Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is like the middle child of holidays.  It lives between Halloween and Christmas, not as flashy as its spooky elder and doesn’t make as much money as its younger.  People enjoy it when it comes, but don’t seem to remember it exists.  When they do, it’s only significant because it comes right before the biggest shopping day of the year.  One cell phone provider’s tagline for their sales this year is “Thanks-getting”.  Which, honestly, pisses me off.

Despite the fact that Thanksgiving is based on a mythic story of Native Americans and their soon-to-be white oppressors coming together over turkey and corn, I actually really enjoy this holiday.

To me, Thanksgiving isn’t a stepping stone on the way to Christmas.  It’s not a precursor to Black Friday, although I do enjoy shopping.  It’s a day to gather with the people you love and reflect on all the things you’re thankful for.

This year, my family is spending the holiday at my great aunt and uncle’s house in the cities.  We usually spend it with my entire extended family and I’m really excited for something more low-key.  We also don’t have to cook, which is amazing.

So, dear readers, time for a list.  This year, I am thankful for:

  • The opportunity to live and work at home for the past six months, which has enabled me to spend lots of time with my family.
  • My job.  I know that I complain about it a lot, but having a job is better than unemployment.
  • All my friends, near and far.
  • Being done with college, which means I have a lifetime of pleasure reading that I’m still giddy about.
  • My cats.  Because it’s gotten cold, they’ve all been super cuddly lately, which I love.
  • Direction.  Even if it’s only until the end of March, I love knowing where I’m going to be.
  • The fact that I’m going back to England in a little over a month.
  • This blog and all the lovely people who read it (including you!)

What are some of the things you’re thankful for?

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I found this Thanksgiving theme photo on Google and kind of fell in love with it’s awkwardness

A blissful pause

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m incredibly thankful for the past few days of peace, rest, and family.  I’m also thankful to finally be able to listen to Christmas music.  (Yes, I’m one of those snobs.)

It really has been a perfect break.

The extended family was here on Thursday and I handled the “So Amelia, what’s next?”question as well as I could.  I ate lots of turkey and mashed potatoes.

On Friday, I finally got the Mother/Daughter shopping day that was supposed to come in October.  We shopped from ten in the morning till four in the afternoon, taking advantage of Black Friday deals.  I also got lunch at Chipotle, which in and of itself is always an answer to prayer.

Our family tradition is to attend the Taylor’s Falls Lighting festival the day after Thanksgiving.  There’s a small parade down the six blocks that make up main street of the small historic town.  At the end of the parade, there is a countdown and all the Christmas lights in town are lit at once.  We also popped in the old one room schoolhouse (the oldest in Minnesota!) to see all the arts and crafts that the local third graders have been working on for the past couple weeks.  My aunt and uncle came to the event with us and, so night ended with soup and cider at our house.

Yesterday, Mom and I took advantage of Support Local Saturday and made the rounds in all the cute little shops in the area.  We found some good Christmas presents for family and friends, as well as delicious homemade fudge.  The afternoon passed curled up on the couch pretending to watch the Gopher/Badger football game.  I say pretending because, while the rest of my family attentively cheered for the Gophers, I sat and read Dracula.

Today marks the end of break.  I’m not looking forward to going back.

Over the past year, I have not been home for more than a week at a time.  It’s always a transition spot, somewhere I go to jump from here to there.  As a result, my room has become a dreadful dumping grounds.  I long to settle for a while, to clean the mess, to organize the stacks of books that don’t fit on the shelves, and lie low for a while.

Two and a half weeks, friends.  Only an Early Modern English recitation, final portfolio, two ten page essays, and two finals standing between me and a month of Christmas bliss at home.  It’s the final stretch.

I’ll survive by overdosing on holiday cheer and covers of Taylor Swift songs…

Stolen moments at home

For the past few weeks, the only thing I’ve been looking forward to was the moment I could get in my car and drive away from the tiny college town where I live.  And oh, when that moment came, it sure was sweet.

There’s something incredibly special about being home.  I haven’t spent more than a week here since last January, so my time here seems like stolen moments of peace.  It’s like I get to return to a closed chapter of my life for a short time.  I don’t get to go back to my childhood, but at least I can sleep once more in my bed and cuddle with my cat.

In light of my impending graduation, being home feels more real than college.  In a handful of months I’ll be handed my diploma and sent into the world.  (Assuming my senior seminar does not kill me, that is.)  When I go into the world in May, the first place I’m going to go is home.  I’m going to move back into my old room, work my old summer job, and figure out what’s coming next.

I’ve always loved home.  With life’s uncertainties swirling about me, home is an anchor.  I walk in the door and there is Dad in his work clothes, about to go out into the orchard.  I sit down on the couch and Paco (my cat) makes a beeline for my lap.  My little brother deliberately mispronounces my name and gives me a sarcastic comment as he hugs me too tightly.  My older brother lifts me off the ground, knowing how much I hate it, and spends the rest of the night teasing me.

One thing I love about my family is that we still sit down and share meals together.  Most families these days have let this go, but my parents made it a priority.  There are few things in the world better than gathering with your family around a table, bonding over delicious food and talking about the day.  It’s so much better than eating meals in front of a computer screen with only the characters of The Office to keep me company.

We are hosting Thanksgiving this year, so we are bracing ourselves for the sudden flood of extended family.  My mom let me have a few minutes to rest after my long drive, then I spent a good portion of my afternoon dusting and preparing the house for guests.  Hosting is a lot of work, but I know it will all go well.  I’m looking forward to seeing my relatives again.

I’m sure I’ll be posting a holiday themed post tomorrow, so stay tuned for that.  In the meantime, what are your Thanksgiving plans this year?

Things to be excited about on a Wednesday

Wednesday is always the worst day of my week.  I’m busy from morning to night with class, work, homework, and clubs.  It’s easy to get pessimistic when they come around.  I’ve been pondering more meaningful posts, but it looks like seriousness is going to have to wait for another day.  Here are some things I’ve been getting excited about lately.

1. The trailer for the new live-action Cinderella

Cinderella has always been one of my favorite fairytales.  From Ever After to Rogers & Hammerstein to the novel Ella Enchanted, I adore a well done adaptation.  I’ve been tracking Disney’s latest live-action fairytale for the past few years and am delighted by the trailer.  I think the casting is absolutely wonderful and cannot wait for March to come along.

2. Thanksgiving is next week

Which means I get to escape small-town Morris for a few days at home with family before the end of semester hell sets in.

3. Mockingjay Part 1 comes out tomorrow

I’m attending the midnight release with some friends tomorrow night and it’s going to be great.

4. My least favorite class is cancelled

Well, technically we still have it, but it’s the kind of class where you’re given a big project and have all of class to work on it.  My professor is gone at a conference, so we are allowed to do our work at home without going in.

5. Shakespeare

In my Grammar & Language class, we have been studying the different stages of the English language.  We’re on the cusp of the Early Modern period and, as I did this week’s reading, I was delighted to find several pages devoted to the beloved playwright.  Like the stereotypical English major that I am, I LOVE Shakespeare.  Whenever he comes up, I automatically become giddy.

6. Scotland

Although I’d REALLY love to, I’m not going any time soon.  But I’ve spent the hour before going to bed curled up with a book that takes place in Scotland, so it’s been fresh on my mind.  It’s a beautiful country, and I’m already looking forward to tonight when I have time to delve back into it through reading.

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Me in the Highlands of Scotland last November.

 

What kind of things are you excited about, readers?

It’s too early for Christmas

As the song says, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.  There’s something magical about looking out at the world covered in snow and drinking warm cups of cocoa before the fire as Nat King Cole croons from the stereo.  When family comes from near and far to share feasts and exchange gifts, my heart just soars.  It’s the best time of the year.

For me, Christmastime is sacred.  Like a little kid waiting and longing so much to open the presents under the Christmas tree, I wait and long for it to come.  It’s the waiting, for me, that makes the season so special.  Delaying my gratification only makes it that much better when it’s finally here.

When I went to the store mere days after Halloween to buy milk to see a full-fledged Christmas section in all its red and green splendor, I was appalled.  When I see Facebook statuses from eager friends listening to Christmas music, I cringe.  When, in the first week of November, I turn on the t.v., flip through the channels, and see Christmas movies playing on Hallmark, I want to scream.

The commercialization of Christmas absolutely disgusts me.  It takes all the splendor and joy out of the season and crushes it with greed.  The money-grubbing stores that are opening Thanksgiving afternoon make me sick.  Apparently waiting ’till Black Friday just isn’t enough.  Let’s gloss over the holiday themed around being grateful for the things we have and go straight for buying all the things we don’t.

Dear society, where is your self-control?

If we celebrate Christmas all the time, it decreases in value.  It’s a time that you need to wait for.  Waiting, hoping, and longing make it that much sweeter.

I know there’s nothing I can do to make people stop destroying the magic of Christmas by starting celebrations too early.  My words can’t stop stores from selling as much as they can, nor will they be able to stop the hoards of raging Christmas fans from over-indulging before Thanksgiving is even around the corner.  But whoever you are reading this, do you really want the most wonderful time of the year tarnished and spoiled because of capitalism and lack of self-control?

I certainly don’t.

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