The History of Thanksgiving

The “theory” behind Thanksgiving is based on the story that, on Thursday, November 24, 1621, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag (an Indian tribe) came together to share a harvest feast. We Americans, over the centuries, have relegated the truth of the time before and after that date to the back of our minds, so that we can focus on spending time with family and friends, overeating the delicious fare that is prepared so that the meal qualifies as a ‘feast’ and then an afternoon of football and/or reading the inside of our eyelids. For the primary cook, it’s a chance to dust off culinary skills – the same applies to the turkey carver – and for the women, it’s a chance to gather together after the meal to divide leftovers, clean up and have a chance to catch-up on girl talk without interruption.

But the history of Thanksgiving shouldn’t be focused on that one particular day when the Pilgrims and the Indians seemed able to put aside their differences for a few hours. In fact, one professor at George Washington University has gone on record to say that most of the stories are myths filled with historical inaccuracies.

When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, the chief of the Wampanoag tribe offered an agreement to the arrivals. This agreement would eventually serve as a way to protect the Wampanoag tribe from their rivals, the Narragansetts, and, in exchange, would help to keep the Pilgrims safe from other native tribes. This pact was strained by infectious disease, the expansion of colonial land taken by the Pilgrims and the exploitation of Wampanoag resources. These tensions greatened into what became known as King Philip’s War. The effects of this war, over time, devastated the Wampanoags and shifted the balance of power from being equal into being in the colonists’ favor.

Even today, some of the country’s Indigenous people consider this day set aside to remember a coming together between the colonists and the natives as a day of mourning, rather than a day of thanks. It is a time for them to remember the history of their ancestors and a day to reflect on the racism, inequality and oppression they still experience in the present. In fact, there is a memorial plaque located in Cole’s Hill, a part of the town of Plymouth, that has been erected by the town of Plymouth, on behalf of the United American Indians of New England, announcing that the date congruent of the day we celebrate Thanksgiving shall, for them, be considered A Day of Mourning. This was proclaimed in 1970, and on our Thanksgiving Day, American Indians of New England will gather, not to partake of a feast, but to remember, with great sadness, what happened to the American Indians as a whole upon the Pilgrims alighting at Plymouth Rock in 1621.

For the record, it wasn’t until 1863 that Thanksgiving was given the honor of becoming a national holiday, and it was proclaimed so by Abraham Lincoln as a way to promote unity during the Civil War.

Now, go watch your parades and enjoy your feast and time relaxing. But take a moment to stop and remember what this holiday was meant to be and remember that this feast, in history, created a war.

Resilient

What an empowering read! And knowing a little bit about the writer, I have no doubt that she is exactly this person!

Life Lessons From Around the Dinner Table

If there is any one thing you should know about me

it is that I am resilient.

I am the fairytale they won’t recite.

Little Red Riding Hood that could not be duped

by the Big Bad Wolf.

For they do not want to tell you the fairytales

of the dangerous women who won.

Instead, they’ll tell you the stories of the good girls…

heads bowed, eyes wide, and mouths shut.

You see, I am a descendant of all the wild women and their stories

that came before me. The ones the men thought they had burned.

They should have checked the ashes…

for it only takes one wild ember to start a wildfire.

And I guess they have always been afraid of the wild ones.

Little Red Riding Hood who knew precisely what she was doing

when she looked a not-so-gifted bad wolf in the mouth

and invited the…

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Questions about Random Things

I’ve written before about how, no matter how tired I may be, my mind has to go through a series of circuitous thoughts which often have nothing to do with each other and often have nothing to do with my life. I thought I’d share some of them with you, in case you have an established answer that will allow me to take any of these questions off the list.

Whatever happened to Aflac? I remember when there were seemingly constant commercials touting the benefits of adding Aflac to your current medical insurance, stating that it would help pay some of your expenses when, for medical reasons, you cannot work. In theory, that sounds great. Nobody I knew bought it, much less used it. I always thought it was something that only ‘rich’ people could afford to buy, and those same ‘rich’ people probably wouldn’t have a pile of unpaid expenses in the first place. I checked the Internet and Aflac is still in operation (at least according to their website). Maybe they just decided to spend no monies on marketing? Which is a shame, because I miss the duck!

My dad’s last wife had been the widow of my mother’s brother, having been married to my uncle for many years, and was addressed by the preface of aunt. When she married my dad, she became my stepmother, right? And didn’t the children of that marriage, who had once been my cousins, become my stepsiblings? I have a friend whose mother, after divorcing her father, ended up marrying her father’s brother. In effect, she always said, my uncle became my dad, and my dad became my uncle. Is there some set procedure for how this all falls into place? Maybe I should be asking the rednecks since people say that they always marry within their family! (I’m joking, of course!) My dad’s last wife told me in no uncertain terms when I made a mention about gaining sisters, that these two were my cousins and would always be my cousins. This is the same person who later vocally scolded me, while still at the cemetery after the burial service, that I didn’t include her granddaughter (who would have been my cousin’s child) as one of my dad’s grandchildren in the obituary! All these years later and this still gets my anger stirred up! Needless to say, we’ve had no contact since that time. So, were they legally my stepsiblings or still my cousins?

It’s that time of year when non-profit organizations are increasing their presence to the public in the hopes of getting us to feel more inclined to donate because it’s nearing a sentimental holiday. I get that, and it makes sense to me. But here’s what I don’t get… More than one of these organizations are offering you a tangible “gift” in return for your pledge for a certain amount monthly for an entire year. “Just $29 a month for 12 months and we’ll send you…”. It might be a blanket, a beanie, a calendar, and, in some cases, also include a photo of a child or animal you will be supporting. That is a double ploy on the old heart strings, in my opinion, but that’s not my issue. Some companies are donating and providing these organizations with whatever the tangible item/items they are offering to the general public as an incentive for making a commitment. Those companies will use that donation as a tax write-off. But hey, why not just make a financial contribution directly to the organization instead? I donate blood every two months, as allowed, and there are often these tangible trinkets offered to get people to come out to give blood. Honestly, I don’t believe that any of the people who consistently show up to donate do so because they want the t-shirt or water bottle or baseball cap or whatever else as a reward. I seldom see anyone under at least 35, and often the average is more like 55, in line to make their donation. I certainly don’t do it because I need another little goodie that will immediately go into a donation box upon my return home. I wish those companies who donate these products would just make a financial donation to the American Red Cross rather than some tchotchke that doesn’t really meet a need for the recipient. Plus, it irks me in some way to feel like these non-profit organizations feel like they need to bribe the public to help them out. I’m pretty sure that people make donations because the charity calls to their hearts, not because they want some tangible goodie they don’t really need and CAN live without.

Here’s a question that haunts me every time I’m forced to deal with this product: Why can’t plastic wrap companies make a container to hold the roll of plastic that actually CUTS the plastic wrap when you press it to those little “teeth” things? And in conjunction with that, why does plastic wrap always cling better to itself than to the object(s) you are trying to wrap with it? I now use zipper bags 99% of the time when I want to store something in clear plastic because it is so less time-consuming and less frustrating. I have a canning funnel (wide-mouthed to use with canning jars) and I simply insert that in the top of the open bag to help any product get down into the bag. I now even store soups and stews and other assorted items in these bags for my freezer because they take up so much less room than a plastic container. Lay the item flat to freeze and then it will slide anywhere you have a little bit of space. You can even use a permanent marker to label the bag before inserting the food. Still, there are a few times when plastic wrap is necessary, and sometimes I have to deal with the frustration of trying to cut the darned stuff!

After my recent hospital stay (I’ll write more about that in the future), I decided to think about noise-canceling headphones. The patient in the room next door had a very loose and productive cough and then the ‘spit out’ of whatever she had managed to get up from her chest. Part of me felt bad for her because I’ve had bronchitis and know how painful that kind of coughing can be, especially when it’s ongoing. Another part of me felt angry that I could hear every cough in my room next door and far too often, the coughing would jar me away just as I was about to doze off. After minimal dozing and no sleep that first night, exacerbated by her coughing, I thought about how helpful a set of noise-cancelling headphones would be in that kind of situation. So why, when I came home and looked for them, did I only find, in my search, some product that cancelled out the noise around you so that you could more clearly hear whatever you were choosing to listen to through the headphones? To me, if you say “noise cancelling”, I define those words as meaning “creating silence” in the eardrums while wearing them! I prefer total silence when I’m trying to fall asleep, which is partly why I use a fan 365 nights a year – for the white noise – and the product advertised doesn’t do what its name implies!

That’s just one night of random thoughts (I’m sure there were more, but these are what I remember offhand). I’ve started taking a 12-mg Melatonin every night (sometimes a second one after 3 hours) in hopes I will fall asleep before my brain travels around for hours about these innocuous things that truly mean nothing in the big picture.

Random Memes – 11/7

I’ve got a gazillion (okay, slight exaggeration since it’s only a dozen) articles started and in draft form until I find the energy and my muse finds the right way to add words to them. So, it’s another day for random memes:

I saved the last one to be the last one on purpose. No matter how many times I read those words, I find myself shaking my head (at myself) for being unable to see those people for who they were. While there are occasions when I find myself missing some of the good that was in those relationships, each time I ask myself if I want to invite any of those people back into my life, my brain instantly shouts, “NO!”

Watching the U.S. and the Holocaust, or, Thank You, Ken Burns

I’m at a loss for words after reading this. My heart feels sore at learning in much more detail about this time in our world’s history and our country’s reaction to it. This is not easy reading, but please take the time to read it nonetheless.

rachelmankowitz

Watching the Ken Burns documentary, The U.S. and the Holocaust, the week before Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) was hard. The three night, six-hour documentary was advertised as being about America’s reaction to the treatment of Jews in Germany leading up to and during the Holocaust, and the ways our own prejudices and the resulting immigration restrictions we set up at the time, kept the United States from being a haven for those escaping Hitler. I felt myself shaking with rage and pain and frustration, and I started to yell at the TV (similar to the way I felt when Trump took that first trip down the escalator onto the world stage). But however difficult it was for me to sit with the pain and horror of the documentary, it was even more validating. The timeline of the film, and the clarity it brought to the questions of…

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Introducing…

…other blog writers!

Although I don’t write and post a blog article every day, I nonetheless come to visit this site every day because there are quite a few other writers whose articles I enjoy – even look forward to – and I’m always eager to feast my thoughts and emotions upon their words. I decided it was time to introduce my readers to a few of my most favorite blogs which I follow faithfully. I follow 20+ blogs, but some writers are sporadic (like me) in posting and some, while I enjoy reading their blog articles, don’t tickle that lightbulb switch in my brain on a regular basis. It took me a while, but I finally managed to shorten the list to the top blogs I would be unhappy to miss a post from, and I want to share them with you, in case you’re looking for other good reads out here…

First and foremost, because he’s my sibling and I’m unable to be objective, if you’re not already following commonlyspeaking.wordpress.com, shame on you. This is my brother Brad’s blog, and it’s had quite a few years’ presence here. Brad found a niche in writing poetry, but I have to tell you, when I can encourage (or sometimes coerce) him to tell a story, he is an amazing storyteller!

Another blog that posts every day is from Beth, at ididn’thavemyglasseson.com. Ah, I always look forward to Beth’s posts because they are short, always include an appropriate picture (which is worth a thousand words, after all!) and are usually very unique and/or obscure in their perspective!

While his posts can be sporadic, sudrakarma.wordpress.com is always worth spending time reading and digesting. Eric is a true thinker, and he is awesome at putting his thoughts into words that will make the reader think as well. To be honest, when I read Eric’s posts, I often feel like he’s way too intelligent for me to be attempting to understand, but I enjoy the challenge with every post.

Kate, who can be found at coffeekatblog.com is a great storyteller. Her posts are most often “5 Random Things” and a short blurb on each of those things. She is a cat lover, and the tales about the cats and their shenanigans is sure to make you smile. And if you’re willing to go back into her blog a bit, the stories about the renovations they made to the house they downsized to about a year ago will surely make you roll your eyes at various points.

rachelmankowitz.com is where you will find Rachel, who is, among other things, a published writer. I feel like I know Rachel well, and yet, in actuality, I feel like I don’t know her at all! She is very open about her struggles and very talented at being succinct with her words while still getting the important words in her story. Too many times, I find myself relating on a personal level to her stories, and it makes me wish I could just go hug her!

While the blog’s name is “Suzie Cream Cheese Sings the Blues”, the blog can actually be found at theprincessspeaks.com. Suzie is also a sporadic writer on her blog, but her life is very full and busy, so it feels special when she does find time to share with us. Suzie and I are on the exact opposite side on many important issues, like politics and the COVID vaccine and masking, but I can always appreciate her points and why she feels the way she does, and she accepts mine when I make a comment. It feels nice to know someone with whom you can actually discuss your own thoughts and listen to another person’s very different perspective without getting into a negative space.

A new one I’ve just started following is joyroses13.wordpress.com. Joy writes imaginative stories, shares meme pages like I do, shares photos and just writes stuff. Her stories are always a light read and include things like unicorns and North Pole elves and a whole bunch of other characters. What’s also fun in her blog is that she has two readers who have strong enough imaginations to make comments about a blog post that are humorous and/or challenging. Those are as much fun to read as the actual post itself is!

I’ve only recently started following Danielle’s blog at http://thedailyaddictcom.wordpress.com. She posts every day, and each post shares her new discoveries of life while on the path of sobriety. It sometimes amazes me when she writes something that I can 100% relate to, because I’m not making days of sobriety, but those posts always validate me and make me feel less alone.

And lastly, but certainly not least, http://lifelessonsaroundthedinnertable.wordpress.com is written by Kristian, and is the most recent blog I’ve started following. Kristian has been commenting on my posts for a while now, and I suspect she found me through my brother’s blog. I finally had a chance to check her out, and although I’ve only read a few of her posts, she is definitely someone whose posts I find myself salivating over and hungering for! We are kindred spirits in some ways, and that kind of connection always feels special!

There are a few more blogs I look at and enjoy but don’t necessarily feel engaged with. These are the ones I enjoy every time I get notification that a post has been published, and I encourage you to check them out and see if any of them reel you in as they did with me!

Happy exploring!

Preparedness

Way back in another lifetime, I was in the Brownies for a year or two, but never advanced into the Girl Scouts, and I certainly wasn’t in the Boy Scouts. And yet, somewhere I inherited the “be prepared” idea. Having just watched Hurricane Ian plow through Florida and South Carolina makes me wonder if I am prepared enough.

About 10 years ago, the apartment community in which I lived had a water line break, and we were without water for about 30 hours. Since that event, I have stored away two gallons of potable water, though I would still boil it before consuming it. I also read recently that, in extended times of no water, you can tape a garbage-sized bag under your toilet seat so that anything you excrete goes right into the bag, and it can be removed and disposed of when it is appropriate. While it’s not what we would choose to do, it certainly is an alternative to filling the toilet bowl and then having to somehow scoop it out, I guess!

Because I am a coffeeholic, I also have on hand some of those dunkable single-serving coffee bags (they work like tea bags) in case we lose electric. I have a battery-operated can opener (I actually like it and use it more than my electric one anymore). I’m lucky to have gas radiator heat so that shouldn’t be an issue. But since my stove is electric, there is an issue of how to heat up water to make that dunkable cup of coffee. I remember, many years ago now, that my dad and his wife lost electric to their place in Florida, and his wife was a person like me who needed her morning coffee, so they ended up going out and buying a one-burner gas cooktop for any future needs. I’m thinking about that now, and I can get one plus 4 cans of fuel for under $50 on Amazon. I haven’t bit the bullet on doing so, and my head tells me I will probably never need it, but that level of preparedness has me thinking that way.

Some people would say I’m over-reactive in my need/want to be prepared for my friend, Justin Case, but I am very much a creature of comfort and want at least the bare necessities (and yes, coffee comes into that category). I mean, I have the sleeping bag in my car in case I’m ever stranded somewhere (I’m considering giving that up since 99% of the places I drive to are 1-2 miles from home and the other 1% are less than 10 miles from home). I have a decent first aid kit in my car, also Justin Case. I did recently go through and toss out bottles of things like transmission fluid and oil that I’d had, Justin Case, for longer than I can remember.

My brother continues to encourage me to downsize and simplify my life, and I’m making pretty good strides at that, although it’s ongoing. And I hear my friend, Marnette’s, voice when I remember reading her words that “It’s only stuff”. I can’t decide if getting that single burner gas stove (can be used indoors, but away from flammable objects) is over-the-top. And if it is over-the-top, is it still worth getting it if it gives me an additional layer of peace of mind? I mean, I’ve got plenty of candles and a good flashlight, and I can survive without food (or learn to eat things cold from the can), but not having coffee may be a deal-breaker.

I hate making this kind of decision, and wish someone would tell me that they think it’s a great investment Justin Case, and especially if it calms my anxiety!

Journaling

In August or September of 2021, my brother asked me if I kept a copy of a letter we had both received identical copies of. I didn’t think I had, but know that, if I had, it would have been in the black box where I keep all important documents. I pulled said box down from its shelf high in the spare bedroom closet to look. I didn’t find the letter, but I did find things I’d forgotten I’d even stored in there. One was a notebook filled with page-protective sleeves that contained the poetry I’d written in the 70s and early 80s. The other was a journal I’d written in that dated back to 1992 and was specific to an event that had happened which caused me terrible heartbreak and guilt. I won’t go into those details now, because that’s a story – and a long one – of its own. I began journaling as an activity my therapist suggested so I’d have a safe place to share whatever my thoughts were in between our appointments.

The first journal entry was dated Friday, August 14, 1992. The last journal entry relevant to that event was dated Monday, August 2, 1993. I can only assume that, after a year, I was finally able to handle the sad emotions surrounding that event.

After that entry in 1993, there is an additional entry, dated Sunday, January 19, 2014. I’d located the journal in a box of memories as I was preparing to move and penned a bit about who that person was in 1992-1993 and how different a person I was in 2014. At the end of that entry, I wrote that I’d thought I’d read through the journal and then discard it but found I couldn’t read too many pages before I’d become familiar again with the pain attached to the event. I also found that I wasn’t ready to let the journal go. And that’s how it ended up in this black box.

Because I was looking for something else at the time, I just shuffled past its existence last year. But now, as I continue to simplify my life (honestly, more for my brother’s sake than mine), I decided that maybe it was time to revisit the journal and see if I still felt the need to keep it after 30 years. I thought on this over a few weeks and decided that the best thing I could do for myself was to cut those pages out, send the paper for recycling, and then cut out the blank pages that were left and use them for the many notes I make for myself. I didn’t read all of those old pages, mostly because I wasn’t sure that, even after all of that time, I wouldn’t feel some of that old pain. I did read the last entry – the one I wrote in 2014 – and it states that I kept the journal partly because I’d missed the opportunity to write whatever I was thinking or feeling at a moment. But…. now computers were a thing, and now I could store those thoughts and feelings in a way that was, if nothing else, easier to do with a keyboard than it was with a pen and paper. And obviously, by this blog’s existence, that’s exactly what I’ve done!

Although I didn’t read through the journal, I realized that all of those many pages were filled with “I” statements. For me, that was probably the first time where all of my focus was on me instead of others. And I’m guessing that is a part of the reason to journal, to focus on one’s own self. The irony is that I don’t feel comfortable being that self-focused, not because I don’t deserve it, but because it meant I was neglecting others and their needs! I’ve only learned how to balance my needs with other people’s needs in the past few years.

So, the pages are cut out, those written on and those still blank, and the journal covering and its binding have made it into the trash. There is a part of me that almost can’t believe that I’m going to throw all of these pages away, as though I’m throwing all of the emotions expressed in them away. But, I’m going to do it anyhow, if for no other reason than to prove to myself that I can let go of the emotions and thoughts in my past in order to make more room for my emotions and thoughts in the present. At least that’s the reason I’m telling myself…

And, it’s done. I took a page out of the pile here and there and put them through the shredder as rationale that I can never recapture everything from that time in my life. Well, more to keep myself from having second thoughts and taking them back out of the trash. Now I just need to be patient until I can feel the lifted weight off my shoulders from carrying that event around with me for over 30 years.

Boy, that quote is spot-on!

Falling into Fall

Autumn is my favorite season, even though it may bring the onset of one or more ‘symptoms’ of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Usually, this is the time of year when I first begin to notice it, but I’ve been dealing with something else that has distracted me.

I decided that I wanted to fall into fall this year. So, in the very early hours of Thursday, September 9th, I decided to spin myself around, begin to fall, hit the left side of my face against an unmoving piece of furniture, and continue to fall until my body made full contact with the carpeted floor. I experienced a similar kind of fall on December 25, 2020, so I suppose I wasn’t surprised. In fact, my brain managed to make me conscious of trying to curl into myself on the way down to avoid hitting the floor with my entire body stretched out. Anyhow, I spent the next 2.5 – 3 hours with an ice pack on the left side of my face, in extreme pain, and then I managed to doze off a little bit, only to be awoken by the pain in less than an hour.

I thought about a trip to the emergency room. But I didn’t want to make a fuss and have an ambulance pull up here with lights flashing (I have nosy neighbors), and I didn’t quite trust myself to drive to the hospital just in case I had a concussion. As it ended up, I slept on and off all of Thursday, eating ibuprofen like candy – 600 mg. at a time and taking them every time I woke up, no matter how much time had elapsed since my last dose. By Friday, I was able to only take them every 4 hours, and drink more than just the little sips of water through a straw that I used to take the pills on Thursday. I also managed to be able to open my mouth wide enough to slide some pudding between my lips and swallow.

Each day, when the pain was getting worse in between doses of ibuprofen, I thought maybe I should see a professional. I didn’t want to go to the E.R. because it wasn’t a life-or-death emergency, and I tried using Google to find what I knew to call Urgent Care where I lived before but couldn’t find anything. Saturday, the first bruises appeared along my chin and I took a selfie to document them. I continued to take a selfie every day, and eventually, my entire jaw was bruised, as well as a black eye, and my face was so swollen that I’d developed a huge double chin!

Still, as long as the pain was manageable (I have a low pain tolerance to begin with) with OTC meds, I just did the best I could with each passing day. After the first week, I managed to eat some soft-boiled eggs over barely toasted bread cut into cubes that were really, really tiny. I made some cream of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, then I cut the sandwich into those tiny, tiny bites and dropped them in my soup. I had just bought some tapioca pudding, I had applesauce and jello on hand, as well as eggs I could scramble, so I survived.

Thursday, September 29th, I had an already scheduled appointment with my general practitioner, and by then, the bruising had disappeared or was really light yellow under much of my chin. She did all of the things she needed to do, including discuss some lab results from my recent blood draw that had her concerned, and made some recommendations. However, she wanted to repeat the panel because some number in the report concerning my thyroid was twice the highest side of the scale of normal and she wants to make sure that it wasn’t a fluke. Only after that, did I remove my mask and say, “Well, while I’m here…” She said my face was puffy (she should have seen it when it was really swollen!) and sent me for x-rays immediately after the appointment. I got a copy of the report from the x-rays, not that I understand the medical jargon, but I did see the word “fractured” twice in the report, so now I sit and wait to see if I have to do anything more of just let it heal on its own. I see her again on November 3rd to follow up with the lab results from the latest blood draw I’ll be having, so I guess if she doesn’t contact me about it, I just wait until I see her again.

So, that is why my blog has not had new posts recently. I’ve been spending the majority of time in my recliner, with a pillow behind my head so that it pushes my chin down towards my chest, which is the most comfortable position right now. I have been reading when I’m not sleeping (this has totally messed-up my sleep routine!) and I’ll have finished 15 books for the month of September. I even managed a load of laundry and have been piddling around with little things when I have the energy or when the pain is absent or nearly absent.

I’m also going to try and get back to having posts ready as I had been doing, where I was always one ahead, but holding my head up for any length of time without support is still uncomfortable.

I promise the blogging world hasn’t lost me – at least not permanently – and I will do as much as I can to write posts to bore you as I suspect many of mine do. Meanwhile, I’m going to try and get outside a little bit each day, even if it’s just to the porch, and enjoy the cooler weather and lower humidity that fall has brought my way.

As Arnold would say….. “I’ll be back!”