Had to mortgage the house to pay off the maxed out credit cards so I could do more shopping

When we were children, people we didn’t know came into our bedrooms at night and brainwashed us to believe in a deep state kind of way that it’s patriotic to overeat on Thanksgiving and overspend on Black Friday.

Wikipedia Photo

I don’t know what I bought today because I was on the run most of the time from rabid shoppers who kept trying to yank my latest deal out my hands before I got into the stolen armored car I was driving today. I seem to have a garage full of electronic equipment that will enrich my life along with the lives of the store owners and the corporate CEOs. It’s been a long day. It continues to be a long day because I’m writing this post from the lobby of a bank where I just cashed out a stack of I Bonds to make sure I had funds left for a stop at Quik Trip on the way home.

You probably have similar stories to tell, stories you’ll pass down to your children and grandchildren about the importance of buying lots of stuff. Nobody has even explained why we need the stuff, only that we need to buy it. If you leave it in the box it came in, your grandchildren can sell it for big bucks on Antiques Road Show 75 years from now. They (your grandchildren) will either think you were totally insane or the cat’s pajamas when they get the cash.

If the fates are with them (your grandchildren), that cash will be enough for ten or fifteen Black Friday’s worth of shopping to continue the tradition.  By then, people will probably be buying by rote without realizing how patriotic shopping was when the tradition started back in the 1950s.

I don’t mean to sound cynical about all this.

Malcolm

 

OMG, the in-laws are coming for Thanksgiving

Here’s what that means:

  1. The guest bedroom/sewing room looks more like an attic where people have stored crap for years.
  2. The guest bathroom still has the bar of soap they used the last time they were here–need I say anything more?
  3. Food, don’t ask. The in-laws eat the kind of food that you see on the Food Network program “Chopped.” That not only means it’s weird but that it isn’t stocked in normal grocery stores.

Okay, I’ve rented a backhoe and have been using it to clean out all the stuff that needs to be cleaned out. I found Jimmy Hoffa in the bathtub and put him out to pasture with the cows. I’ve called the Food Network and asked them to ship in mass quantities of goat testicles, squid ink, and haggis so we’ll have enough food on hand for the week.

The sheets and towels for the front bedroom and bathroom are going through the washer. The cat’s claws have been clipped. Most of the hairballs have been located and thrown into the backyard. We plan to vacuum the living room at the last minute so it can’t get screwed up again before they arrive on Tuesday.

My wife and sister-in-law will do a special shopping on Wednesday to make sure all the food materials are under control to the extent that that’s possible. No doubt, the cats will be on their worst behavior while that’s happening because they simply don’t care what they do and when they do it.

So, how about you? Are you ready for whoever’s coming to dinner?

–Malcolm

 

Walking off Thanksgiving dinner

According to statistics–which I don’t feel like looking up right now–Americans are generally heavier than they should be. And, we don’t get enough exercise (which is probably one reason we’re heavier than we should be).

I live in the country with an office on the front of the house, giving me a front row seat on the road where a lot of people walk, ride bikes, ride horses, and sometimes walk their dogs while they (the dog owners) ride horses while holding onto long leashes connected to the dogs. We have an old house sitting on the far end of the property and it still has a separate mailbox. I made a vow two years ago to walk down there to check the mail a couple of times a week. I’ve done that once or twice, preferring to use the riding mower to save time. It’s a good thing that vow wasn’t a formal resolution or a promise to Santa Claus.

My brother and his wife take walks several times a week. Fortunately, they do this in central Florida so that I don’t get trapped into participating in their bad habits. They walk (who knows where) away from the house for 25 minutes. Then they walk home for 25 more minutes. During that time I can eat an entire box of Kispy Kreme doughnuts. Trouble is, when they visit us for Thanksgiving, they continue this notorious walking hobby and want me to go with them. This past week, they walked four times, conning me into going on two of them.

Talk about tired. I suppose I could claim it was “a good tired” and that I should feel virtuous. On the the plus side, it (the walk) burnt off calories. According to my brother and this wife, calories are bad. I tried to point out to them (my brother and his wife) that I’ve been slowly losing weight for the past year using a mind control/positive thinking program that didn’t require walking along country roads where everyone’s dog barks at you and speeding pickup trucks almost knock people into the ditch.

We’re lucky to be alive.

They (my brother and his wife) set a fast pace. Even the trucks have to go into overdrive to get around us. If you’re paranoid while walking in the country, you’ll get worse because every cow and horse along the route is going to be staring at you. I’m not sure just why four, puny little humans should be a threat to an entire herd of heavy black Angus cattle, but all those eyes focus on us until we’re out of sight and out of mind. Those eyes watch us again on our way home. And the same dogs come racing out to the highway thinking, “WTF, I thought I chased those clowns away 25 minutes ago.”

One dog chased us for 15 minutes, disappearing into the woods again and again and then lunging out at new spots to take us by surprise. His owner was chasing him, ticked off–by the expression on her face–that we dared walk by her place and disturb the 200 dogs they have there keeping watch on things.

We had plenty of Thanksgiving food to eat along with some Scuppernong wine, but I’m in the clear because I walked it off. I’m seeing a lot of whining on Facebook from people who suddenly gained 25 pounds last Thursday afternoon. They’re on treadmills when they’re not heading off (in their cars) to the gym. Poor bastards.

–Malcolm

 

 

No, our Christmas decorations aren’t up yet

We like to give each holiday it’s due.

happythanksgiving2015That means Santa knows that if he messes around decorating our house prior to December 1, he’ll be shot.

(Among other things, we don’t celebrate Black Friday, though Small Business Saturday is kind of nice.)

Today still feels like a continuation of Thanksgiving because we’re eating leftovers. My brother and his wife from Florida were here for a week and they just left this morning because they know from experience that driving back to the sunshine state on the Sunday after Thanksgiving is often a nightmare.

We’re thankful they were here.

Tomorrow, we’ll start thinking about our Christmas decorations. As it turns out, a lot of people have already have lighted trees in their windows and various other lighted decorations in their yards.

We start a bit later and keep our Yuletide lights and greenery up until the last day of Christmas on Twelfth Night.

However you celebrate, I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving and won’t be one of those buffoons who throws out his Christmas tree before nightfall on the 25th. (Gee, what’s the rush?)

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of ‘Emily’s Stories,” the Pushcart Prize nominated “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” “Sarabande,” and “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.”

 

Jock Stewart’s Thanksgiving Memories

  • thanksgiving2015clipart2002 – Turkey and smoker blow up taking out 27 windows of the Smith family’s house next door. Fire department called. Grandpa reminded by battalion chief that this has happened before. Grandpa punches chief and spends holiday in jail much to the family’s relief.
  • 2003 – Mother and Aunt Irene wake up at 4 a.m. to prepare turkey, discover it’s not quite thawed out, decide to drink Irish coffee until they can stuff turkey with Mother’s traditional radishes and spam stuffing, get soused and use too much sage. Most of family gets sick and spends holiday in emergency room.
  • 2004 – Nothing happens. Family decides this is the most boring Thanksgiving ever and resolves to do better in 2005.
  • 2005 – Two distant cousins get pregnant while mostly everyone is asleep on the couch pretending to watch football game. After a family vote, we decide that “stuff happens” and that we can all be thankful this year wasn’t a repeat of 2004.
  • 2006 – Two distant cousins bring their brand new babies and they (the babies) look like everyone else in the family. Nobody steps up to the figurative plat to take responsibility for 2005’s “stuff happens” because they’re all too busy getting the green apple quick step from Mother’s radish and apple pie. DFACS is called and confiscates the babies pending a full review.
  • 2007 – Everyone arrives drunk and nobody gets anything to eat until Dad fries up grits and jalapenos on Black Friday. Smith family gets disgusted and moves out of town until holiday is over.
  • 2008 – An argument begins during a missed call in the big football game. Grandpa settles argument by unloading his new 12-guage shotgun into the TV set. Everyone laughs and agrees this is the best Thanksgiving ever.
  • 2009 – Family agrees to go their separate ways this year to promote family harmony. We eat at a fast foot restaurant where the French fries are soggy and cold but not as bad as Mother’s French fries. We’re more thankful for that than you can imagine.
  • 2010 – Every gets their calendars mixed up and arrives a week early for Thanksgiving. By the time the holiday arrives we’re all sick of each other and go home.
  • 2011 – A political argument breaks out right after the turkey is carved. The blue state family members sit on one side of the table and the red state family members sit on the other. Grandpa throws stuffing at Uncle Walter whom we realize isn’t even part of our family and just dropped in to check the sump pump. We agree to hire TSA reps to maintain front door security in 2012.
  • 2012 – TSA reps confiscate Mother’s carving knife so we end up having to use a hedge trimmer at the table. The noise makes it hard to talk about anything. We’re grateful for that after last Thanksgiving’s blue state/red state argument.
  • 2013 – Things go smoothly without TSA goons at the front door until Grandpa boots up his new smoker in the guns and ammo closet. Nobody is harmed, but the smoker, the closet and multiple firearms are a total loss. We end up getting an injunction to ensure that Grandpa and a turkey smoker won’t be allowed in the house at the same time.
  • 2014 – Dad buys Stouffer’s TV dinners and we all agree our dinner has never tasted this good in the past. Mother’s feelings are hurt and she files for a divorce. Dad admits that some or all of the family’s extra children might be his. I hide in my room with enough crack to last until Christmas.
  • 2015 – Too soon to tell. Dad and Mom are back together again and are happily working in the kitchen preparing our surprise dinner. The place smells like sauerkraut and this doesn’t bode well. Fortunately, we ordered a 55-gallon drum of mimosas and will be well fortified against whatever happens.

–Jock Stewart

True Grits at Thanksgiving

This morning’s bowl of grits reminded me of many Happy Thanksgivings in the Stewart family where Ma and I sat on the front porch watching traffic on County Road 777, happy that my dear old Daddy was in the barn sleeping off a week’s worth of extra partying. We were grateful for moments of silence punctuated by the sounds of our spoons clattering against the sides of our heaping bowls of grits and homemade butter.

“It takes true grits to live in a family like ours,” Ma always said.

“You’re right as rain, Ma.”

“Yep,” she would say. “Of course, if Pa were awake, we wouldn’t have heart-to-heart moments like this.”

“We still love him though.”

“Mostly.”

“Well then, I’m grateful for ‘mostly.'”

Good times, a lot of memories, grits and a fair amount of ‘mostly.’

Jock Stewart

On the road to Thanksgiving

The excesively polarized political debate in recent years focused the consciousness of the nation on negatives, on what we purportedly lacked, on what we didn’t have, on what somebody somewhere was doing wrong. During this time, the country and our lives were not without value, yet the daily whining tended more than anything else to obscure what we could have been and should have been thankful for.

My belief system is quite unwielding on one point: What you resist, persists.

To our detriment, lack–even before the nasty political bickering of the last eight years–has long been a favorite topic of conversation, in barber shops, over the backyard fence, on street corners with strangers, beneath satin sheets with lovers, and one could almost laugh at it as the tragicomedy of the human experience if it weren’t making such a mess of our lives.

If one’s lumbago wasn’t acting up, if it weren’t too cold or too dry or too wet or too windy, if the President hadn’t just said something idiotic, if the promotion hadn’t gone to company clown, if the neighbor hadn’t just painted his house pink with green stripes, if if if if, then for goodness sakes, there was veritably nothing to talk about. Lack, for many, makes the world go around.

Like attracts like, the gurus tell us, and so it is that those who focus a fair amount of their waking thoughts–not to mention their dreams–on lack seem forever surprised on the constant deluge of additional lack into their lives. Many, as we have seen, have been quite willing to mortgage their souls as well as all of their temporal assets in a blind attempt to escape from lack.

When we focus on lack, what we already have is slid onto the back burner. We don’t think about it. We’re not grateful for it. We take it for granted. We even hide it on purpose because–should it be seen–it might diminish our argument that fate and other people have cast an unfair amount of lack into our lives.

As Thanksgiving approachs, a large part of our daily conversation remains focused on lack, on just how bad the Black Friday sales figures are likely to be or on how early we need to get up on that day after Thanksgiving to get to the store before anyone else does so we can beat them to the sales tables and get rid as much of our lack as possible at the lowest possible cost.

The cost, I think, is far too high regardless of the amount we spend, and the consequences of worshipping the daemons of lack are far too dear to leave the house with credit cards in hand.

I have an alternative proposal. It’s not my invention. Thousands have already said it and said it better. Stay home with what you have rather than going out in search of what you think you’re missing. It’s a difficult habit to break, I know, but it’s the only way to your heart’s desires.

Each day on the road to Thanksgiving, we have an opportunity to ponder that which we are likely to be grateful for if and when we give it a clear focus within the mind’s eye. What we have requires more of our attention than what we don’t have. Perhaps it’s a warm coat or a lover or a house filled with friends or a job or a perfect weekend or a full pantry or a pleasant disposition.

Gratefulness leads to more gratefulness and thanks leads to more thanks, do you think?