Handouts and Holidays

I’ve been that person stalking you as soon as you step out of your car. I know what it’s like to try making eye contact with someone who behaves as if I were Medusa herself and one sideways glance would turn them to stone. I am all too familiar with sending “good friends” a Facebook message only to have it go unanswered…even though I can see that it has been read and now I know that you’re clearly ignoring what it is I have to say so that the next time I see you in person you better believe I will be bringing this up and making you feel guilty…

I know what all of this is like, because I care.

I care about sick children, and having them and their families receive the care that they need from Children’s National Medical Center with support from Terp Thon.

I care about assisting those with specific needs and ensuring that the Special Olympics stays strong with assistance from those crazy enough to attempt the Polar Bear Plunge.

And it breaks my heart that I’m still struggling to fundraise for these two wonderful organizations during the holiday season of giving.

money giftI don’t particularly have a favorite holiday, but I sure do have a favorite time of year, December. Despite the chilly temperatures and the hushed sunlight, I find my joy from the people around me with their concern over quality time with the fam and their wonder over the one light display along that stretch of 32. Yet, these people who are more than willing to drop $6 on a cup of coffee with a Christmas themed Starbucks design are rattled when I ask for $2 to go towards me standing for 12 hours in support of Children’s National Medical Center, or $5 to go towards me diving into frigid waters in support of Maryland Special Olympics.

I’m not asking for the world. I’m not even asking for a country. I’m just asking for others to embrace that December spirit, the one that smells of holly and crisp pine, the one that makes you smile out loud when you see a child with the mall Santa, the one that says it’s perfectly alright to drink extra chocolately extra marshmellowy and extra whipped creamy hot chocolate. Embrace that spirit by not being afraid to look a caring person in the eye this holiday season, and embrace the spirit of humanity by daring to care about that person’s passion as well.holiday donation

To donate to Terp Thon, click HERE.

To donate to Ice Ice Save Me, click HERE.

[Luckily for you, WordPress, unlike Facebook, will not alert me if you choose not to respond to this post. However, so long as you keep your heart open to the idea of sharing a bit of the wealth with those who need it and with those who care enough to make the awkward attempt to ask for it, you’ll be living up to that December spirit and I’ll be able to feel that the world has become a better place]

What to Expect When You’re Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here, and with it the wholly unrealistic expectations of peaceful family togetherness and a tasty home cooked meal.

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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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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.
  7. You will want to quit your job. Crescent rolls are all that matter in life.
  8. 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.

Holi Cow!

This past Sunday the University of Maryland created their own Hindu festival of color, Holi. Pronounced “Holy”, this festival involves throwing multi-colored power at people to celebrate the beginning of spring and the driving force of good over evil. 551462_10151526062127593_100085468_nBut for me, it was mostly a good excuse to make tie dye, hang out with friends, take plenty of pictures, and have an unbelievable experience.

DSCN0450We first gathered around the Administration building on the far end of our mall. After handing out free samosas, but sadly for our poor taste buds, no water bottles, they began throwing packets of colored powder into the air. People went wild. Purples were flying through the air intermingling with a neon green that left its presence known to all those standing below it. Somehow a hose and buckets of water got involved, and though it helped enhance my tie dye, it chilled me far too much for such a warm spring day.

Soon my face was splattered in a comically gory fashion and I marveled at how a mere half hour ago I would have been considered clean. After taking a couple pictures with my friends, one of whom resembled an impish smurf, I headed off to the shower where I would not reemerge for a solid 30 minutes.DSCN0461

I had a blast being a part of this festival, and even though I didn’t know most of the 200 + kids who attended, I still had a great time feeling included in a community and letting myself go. Every once in a while, you need to do something so crazy that even your closest friends give you weird looks when they see the pictures.

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An Easter Surprise

This Easter weekend I had planned on visiting my boyfriend down at his college. While there, we went bowling with friends, ate a scrumptious breakfast at Cracker Barrel, played tennis until our arms ached, and caught Jim Gaffigan’s comedy show down in Roanoke. I could dedicate a post to every noteworthy element that made up our time together, and yet, there was something missing come Sunday morning. Though it had the all the essentials for a memorable weekend, the fact that I was missing Easter Sunday with my family was rather devastating.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I didn’t have to sit in a stuffy church listening to babies cry for an hour and a half, but I missed having the “Easter Bunny” hide eggs around the house and having an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast. I know I’m not a kid any longer, heck, I’m not even a teenager any more, but those are some quality family memories that I never wanted to lose. And that fact that there weren’t going to be any hidden eggs for my brother to find due to my absence left me riddled with guilt and an urge to change this year’s depressing Easter fate. I had to make it home for Easter.

After waking up that morning, I embarked upon my Easter adventure through the rain and fog. I called my parents to let them know that I wouldn’t be heading back to school until later that night and that I was bummed out about not spending time with them, they ate it up. I took pride in my lie as I drove the 5 hours up north to bring me closer to their long-lost faces and hoards of candy stored in the cupboard.

When I pulled into our driveway I made sure to park the car far back from the house and close the car door as silently as my anxious hand would allow. I ducked under windows while trying to maintain balance with my suitcase and made it to the front door not a moment too soon. Not only was I proud of my undeniable stealth, but I was positively giddy with the excitement of being reunited with my family. I rang the doorbell and hid below the glass window in the middle of the door, not daring to make a sound. Out came my grandfather looking rather confused until he spotted me stooped low to the ground. He began silently laughing and helped me up into the foyer where he called for the whole family to gather. My dad came first, and as he tried to hide his shock, a big smile broke out onto his face. My mom and grandmother could hardly believe I was real, so thoroughly convinced were they that I would be going straight back to school. My brother met my arrival with an air of teenage indifference…

What followed was a sweet and memorable Easter day with my family. We ate a great dinner, talked about our lives, and watched a documentary about the Raven’s championship season. Suddenly, I had a new highlight from my weekend.

P.S.        My cat usually sits in a box on our big table. When we took it away for Easter dinner, she just wouldn’t have it. We’ve never had a cuter centerpiece. IMG_1923

My Passover Experience

I was raised in the teachings of the Catholic church. Ever since I was a young child I was taught that Jesus is good, God is great, and as soon as communion has been served it’s alright to file out of the overly crowded pews. I’m not very devout in my religious beliefs, but I do enjoy discovering new aspects of religion, especially when they come from outside my area of expertise. So when my good friend, Bobby, invited me to celebrate the second night of Passover in the spirit of Judaism with him and his family, I happily agreed.

I drove to his house with my other Catholic companion, Dallis,  where we greeted by the 20 other guests with whom I would be participating in the Seder.

My friends Dallis and Bobby at a basketball game

My friends Dallis and Bobby at a basketball game

They were all so enthusiastic to have us there and immediately began asking us questions and making the effort to get to know us, I was taken aback by everyone’s polite and inquisitive nature, I guess I’d grown accustomed to the indifference more college students portray.  After they learned our entire life stories, they took quite a bit of time revisiting old friendships and sharing new developments in their lives. It was delightful to see such a loving reunion, and I was continually and pleasantly surprised as the actual dinner began.

Everyone went around the table reciting from a script, performing ceremonial songs and conducting rituals with various symbolic foods. There were a lot of words I didn’t comprehend and an entirely different language in which I couldn’t even differentiate the words from the syllables, but I never felt uncomfortable. In fact, it was nice to be a part of something so meaningful. After the traditional customs and my reading of a blessedly easy passage to pronounce, the food was served.

In any good experience in my life, food usually plays a crucial role, and that is more than true for this Passover dinner. At first it began with the traditional Matzah which was fine by itself and had a pleasing crunch. Then the Matzah ball soup came which absolutely delighted my taste buds. At one point there was a weird fish that people tried to convince me to drown in horseradish sauce, but I just couldn’t seem to choke it down. After that slight hiccup in the meal, I gorged myself on salmon, carrot casserole, asparagus, mashed potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and a chocolate fondue assortment that was so plentiful and delicious I didn’t think I could ever stop gorging myself on it. And as it turns out, all the food was kosher! I’m still not exactly sure what this means, but I know it definitely doesn’t affect the quality of the food you eat.

At the end of the night we helped clean up the huge mess we had made and said our goodbyes and words of appreciation. I had a blast hanging out with my friend and his family, but more than that I actually enjoyed the messages they were sharing and the good company that they knew how to appreciate. Never keep yourself from trying new things, even if you can’t imagine yourself doing them. It’s always good to surprise yourself, and the surprisingly good time I experienced will bring me back for next year’s Seder. Plus, his house has a gorgeous view of the Bay.IMG_1903