choosing your favorite dog of all time or your favorite coworker at the office. You could probably think it in your head, but you shouldn’t say it out loud.

Yet.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

Unlike Christmas, there isn’t the whole heavy religious thing going on that makes some people uncomfortable, and that makes a lot of people post sort-of mean stuff about those of us who say “happy holidays,” instead of “merry Christmas.” And there’s no pressure associated with purchasing gifts for people or making cookies with frosting or doing pipe-cleaner ornament crafts because I never get any of those right anyway.

Easter is also heavily laden in religious undertones and a mandate to get up to see a sunrise, both of which can bring a gal down. And, let’s face it, it’s a holiday that can involve outright lying, i.e. the Easter Bunny. (Now that I think of it, Easter is very much like Christmas, only without the twinkly lights, the ginormous inflatable snowmen at Home Depot, and the two weeks of ABC programming.)

Fourth of July is awesome because of fireworks and burgers and that Lee Greenwood song, but it’s during the hottest time of year, which means I usually get sunburned and beer-bloat. And that marks it down about 20 notches in my book.

Valentine’s Day makes me unable to breathe even though the days of drinking a bottle of wine alone, watching bad sitcoms are (mostly) behind me.

Columbus Day? Too much guilt.

The presidential holidays and civil rights holidays and veterans’ holidays and made-up Hallmark holidays are all fine and dandy, but the commercials undoubtedly make me cry. Soldier coming home and seeing his baby for the first time? Mother and grown daughter sharing a moment over coffee? That speech by Dr. King? STOP IT ALREADY. I have hormones going on here, people! I do make an exception for the ads about saving $500 on a Tempur-Pedic with no money down. Those are okay.

So, to recap, Thanksgiving is the One.

I like that it’s a holiday that emphasizes being grateful. We need more of these kinds of holidays.

I don’t even get annoyed at all the gratitude challenges going on via social media right now. I kinda like them. I like that Jane* is thankful that her knee surgery went well. I like that Robert** is thankful for Starbucks pumpkin lattes on a cold morning. I don’t mind that Anna*** is thankful for the little things, like her husband leaving her love notes when he goes on a business trip. In fact, I don’t even say sarcastic things about any of these kinds of posts.

It’s a Thanksgiving miracle, really.

I like that Thanksgiving really does just revolve around sharing food. Unlike other holidays, there’s no pretense here. It’s all about the grub. Heck, even that first Thanksgiving was founded in raising fork to mouth. I know, I know. We’ve taken it a bit in the wrong direction since that whole initial soiree likely involving waterfowl, venison, berries, corn, and squash. But I don’t think there is anything wrong with evolving our traditions to include the trifecta of butter, cream and gravy. That’s just one more thing to be thankful for — the ability to eat our weight in homemade dinner rolls one day out of the year. (If you substitute “cranberry relish” in for “dinner rolls” in that last sentence, we can’t be friends.)

I like that Thanksgiving usually includes a good football game or two. Growing up a Texas Aggie, Thanksgiving Day used to be sacred because of the A&M vs. t.u. game. The world stopped at kickoff, we knew not to walk in front of the TV unless it was a commercial break, we got to eat more good food even though we were stuffed (Sue’s sausage balls, anyone?), and we got to see my dad get out of his recliner to kiss my mom when the Aggies scored. Or for a while there, when they got a first down.

I like that there are very few expectations for this holiday, other than to thank whoever’s cooking, eat with reckless abandon, help clean up the kitchen, and maybe keep your mouth shut when your uncle drinks too much and tells an off-color joke at the table, or when a family member wants to discuss the evils of Obamacare and why Barack is a Muslim and how we all know his birth certificate is fake.

It’s not a perfect holiday, of course. Sometimes I think American culture has turned Thanksgiving into nothing more than a prelude to greed, and that it will soon lose the name “Thanksgiving” altogether and just be called “Brown Thursday.”

But until then, I’m going to enjoy the food. I’m going to enjoy the fact that people are nicer for about a week leading up to the holiday. (Twitter does not count.)

And I’m going to enjoy the fact that I have a gratitude list much longer than any holiday shopping list I’ve ever had.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

thanksgiving funny ecard

* Jane is not a real person.

** Robert is not a real person.

*** Anna is a real person and sometimes I don’t like her. I’m kidding. She is not real, either.

Memories Like Soup

Tip: Do not search for soup images while you are hungry.

Tip: Do not search for soup images while you are hungry.

Isn’t it interesting the memories that your brain’s cerebrum chooses to hold on tight to well into adulthood?

I mean, sure, there are the obvious high points, like the night of your high school graduation. (I still remember what I wore under my black gown, do you?) There are the low points, like the first time you experienced the loss of a childhood cherished pet. (Oh Champ, I still mourn you. Such a good, good dog.)

But there are also those weird little memories that, in the big scheme of life, tend to seemingly have no meaning. Yet, they emerge when you least expect it and become symbolic somehow.

I had one of those memories pop up this weekend.

My son wasn’t feeling great, and we were snuggling together on the couch, reading, in the early evening, having just eaten supper, most of which he didn’t touch. And then for whatever reason, I began to remember being really sick on a rare cool and rainy fall Sunday in South Texas when I was maybe 9 or 10. I remembered being curled up on the living room couch, coughing, with my Snoopy pillow against my cheek, while my dad watched the Houston Oilers in his recliner and snacked on peanuts.

But mostly, I remembered my mom in the kitchen (not unusual, as she spends most of her waking moments there still to this day), making my favorite creamy potato soup. We’re talking smooth, rich, perfectly homemade potato soup. Soup that’ll smooth the rough edges off your soul with just a cupful. No lie.

I swear, I could smell it simmering. I could hear the spoon against the stainless-steel side of the soup pan as she stirred it. I don’t remember actually eating the soup that Sunday, and I don’t recall any of the conversations that might have gone on around me. But I do vividly remember Mom making that soup … for me.

So, here in Colorado, I handed the Stinkbug over to his dad, who was also watching football on TV, in a recliner. And I quickly drove the 20 miles to the grocery store for ingredients. Then I came home, and at 8 p.m. on a Sunday night, I began to make my son’s favorite homemade chicken noodle soup.

I could say that I did it because I want a Mom of the Year award. (Do they give those out? Because that’d be cool.) Or I could say I did it because I knew he’d likely be even sicker tomorrow, and the soup would comfort him. (Prediction verified, darnit.)

But somewhere inside, I know the real reason I made that soup. It’s because some day, I’d love for him to be holding his own sniffling kiddo on a cool fall Sunday (maybe they’ll be watching football)  – and I hope, in that moment, he’ll think of me and smile.

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PS: Thanks, Mama, for making that soup that day. Just in case I didn’t tell you because I was a snot-nosed, smart-ass preteen. Which is unlikely, right? But just in case.

What Being a Texas Woman Means

A friend recently sent me an article that was posted in Garden & Gun’s online magazine (I know! Worst magazine title ever, even if you are into squeezing a trigger) about what being a Southern woman means. It’s an excellent little piece.

Here’s one of my favorite insights: “It also means never leaving the house with wet hair. Not even in the case of fire. Because wet hair is low-rent. It shows you don’t care, and not caring is not something Southern women do …”

This. Is. Texas.

Mostly, though, the article got me thinking about what it really means to be a Texas woman. (Because when you’re from Texas, even if you move on like I have, you’re still a Texan. It’s not something you can ever leave behind. In fact, for me, Texas has only become more important as I’ve tried to make a life somewhere else. Texas is home. Texas is family. Texas is my heritage.)

I’ve been so lucky in my life to be surrounded by amazing Texas women from all walks of life: Women who grew up on farms and ended up running huge ranching operations on their own. Women who grew up in Houston and Dallas and Austin who go on to lead meaningful nonprofits and run international companies. Women who quietly make their own mark in small towns that are miles and miles from a metropolitan area. Women who drive 18-wheelers. Women who devote everything they have to their church or their art.

So, while I always fear over-generalization, I wanted to point out some commonalities I think exist in all of these different kinds of women — characteristics that, in combination, make Texas women truly unique. These are only my thoughts, of course — I’d love for others to add to the list (or argue with my perceptions). Here it goes:

Don't Mess With Texas Women.

1. Texas women are fiercely loyal. We’re seriously like German Shepherds on crack. A Texas woman will stand up for her man, her family and her close friends, protect them and guard them with her life — if they have earned her trust. Once you make it into a Texas woman’s inner circle, she will do anything for you. We have each other’s backs, even if we don’t necessarily agree with your actions, or if we haven’t seen you in 10 years.

2. Texas women hold grudges. If we feel a wrong has been committed against us, or against those we love dearly, we will never forgive you for it. It’s just a fact. You can apologize, and we might accept the apology at face value, we might even say that we forgive you, but you’ll never be in our inner circle again. Never. And you’ll miss that, because our trust and loyalty are pretty awesome things to have.

3. We’re going to do what we want, so you probably should just go along with it. A friend of mine asked me one day if I thought Texas women were high maintenance. She was thinking of the Dallas (the city, not the old TV show) stereotypes out there. My response was no, not at all. Now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t Texas women who demand nice things in life (the mansion, the car, the jewelry). What it does mean is this: Texas women don’t stop until they get what they want. Maybe they’ll ask you for what they want. Maybe they won’t. But either way, they’ll push forward and find a way to make it happen with or without you. It’s not high maintenance, it’s perseverance. It’s “lead or get the hell out of the way so I can.”

Friday Night Football in Texas

4. We get football. We understand the game because we likely had fathers or brothers or college boyfriends or mothers or aunts who loved it. Or maybe we loved it, too. After all, football is big in Texas. BIG. It’s a huge part of the culture, whether you live in the city or a small rural town. Texas women grow up with the excitement of Friday night games and cheerleading and the marching band, and pep rallies. It’s just part of the fabric of Texas life. Some Texas women go on to love it their whole lives, and some don’t. But either way, they still get it.

5. Texas women know that when someone is grieving, sending over a brisket, a broccoli-cheese casserole and a pound of coffee is the best way to express how much you care. Period.

6. Texas women, if they are moms, are deeply involved in their kids’ lives. If her son is playing football, she will be at every game, no matter how far she has to drive. If her daughter wants to play softball, but the family can’t afford a team uniform and fees, she will work an extra job, or sell breakfast tacos at work, until she earns enough to make it happen.

7. We hold it together in tough times. We’re powered by a hardy history and kick-ass ancestors. Remember, Texas was a god-forsaken place back when it was first settled: Difficult to farm, little water, hard ground, harsh weather. I think those resilient women of yesteryear have stayed in our genes throughout time. You tragically lose a husband or a child? You curse, you howl in agony, and then you put yourself back together and make it through it. Your son goes to jail for an unspeakable crime? You hold your head up high and visit him weekly. A hurricane destroys your home? You rebuild it, stronger. And sure, Texas women cry. But then we wipe those tears and figure out how to go on.

8. We understand that you can draw more flies with honey than vinegar. We know how to use that strategy to, say, get out of speeding tickets, or get another desired result (see #3 above). But we have plenty of vinegar to share if you get on our bad side. Texas women love a good fight, and we know how to fight with words that’ll slap you harder than a happy hound dog’s tail.

9. Texas hospitality is unique, too. We don’t welcome just anybody into our homes. But when we do ask you to come in, you can expect a glass of cold, sweet iced tea, and an invitation to stay for dinner and pie. And if you’ve earned our trust (see #1 above), you can make yourself at home from then on out. Just grab what you want out of the refrigerator and be sure the back screen door is shut tight.

10. Finally, yes, Texas women like to look good. Appearances are important. It’s rare to find a Texas woman who will go to the grocery store without at least a little makeup on. I personally think it all comes back to the fact that we need a whole lot of self-confidence to fight our way through life, and by wearing those nice-fitting jeans and a sparkly belt (even after the age of 45) to buy toilet tissue, we give ourselves the edge we need to run our little (or big) worlds.

I miss my Texas gals. Every one of you, even if I don’t wear makeup to the grocery store in Colorado any more.

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BOOK NEWS! It’s been an unbelievable week so far for Blue Straggler. The novel hit the #1 best-selling position in both comic fiction and humor categories on Amazon, and on its first free promotion day, 7,000+ people downloaded it to their Kindles. Someone pinch me!