10 Thanksgiving Facts Worth Knowing

10 Thanksgiving Facts Worth Knowing

This post originally ran in November 2015. I’ve dusted it off with a few minor revisions for 2016.

Thanksgiving Day is knocking at our door, as it pushes aside the hanging wreath and the Santa sleigh on the porch. It’s becoming the norm to fast track past this November holiday as retailers start pushing pumpkins off the shelves before October 31 and filling them with tinsel, trees, gift tags and all things Christmas. Turkey Day gets half a shelf by Housewares, if it’s lucky, where you’ll find a few fall-looking centerpieces, owls, and autumn colored tablecloths marked at 30 percent off. I still love turkey day, and in the spirit of the holiday, I offer up 10 facts worth knowing and sharing, when you sit down to turkey dinner this year. let’s face it. We need a topic besides politics. And, who knows, start spewing out a few of these facts and that crazy, drunken uncle might not be the only one the family focuses on this time around.

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  1. The Plymouth Pilgrims were the first to celebrate Thanksgiving Day It all happened at Plymouth, Mass. Their leader, Governor William Bradford organized the first harvest feast in 1621. He invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians to the feast that lasted for three days.
  1. TV dinners have Thanksgiving to thank – In 1953, someone at Swanson seriously misjudged the number of frozen turkeys it would sell that Thanksgiving — by 26 TONS! A Swanson salesman with a vision came up with a revolutionary plan. Order 5,000 aluminum trays, slice up the meat, include the traditional trimmings on the side, and voilà,the first TV dinner was born!
  1. Plumbers aren’t shopping on Black Friday; they’re workingWhile many of our households are filled with more guests than normal and there’s plenty of gastrointestinal issues among our clans that tax our toilets, it’s not just the abodes requiring a plumber, it’s often our kitchen sinks and garbage disposals needing 911. This year give our plumbers a break! Go easy on the sink and haul that turkey carcass to the trash.
  1. Not all turkeys gobble As kids, we all learn how to trace our hand to draw a turkey and how to make the gobble, gobble sound. If you bought into the fact that all turkeys gobble, you’ve been misled. Only male turkeys gobble. Female turkeys make sounds, but theirs sound more like chirps and clucks. Gobble is an odd word, isn’t it?
  1. The Eagle almost lost out in being our national bird – In a letter Ben Franklin wrote to his daughter he accused the eagle of having “bad moral character” while he thought the turkey was a much more respectable bird. Oh Ben, maybe you withstood a few too many shocks while you were experimenting with electricity.
  1. Lambs and turkeys have something in commonWhen Abe Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, it was thanks to the tireless campaigning of a writer and editor named Sarah Josepha Hale. She’s most famous for the authoring of the nursery rhyme, “Mary had a Little Lamb.”
  1. Thanksgiving experienced some date confusion between 1939-41In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving one week earlier than normal, believing it would bolster retail sales during one of the final years of the Great Depression. This did not sit well with many, causing protests and unrest, and the coining of the term, Franksgiving. In 1941, a joint resolution was passed by Congress, solidifying Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday of November.
  1. Tryptophan in turkey does NOT make you tiredThis naturally occurring amino acid that is found in many other foods is not the culprit for your coma. Knock back a few alcoholic beverages, load up on a helping of every dish on the table, wash it down with Pumpkin pie, and you’re bound to get sleepy. Blaming tryptophan sounds way better than admitting you overindulged. But, if you want to stick with that as your excuse, I am not one to judge!
  1. No women, no cranberries, no pies…and maybe no turkeysThere’s numerous accounts of what was served during this feast. From all historical accounts there were no pies and no cranberries. If there were any women, it sounds like there were three or four. And, many writing talks about fowl, but there is no confirmation that turkey was the bird of choice. I think this gives us all carte blanche to fix absolutely anything we want on the big day. I for one, dislike the canned or cranberry sauce. For the most part, nobody ever eats it. So, why do we keep insisting cranberries are on the menu?

    I'm saying 'no' to cranberry sauce this year!
    I’m saying ‘no’ to cranberry sauce this year!
  1. Towns take the name of TurkeyThis one’s for that trivia game you find yourself in during this upcoming holiday. For the record, there are three towns in the U.S. that take their names from the traditional Thanksgiving bird. They are Turkey, Texas (pop. 465); Turkey Creek, Louisiana (pop. 363); and Turkey, North Carolina (pop. 270). One common theme of these turkey towns: their populations total less than the number of individuals in Costco at any one time on a Saturday.

Now you’re set with the facts. Go forth and spew your Thanksgiving knowledge at this year’s feast. Take over the focus from any political discussions or from that drunken uncle or crazy aunt. I’m sure they could use a little less attention.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Gobble. Gobble. Chirp. Cluck.

A dose of laughter is the best medicine

A dose of laughter is the best medicine

I know I’m not alone in working through the stages of grief over the election result. I think I’m somewhere between bargaining and depression, but I still wake up most mornings in denial. Now, more than ever, I think a good laugh is something most of us could use. So, I decided it was time…

10 Series worth binge watching

10 Series worth binge watching

It’s been a tough week and many of us need a diversion. I recommend binge watching to take your minds off the heaviness that’s in so many of our hearts. Below are my picks for 10 series that I found worth binge watching, plus a few extras.Continue Reading

Bloodline– Set in the Florida Keys, I felt a warm breeze every time I tuned in. This Netflix series revolves around the Rayburn family. The parents run a small resort in an insular community. They have three adult children still living nearby, and a fourth, the eldest who we learn quickly is the wayward one of the bunch. As the series opens he comes home for a special family event, and the unraveling begins. It’s filled with family secrets that started 30 years prior, and the longer you watch the more you learn, and the deeper the secrets go. You’ll see some familiar faces including Sissy Spacek as the mother and the beloved coach from Friday Night Lights, Kyle Chandler, who plays the brother who is relied on to fix everything. But, some actions may not be fixable. I promise it’s not predictable and bad things happen, so settle in and make it a day as you work your way through the first two seasons. Season 3, the final season, is expected out in 2017.

Red Oaks – In this Amazon series set in the 80s, an NYU college student, David Myers, spends his summers working at the prestigious and exclusive Red Oaks Country Club in the suburbs of New Jersey. I was initially attracted to the 80s vibe since I could relate to the attire (scrunchies and bad fashion), and the coming-of-age plotline, but I soon converted to a devoted watcher. Overall, it’s amusing, enduring, entertaining and a few shades shy of raunchy at times. If you’re looking for some lighter fare, this won’t disappoint. Season 2 just became available, so I encourage you to get watching today!

10 shows worth binge watching

Transparent – Transparent, an Emmy award-winning Amazon series, is a journey of an affluent Los Angeles family who exposes its deep flaws over time as it deals with the family patriarch, Jeffrey Tambor, transitioning from a man to a woman. The show dishes up plenty of humor while it delves into dysfunction dynamics and the emotional pain of loneliness and regret. This family grapples with being true to themselves, but it often comes at one another’s expense. I find it funny, painful, honest and well worth watching. Season 3 recently premiered and I’m already looking forward to Season 4.

Rectify – I think this series would have remained undiscovered by me if I wasn’t an avid listener of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour where they spoke about Rectify during one episode. The Sundance TV series is about Daniel Holden who is freed from death row after serving 19 years when DNA testing overturns his conviction of raping and murdering a teen. He begins the reentry process of a society and family that are different than they were nearly two decades ago. Along with Daniel, the show has a host of characters with their own sets of issues that layer complexities into the drama. At times, it’s sad and alarming, and other times it leaves you wondering and waiting for a slice of compassion and humanity. The fourth and final season is underway. Will we find out if he truly is guilty? Get started today, and I bet you’ll be right there with me for this final season. All seasons are available online through Sundance TV.

Younger – I may be one of a few to have watched Bunheads, a series on Disney Family in 2012, starring Sutton Foster. My daughter loved it at the time, and I quickly grew to (secretly) wait for it every week. In short, it was the story of a Vegas showgirl who married on a whim and ended up in her husband’s small town teaching dance after he was killed in a car crash. I loved Foster in that show – and now she’s back. Thanks again to NPRs’ Pop Culture Happy Hour I discovered her in TVLand’s Younger. In this lighthearted series, she’s cast as a 40-year-old almost-divorcee from the Jersey burbs who seeks to rekindle her publishing career she left in her mid-20s to raise a child. It’s not until she fakes that she’s 26 does she land an entry-level job. It’s an entertaining look that often feels eerily real, exposing gender imbalances and generational divides that make it hard for women, particularly once we’ve hit 40. Watch on demand until you catch up to about midway through Season 3 with current episodes airing weekly on TVLand. If I haven’t convinced to watch, then think of Sex and the City and 90210. The same producer, Darren Star, is the mastermind behind this show.

Odd Mom Out – If you want a good laugh, this is your show. Bravo’s Odd Mom Out is focused around Jill Weber and her family who live in New York’s Upper East Side. Jill’s husband comes from a wealthy family that drops her into an elite, trendy life that is simply not her. She’s surrounded by “momzillas” and finds herself often the ‘odd mom out’ with her less than perfect teeth, her unique fashion style and her complete lack of pretension. The characters are each unique, especially her friend Candace, who’s an ER doc and a glass-half-empty type. I love the writing. It’s fresh and funny, and easy on the brain.

Narcos – My knowledge of the Columbia drug cartels was nearly non-existent until I got hooked into this true-life Netflix series. Narcos is set and filmed in Columbia and focuses on notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who becomes a billionaire through producing and distributing cocaine. His cartel ruled in the 1980s and at one point supplied 80 percent of the cocaine coming into the U.S. It’s full of bloody violence, sex, drugs, money, drugs and more drugs, and violence. The series is told through the perspective of an American DEA agent who’s working in Columbia to ultimately capture and kill Escobar and bring down the drug cartel. It’s at times shocking and often unpredictable. Once you get started, it’s difficult to stop. Two seasons are available on Netflix, with two more seasons confirmed. I highly recommend it.

Catastrophe – This series, available through Amazon is about an American man who travels to London on business and has a six-day fling with an Irish woman, resulting in a pregnancy. He ultimately moves to London and marries the woman he barely knows. Their new life together unfolds on screen. The two lead characters make this romantic comedy work. It’s light, hilarious, sometimes a little raunchy and always entertaining. Catch the first two seasons of Catastrophe on Amazon. The third season is expected sometime in 2017.

This is Us – This NBC show has people buzzing, starting with its trailer that broke a record on Facebook for more than 70 million views. The story is about family lives and connections, centering around three siblings who share the same birthday, two of whom are twins and the third was born on the same day and adopted by the same family. They’re now 36 and it follows their lives. It’s almost like two separate series, with frequent flashbacks to the childhoods of the now adult characters. I’ve shed tears during every episode so far. I declared last week that “this is my new Parenthood” since that show had me weeping every single episode. The rich storylines of This is Us are unpacked a little more each episode. I think This is Us is one of the best making its way to TV in a few years. I suggest you catch up on demand now and meet Kate, Kevin, and Randall. Then, come Tuesdays at 10 p.m. you can snuggle on in and keep current.

The AffairThis Showtime series explores the impact and emotional effects of an extramarital affair between Noah, a demoralized schoolteacher and novelist, and Alison, a waitress trying to piece her life and marriage back together in the wake of the loss of her young child. Noah is happily married with four children, but resents the dependency on his wife’s wealthy father. The affair occurs during the family’s annual summer sojourn from NYC to Montauk, where the wealthy parents live. The story is depicted through two different perspectives, Noah and Alison, and the bias of their respective memories. It involves a murder that you get exposure to early through flash forward scenes. It has a voyeuristic feel that lures you in. If you get started now, you’ll be ready to start Season 3 when it premieres on Nov. 20.

Good Girls Revolt (BONUS) – This is a last-minute addition because I’m only six episodes in, but loving it. Given the discourse in our country over the last several months and the despicable and disgusting displays of sexism and misogyny, the timing seemed right to include it. Based on a book and real-life events, this Amazon series follows a group of young women researchers at “News of the Week” in the revolutionary times of 1969. Of no real surprise, these highly educated and talented women, much more so than their counterparts, are relegated to entry-level positions such as researcher and secretary, and of course paid less. Sound familiar? Even on rare occasions when they do write, the byline goes to the male. I like the development of the female characters, the pace of this series, and the topic. I think it’s well worth the watch!

Bonus Plus: Unlike my three-channel childhood, we have a wealth of viewing options. I focused primarily above on series that may be lesser known. But, if you haven’t watched Breaking Bad, House of Cards, or Homeland, I would strongly encourage you to add them to your binge list.

Time to get watching! And, if you have any recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them.

Donald Trump, You’re Fired!

Donald Trump, You’re Fired!

While I regularly share my thoughts and views of current events or culture, I’ve tried hard to steer clear of this election. I made an exception back in December when I wrote this post on 10 reasons why Trump was a train wreck that needed to go. I thought I was spot on then, and…Continue Reading

Trump is truly an embarrassment to our country. It’s difficult to find exact words to fully express my disgust with the latest news on Trump. His past and current actions are indefensible. Those still holding out hope that he’s the “businessman” who will fix this country, can come up with all the theories they want on who leaked what, and that a shitload of emails ended up in enemy hands when they probably ended up in the basement of a 12-year old hacker in Indiana who can’t even name the three branches of government. But, theories don’t mask the facts.

Who the fu*#k cares about the emails or who leaked what. It’s a distraction that goes nowhere. I care about this country. We are privileged to live in a democratic society and have the freedom to make our own choices. It’s not a joke, nor do we ever want our country to be viewed as a joke.

Yet, this election is like a theater of the absurd. It doesn’t feel like an election. It feels like we have one candidate who is more qualified than any other candidate has been in at least the last decade, running against an unqualified egotistical misogynist and racist who from his actions and words, thinks he is a superior human being to anyone else in this country, especially women and minorities. Trump spews language that according to my 15-year-old, sounds like it’s coming from a hormone-enraged 8th grader who’s trying to come off as cool and manly. That’s alarming, to say the least.

The latest audio released from this man’s past when he was 59, far from an 8th grader, is disgusting, degrading and despicable. Not only should women be enraged, but EVERY person in this country should be enraged. This is a campaign to choose the leader of our free world, not to choose a man who feels like pu**sy is his for the taking, regardless of who and when.

President Obama has consistently displayed diplomacy, discretion, tact and grace in situations that most of us cannot imagine. And, when I think about the possibility of Trump being in any similar situation it terrifies me. He has already embarrassed our country, and this election is NOT a business deal that can be bailed out with a bankruptcy.

Election 2016 - your vote counts

If there is anybody left out there that can rationalize why they would vote for this man, I’d really like to hear why. And, for the rest of you, I encourage you to exercise your right to vote. It always matters, but this year I’m feeling the need to say it matters even more, for ALL of us. Please vote.

What would you choose, time or money?

What would you choose, time or money?

It’s hard for me to think of anyone in my life that has time on her hands. That doesn’t mean they don’t find ways to make their kids’ sporting events, attend an important fundraiser or grab drinks with friends, but it does mean there is often little or no down time. Our days and nights…

Six tips for maintaining your vacation high

Six tips for maintaining your vacation high

Many of us have been there, arriving home after seven or more glorious days away from real life. Whether you’ve returned from sipping Mai Tai’s on the beaches of Hawaii, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, strolling through the streets of Paris, or camping at one of your state’s parks, that vacation high tucked…

5 Reasons You Should Watch Orange is the New Black

5 Reasons You Should Watch Orange is the New Black

Season 4 of Orange is the New Black rolled out recently, and of course, I traded sleep for binge-watching time to wrap up the season in just a few days. As with the three seasons before, once you reach the end of the last episode, you’re left with wanting more, while you attempt to process…Continue Reading

What first started as Piper Chapman’s year-long journey in prison for trafficking a suitcase full of drug money for her then-girlfriend who later turned her in, has evolved into the journey for a number of women serving prison time for various reasons and with widely different backgrounds. The dialogue at times is brilliant. In one scene the characters are delivering witty and quick, comedic lines. The next one addresses serious social justice issues. It’s one of those series that has you looking at how many episodes remain, not wanting it to end, yet wondering where it’s going.

For me, Season 4 contained the darkest comedy contrasted against a bitter tragedy. It was funny, alarming and gut-wrenching, a tough mix to accomplish with one show without it feeling like it’s gone too far and outlived its life as a series.

If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend the time investment, starting from Season 1. And, if you haven’t embarked on a binge-watch journey of Season 4, there’s no better time than a long weekend. Here are five reasons to get started today:Orange is the New Black - 5 reasons to watch

You’ll grow to love the castThis ensemble cast is phenomenal, and the character development of each one makes you empathize with them, even though you know they’ve had some major screw ups in life. I find myself wanting to learn more about each, and actually hoping they’ll eventually have better lives where they’re no longer breaking the law, and they feel valued in society.

The back stories will suck you in – Eventually, you’ll learn more about many of the characters through back stories that give you a window into how they ended up at Litchfield Penitentiary. Each one leaves you wanting to learn more.

It dishes up the best dark comedy of any show on TV – The dialogue sucks you in. This is not the kind of series you wander into the kitchen for a snack and listen from afar. You need to stick with it. Every line counts. The comedic timing is top notch, but they are often dealing with some dark stuff. Sometimes I wonder if laughing is appropriate, but that’s part of the show’s magic.

It addresses some critical social justice issues – If ever white privilege is put front and center, you’ll find it here, along with racial disparity, social inequality and a host of other issues. This series sheds light on them in ways that make it impossible to ignore. It brings a reality to the issues through the characters, putting names and faces to them and making it starkly different than reading about incidents in the media. At times it’s disturbing, and other times heart-tugging. It’s made me think more deeply about these issues and determining my role in contributing to needed change.

You’ll be in the know – You won’t be left out of conversations at work, or lack the ability to answer pop culture questions on trivia night. As probably one of the few people who’ve never watched Game of Thrones, I know that feeling of being a series outsider. I have a big “L” on my forehead. But, not when it comes to OITNB. And, you’ll learn more about prison than you may wish to learn. It gives me even greater appreciation for my rigged adherence to the law.

Come on, get watching. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Apples like Brock Turner don’t fall far from the tree

Apples like Brock Turner don’t fall far from the tree

Much has already been written about the Stanford student on the swim team who raped a woman behind a dumpster, and walked away with only a six-month sentence. The only reason I share his name is that other women and the world need to know he’s a rapist. His name is Brock Turner. Rapist. Not…Continue Reading

So, what do we learn from this case? We learn that rape is rampant, with 1 in 5 women being sexually assaulted on college campuses. Alarmingly, that statistic indicates no downward trends. As a nation, we should be enraged. This is not acceptable. Why has society glossed over this as an issue of “boys will be boys,” chalking it up to sowing their wild oats, exploring college life with a lot of drinking and partying. Girls are there for the taking, or so it seems.

As a parent with a daughter four years away from college, I’m terrified. We’re raising her as a strong woman, willing and able to stand up for her beliefs and values, clearly understanding right from wrong. But, I have real fears. How do I let her leave the nest and enter the predatory world of college campuses where sexual assault is regularly occurring? In many cases, it’s being swept under the rug so as not to tarnish the reputation of these highly reputable colleges. It’s time tarnishing became the trend, and it needs to start now.

College campus

My daughter and thousands of other daughters have the potential of being surrounded by kids like Brock, whose father thinks it’s justifiable that boys may partake in “20 minutes of action” but it doesn’t really mean anything. The blame was put on the drinking and the girl, not his son. That’s alarming and terrifying. Yet, this father and son still believe he simply had a minor lapse in judgment due to alcohol, and ruining his life over this is unwarranted. What about the woman?

And now, we learn more.  A letter sent to the judge from Brock’s mother was recently released. Not once in the letter does she mention the victim. Not once. Instead, it includes pleas like this:

“I beg of you, please don’t send him to jail/prison. Look at him. He won’t survive it. He will be damaged forever and I fear he would be a major target. Stanford boy, college kid, college athlete — all the publicity…this would be a death sentence for him.”

I ask again. What about the woman? She is the ONLY victim in this case. She’s the one who laid unconscious behind a dumpster while a guy repeatedly raped her, leaving her bruised, battered and yes, damaged forever.

As parents, one of our jobs is to prepare our kids for the “real world.” And, my real-world scenario does not include college students like Brock Turner thinking rape is justifiable. The victim’s letter she wrote to her attacker should become required reading on every college campus, and required reading for parents before they send their sons or daughters off for their freshman year. We should not, and cannot accept, that white privilege is a pass to a hand slap for committing a rape.

The Turner’s owe the victim an apology for their behaviors and their words. They also owe an apology to the nation for attempting to justify and minimize the crime of rape. Rape is a punishable crime. Rape results in one victim, and one victim only.

A letter to my 14-year-old-daughter…

A letter to my 14-year-old-daughter…

You are amazing. One day you’re sweet and needy, where I feel like you’d cuddle up in my lap if you were smaller. The next day, you spew venom and the look in your eyes tells me someone has taken over your body and she is not of this world. You are my 14-year-old-daughter and…Continue Reading

I look at you and see a smart, talented, pretty, respectful, kind teen that is focused on big dreams and a conviction that nothing or no one will stop. I want you to know I believe in you, through delightful days and demon days. While I may question my parenting skills from hour to hour, I never, ever question my love for you. I am there, forever and always.

You dream of Broadway and stardom. When we returned from New York when you were 12 you wrote this list:

how to move to NYC in six easy steps

You immediately started searching for apartments and potential jobs for me. In support of you, I did my own searching. Crazy, I knew, but in my heart, I felt the need to explore my career options…for you. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue at 12, so I truly admire your big thoughts and big dreams and want to do everything to support them, even when you’re breathing fire that’s singeing my arm hair.

I’m told that age 14 is the worst and that moving past this “magical” year makes all the difference. I truly, honestly hope so. Again, it doesn’t mean I ever love you any less, but it may mean my already gray hair masterfully covered by Yvette every five weeks, gets a slight period of remission.

Today when you emerged from your slumber and wandered downstairs you came over and hugged me. An hour later you were in tears and told me to “get out of your room, and quit asking questions.” I want you to know that when you hurt, I hurt. I know that doesn’t matter now, but I’m hoping someday you understand that I had a lot of those angsty feelings myself – friends, boys, fitting in, acceptance – no matter what era, the clothing may be different but the feelings are the same.

[caption id="attachment_2050" align="aligncenter" width="518"]14-year-old daughter at four Picked out of the crowd at SeaWorld at four. You were confident then. Okay, you cried when you were splashed and drenched, but who wouldn’t?[/caption]

There are days I still have feelings of angst. I went through years of self-doubt and lack of self-confidence. In fact, I’m in a job that gives me lots of reasons to doubt myself. But these days I brush it off and in my head give the big, F-you to those that I think deserve it. At my age, it works.

So, to my 14-year old daughter who I know will successfully launch into this not-always-kind-world, I just want you to know that I will always love you, no matter what your mood. I will support your choices even though they may not be what I would choose. I will give advice as I see warranted. I will be there, no matter what. Go forth and conquer. I know you will.