with Lynne and Leslie

The weird, friendly adventures of a black Christian lady looking for a Hanukkah menorah

by SweetMidlife
And behold, a menorah grows at Marshall's.

And behold, a menorah grows at Marshall’s.

“Happy Hanukkah!”

Over my shoulder as I (being Leslie) rush out of a fancy chain home decor store here in West Palm Beach, I hear the very sweet and apologetic clerk, who has just explained that her establishment is the latest on my crossed-off list of places that do not carry menorahs. This is my fifth Hanukkah season with my husband, who is Jewish, and the beautiful candle holder that his late mom got us for our wedding seems to have vanished in our last move, or in the ether, or with a tiny Jewish group of Borrowers who also seem to have stolen the mate to every one of his socks.

Because we already had one – or used to – I have never had to go shopping for a menorah before, and foolishly believed that in an area whose populace that no less an expert than Jason Alexander described as “a preponderance of Jews” would be a hotbed of menorah-hood. That it would be the Menorahhood.

Oh, foolish silly Goy.

I am not Jewish, but I am a wife, so in the last five years or so I have become our household’s procurer of most holiday and special-occasion paraphernalia and accoutrements, including wandering into Judaica stores looking for seder plates, making Passover reservations, ordering matzo ball soup en masse, hunting for High Holiday tickets and, as today, driving around the greater West Palm Beach area looking for a menorah. When I first began these errands years ago, I braced for the weird looks – and boy, did I get them! – at the red Afro’d black woman wandering, confused, through the Kosher cookbooks, looking like the loser in a very specific scavenger hunt.

But you know what always wound up happening, on those trips and today, on my menorah hunt? Everybody, pretty much to a number, was awesome. Welcoming. The guy in the Judaica store could not have been more helpful. The ladies in the various delis looked bemused but walked me through the rugelach and smoked fish dips with patience and kindness, because it was clear I was out of my depth.

And today, two separate clerks, the aforementioned lady at Restoration Hardware and the one at chi chi stationary store at Paper Goods, said “Happy Hanukkah” to me. And it made my heart grow a gazillion sizes. Understand that I am a Christian, and my celebration of Hanukkah is because of my husband, who in turn goes to Easter services with me. It’s also a nod to the Jewish roots of my own beliefs.

The ladies at those stores do not know this. I assume that I look different than the other people who have come in looking for menorahs and candles and stuff. But they listened to what I wanted and greeted me accordingly, and it was sublime.

Many of my Facebook friends of several religions have recently pondered the downright nasty response they have gotten from some strangers who have received their sincere “Happy Holidays” and spit it right back at the giver, to strike a blow for the War on Christmas. I can see standing up for your beliefs, but don’t be nasty about it. (Those people, no matter how fervent their Christian beliefs, are being bad citizens and, if you think about it, not exemplary Christians, because we all know the best way to interest people in your beliefs is to take their heads off when they say something nice to you and can’t tell if you’re Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, atheist, Druid or otherwise. But go on being outraged. That’s such a good look on you. Said no one ever.)

So I loved that these women wished me the happiest version of the holiday that corresponds with the thing I was looking for, because that makes sense, regardless of my appearance, or of fear of insulting me – it wouldn’t make sense for me to be insulted, but you’ve met humans, so you know they sometimes take operatic-level offense to the stupidest thing.

I wind up finding not one but three different menorahs in the most random of places – the stockroom at a nearby Marshall’s, where a nice clerk was about to discount them and put them on display. She, too, doesn’t blink an eye when I happily swoop in and grab one, because a sold menorah is a sold menorah. When I light the candles tonight, I’ll be grateful for my family, and the joining of two cultures, and for the resilience that the holiday celebrates, as well as for people who understand that what these holidays have in common is Divine love and the love we’re supposed to show to each other.

And that’s something to be happy about.


Seeing the House Half-Messy

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here!! Happy Monday!

I have written about my struggle to cut clutter around here, and to stop walking over the same thing on the floor a million times. Because I do that. And though I like what a clean house looks like, the work that goes into that seems oppressive. Yes, that sounds extreme, but when I am busy with other things, the growing pile of paper and socks from piles of laundry that didn’t all get put away just seems like another accessory, until I need to find something that I fear is in that pile, and it gets cleaned up out of necessity.

I write this because I am having a group of friends from church over this week, and my husband, who doesn’t like living with piles of stuff, said that he is sorry that we will have to do such a push of cleaning to get the house presentable. And yes, we have some wiping and cleaning to do, but from my point of view, I did MOST of the things on my chore sheet last week, and this morning I actually organized a pile of old work papers, toddler socks and Mother’s Day cards I forgot to give people, and I can actually see the bottom of my closet, so I feel like Martha Daggone Stewart.

The truth is in the middle. Under the farm puzzle pieces and over the puddle of apple juice and beneath the portable coffee cups that can’t go in the dishwasher and need to be hand-washed, there is a floor, and a dining room table, and a kitchen counter, and although we are closer to seeing it than we were last week, because we cleaned some, there is more to go. You know what it is nicer than 4 coffee cups next to the sink? 1. Because after you clean 3, somebody needs something, so there might be one left. But if you get to that one today, that’s a victory too.

Here’s to celebrating that I am doing better, but recognizing that I can do more, and not get stressed about it.

Yesterday there were 3 pairs of shoes left out. Now there is 1. Progress, I say.

Yesterday there were 3 pairs of shoes left out. Now there is 1. Progress, I say.


Being a Better Lorax

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here.

It has been an especially emotional last few weeks as our nation walks through the aftermath of the grand jury decisions in both the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases. Through what may have happened or not, or who felt threatened or not, or what the grand jury heard, or who rioted, or who protested peacefully, and whose “side” you are drawn to, there is a layer of sadness among many people of color, that comes from years of feeling like an “other”, that comes from looks of distrust that you try to reason are for some other reason besides your skin color, because it happened to you, and people you know, who were just minding their business, and pretending that it wasn’t happening isn’t changing anything. And I had tried to honestly say this to people, that there is this thing there, and that talking about it and where it comes from is necessary, and some people, of all colors, don’t want to hear it, and tell me that I am creating a problem, and if I am color-blind it will go away, but it doesn’t, and I feel like some people are refusing to listen, and people are angry on all sides and blood is being shed and words are being said and no one will listen.

I told my sister that I sometimes feel like The Lorax.

You know him, the guy from that Dr. Seuss special, and also newer movie that wasn’t as good, in my opinion, but what do I know? He tried to tell everyone of the value of the Truffula Trees in the forest, and that if people took advantage of them and just used them for their own gain, then sooner or later the trees would be depleted and people wouldn’t have them anymore. And The Once-ler (this guy in the story who sees the trees and the money mass producing their leaves could make him) ignores him, and The Lorax keeps showing up, speaking for the trees, and no one listens, and eventually, all of the trees are gone, and all you have is this desolate forest of cut-down trees.

Picture from Wikimedia

And that is how I felt and sometimes feel, because I know what I know, and I want people to listen to me, because I am hurting. And it has sometimes made it hard for me to listen to other people not as affected by this talk about the diseases plaguing their family, or the tragedy in their home, because they aren’t listening to ME.

And I have become the Once-ler in someone else’s life where they are The Lorax, telling people of the hurt in their lives, because I am not taking time to listen to them.

We all have something that we are passionate about, something that hits us in the gut and makes us want to read up, stand up, support and get the word out. That is the way it should be. Change happens when people truly feel the thing they are talking about, and this sometimes means being singularly-minded.

But if I don’t even listen to you, to your heart, and you don’t listen to me, we are all walking around preaching to the choir, talking to people who already agree, when it’s the people who aren’t with you yet who need to hear. And we need to tell them our hearts. And we need to listen to them. We don’t all have to be experts on a million things. But we need to be aware. It is there where we find common ground. And maybe we hear that my feelings of disenfranchisement feel to me like yours feel to you, and we aren’t in competition for hearts and minds, but that we are trying to reach some common ground.

I know that this might sound like a dilution of message, and a call to not be passionate. This is the opposite. It is a call for comPASSION. If I don’t listen to what hurts you, why the heck would you listen to me?

Listen. I am listening.


No is the New Everything

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here!

My sister Leslie wrote a wonderful post yesterday inspired by Amy Poehler’s new book, “Yes, Please!”, and specifically the thought that we sometimes say “yes” to things that we don’t want to because we are afraid of being though of as not “nice”, and that we compromise out time and real wishes to please other people. And Amy (and Leslie) surmise that saying “no” is often the right thing. Leslie even had a pastor who told her that “no” was holy. It was powerful and very meaningful.

But right now, in my world, “no” is powerful,  but in a different way.

Because I have a 2 year-old.

I am wearing shark pajamas, so heed my "no".

I am wearing shark pajamas, so heed my “no”.

“No” is the soundtrack of my days. Well, when it’s not “truck”. He loves some trucks, y’all.

I know that him saying “no” is part of him asserting his independence. Being able to express his disapproval and will is an important part of his growth, and I respect his “no” at times. It’s okay if he doesn’t want to hug me all of the time, or if he doesn’t want grapes today, even when he inhaled them yesterday. He sometimes says “no” as a joke, but sometimes the brother needs some room, or would rather have an apple, and I want him to know that we listen to him and trust when he’s had enough. And sometimes he says “no” to things that are gonna happen anyway, like bedtime, and me taking the crayons away when he tries to draw on the television. That is a healthy “no”. A futile one, but healthy.

Today we went out to breakfast at Cracker Barrel with a friend of mine, and he said “no” to juice, only to ask for it again 2 seconds later. And he said “no” to me telling him that he could not play the clarinet on the wall. Or the accordion. And he just threw in some “no” a few times just because he could. Because two.

So, I will try to remember, as we get deeper into toddler-dom, that this is all normal. I hear that 3 can be tougher than 2, because then he will REALLY think he knows a little something. I will remember that our days are mostly enjoyable, and I pray that we are dealing with all of this the right way. And in a crazy way, I will enjoy the “no’s”, because they are all a part of him becoming the wonderful dude he will be. Daggone, he already is wonderful. So, bring on the “no”, honey. You still can’t have lollipops for breakfast, but sure, let’s watch that Elmo video again. And sure, you can have another hug.

 

I’ll say “yes” to that.


Amy Poehler and the myth of being nice

by SweetMidlife

yes please

This is Leslie, and I would like to talk to you about a four-letter word, one I have been sometimes proud to be called, and, at other times, wanted to slap people about the face in a vigorous fashion should it be tossed in my direction.

Nice.

I do not mean the, well, nice definition of nice, which is cordial, courteous and personable. I mean the kind of “nice” that really means “pushover” or “selfless to the point of martyrdom” or “always willing to acquiesce to the requests of others, no matter how last-minute, unreasonable or inconvenient, for fear of people thinking you’re not nice.”

This kind of nice – and if you’re human, and almost certainly if you are a woman, you may have had thrust upon you – is almost a dare, a velvet cudgel that in the most sweetly inescapable way says (always smiling) “Can you do me a favor?” or “I know this is last minute but” or “I hope I’m not putting you out but” and then proceeds to put you out, all the while making it almost impossible for you to say ‘no’ at risk of the asker and other people not liking you anymore.

Amy Poehler has no use for such idiocy, and that attitude is all over the refreshingly blunt “Yes Please,” a combination memoir/life manual where she covers everything from her discovery of improv comedy to her “comedy wife” Tina Fey to the joys of faking inappropriate behavior with Justin Timberlake. But a recurring theme of the book, which I’m almost done listening to on Audible.com, is that you don’t owe anybody your dignity, and if a request is intrusive, unreasonable, presumptive or just something you don’t want to do, you get to say “No” and move on. And screw ‘em if that’s not OK.

Poehler is probably most famous for playing  Pawnee, Indiana’s sincere-to-a-fault, people-pleasing public servant Leslie Knope on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” and she’s clear that she’s just acting – “I’m not that nice,” she writes candidly. And she’s not talking about being purposely rude as a mission statement, but about not allowing other’s expectations to color her life, in a way that a lot of us – especially, I think, women – have been raised to believe trumps all, even our own plans. You’ve been there, every time you’re asked to be on a church committee you know you don’t have time for, or that sweet last-minute request for bake sale items when you’ve gotta make dinner, or that “quick” favor of an errand that’s really not that quick. And you want to say “No.”

But you’re so nice.

From not accepting screenplays rudely dropped in her lap while she’s sleeping on a train (“It’s called ‘I Don’t Know Because I Threw It Away'”) to just saying “No” when strangers approach her on the street to ask her a question (“Nobody needs to ask me a question”), Poehler writes of the sometimes painful road to realizing that the older you get, the less it matters what other people think of you. And if people thinking you are “nice” is more important than the stuff you gotta do, you’re a sucker.

Poehler doesn’t exonerate herself from her own idiocy and the importance of being nice, as in a good human being, when it’s about owning your own stuff: In a particularly painful passage she talks of inadvertently mocking a real-life disabled woman in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch that she assumed was fictional, because she was busy getting ready for the show and just never checked with her writers to find out. When she gets an emotionally charged letter from Oscar-winning actor Chris Cooper and his wife Marianne, who directed the movie the sketch mocks, that mentions that the young lady was actually watching the sketch live, she attempts to rationalize her behavior by deciding they’re overreacting, that it wasn’t her fault, and then throws the letter away. It’s not until five years later that she attempts to contact the Coopers through mutual friend and director Spike Jonze, and hears back that they were disappointed it took so long and don’t need an apology at this late date, but offer contact info for the young lady she hurt. (She receives a gracious note from her.)

In that case, Poehler needed to have been “nice,” as in be an adult, and she acknowledges it. She even admits that sometimes in her candor, she lets that “niceness” urge put her in unfair situations, like the “creepy guy” producer who, unable to talk her into re-recording an entire speech that the tech crew messed up, asks her for a hug to make him feel better about being wrong, she submits, even though she doesn’t hug back, because it’s easier than saying “No.”

A great man I know named Pastor Dave Pinckney once told me that it is Godly to say no sometimes, meaning that you can’t be of any use to anybody, heavenly or otherwise, if you’re too overbooked to do your job well. Being “nice” or making people think you are isn’t worth screwing it all up. I’ve been there. Amy Poeher’s been there. And we both know that sometimes, the nicest thing, to yourself, is to say “No, please.”


5 Things I Drew For My Kid This Week

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here!!

Okay, so this has been an emotional week, with some sadness in it, but also joy. And a lot of that joy comes from time with my husband and son. And since I spend most of my time with the little boy, that’s a lot of joy. Currently, he loves crayons, and drawing on paper and also walls, but he also loves handing us crayons and pens and requesting that we draw things. Now, I am not a good visual artist. I am a pretty bad one. I can draw an impressive bunch of balloons, because circles and strings and colors and they look awesome. But that is most of my bag of tricks. Somehow, though, my son thinks that I have skills, and requests things both simple, like rainbows, but also Batman. I cannot draw Batman. But he gets all giggly and happy when we try so I put crayon to paper and something comes out, and he loves it, even though these things look, to my 40-something eyes, a bit whackadoodle. But what do I know?

Here is some of the artwork commissioned by my toddler client. It looks like he drew it. But I did. But he loved it, so that is what matters, right? Stop laughing.

1. A Firetruck20141203_103004

This one actually looks decent. I followed a YouTube video called “How To Draw Fire Engine”. I actually looked at this later and it still looked like what it was supposed to. I can’t say that about everything I draw.

2.  A Bunch of Stuff20141203_102506

This is a buffet of weird draw-rings. I said “draw-rings”.You remember Mike Myers on “SNL” used to do this sketch called “Simon” about a little boy who liked to draw, based on a British show that Captain Kangaroo used to show? He used to say “draw-rings”. That was funny. But anyway, back to this picture. From left to right are: A bumblebee, balloons, a robot, and Iron Man. The bee looks confused. The balloons are a masterpiece. The robot is scary. And Iron Man looks like he is melting. And sad. Sad Melting Iron Man.

3. A Choo-Choo Train20141203_103358I looked up another You Tube video, and found one of this lady drawing her son a simple choo-choo. That kid loved his and so did mine. Thank goodness. Below that my son added what I will call “Squiggle”. Looks good.

4. A drummer playing drums. 20141203_103839My son loves the drums, and asks to see “Eela E” videos (he means Sheila E) and he asked for me to draw some percussion. If the cavemen drew a drum set, maybe it would look like this. I dunno.

5. Bubbles and a trash truck20141205_091622Those circles at the top are supposedly bubbles, although I thought they looked like a disease. Below that is a trash truck. I will say that it is carrying paper. Or a dragon.

So, I am not the best artist. But toddlers have big imaginations and bigger hearts, and this kid clapped and grinned at what I saw as pitiful, because he loves ME. And because he was into it, I was into it, so he loved what came out of it. Accept that people who love you see past what you see as lack, and just want your time. They just want YOU. Draw on.

Linking up with “Oh Hey Friday” and September Farm, as well as 5 on Friday

 

 

 


Boy, that’s a large mouse: Our kid’s first Disney trip

by SweetMidlife
"You see, little boy, this big white glove is magic. I wave it and a gazillion dollars appears. I got it like that.

“You see, little boy, this big white glove is magic. I wave it and a gazillion dollars appears. I got it like that.

Leslie here! So my husband, mom and the kid we hang out with made an important American childhood pilgrimage that has no significance whatsoever at the moment to that kid, as he is 14 months old and hasn’t quite mastered forks yet- We visited Walt Disney World over the Thanksgiving holiday, specifically Epcot Center and Disney Hollywood Studios, because it’s not far from our house, because close friends were staying in the area from out of town, and because nothing says “holiday” like trying to figure out how close you can get your kid to the giant, giant rodent in the Santa suit before he or she loses their crap completely and starts desperately trying to escape.

Donald and his handler navigate the paparazzi and the over-sugared kids trying to hurl themselves at him.

Donald and his handler navigate the paparazzi and the over-sugared kids trying to hurl themselves at him.

Honestly, it went a lot better than we’d imagined – Kid is fairly chill and social if you give him food, and the parks, while crowded, weren’t the insane asylums of over-sugared tiny demons and disappointed parents determined to wring every magic moment the second mortgage they took out for this vacation that we’d expected. Sure, we saw some of those folks, but we had enough space to steer clear. Kid is just figuring out who Mickey Mouse is – we have a relatively large one in our living room – and again had no real idea of where he was other than a large, loud place with lots of colors and music and people who can’t stop gushing about how cute he is (he gets this a lot.)

sergio

So is he silent…in Italian? How would you know?

So what did we get out of it, besides lighter wallets, sore feet and the irrational desire to belt the next person who sings “Let It Go” at me? (OMG but are they ever overdoing the “Frozen” thing up in there) We got to shamelessly dive headlong into giddy sentimentality, to wake up our own inner goofy kiddies who can’t get enough of this stuff, to have some surprisingly good Moroccan food at Epcot, and to know that one day, we can show Kid the photos and tell him he got to meet a nine foot-tall Goofy and he barely flinched, because he’s awesome.

Somewhere, hidden behind the fake English village, Lady Gaga is planning her Father Christmas costume, although hers will have a rhinestone staff and a muuch shorter coat.

Somewhere, hidden behind the fake English village, Lady Gaga is planning her Father Christmas costume, although hers will have a rhinestone staff and a muuch shorter coat.


Cook YOUR Food, or Being the You You Were Meant To Be

by SweetMidlife

(This is Lynne writing this)

“God sure is funny in how He uses things in our lives. Even slightly inappropriate comedies.”- My friend Kim

We just watched the movie “Chef”, written, directed and starring Jon Favreau, who directed the “Iron Man” movies, and also “Swingers”, and he was totally the loud roommate in “Rudy”. Stop and cry at the memory of that movie. Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!! You back? Cool.

Photo from Phoenixbites.com

But anyway, I had heard amazing things about this picture, “Chef”, and almost didn’t see it because it was rated “R” for language, and excessive profanity makes me itch.  But I had heard REALLY good things, so we got it from Redbox and I am glad that I did, because it was a beautiful story of redemption and knowing yourself, and when I posted about it on Facebook yesterday and how it had touched me, my friend Kim, who saw the movie and had the same reaction, said the above brilliant thing.

The movie is about this chef (which you probably figured), played by Favreau, who was, at one time, a promising new culinary voice in Los Angeles. He had amazing skills, but also creative ideas. When the movie opens, though, he is in a bit of a rut. He is the executive chef at a well-respected and popular restaurant, but he feels no passion about the food he is cooking. Every time he wants to try something daring, the owner of the place (played by Dustin Hoffman) tells him to stick to the regular menu, to what is popular, to what people seem to like. But his apathy for what he is doing shows in what he puts on the plate. OKAY, SPOILER ALERT (but I will try not to give too much away): he winds up going through some stuff, but finds himself and his passion, and towards the end of the movie, his biggest critic (who is actually a food critic) tells him that the problem was that he had been cooking someone else’s food. And that now that he was cooking from his heart, his passion was coming through in what he made.

And this really struck a nerve with me. I am busy. I do a lot of stuff. I look at my calendar, and I see lots of words, that make up the lots of things that I have to do. I am not passionate about all of these things. Life is like that sometimes. It isn’t all a party, and everything that we do isn’t going to cause us to break out into a dance in the middle of the street. I would like to see that. But what I am saying is that life isn’t always about what makes us happy.

But if you (or I) look at your calendar, and the things on it make us sad, or make our souls feel like heavy and dying, then maybe we shouldn’t be doing those things. I am not telling you to quit your job and dedicate yourself to watching “The Young and the Restless” every day. Unless you are independently wealthy, or you found a way for that to pay you, then this is a bad idea.  But I am saying that if you look at your job, or the clubs you belong to, the things that take up most of your time, and you feel nothing for them, then maybe it’s time for a change. If you are sure that God has you where you are, it could be that you need to pray for that spark you used to have to be reignited. I truly believe that if God has called you to something, be it your job, your marriage or your volunteer work, that He will give you what you need to have you stay there and rock that thing, because it is for His glory, and hopefully, eventually, will bring you some joy, too.

But maybe you don’t feel a divine calling to be where you are, and you have no passion or joy for the things you do. And you know that you don’t because you’ve felt passion and creativity before, and this ain’t it. Maybe you took your eyes off of where you started, or maybe you followed the money, or you didn’t, or maybe you are where you are because you are afraid of disappointing people, and this has been working for awhile, so you stayed where you are. But you don’t know who YOU are anymore.

Maybe you are living someone else’s dream. Maybe you have been cooking someone else’s food.

This is my prayer for you. That you look at where you are. And that if you decide that your passion, your gifts, your calling, aren’t being used, or should be directed somewhere else, that you figure out where that is, and you begin the process of moving those gifts there.

Life is long, and hard. But it is full of beauty. And joy, and love. And when you are using what you have been given, and you are singing the song that only you can sing, and cooking the food that only you can cook, and serving the way that only you can serve, well, amazing things happen. And that’s the point.

Do you. And see what happens.


Me, Us, They

by SweetMidlife

Hi. I’m Lynne.

I am black, woman, straight, Christian, a wife, a mom, watcher of reality shows where people sing, dance and cook.

That’s me. Among many, many other things, some that change from minute to day, that is who I am.

And if you put me with others who share these traits, that makes me part of an us.

Being part of an us can be good. We have shared experiences, some because we like the same things, and can enjoy those things together. We sometimes see the world the same way, based on the fact that we believe the same things.

But because “us” is made up of several “me’s”, “we” don’t all believe the same things. We haven’t ALL gone through the exact same stuff. I have an identical twin sister. We are genetically the same. We share all of those traits I listed about myself at the top of this. But we have lived in different places, and seen different things. In 5th grade, we lived in the same room, but went to different schools because our parents thought it would be good for us, and she experienced things that shaped her in a way that resonates in her to this very day, when we are way past 1982.  So even inside our “we’s”, parts of us claim other “we’s”, and those parts make complete sense to us individually, because we are still a “me” when it is all said and done.

Another part of being a “we” is that you are part of a number. And sometimes there is strength in this, because others see that you are united, or that they want to be a part of whatever it is that “y’all” have. Being a part of that “we” is good.

Anytime there is a “we”, it means that there are those who don’t match you in those ways, and those become “they”. This world is full of “they’s”. And sometimes “we” and “they” live peaceably, and learn from each other.

But sometimes, we don’t trust “them”. This is for all kinds of reasons. It could be because we have been treated badly by one or many of “them”. It could be because our parents, or friends were, and they told us about it, and we formed our view of “them” from that. And all of that could be valid. Who am I to tell you that if your brother was killed by one of “them”, or bullied by one of “them”, or your sister was raped by one of “them”, that you aren’t going to form a view of “them” based on that”? Because you experienced that, and even though people try to tell you that “they” aren’t all like that, that is what YOU know, and what you have seen, and what You have been taught.

So you arm yourselves, both emotionally and otherwise, against “them”. You don’t trust them. If they step to you, you are going to be ready to set it off. Because “they” are all that way, whatever way you perceive them to be. Except, remember, those “they’s” are made up of “me’s”. And you don’t know who they really are. But you don’t want to think about that, because if you let your guard down around any of them, you could be hurt, or killed. And you can’t risk it.

But if you peel back the “themness”, you have a bunch of hurt and dead “me’s”, surrounded by paranoid “us’s”. And because we are individuals, we dance in and out of those categories with each Facebook post, because each of them point to different parts of “you”. And it is not fair that my feelings, my dignity, my life, all of this, is in danger because people don’t take time to see the “me” in all of this. That some of “them”, whoever they are, are given the benefit of the doubt, a chance to explain, while others are shot on sight and suspicion.

That sucks. It straight sucks.

And I don’t know the answer to any of this.

But I know that we have to listen to each other. I know that this seems hard, because so much has happened, and so many have died, and many people feel like we are past listening. This stuff is real.

But I can’t believe that. I can’t. I still believe in Christ (that is part of me). I believe in hope. I don’t know how to navigate all of this. It is too big for me.

But every time is made up of moments, like the “we” is made up of “me’s”. And every moment, if we stop, there is a chance to hear it all. It’s hard, and it’s time consuming. But I think it’s all we have.

This is me.

This is me.

 


Thanksgiving Plus

by SweetMidlife

Hi y’all. Lynne here.

Before we got married, my husband usually spent Thanksgiving with family, or with friends who had become like family. He was usually a guest in their homes, so he didn’t have what people who make their own Thanksgiving feasts do: tons of leftovers to savor for days. So he started his own Friday-after Thanksgivng tradition, where he bought ingredients for his own feast for one. This usually was canned cranberry sauce, ready to heat up turkey and gravy, a pack of rolls, canned sweet potatoes and Stove Top stuffing. When we got married, we kept this tradition up, and on that Friday, feasted on a mixture of ready-made stuff we bought from the grocery store and stuff we brought home from whomever’s house we went to on Thursday (including whatever we brought to the big dinner). And that was some good eating. Because Thanksgiving food rocks. And because I love me some Stove-Top. In college, I ate it as a meal. Just the stuffing. Carbs are love.

But for the past few years we have been trying to cut down on the processed foods that we eat here, and while we haven’t completely eliminated them, because frozen tater tots, I do a lot of stuff from scratch. Last year for our post-Turkey Day dinner, I bought Stove Top, but made the candied yams (using this recipe from football star Keyshawn Johnson’s mom) and made this green bean casserole with fresh onions (and not the yummy ones from French’s that I eat like candy, or the canned soup).

This year, I want to kick it up another notch, and make the yams and the green bean casserole but also homemade stuffing and rolls that I make with yeast and whatnot. Pair that with maybe the leftovers from the slow cooker apple crisp I am making for dinner at our friends’ house for Thursday, I am actually cooking a whole Thanksgiving dinner. Well, wait. I am not making a whole turkey. I don’t eat, so it makes no sense to do that for just my husband and the toddler. So I might find already roasted turkey. But everything else I am making.  And I am a little excited, but I also feel this kind of validation. Like I am grown-up or something. And maybe I shouldn’t seek validation from that. But you know what? I will take it. Because it lets me know that I can do this. If I don’t, there is no shame in that either, because, well, STOVE TOP IS DELICIOUS. But I am happy to be able to put in the work, and provide some yumminess for the boys who live here, and to craft new traditions for our family.

It's about to get real real up in here. And we will hopefully not need the Dustbuster.

It’s about to get real real up in here. And we will hopefully not need the Dustbuster.

I will let you know if it went down like I planned. But whatever I do, we will be together, and we will give thanks, and it will be good.

Today we are linking up with the Mommy Monday Blog Hop. Visit them. They have good stuff. 


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