Thanksgiving is here, and with it the wholly unrealistic expectations of peaceful family togetherness and a tasty home cooked meal.
In order to have a truly enjoyable Thanksgiving and limit the amount of times your head gets banged against the wall near the festive corn and pumpkin display, certain things just need to be accepted as inevitable:
Canned foods and instant recipes will abound. Who has time to make homemade cranberry sauce when the in-laws are knocking down your door and the mantle hasn’t been dusted since last Thanksgiving?
Christmas will be acknowledged. Come the weekend after Thanksgiving, it’ll be December. So those boxes of Christmas decorations lurking in the corner of the living room will just be skillfully ignored.
No matter how loudly you speak, Poppy will not be able to understand you. Even if you can get his hearing aid working and his attention focused, once he finally discerns the word “twerk” the conversation will self-implode.
Skinny jeans will be banned from the premises. Both looking good and stuffing yourself until you pop cannot exist together. Bring the sweatpants with the mustard stains; family doesn’t judge you.
Your family will judge you. Your grandmother will notice the untidy state of your hair and mother will ask if a second helping of pie is really such a good idea, and do you need that much whipped cream anyway?
The pets will want in on the action. Can you really blame little Josie for jumping onto the fine china? She’s not use to you putting in any effort and just wanted a closer view of what exactly “trying” looks like.
You will want to quit your job. Crescent rolls are all that matter in life.
Nothing will ever change. The fruit cake will still taste like boot, you’ll still fall asleep during the football game, and the panic of the impending holiday season will upset the mound of potatoes settling in your gut.
As long as you prepare for what’s ahead, there is no reason that Thanksgiving can’t be a perfectly lovely holiday that allows you to spend time enjoying the company of others and their attempts at cooking. And when Christmas arrives, simply duck and cover.
The Mondays of wintertime is God’s acknowledgement of myself.
I wake up to the chilled air of a Monday knowing exactly what’s in store for my toes before they reach the abrasive black and teal tiles of the shockingly frigid floor.
I prance over to my red and cozy slippers by the door which have been worn down to a thin layer that is barely enough to keep those black and teal tiles away from my bare skin.
I gather clothes from my closet, and with half opened eyes that are sticky with my night’s slumber I dress and trade my red slippers for black boots.
I walk across the campus in those black boots, appreciating the frosty grass and faithful squirrels who join me on this Monday ritual.
I continue past the residential buildings and watch as people open doors to the world as if their gentle touch could shush the tires on nearby cars.
I admire the ears of those with steps as soft as mine, looking much prettier when not adorned with headphones.
I step into work and the elevator dings and the coffee is brewing and I struggle to unlock my door and an early riser talks on their phone and I wonder when my keyboard became so loud as to punish my calm with each key stroke and a printer comes to life and the trash is being collected and papers are dropped in the hallway and the unfrosted window now holds a sun fresh with the promise of an end to my muted Monday.
Despite the often dirty laundry, the meals that are of less than home-cooked quality, and the crippling loneliness at the realization that your only friends are textbooks, college also provides you with that one activity that defines your collegic life and shapes you personally.
For me, that refers to my time with The Crew.
At the University of Maryland we have a soccer team, and with that soccer team we have a Crew. A crew of loyal fans dedicated to bombarding the opposing team’s keeper with family-friendly insults, cheers regarding our eagerness to score a goal, our displeasure with the other team, and our incredulousness over the shoe color of the keeper. And then we sing and then we chant and then we hold our scarves up high, and then we practice our Spanish with a rousing round of “Vamos Maryland” and occasionally there will even be a 90’s theme featuring the song stylings of the Backstreet Boys and Train.
When you join The Crew there is always so much going on, and though you leave exhausted and partly wishing you had spent your time finishing up that Rhetorical Discourse homework, you often get so much more than you put in.
Thanks to my time spent with the crew I have:
Discovered that soccer is not just an introductory sport for second graders
Made friends that I honest-to-goodness plan on staying in contact with
Watched us win 2 ACC Championships
Overcame my fear of singing with gusto
Avoided drinking at Crew tailgates
Befriended the drunkards at Crew tailgates
Learned that loyalty still exists in the form of enthusiastic clapping
Found that I have a flair for scarves
Made friends that I could attend other sporting events with
Gotten more than enough exercise by running to switch bleachers at half
I may be getting a bachelor’s degree in English and Communications upon my graduation from the University of Maryland, but the scrappy and blurred photos of my soccer game attendance will always be much more valuable.
50 years from now the only mail people will be familiar with will be of the “e” variety.
No one will express their love of farm animals with a pink porky piggy mailbox, no one will experience the thrill of raising the little red flag on the side of the pink porky piggy mailbox, and no one will walk away from the pink porky piggy mailbox with the taste of envelope glue still on their tongue.
As a lover of all things pink piggy, I’m fighting this growing trend with paper and pen. I’ve adopted a few somewhat willing pen pals, a resolution to finally pay for some colorful stamps, and an appreciation for the wonders of the past and simple pleasures.
I cherish nothing more than reclining at my polished oak desk by the roaring fire that’s aged the pages of the classics in the nearby cramped bookshelf while dipping my quill feathered pen in the inky blue well that contains thoughts and sentiments yet unbeknownst to me. And then cramming those thoughtful sentiments into the dorm’s mailbox once I’ve taped the envelope closed after unsuccessfully licking the flap until my tongue was raw.
However, while my virtual inbox continues to accumulate messages with beloved subjects such as “Dr Oz-FaT BustEr RevealeD” I’m just not receiving any letters in my physical mailbox meant for tangible letters. There is nothing more depressing than opening that off-gray squeaky door lid only to stare blankly at the off-gray empty inside. Yet the joy that one experiences when that off-gray empty inside is masked by a off-white letter is only rivaled by sitting on Santa’s lap as a four year old who knows they have a Barbie Dream House coming their way. It is that rare occurrence of actually receiving letters that keeps me looking to the mailbox, keeps me writing letters in hopes of a response, and keeps my heart permanently fixed on the pink porky piggy mailbox that I’d like to someday have a use for.
Each morning I wake up. Regardless of whether I slept well or slept poorly, no matter if my covers are scattered over the floor or in the same place as when I drifted off the night before, and whether or not I jump up at the sound of Here Comes the Sun or pretend that it doesn’t exist, I wake up with one goal in mind. Get myself some breakfast.
Without fail I joyfully eat breakfast each and every morning. I would not be alive if not for Cheerios and SKIM milk (anything other than skim just seems yucky), though I’ve been known to branch out in favor of fruit, toast, oatmeal, or eggs of the scrambled variety. Sometimes I prepare it simply in my dorm room, other times I’ll mozy on over to the diner, and occasionally I’ll have the kitchen in my home to work with.
But it truly doesn’t matter where or what I eat, just as long as I can refuel myself in the morning and give myself the energy and positivity that is often the true prize from that box of Cheerios.
And if I have to wake up an extra 10 minutes earlier to ensure that I get my morning off to a happy and healthy start and I’m not a grump-a-lump for the whole day, why that’s no trouble at all.
Unlike with sharks, there is no classic musical interlude that warns you of an approaching creepy crawler. Without warning, you simply turn your head to the unseemly sight of too many gangly hairy spindly legs. Cue the cardio burst towards the door and the declarations to the gods above that if they slay this monstrous beast you shall present to them your first born child.
Then, right as you run up to little Timmy’s room and snatch him out of the crib to be raised Simba-style to the heavens, the bug flies out of an open window and you are left apologizing to a grumpy toddler while laughing nervously to displace the blush spreading over your cheeks.
Because it’s foolish to be afraid of bugs, and we all know it.
And yet most all of us are scared witless at the mere mention of the b-word.
Because they look ugly? So do I every Monday morning. Eye-gunk can be just as disturbing as pollen-gook
Because some are considered poisonous? Put down that Big Mac long enough to consider what’s really killing you.
Because we don’t understand them? I don’t understand my teenage brother (though admittedly, there are times I’d like to swat him).
Because of bad past experiences? Once I fell off my bike. And yet, like most functioning members of society, I am not thrown into a panic at the sight of bicycles.
Because of the movies? Please, A Bug’s Life is a cinema classic that teaches you to root for the underbug.
Because you suffer from arachnophobia? OK, that makes sense actually.
Because others are afraid? If my mom wears corduroy overalls does that mean that I should too? (That line just caused more chills than any bug could ever have done).
Because they’re tiny? Take two big steps in the opposite direction of the insect. It will now take them a month to reach you.
Because they look different than us? So does absolutely every single thing on this planet. My cat looks different than me, but when she’s not hissing in my face I still love her oh so much.
There are so many reasons to dislike bugs. And there are so many reasons why those reasons are stupid.
Let’s just hope I can remember those reasons the next time a spider crawls out from under the couch and I’m tempted to trap it under a bowl until I can reach little Timmy.
There is never a convenient enough time for anything, so why ever let that be an excuse for not doing something special?
Whether it’s your deepest passion to travel to Spain despite a lack of financial stability, the willingness to go on a camping excursion though threatened by the time commitment, a craving for higher education while needing to support a family, or the desire for something as simple as wanting to dye your hair, sometimes you just convince yourself that “the time isn’t right” to follow up with your dreams.
But it is!
The time is always right for happiness and living and experiencing life. There is never a bad time to celebrate being alive and creating a memory to look back upon with the grandest of smiles and the happiest of recollections. Why delay what you were put on this earth to do? Live!
So before I could compile an even larger range of excuses as to why I can not complete one of my Pail List items, before I graduate in the spring, before I begin a full time job, before my supposedly approaching wedding day, before my future catches up to me, I took care of item numero uno and dyed my hair blonde (“Medium Natural Blonde” which when combined with my already dark hair color translates into “Sun-Kissed Brown Cinnamon”).
I’m already so much happier for deciding to commit to this wish of mine. I feel more confident, I feel like I’ve just returned from a delightful tropical vacation, and I feel like I’m ready to seek out some more of life’s experiences despite any obstacles that I perceive. I also feel like a model and am struggling to stop taking pictures of myself…