Identity crises and scary turkeys…

Our neighborhood suffers from an identity crisis. I thought it was bad when the godawful election signs were up like pimples on a smooth cheek, upping each other in numbers and finally adding flags to the mix. Yes, some of our otherwise reasonable neighbors had flags supporting their candidate. They won the flag war, what else can I say? 

And now we have the weekend before Thanksgiving, a time that is usually 25 degrees and sleeting. Not this weekend however, we are at about …excuse me for a minute, Milo the cat just snozzed on my finger. I have to go wash my hands.

As I was saying before being so rudely interrupted by flying Milo snot, it’s a beautiful fall day here in Cleveland. It’s cool, maybe jacket weather, and by cool I mean about 45. If it was 50 or more it would be t-shirts, and 60 or more we break out the flip flops. This weather abnormality causes our neighbors to go into house-panic mode. Some are busy bagging leaves—I have not heard so many leaf blower motors at one time ever. I couldn’t even hear my husband when he said we needed to put all the patio stuff in the shed. Huh, what was that? I can’t hear you over the leaf blowers.. It didn’t work, we actually accomplished that, at least most of it. I threw a couple ears of corn in our yard for the squirrels hoping that they would take them next door at some point. At least before we have to mow again next year.

But back to the neighbors…they don’t know what to do with this weather. They are confused. Is it Thanksgiving or Christmas? We all can be forgiven for losing track of days and this doesn’t help. Some are blowing leaves with their pumpkins still out and others are blowing leaves and putting up the Christmas decorations. We have one house in its Thanksgiving happiness…and right next door, I swear you not is a house ready for St. Nick…

Still Thanksgiving
Moving on to Christmas

Then there are those who transition gradually or can’t make up their minds…

Something for everyone

I can relate to all of them.

We are still in Thanksgiving mode at our house but it’s a pretty sad Thanksgiving. I’m actually very down about this. Thanksgiving is my jam. Everyone comes to our house and as much as I love the meal, I love the company more. We have Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetable (like green bean only mixed veggies and cheddar cheese) casserole, sweet potato casserole with butter and marshmallows melted on top, pumpkin pie, apple pie brought by the kids, kielbasa made by my brother in law, wine brought by the alternate grandparent universe, and cranberry sauce two ways. One is what my brother brings that falls out of a can and shows the indentation of the can and jiggles and has absolutely no relationship to real cranberries. I’m sorry but real cranberries do not, and I repeat do NOT make that plop sound as they suction themselves out of the can and land on the plate like The Blob. There is also the right kind (I’m a cranberry snob) with orange zest, sugar and fresh, real cranberries that burst when you boil them. I notice that frequently the jiggly stuff disappears and my fresh cranberries are left. Some of my family has no taste.  Oh, and don’t forget the rolls. One year, I burned the rolls. I got so much grief for it that I didn’t make them the next year so my son did. Of course they were perfect. So now the question every Thanksgiving is, “did Jeff make the rolls?”

This year we aren’t having our Thanksgiving, at least not now. Nobody is comfortable when we are in the “purple zone” here, and other states don’t want us around them. I plan to send an invite for a date in June for Thanksgiving. We are going to make a meal, and will talk to everyone, but it’s not the same. And it makes me really sad.

However, that is no excuse to jump into Christmas. I keep telling myself that as the presents pile up. I find a certain solace in purchasing gifts. Shoot, I like buying stuff. It helps ease the Thanksgiving blues. But it’s just not time yet for Christmas lights. Are we giving up EVERY tradition we have? Putting up lights without frostbitten fingers is just unamerican. Or at least not worthy of any true Clevelander!

Don’t feel like I’m criticizing you if you aren’t a true Clevelander. It’s OK, really. Actually if I had to put up the lights by myself I might be doing it now also. But we (I am certainly speaking for my husband) have to draw the line somewhere.

Anyway, taking Chester for a walk today we observed the different decorations in the neighborhood. At one point he would not continue. He was afraid of the birds. By birds, I mean two giant inflatable turkeys on either side of the street. Here is a picture of one of them; they were too big to get them both.

I dragged him past them and they didn’t attack us but it was like walking a gauntlet. I pictured Tippi Hedren in The Birds, running with little Veronica Cartwright (later of Alien fame) while the birds pecked their hair. My hair looks so frizzy during the pandemic I can totally understand. But just imagine these two turkeys (the inflatables not Tippi and Veronica) coming at me and Chester. Scary stuff.

We used to buy tanks and chicken fireworks that you would light and put on the ground and have wars with. Whichever one caught on fire was the loser. It was great fun if you didn’t stand too close. These turkeys looked like they were going to start spitting sparks out of their beaks at each other. We walked a little quicker but we did make it through unscathed.

When Chester doesn’t want to walk somewhere, he just stops. He is over 70 pounds and gives me a look that says “go ahead and try but I’m not moving.” And he doesn’t. We go where he wants to go. Below is a picture of that look. My husband lets him go wherever he wants to go. He figures the walk is for Chester, so he should have some choice. I do not. Phooey on choice. Chester and I go the same way almost every time. I am boring. This time though, he was not having it and no matter how much I tried to drag him, I couldn’t do it. I appreciated his spirit. Only a doting dog owner would take a picture of their doggie engaged in civil disobedience and think it’s cute. But it is! We stood there awhile and then went where he wanted to go.

I hope you have a good Thanksgiving. I plan to get my Christmas letter and cards out. If you would like one, email me and let me know (for those that don’t already get one) otherwise you will be spared. Enjoy your feasts or traditions and do whatever makes you happy. Touch base with someone you love. And let’s be thankful to be alive and well. Take care!

Thanksgiving and Trains…

This morning, yesterday, and the day before that I woke up at 3:15am and couldn’t get back to sleep. My head was full of things to do, anxiety about some upcoming events, and Thanksgiving. None of these usually cause stress for me, but at 3:15am they bombarded my poor half-asleep brain. While I was lying there trying not to hyperventilate, petting the cat who was lying on my head with one paw over my cheek, I heard a train.

When my children were babies, they would, as babies do, wake up in the middle of the night. I would sit and rock them, feeling sorry for myself for having to get up again. Most mothers are sleep deprived, and I was not exactly the picture of the accepting, peaceful mother, swooping her baby up with a small, understanding smile on her face, with a glow to her cheeks as if to say, “It’s all well, little one, mama is here.” I was a grumpy diva. Think Ursula in the Little Mermaid and you get the gist. Anyway, I’d sit there, rocking, feeling like I was the only person who was awake in the entire world and how unfair it was, and I’d hear a train. The sound of the train in the distance was a beacon. It calmed me. It told me that someone else is awake and working. Someone else understands what it’s like to be up when others sleep. I wasn’t alone. After the train faded into the distance, there was peace for about 15 minutes, until the next one.

So at 3:15am, since I couldn’t sleep anyway, I thought about trains. And I thought about them some more while walking Chester. In the book Divergent, one of the groups travels by jumping on and off trains. We all do that…we jump on a train and get off at stops along the way. Some stops are happy, some are sad, all are experiences. We take our time at some—maybe lifetimes. But none of them last forever. We then jump back on the train when it’s right. If we miss a train or two, no matter, another one will be by.  We never forget our stops or the people we meet along the way, but everything has its time, and after that time, we have to board. We may find a time of peace while just moving on the train, but when a stop presents itself, eventually we have to jump off.

John F. Kennedy said “History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be left behind.” We have a past and we have a future. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time because I really loved some of the stops and would like to visit there again. I can visit in photos and memories, but there is only one thing we can’t do on a train–go backward. Our trains just don’t run that way.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving for Americans. I am thankful for the train stops in my life that have made me who I am. I am really excited about some stops coming up. I am thankful for you. Like the train whistle, you reading this shows me I am not alone. We are a community. I’ll see you at 3:15am on the next train. Happy Thanksgiving!