Family, Home and Cooking, Seasonal

Thankful for Thanksgiving

I used to HATE Thanksgiving. Yep, that’s right. If the Grinch hated Christmas, I would’ve been stealing cornucopias instead of decorated trees in Whoville. It’s still not my favorite holiday, and I have many reasons why that is that I won’t get into this go around.

One of my key complaints is that Thanksgiving is stressful for many people because of its proximity to Christmas. In addition, it is another obligation to travel when it’s already off to grandmother’s house we go in December. It’s just a lot to put on people in a short amount of time. I’d be happier if Thanksgiving were, say – in June! But the idea of pumpkin pie in summer feels a bit odd.

Another critical reason for my early aversion to the holiday stemmed from its excess. It was always too much food for not enough people. My mother would be exhausted when dinner was ready, and – to me – it was an over-the-top and unnecessary amount of work. She wasn’t cooking for dozens of people, just a handful.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that we have a turkey AND a ham every year. It’s too much food, but she loves cooking for us, and I would never rain on her parade. Plus, it is all delicious!

I’m not writing this to bah humbug all over the fun of Thanksgiving though. On the contrary, as I’ve grown, I’ve come to appreciate the heart of it. It’s about family, sure (which was part of the issue that made me dislike it, if I’m being honest). It’s more than an excuse to gather. As stated above, that is also part of Christmas, and the countries that don’t have a Thanksgiving holiday manage to annoy each other just fine.

No, we’re fortunate enough to have food to share – that is a blessing! So many people in our world don’t have enough food. The fact that I can cook a meal with my family and have electricity, hot water, and a roof over my head reminds me to be thankful. If we approach Thanksgiving ethically (and economically), we can also use it as an opportunity to support local farmers by purchasing farm-raised meats and vegetables. We can let it spur us into volunteering at the Arkansas Food Bank or a local homeless shelter. It creates a time of giving, which should exist year-round, but when the weather turns cold, we need each other to keep warm. Thanksgiving is a bounty celebration- a day to share with those around us.

Plus, if you freeze the leftovers, they can last the rest of the year – thanks, mom. . . Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Family, Seasonal

Holiday Birthday Blues

If you have a birthday on or near a holiday you know that there are a lot of hurdles when it comes to celebrating. I was supposed to be born in June, but when it became apparent that my mother’s pregnancy wasn’t happening anytime soon, they slotted her for July 5th to induce labor. Her doctor, however, had a fishing tournament that day – so I ended up being born on July 3rd.

Being an Independence Day baby meant firework-themed birthday cakes, lots of actual fireworks (which I never liked much), and cooking out on the grill once I had blown out my candles. My friends could seldom make it to my parties because most had out-of-town plans preceding the 4th. That was always disappointing, but my parents did their best to throw me a big shindig. My attendance may have been down, but I always had fun, even if only one person showed up – and I have been best friends with that girl since I was three years old!

What I run into now as an adult is the lack of planning capabilities. I know anyone with a Christmas birthday, or one on Thanksgiving knows that these times of the year are booked solid! You have to plan months in advance if you are wanting to go somewhere to celebrate or if you just want to do something special.

With the 4th of July happening in summer (obviously), I and the Memorial Day babies had better know what days we’ll have off from work months before our birthdays because there will be no last-minute trips! Good luck finding lodging anywhere, especially if you’re like me and forget you have time off before, on, and after your birthday – the week before.

Another bum deal of having a holiday birthday is the themed parties. Listen, I love Halloween and the idea of a spooky birthday sounds fun, but if you’re like my husband, who was born at the end of October, the novelty wears off after your fourth costume party. To this day, he still doesn’t want to have his birthday associated with Halloween at all – and I totally get that! I still hold a lot of animosity towards fireworks.

The MVP of holiday birthday kids though are those born in December. Is the day that you’re supposed to receive gifts and celebrate your birth on or near the day your family gets together and exchanges gifts? What could be more annoying, especially for a kid? I have had several friends while growing up that never got gifts because of the proximity of their birthday to Christmas, or if they did get gifts, they only got one. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all blessed to receive any gifts! But when your friends get a Power Rangers-themed birthday in August, and you are relegated to being gifted as an afterthought – there is a discrepancy in fairness there in the eyes of a 9-year-old.

So, it’s safe to say we holiday-born kids have had a bit of the birthday blues in our lives at one time or another. I think it’s also fair to say that we’re grateful to be here another year! Whatever day your birthday falls on, I hope you have a wonderful celebration of your life. You’re unique and deserving of a day to celebrate yourself and if that means ignoring a holiday to do so – then go for it! There may be many birthdays, and there are many holidays, but there is only one you, and there are people who are so glad they get to say “Happy Birthday” when they see your face!

Happy Independence Day / Teighlor’s Birthday everyone!


The Importance of Father’s Day

The loss of a father is a hard thing, and with Father’s Day around the corner, I’ve been thinking about this holiday a lot since losing my father on Mother’s Day this year. Unfortunately, both celebrations of parenthood will be difficult for me now. However, it is essential to remember why these holidays exist and why Father’s Day is such an important thing to celebrate.

We are not all blessed to have our fathers in our lives, but the men in our lives, whether they’re stepdads, uncles, or friends – those who served as a father figures are all an integral part of our development as people.

Father’s Day was created in response to Mother’s Day’s popularity and commercialization. A woman named Sonora Smart Dodd wanted to have an equal day for fathers and crusaded for the holiday. Sonora was one of six children raised by a widower, and thanks to her efforts, Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day. Finally, in 1972 Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday.

On June 19th, I will think of my father, Kirk Daniels, and be grateful that I could have him in my life. He taught me how to laugh in any situation, how to fish, and to see the beauty in the world around me, but mainly – he taught me to treat everyone equally. He was the funniest and kindest man I’ve ever known. I took for granted the time I had left with him, and I wish we could celebrate Father’s Day together this year so badly. However, my appreciation for him and all fathers will continue, and I urge everyone to spend some time with dad this year. The memories are worth it, I promise.