Autumn and winter are a beautiful time of the year. From the beautiful snow to the festive cold weather holidays, it’s hard not to love the cooler months. However, it doesn’t take long for the average person to get sick of the cold and long for the hot summer months. To help you daydream, here are 10 reasons why summer can’t come fast enough.
Playing outside in the snow can be fun, but nothing beats spending an entire day outside under the warmth of the hot summer sun. From hiking to running along the beach, it’s hard not to miss the fun outdoor activities that come with summer.
Maybe you’re one of those people who’s lucky enough to have a jacuzzi or hot tub that they can enjoy during the colder months, but for most of us, enjoying the water is something that we can only do during the summer. Jumping in the pool or ocean and then lounging around in the hot sun is definitely one reason why summer can’t come quickly enough.
Sure, you might have to use your lawnmower or do a little gardening during the summer. But outdoor winter chores are far more of a hassle. From shoveling your driveway to wiping the ice and sleet off your car every morning, ditching these annoying winter tasks will be a welcomed relief once summer finally rolls around.
Summer clothes are so much more fun than winter clothes. It’s hard not to dream about shorts or sundresses when you’re putting on a million layers just to run to the store.
Sure, autumn and winter food is delicious. From Thanksgiving to Christmas dinner, the cuisine we enjoy during the colder winter months is completely scrumptious. However, nothing beats enjoying barbeque food outdoors on a hot summer day.
There’s nothing sadder than looking outside at four in the afternoon and realizing that it’s already dark out. It’s hard not to long for the long days where you’re already tired before the sun even starts to go down, rather than during your drive home from work.
Summer is the time that families get together and enjoy the holidays, but unless you have a loved one who was born during the summer months, there aren’t really any gift-giving holidays during the summer. During the autumn and winter months, however, it seems like there are nothing but occasions where dropping money on gifts is crucial.
It seems like such a simple thing, but by the end of winter, it’s hard not to truly miss the luxury of being able to open the windows in your home and let the fresh air in. There’s nothing better than a beautiful breeze blowing through your home on a warm summer evening.
It’s wonderful to be able to spend time with your kids when they’re out of school during the summer. Even though it might be stressful to organize your kids’ hectic summer schedules, it’s ultimately wonderful to be able to spend some time with them.
When it comes down to it, there’s one main reason why summer can’t get here quickly enough: By March, we are all incredibly sick of the cold. For this reason alone, summer can’t come fast enough.
Kevin Devoto is an outdoors enthusiast who loves traveling the world in search for adventure. He enjoys camping, hiking and surfing when he gets the chance.
By Sean Carter
What comes to your mind when you think of Thanksgiving? The big fat golden-brown turkey? Grandma’s pumpkin pie? Or the oh-so-nice cranberries and corn-on-the-cob? Well well, all these ARE a major part of the Thanksgiving holiday. But there’s even more to this wonderful occasion of Thanksgiving! The holiday of Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the beauty and bounty around us, our marvelous friends and family, the gift of their love and many more such good things that we are thankful for! Celebrated every year on the last Thursday in November, the spirit of Thanksgiving Day sets the tone for a grand and joyous season. Now share some interesting trivia associated with the Thanksgiving holiday. Like most trivia,Thanksgiving trivia is just as much a fun read. Check these out:
Sean Carter writes on holidays, Thanksgiving Day and world events. He also writes on family, relationships, Christmas, religion, love and friendship. He is a writer with special interest in ecard industry and writes for 123greetings.com He is an active blogger at Thanksgiving Blog
Danielle Hollister (2004) is the Publisher of BellaOnline Quotations Zine – A free newsletter for quote lovers featuring more than 10,000 quotations in dozens of categories like – love, friendship, children, inspiration, success, wisdom, family, life, and many more. Read it online at - http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art8364.asp
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Danielle_Hollister
By Sean Carter
One of the biggest and warmest holidays of the United States, Thanksgiving has its history and origin way back in centuries. There are various instances of thanksgiving observances in history, all of which bear resemblance to the modern celebrations of Thanksgiving; but the generally accepted and circulated view is that the modern day American Thanksgiving has its origin in 1621, when the Pilgrims, or the English settlers and the Native Americans celebrated a three-day long feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts. But quite contrary to this popular belief, the Pilgrims were never the first to have a Thanksgiving feast. Feasts celebrating a good harvest existed well before the Pilgrims or the settlers arrived. Nevertheless, it’s true that these Pilgrims held a Thanksgiving feast (more aptly, a feast to say ‘thanks’) in the first year of their survival in America
Following this Pilgrim’s 1621 Thanksgiving observance, began the Thanksgiving tradition of holding feasts after a good harvest. People usually celebrate Thanksgiving to mark the Autumn harvest and make merry in the plentiful yield. There is, however, a long tradition of celebrating the harvest throughout history. It might interest you to know that even the ancient Greeks and Romans had their respective harvest celebrations with music, parades and feasts quite like today’s Thanksgiving celebrations. People in ancient China also had their harvest festival with families feasting together on ‘moon cakes’ (round yellowish cakes). This was to celebrate the full moon and, as a matter of fact, the Chinese still celebrate this as their Moon Festival with much hype and hoopla ! Then again, there’s the harvest festival of the Jews. The Jewish harvest fest, Sukkot, is celebrated for eight days and is an occasion to catch up with the family on feasts and to be thankful for a good year. The British Isles too has a harvest festival called the Lammas, which marks the beginning of the harvest season.
Now, whatever the history and origin, Thanksgiving today is primarily a day set aside in the most part of North America to show gratitude and be thankful to God. Feasts and family reunions are a regular trend for Thanksgiving in North America. In the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November every year. But in Canada, the harvest season ends a little earlier in the year. Hence in Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. The Canadians have a three-day long Thanksgiving weekend and the holiday is not as significantly hyped here as in the United States. The Canadians also do not get enough time for a convenient homecoming. So they reserve the family reunions for the Christmas holiday.
The Thanksgiving holiday has serious religious shades for the Roman Catholic Quebecers, who call it l’Action de Grâce. Thanksgiving has a long-standing history in Europe; it is associated with the harvest festivals held there.
So then, as you see, celebrating harvest is quite old. And so is the thanksgiving act–to thank the Almighty for all the good things He has given us ! And all these harvest festivities, although having cultural differences, are common in spirit to the modern American Thanksgiving.
Sean Carter writes on holidays, thanksgiving and celebrations around the world. He also writes on family, relationships,women’s issues birthdays, inspiration, religion, love and friendship. He is a writer with special interest in e-card industry. He writes for 123greetings.com
One of the great things about being in your own home for the holidays is the freedom to host your own Thanksgiving meal, instead of graciously adhering to someone else’s schedule and choices. You’re able to start a tradition that will stay with your family for years to come.
Let’s say you have a new home in Washington, D.C. as an example. There’s so much East Coast heritage you could bring into your Thanksgiving celebration this year. So why not try something different and incorporate some fresh seafood?
Here are a few recipes you might enjoy.
The key to fully appreciating your meal on Thanksgiving is to have a big meal the night before and eat a little in the morning before the main course. Dice some shrimp, hollow out some tomatoes and you’ll be ready to serve up some delicious finger food to help your guests open their stomachs. If you’re not a big fan of tomatoes, crackers work just as well to scoop up the delicious shrimp salad.
Get the meal started the right way with a delightful salad to whet your guests’ appetites. Between the rich flavor of the salmon and the creamy avocado, this tossed salad will have something to offer everyone at the dinner table. Don’t forget to make a separate batch without dressing so your guests can add their own as desired.
You may think of cheesecake as a dessert, but this rich, savory spin on the classic pastry is better as an appetizer. It will require a little prep work the night before, but once it sets, you’ll have a decadent dish to get the meal started. Cut it up into enough for everyone at the table, slice up a cucumber and add your favorite crackers to complete the arrangement.
Mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food, and there’s nothing like doling out generous helpings to all of your friends and family around the dinner table. This year, try incorporating some fish into the potatoes to give your guests a little extra flair. Be sure to make plenty of it, as your guests will keep coming back for more.
Give your guests something to gobble down on Thanksgiving with these delightful little pastries. They’re easy to make with just a little dough and a muffin tin, and the creamy crab meat perfectly complements the puff pastry. Make sure you have enough for every guest to have at least two.
No Thanksgiving meal would be complete without a delicious and decadent helping of baked food alongside the turkey, potatoes and stuffing. A casserole isn’t hard to incorporate into your holiday cooking. Just put it together ahead of time, pop it in the oven half an hour before the meal and it’s ready to serve. Tell your friends and family to bring their appetites.
You can’t make a complete seafood meal without the ultimate seafood soup: New England clam chowder. There are a number of things you can throw into the broth, but the centerpiece absolutely has to be small quahogs or large cherry stones. The key to cooking with clams is to make sure you’ve strained out all the sand beforehand; a little crunch isn’t exactly welcome in most people’s chowder. Once you have a big pot of the stuff, put it right in the middle of the table with a big ladle to help your guests take as much as they can eat.
If you want to go all-out and make seafood the star of your Thanksgiving meal, you’ll need a great fish to fill the role traditionally played by the turkey. Try grilling some swordfish steaks and filling them up with stuffing. It may seem like a risky move, but once your guests have had a bite, they’ll forget all about the bird and dig right in to your nautical feast.
These are just a few ways you can combine standard Thanksgiving meals with the East Coast’s seafaring heritage to create your own traditions. This fall, don’t be afraid to break from the tried and true. Give your guests something unexpected, and you may find this Thanksgiving is one you’ll never forget.
Alison Johnston is a writer for Richmond American Homes, the nation’s leading home builder.
Maybe it’s your sister, best friend, coworker, or daughter, but chances are, you have a female fitness nut in your life. So what do you get for the girl who has everything (even those 6-pack abs)? Here are 10 ideas to get your mind running after the perfect gift for the girl that always seems to be running ahead of you.
1. Monogrammed Yoga Mat
Anything monogrammed is pretty hot right now, so why not throw some letters on a yoga mat? Your friend will never have to deal with mat-stealers at the yoga studio ever again. This gift is perfect for a yogi looking for more ways to show her personality (or one who just needs a new mat). Plus, a personalized touch like a monogram makes it look like you put in a little more effort in the gift-giving process.
2. Gym Bag or Mat Carrier
Make sure your health nut is going to the gym in style with a new bag! The perfect gym bag is roomy enough for a pair of tennis shoes and workout gear, has lots of pockets, and has a separate compartment for dirty clothes and shoes. If your friend is more of a yogi than a gym rat, look for a stylish mat carrier (for that new monogrammed yoga mat) to get her to the studio with ease.
3. Rain Shell
A dedicated athlete doesn’t care if it’s rain or shine—she’s going to run anyways! Make sure she’s protected from the elements with a lightweight rain shell. A jacket like this will keep your friend dry without weighing her down. This is a perfect gift for those nuts living in wet climates like Seattle!
4. Workout Undies
You probably should save this gift for a friend you know very well! And include a gift receipt. Whether you get some moisture-wicking panties or an extra-supportive sports bra, your exercise-obsessed friend will thank you. It really does make a difference when you do Zumba in a pair of slimming, stretchy, and breathable underwear. So take her workout gear up a level with some unmentionables worth mentioning.
5. Running Headphones
Nothing is more annoying than ear buds falling out when you finally reach your stride. Keep your girl running to the beat of her iPod with some specialized running headphones. There are some pretty crazy designs on the market, but most will feature a type of ear bud with a hook to go around the ear, keeping it in place. There are also new models that are wireless and have a built-in running coach! Oh the possibilities.
6. Workout Watch
We’re not just talking about a cheap digital one from Wal-Mart, here. Sport watches have come a long way, and your heath nut deserves the best. Here are just a few features to consider—a GPS for distance tracking; a pedometer; a calorie counter; or ever an exercise tracker that can then transfer data to your computer to analyze. This is the perfect gift for runner who wants to know every in and out of her workout (and it helps to be tech savvy, too).
7. Water Bottle
Okay, we know—she probably already has tons of water bottles. But does she have one that can infuse flavors into the water from real fruit?! Didn’t think so. Or what about a bottle holder that she can strap on during a long run to stay hydrated? Your health nut knows how important her liquids are during a workout, so give her something that will motivate her to stay on top of her hydration.
8. New Tunes
We all have that perfect workout jam, that playlist that sets our running pace and gets us pumped up. But sometimes, that same playlist gets a little old. Give your friend an iTunes gift card or new CD so she can reinvigorate her workout playlist with some new energy.
9. Well-Deserved Pampering
After all the hard work at the gym and restrain in the kitchen, your friend could probably go for some well-deserved pampering. Get her a certificate for a massage at a wellness spa, or even for a teeth whitening session at her dentist’s office. Maybe you make the stipulation that she can redeem the gift after her next big race or meeting a certain goal. Now you’ve given her the gift of a massage and some motivation.
10. Fitness Journal
There are apps upon apps to help you keep track of your workouts and fitness goals, but it’s time to take it back to the old-school way—paper and pen. Pick up a cool, organized fitness journal for your friend to record her daily efforts in being healthy. You could even write some secret messages of encouragement on pages throughout to keep her going! What a good friend.
These gifts are sure to please even the most discerning gym rat. You could maybe even give her the gift of a workout buddy—you!
Candice Harding enjoys writing about the great products and technology she finds online. When she’s away from the computer, she loves staying healthy by riding her bike, exploring the outdoors, and visiting quality healthcare providers like Saddleback Dental Care. She scours the Internet for quality deals to publish on her website, myredbicycle.com.
It happens every year. You’ve been walking past Christmas decorations in stores since August and even late July. But then before you realize it, November sneaks up on you. You are unprepared for Christmas, and now you get to join the throngs of people trying desperately to cram three months of shopping into one. This year, let the frustration pass you by. Take the time to do your shopping now, and reap the benefits when the holidays arrive.
The hot new technological gadgets usually sell out quickly. If you want one, or your kids absolutely must have one, better buy early. If you don’t, you will either be left wanting, or you’ll pay. Businesses’ inability to meet demand with supply creates grey markets where scalpers sell the latest products and toys for two and even three times as much as retail.
This is another problem that seems to crop up every year. People wait too long to shop, then they spend to excess in December. By the time January arrives and it’s time to pay the piper, too many consumers cannot. Credit counseling agencies note a 25 percent uptick in new cases in January and February, most of which involve Christmas expenses. Don’t wait until the end of November or even later to start your Christmas shopping. Start it now so that the expense of it can be spread out over several months.
Unless you are the most efficient shopper alive, you need time to plan your Christmas list and shop for the best deals. Yes, you can let your fingers do the walking by doing most of your shopping online. But if you wait too long, you still face the problem of competition and limited supply. Black Friday deals are designed to get you into the store so you can buy the more expensive stuff you really want or need. If you’ve shopped early, you can take advantage of other sales. Then you won’t be drawn in by door-busters that are often stocked in such minimal quantities that you wouldn’t be able to get one, anyway.
Remember the good old days? Remember when Thanksgiving was a time to eat until you were almost sick, watch football, and have awkward conversations with distant relatives? Those days are gone. If you use that weekend to kick-off your Christmas shopping, you can kiss Thanksgiving goodbye. No more sneaking off to the kitchen for a late-evening nosh on cold turkey and pumpkin pie. These days, if you didn’t miss dinner already to stand in line, you will at least need to be there by 8 pm. Stores know that they can take away your holiday. To entice you, they offer:
They make you think it’s fun. When really, you’d be better off spending that time with your family.
Black Friday sales have become nightmarish and competitive to the point of violence. People would almost rather that you died than slow their progress to the door-busters. They will trample you without a second thought as to your welfare. It’s become so commonplace that The Onion, in its spoof article about Black Friday violence, had to say 42 million had died instead of 42. That’s because 42 would have been almost believable. If you can avoid the Black Friday mobs, your chances of getting to Christmas alive and in one piece goes up dramatically.
It’s so easy to just take some time in the next few months to complete your shopping so you can enjoy your Christmas holiday. Instead of stressful browsing through the crowds, you can spend your Thanksgiving with family and welcome in the new year healthy, happy, and solvent.
Nicole has been writing about gift giving for years, including everything from the smartest gift shopping strategies to the most unique Christmas gift ideas.
The holidays are fast approaching and with each day, budgets and wallets begin their yearly shriek of dismay. Shopping for so many people can quickly add up and though it may seem easy to stick everything on “plastic,” the repercussions come January and February can be brutal. But fret not because there are some great tips for shopping throughout the holiday gift giving season while still remaining on a budget. If you think that the best laptops are out of range, think again because there are some incredible deals to be found. Here are some tips for shopping that will allow you to spend exactly what you have budgeted while still getting some of those big “wish list” items.
Often people make the mistake thinking that gift cards are the easy option for gifts and so tend to avoid them. They want to give personalized items and do not want to come across as being unfriendly. But sometimes those “personalized” gifts end up being returned after the holidays. Gift cards are a fabulous way of giving someone the power to buy exactly what they want. That means it saves you time and them the hassle of returning clothing that does not fit, or jewelry that is not their style or redundant electronics. The bonus: there are some great gift card swaps that allow you to purchase gift cards for a fraction of their worth.
There are some great household items that make fabulous gifts and a great place to shop is local antique or thrift stores. You can pick up incredible decorative vases, plates, china, antique furniture and even handmade quilts for incredible bargains.
If you do not want to battle Black Friday shoppers the day after Thanksgiving to stock up on all those must have toys…be patient. You can get the same deals, if not cheaper, by shopping online. Most online retailers even offer free shipping. Retailers know that by offering deals throughout the holiday shopping season, they will attract more customers. If you are patient and scan the sales each week, you can find those expensive toys and not break your budget.
Big Ticket Items
As for the big ticket items such as Smart TV’s, the best laptops, printers and cameras, keep an eye out on “Bundles.” These bundles will often offer the higher end items combined with other useful electronics for far less than the cost of just one. If you take the time to scan the circulars, online ads and browse websites, you will save a lot of money.
Holiday shopping is not easy but it does not have to be expensive. Take your time and find the best deals that will not break your budget!
Author Byline: Jillian Johnson is a professional marketing content writer who blogs on a variety of topics. Follow her @MissWritey.
Image by: Andrea Goh
There’s no doubt about it, at every family celebration we always overestimate the amount of food we need. Whether it’s after Thanksgiving or Christmas, there are plates of potatoes, various vegetables, pies, puddings, and of course, half the turkey left over.
All families seems to have a tradition on how to use up their turkey after each holiday, usually in the form of casseroles, soups, sandwiches and curries. But if you, and everyone in your home, seem to get sick of your time-honoured turkey soup after just a couple of days, maybe it’s time for a change.
Why not try one of these four yummy ideas to use up your leftover turkey? All recipes can be adapted to the quantity of your leftovers and the amount of people you need to serve.
1. Turkey Quesadillas
Shred your leftover turkey meat and mix with red peppers, chilli, coriander, chopped tomatoes and shredded mozzarella. Spread filling on one half of a tortilla, fold over to contain the filling, and griddle or fry until golden. Keep quesadillas warm in a low oven while you cook the batch, and cut into wedges to serve.
2. Turkey Parmesan Pasta Bake
Start you pasta off, and make up a basic white sauce with half milk, half chicken or turkey stock. Roast red peppers and mushrooms with a little olive oil in the oven. Add a couple of teaspoons of Dijon mustard to your white sauce, along with mozzarella and fresh parmesan to taste. Mix together your pasta, sauce, chunks of turkey, and sliced roast pepper and mushrooms. Put into an oven dish, top with mozzarella and bake in a hot oven for around 45 minutes until golden on top.
3. Turkey Tom Ka Gai
Cook a good amount of ribbon rice noodles to instructions on the packet. Heat a couple of tins of coconut milk with the same amount of chicken or turkey stock, adding grated ginger, lemongrass and red chilli to taste when it starts to simmer. After a few minutes, add shredded turkey and sliced mangetout, heat through, add noodles and serve with a garnish of coriander.
4. Turkey Chilli
Fry up chopped onion, garlic, a variety of peppers and some fresh chilli. When soft, add cumin, paprika and dried coriander herb, cook for 5 minutes on a low heat, and then add in shredded turkey, tinned tomatoes and tinned kidney beans (add different kinds of beans if you want something more unusual). Season, and then cook for at least 30 minutes. Serve on a bed of rice or in tortillas.
What’s your favourite unusual leftover turkey recipe? Do you have different recipes that adorn your post-Thanksgiving and Christmas tablecloth? Let us know in the comments.
Author Byline: Estelle Page is an interior designer and a mum of two. She loves cooking and currently blogs for Wipe Easy Tablecloths.
The Ghost of Christmases Past
“Remember last Christmas, when Daddy…?”
When Daddy was still here. When Daddy was still alive or when Daddy was still living with you, whichever the case may be. When Daddy took the kids sledding, or when Daddy reached up to place the tree-topper without needing a stepladder, or when Daddy fought all day to assemble the presents the kids had gotten that admitted “Some assembly required.” Some?!
Is that the kind of reminiscing that’s going on in your house?
Or maybe it wasn’t just last year that Daddy did whatever you’re remembering over Christmas. Maybe he’s been gone—divorced or dead—two years or more already.
The question here is: Is that kind of reminiscing a healthy thing to do? And the answer is, Yes and No.
No if the kids are having a happy holiday season and you drag them down by reminiscing and introducing a sad subject.
Yes if the kids bring it up themselves…and don’t dwell endlessly on it.
No if Dad is divorced from you, and the subject is raised in bitterness.
Yes if Dad is dead rather than divorced.
Life goes on…but the past isn’t always the past
It’s important to live for today and for tomorrow, but we can’t help reminiscing about yesterday. It just isn’t healthy to live in the past—remembering fondly is one thing; being dragged down by memories is something else. If your kids’ father is alive but no longer living with them and you, honor and respect their sadness but don’t encourage their dwelling endlessly on the past. It’s not going to change anything, even though they may wish for a reconciliation and his return to the household. Refocus their thoughts on the fun you’re going to have this year.
If their father is deceased, totally gone from their lives, that’s a fact they have to accept, unlike the case of a divorce, where hope for a return may spring eternal despite your insistence that it’s not going to happen. In the case of a death, some dwelling on the past is less damaging as it’s not going to lead to their being filled with false hopes for a return.
The past lives on in our memories and helps form who we are. You do not want to erase your children’s good memories of their dad, even if he was a lying, cheating, no-good husband. Those good memories are an important part of their childhood. No matter what bitterness you may harbor toward your ex, he was still their father. On the other hand, you also want to encourage them to look ahead.
One way to accomplish this—regardless of whether their father is gone by virtue of death or divorce—is by instituting new traditions. Don’t try to start 10 new traditions in one year. That’s overload. One or two or three are workable numbers. You can always add another new tradition next year, if you want. These can be big traditions or small and can center around the actual day of Christmas itself or the holiday season in general.
If your imagination fails you and you can’t think of a Christmas season tradition to institute, perhaps you could borrow a tradition from my book Family Traditions, Customs, and Celebrations. Though the original hardbound edition is out of print, it has been re-released as an e-book and is available on the web from Secret Cravings Publishing or from Amazon.com.
Give your children something to enjoy now and remember fondly in the future concerning the holiday season, something that doesn’t involve their father.
Missing your ex
The truth is, especially if you were not the one who asked for the divorce but even if the divorce was your idea, you may be looking back fondly too. That’s normal. It does not mean you made a mistake by divorcing him, or you are weak-willed, or anything like that. Surely the marriage was not all bad. There must have been some good times too. And it is natural to remember them fondly. If he had been a totally unremitting S.O.B. you never would have married him in the first place.
The point, though, is not to wallow in a tear-fest and not to encourage your kids to do so either. We can’t forget the past, nor do we want to, but we don’t want to dwell on it interminably either. Move on. Don’t have a sad holiday season. Be sure to make it a truly Merry Christmas.
This week, as Thanksgiving approaches here in the States, many of you will be facing your first holiday as a solo parent. What I have to say applies most particularly to those of you who are newly on your own, though many of the rest of you, who’ve been divorced or widowed for a while now, can benefit from it as well.
One of the traditional Thanksgiving hymns is “We Gather Together,” and that’s what most of us do on Thanksgiving: gather together for a family meal. But if you were divorced or widowed within the last year, you may feel like you’re not so much of a family anymore. Have you said to someone, “It’s just the kids and me—” in a way that implies that the absence of your husband downgrades your status from “family” to something lesser?
Hogwash! You’re still a family…and it’s important that you convey a sense of this to your kids.
Yes, the makeup of a “traditional” family was always considered to be Mom, Dad, and one or more kids. But this is 2011, and all sorts of other configurations are also possible. What of the grandma who’s raising her grandkids? Are she and they any less of a family than the traditional so-called “nuclear family”? What of the two lesbian mothers who live together with their kids in a household that offers two moms and no dad? Aren’t they a family too? So why should you feel any less entitled to the label “family” now that your husband is no longer part of the household? You’re still a family—very much a family—and, again, it’s important that you convey a sense of this to your kids.
Love and connection are what make you a family—not the presence in the household of a certain prescribed number of adults and kids.
The word “family” has all kinds of mostly good associations: love, warmth, protection, sharing, belonging. These are the feelings you want to instill and encourage in your kids. You very much want them to feel they’re still a part of a family, a loving and supportive family, even though their father is no longer a member of the household.
Over the upcoming holidays, Thanksgiving and, on beyond it, Christmas, you may be tempted to alter your tradition. If Thanksgiving in your house was usually a small-family affair, just the two of you and the kids, you may be tempted to do something entirely different this year, so you and the kids don’t feel your ex-husband’s or late husband’s absence so keenly. And that’s not necessarily a bad idea. Getting together with one or more other families headed by solo parents like you is one option. Volunteering at a soup kitchen (if your kids are old enough) is another option. Some families will simply go away for the weekend, if their budgets can afford it—if not something extravant and distant, like Disney, then something closer to home and more budget-friendly, for a change of scene and a break in the Thanksgiving routine of years past…since this year isn’t going to be like years past anyhow.
There’s nothing wrong with doing any of those things (or some other “new tradition”), but if your Thanksgiving celebration in years past involved just the two of you and your kids, gathered around the dining table in your home, consider staying home with the kids this year as well, and having a quiet but thankful holiday just to yourselves. It sends the kids a message—or several messages. “We’re still a family.” “Some things have changed, but not everything changes. Life goes on.”
Of course, if you live geographically close to other family members, maybe your traditional Thanksgiving dinner celebration was spent with these others all along. If these were your side of the family, and you want to continue in the tradition, fine. But these days, in our “portable” culture, not everyone lives close to their family of origin. You may have moved to Seattle, leaving your parents back in Des Moines, while your only sibling now lives in Phoenix. For you, Thanksgiving in recent years has never been about extended family. It was always just you two and the kids. So now it’s just you and the kids.
You’re still family. And it’s still Thanksgiving. Don’t downplay the holiday “because it’s just us this year.” That makes the kids feel that they’re less important to you.
If money is an issue, remember that turkey leftovers will stretch for several nights’ dinners and/or lunch sandwiches, so although the initial outlay is not inconsiderable, pro rated over the number of meals you’ll get out of it, a turkey is not that expensive. You don’t have to get the biggest bird in the store. But don’t simply roast a chicken “because it’s just us.” Again, you’re sending the wrong message. There’s no “just” about you and your kids. You’re still very much a family, albeit a family that’s composed a little differently than in years past.
Whether or not you’re religious, and whether or not you say prayers of thanksgiving before your Thanksgiving repast, it wouldn’t hurt to express aloud the things you’re thankful for. This can be done before the meal, afterward, or at some other time during the day. It need not be formulated as a prayer or addressed to God, if you don’t happen to have a strong belief in the Deity. It can simply be a time of sharing with the family, when each family member expresses a list of what he or she is thankful for this year. When your turn comes, consider including “I’m thankful that we’re still a family” and “I’m thankful to have two wonderful kids like you” on your own list.
It’s Thanksgiving and, despite the disruption in your family’s life due to your husband’s permanent absence, you are still a family and you do still have much to be thankful for.
As you gather together this holiday, make sure your kids understand that.
This Thanksgiving, have you thought about thanking not just God but people? (To my Canadian readers, my apologies: I know you celebrated your Thanksgiving last month. And to my readers in other countries, bear with me. The thought is worth considering, even if it’s not your holiday.)
Now, I also recognize that you may be anywhere on the faith spectrum from deeply religious to believing but non-observant all the way to being an atheist with no belief in God at all. Your celebration of the annual holiday may therefore involve lots of prayer, both in church and at home, or no prayer at all, or somewhere in between.
No matter. What I have to say is relevant regardless of what your religious beliefs and observances are. You see, while taking nothing away from the tradition of thanking God for our blessings on this holiday, I do believe firmly that on Thanksgiving—or near Thanksgiving, if you don’t have the opportunity on the holiday itself—we should thank the people who make our lives better in both big ways and small.
Let’s start with your children. Depending on your circumstances, raising them as a solo parent might be something of a logistical nightmare for you, but even if that’s the case, I bet you’re glad you have them, and I bet there are things you’d want to thank them for if you thought about it.
Now’s your chance. Speak up. Tell them what the things are you appreciate. Tell them what you’re thankful for, even if it’s merely that they do their chores without too much prodding most of the time.
Do your parents live nearby? Do they help out with childcare? With financial aid? With moral support, encouragement, and advice? In some other way? Have you told them lately how much you appreciate what they do for you? It’s Thanksgiving—thank them.
Do you have a babysitter who makes herself available in the evening on short notice, or stays late willingly for after-school care when you’re stuck at work, or goes above and beyond by not just watching the kids but teaching them, or in some other way makes herself invaluable? Have you thanked her lately for what she does? If not, now’s a good opportunity.
If you’re divorced but on decent terms with your ex, here’s a novel thought: how about thanking him for not being the louse that so many exes can be. If he does the right thing—sees the kids when he’s supposed to, sends the child support checks when he’s supposed to, backs you up when the kids try to play both ends against the middle, and doesn’t play head games—thank him for being a decent ex and/or a decent dad.
There are undoubtedly also people who have less—or nothing at all—to do with your status as a solo parent but who also deserve thanks, and now is the time to express your appreciation to them, too. This being the Solo Parenting column, however, I am focusing here on matters specifically relevant to your status as a single parent.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. One of the things I am thankful for is having each of you as a reader. May you have a rewarding, fulfilling holiday season.