Monday, November 26, 2007

What I Learned Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Over the last few days, I re-discovered that Thanksgiving weekend is my favorite time of the year. It starts with the planning and the lists. Actually, it starts with the elder members of my family, otherwise known as The Sisterhood, fighting over who gets to host. Then we decide who brings what, when do you start cooking, etc. The gringo husbands have to put in their requests for real Thanksgiving food while lodging their protests against rice in all forms. There are many logistical details to cover.

This year, my happy day was the Wednesday before the big day. My mom came over for a while to help cook, my cousin from the East coast was in town and hung out for a while, and it was just a great day to be home, cooking and looking forward to the next day.

The whole weekend turned out to be pretty great. We spent the day at my cousin Sissy's, something we hadn't done for years. Thanksgiving itself was lovely, and so was the extra long weekend. As much as I love the relaxing and the shopping and the cooking and the eating and just the festive vibe of being together eating and drinking and enjoying loved ones, I managed to pick up some lessons here and there. In the seasonal spirit of giving, I hereby share them with you:

  • It's nice to break tradition and spend the holiday with a different group of family members. The more the merrier, right?
  • The thought of celebrating Thanksgiving with among others, 7 children age 7 and under, is less desirable than a root canal to many people.
  • It's not Thanksgiving without corn with butter, according to 4 year old Ethan. Apparently, it's also not Thanksgiving without 2 kinds of rice, salmon, and guacamole.
  • Turkey breasts have been engineered to be so big that turkeys can no longer reproduce naturally and need to be, ahem, assisted. So, no turkey sex. Strangely, this doesn't bother me as much as it probably should.
  • Peeling sweet potatoes is much easier for 7 year old hands than 6 year old hands.
  • Apple butter doesn't contain butter. Actually, I already knew this. What I didn't know that it is fairly easy to make and makes a nice gift. More to come on this.
  • Caterer turkey that is cooked in the same bag it is stored and transported in ends up kind of stewy and not great. Everyone should learn to make turkey like my mom: breast down, with saffron. The end.
  • There is nothing better than a 4 day weekend.
  • I can survive my daughter being out of school all of Thanksgiving week. Barely.
  • Black Friday is much, much more enjoyable when you spend those early hours asleep in your bed.
  • My good friend from 4th grade, whom I hadn't talked to in 25 or so years, is doing well and living in the Bay area. She's lived all over the world, is writing a novel, and has had some really interesting jobs, including a stint as a dominatrix.
  • My cousin is an, ahem, naturalist. I didn't peg her for this one.
  • My life seems to be quite boring in comparison.
  • You can have pumpkin pie and pumpkin pecan pie and all kinds of other desserts at the Thanksgiving table and still think you'd really like some pumpkin cheesecake.
  • Hannukah is way too early this year.
  • It turns out that I'm more of a "Board Game Night" person than a "let's see how many chemicals we can ingest" partier.
  • I've never been more thankful for my home, family, good health and all the loved ones who enrich my life every day. Bring on the holiday season!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Writers' Strike

I've just realized that all the media coverage of the current TV and movie writers' strike was incomplete without my commentary. How irresponsible of me.

Those of you who regularly listen to me rant may be surprised to know that I'm supporting the writers. As a rule I hate unions and find them only marginally necessary, if that, and only in very few specific cases. This happens to be one of those cases.

Some might find it hard to sympathize with well-paid writers. I happen to know, though, that their jobs, while rewarding, can also be discouraging, frustrating and downright infuriating. They must be creative and brilliant under the confines of crazy deadlines, often having to juggle conflicting demands from their show runner, studio, network and rabid fans. They work crazy long hours with few guarantees of consistent work. And their work makes the studios very, very rich.

Here's the take of someone more eloquent and better-informed than I. Plus, he has graphs!

I'd like to see the strike end and everyone go back to work. It's true that I hate unions, but I hate greed and inequity just as much.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

We Could All Take A Lesson

Because Ethan is so outgoing, easygoing, exuberant, and always just so happy, he seems to belong in a completely different family. Ray and I can both relate to Julia and her hesitance in social situations, her moodiness, all that drama. Ethan, though, is a totally different story. For example, if I try to punish him by taking away a favorite toy, he'll inform me that it's OK because he's not all that interested in playing with that toy. I can never win with this kid.

This weekend, he simultaneously blew me away and cracked me up at Julia's soccer game. We ran into some friends whose daughter also plays and whose son is Ethan's age. As guilty as it makes me feel, I just don't like the son all that much. He's too rowdy, is never told no, and just doesn't act like he's that bright or has that much of a personality. Maybe it's not fair to compare him to Mr. Personality, but maybe he shouldn't come over and mow down Brady or spill pizza and watermelon on my brand new rug.

So Ethan and his friend, Jake, come over to say hi to this kid and without saying Hello or anything else he says:

"Hey Ethan, guess what. I can do math and read."

Ethan, who can read the word "cookies" and knows what 5 plus 5 equals, looks at him and says, "Guess what. I have a new friend and his name is Jake." He and Jake walk off leaving the other boy wondering what the hell just happened and leaving me about to pee in my pants.

I love this kid.