Mimosas, Football and the South

Today is chock full of giving thanks and while I consider myself a pretty grateful person most days, I can’t help but be sucked into the thankful spirit tenfold today. I was a little worried initially about how today would go as I wasn’t going to be home with my family. For those who know me well or know how incredible my family is, they might understand how tremendously difficult it is for me to be away from them during the holidays.
I simply adore Thanksgiving with my family: waking up, watching the Macy’s Day Parade, cooking, inevitably ruining one pie because I didn’t read the recipe well enough and then making another because I refuse to be defeated, getting gussied up, setting up our dining room table that is stored in the basement and only brought up to the living room on Thanksgiving because we don’t have a large enough kitchen for it or a formal dining room, all sitting around the table as a family together sharing our thankfuls, laughing, cheersing, trying to get the best loaded bite complete with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy and some biscuit, napping with the girls while the boys watch football, then waking back up and eating more food and more pie.
Today, however, I was spending Thanksgiving with a different sort of family. I live with my boyfriend, Ryan and he is not only the man I intend to marry, but my best friend and my love, so while he is not the family that made me, he feels like home to me.
He set the alarm this morning for 7:30 a.m. because he has a different set of traditions than I do. He gets up and plays football with his childhood friends who still get together in the neighborhood he grew up in. They play football every year. I got up with him, showered and I was brushing my teeth, he warned me that it would be 28 degrees out and I didn’t have to come watch football if it was too cold for me. I laughed. Too cold? I’m from Michigan. There is no such thing as too cold unless there’s a news warning telling you to stay indoors because if you stay outside for more than 10 minutes you’ll get frost bite and your nose will fall off. That’s too cold and trust me, it’s chillier than 28 degrees.
I bundled up: faux fur hooded jacket on top of furry hat, scarf, mittens and wool socks. I met Ryan’s friends and their family—The Klinkers. A scrumptious breakfast display of homemade chocolate chip waffles, sausage rice casserole, scrambled eggs, bacon, mimosas and hot coffee was served before the big game. It never occurred to me to have that kind of breakfast on Thanksgiving before. I was too busy starving myself so I could gorge guilt-free on pie later in the day.
I watched the guys (and a few brave girls) play football, with their specially made for the day blue and maroon jerseys. I cheered and felt immense pride for my sports-loving boyfriend who intercepted the ball and ran across the field (elementary school playground) for a touchdown.
When the game was over Ryan was sweaty and muddy; I was beaming and grateful. Grateful to be there. Grateful that I watched a football game without wanting to gouge my eyes out. Grateful for mimosas and chocolate chip waffles on a day I’d reserved for chocolate pie and turkey. Grateful to be a part of this family’s traditions. Grateful to see the family patriarch pour a splash of Jameson in his coffee (this delighted me for some reason). Grateful that my boyfriend may have been serious about winning the game but wasn’t too serious to blow me kisses while playing. Grateful that the Klinkers hugged me and high-fived me like family.
Little did I know when I woke up this morning that my day could go the way it went; I was hopeful for a lovely day, but I honestly felt Thanksgiving had some pretty large shoes to fill and it would be next to impossible to do. I was wrong. This Thanksgiving did more than alright even if hundreds of miles separated me from the dining room table carried up to the living room and my nine siblings surrounding me. I could go on about the many splendid events that followed the morning football game, but I am going to avoid being verbose for once. Or try. And leave you with a small list instead.

Besides my huge thanks to the Klinkers I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my other major gratefuls:
—FaceTime
—Christmas trees all lit up in windows and on hills
—Families near and far
—Mr. DeHaven’s cookies
—Babies that crawl
—Lions that devour cheese
—Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters
—Wegman’s
—Boys with beards who play football and look damn good doing it

—And this quote I heard on Modern Family:

“There are dreamers and there are realists in this world. You’d think the dreamers would find the dreamers and the realists would find the realists but more often than not the opposite is true. You see the dreamers need the realists to keep them from soaring too close to the sun. And the realists, well, without the dreamers they might not ever get off the ground.”

Which reminded me a little bit of my boyfriend and I. And that in turn made me grateful that I am dating someone who is just enough different in personality, family and traditions to introduce me to a life that I have never known, but that is beautiful, grand, spontaneous and splendid, even if he is a sporty Southerner who likes to plan. He is the yin to my yang and the peanut butter to my chocolate.

So much for not being verbose. Happy Thanksgiving anyway everybody!

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Ugliness Attack

I have a real problemo with ugly. Ugly shoes make me scrunch up my mouth and nose in distaste. Ugly cars? I ask myself why? Why would you ride around in that, it’s clearly modeled after a hearse. Ugly dogs, no, I don’t want to pet you (but I will out of politeness), now go on, shoo shoo, you’re no husky and you and I are both sorry for that. Amendment—some dogs are so ugly they’e cute. That works for me. Ugly home decor. Oh my. Don’t even joke about that. In fact watch this commercial that perfectly sums up my thoughts on my low tolerance for ugly.

And this one for good measure because, it too, is hilarious and so true.

Before you go thinking I am vain and wretched, it is not so. Reference one of my earlier posts where I dressed like a long dead male poet, complete with moustache. I clearly am not Kate Winslet, nor do I pretend to be. I just have a real issue with aesthetics. I blame my mother.

She has really good taste and growing up had a way of taking anything—tree branches, a dresser she found on the side of the road, window panes— and turning them into pieces of beautiful art. Though our home was modest and our family size was abundant (12 of us in all) I have always felt Martha Stewart would tip her hat, or maybe her fashionable garden shears to our home— when it’s clean and ready for Thanksgiving or a graduation party that is.

Not only that, but I recently found out on a trip back home to Michigan to visit my family that I was having ugliness attacks even as a toddler. My boyfriend, mom, sister and I were driving home from Ann Arbor, after some thrifting and Zingermans sandwiches, yes and yes. My mom and I were regaling DC (my boyfriend) with car horror stories of yore while my sister laughed in the backseat.

The car horror stories came about because I casually mentioned to my family that DC didn’t know you could buy used tires. As in he literally hadn’t ever run into the problem of not being able to afford brand spanking new tires, should he need some. Ah, how the other half lives.

This is why I must tease him about being a Richie Rich. If you know anything about the movie Richie Rich, you will know that Macaulay Culkin had a lot of moola, enough to buy his own mountain if he wanted to. My boyfriend does not have that kind money. But he has always had enough where he did not know you could buy tires that have been pre-owned.

My family on the other hand grew up knowing how to stretch a dollar—because we had to—and the worth of a worn-out tire. Sure I have been warned on more than one occasion that my tires may blow out at any given moment, have no tread left and that I am actually a danger to myself and the road if I continue to drive with such shoddy tires. It’s quite shocking that all those years of crappy tires held out as long as they did, but I credit good mechanics with solid patching skills combined with reasonable used tire prices and the fine grace of God for why my car tires have never blown out to date.

So there we were, driving in DC’s posh car with Sirius radio, brakes that don’t grind, a steering wheel that doesn’t screech and a transmission smoothly doing whatever it is that transmissions do, while showing DC that our family is no stranger to used tires, in fact used tires were the least of our concerns when it came to cars.

My mom told a story of one car that was missing the ignition, or the ability to start the car normally with a key. You had to start the car with a screwdriver. I was very young and do not remember this car. My mom said one day we were getting ready to leave and she tried putting me in the car. I saw the interior, the faulty ignition and began to cry and refuse to get in.
I was having my first ugliness attack.

So see, it’s been ingrained in me even as a wee lass. It’s not my fault. I knew even at a very young age that I wanted to surround myself with pretty and I have strived for that ever since.

In all seriousness though, my version of pretty is probably very different from yours. Sure I cried over the car that had to be started with a screwdriver, but does that mean I covet Range Rovers? No. I want a 1986 Jeep Wagoneer. Are my flannels from Urban Outfitters? No, they’re my grandpa’s or they were purchased at Goodwill. And um, they’re flannels. Do I decorate with tree-branches and old books? Sure do. But these are all things that are beautiful to me. Old flannels, old cars, old soul. It’s just a matter of taste. To quote my favorite movie, When Harry Met Sally:

“Everybody thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor but they couldn’t possibly all have good taste.”

Lucky for me, I not only have great taste but I am a hoot. I am just talking about the other people. The people who buy ugly dogs, shoes and cars. But alas, I suppose they too think they have good taste and a sense of humor. Alas, what can you do? Just know that if I walk into your doctor’s office and the paint is muted green, the chairs are a plastic magenta and I am suddenly shuddering, well I am having an ugliness attack and will question your credentials.