Thanksgiving Leftovers

You know Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I’ve detailed reasons why that happens to be the case here and here. Right now, I’m really just thankful for this:

Iowa State 37 Oklahoma State 31

And if all I get for Christmas is that. Well, I’m okay with that too. It was that awesome.

Anyway, Thanksgiving gets lost in the corporate commercial onslaught of Halloween and Christmas. Evidently, turkeys and pilgrims aren’t all that marketable. Thanksgiving has pretty much been rebranded as the tailgate immediately preceeding black Friday. Not that anything is wrong with tailgating. Especially when it is centered on turkey, potatoes, corn and beer. But even Meredith Publishing skipped right over it in Midwest Living Magazine. Yes, I get Midwest Living. And I read it. Aside from that, they skipped it. Halloween stuff – yup. All kinds of stories and pictures about pumpkin pie and jack-o-lanterns. Christmas stuff – yup. Pages and pages for wreaths, snow dusted greenery and holiday traditions.

Yeah, this is unacceptable. I mean, if anyone knows how to celebrate a holiday when its perfectly acceptable to consume nothing but gravy and beer, its those of us in the Midwest.

Regardless, here are 2011’s reasons why Thanksgiving is awesome.

Cool NFL football references. As in when your mother-in-law openly wonders when was the last time the Cowboys did not play on Thanksgiving. 1976 and 1977. Who replaced them? St. Louis Cardinals. I remember watching the ’77 Cardinals-Dolphins played in St. Louis. Griese carved them up 55-14. Why is this important? It marked the end for Coryell-era Cardinals and it gave me a chance to talk 70’s football, albeit briefly, during Thanksgiving Day conversations.

Leftovers. How much do I like leftovers? Back in ’91 my buddies and I got back late from a local drinking establishment and we were a bit, um, hungry. First thing we saw in the fridge was a plate of potato peels. Right, just the peels. Not sure why they were in the there but after some seasoned salt, ketchup and some time in the microwave, they weren’t bad. Peels have most of nutrients. So it was healthy.

Pie. Apple and pumpkin. No whipped crème. Cold not warmed. Mmmm….

Nobody expects anything. Thanksgiving is the one holiday when showing up is all anybody really expects. You want to bring over some food? Cool. But nobody is upset if you don’t. And even if you show up with a bag of rolls everybody thinks you’re cool. Why? There’s always some unused gravy that needs to be cleaned up. And nothing cleans up gravy like a cheap roll. Plus you only get dirty looks if you fail to eat your share. There aren’t any costumes. No presents. If you walk in wearing jeans, boots and a flannel shirt you fit right in. Its virtually impossible to screw it up. Nobody schedules Thanksgiving pictures. You don’t have to buy a new outfit. There’s always a James Bond marathon on TV to which you can flip during the commericals while watching football. C’mon, that’s a good holiday right there.

However, it also marks the beginning of Christmas. And, as Johnny Mathis says, it’s the most wonderful time of year. In fact, Johnny was singing this on the radio on the way home from gymnastics last week. Which lead to this brief exchange:

“Dad, is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year?“

“Yes, yes it is.”

“Awesome. I think its because everyone is happy because they don’t have to go to school or work and everyone with their family.”

“Well said Bails.”

Today’s Christmas clip:

Published in: on November 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm  Comments (1)  
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Family Meeting

Erosion is an interesting thing. You set some ground rules and for a while, your kids follow them and you enforce them. Then you hit a tipping point where it appears that they are following the rules on their own without a great deal of enforcement needed on your part. The illusion that they have taken hold becomes apparent to you. So you slack. You stop enforcing the stuff that is hard to enforce or simply a pain in the backside. The problem is that the kids haven’t adapted to the new rules, they are just making halftime adjustments. At the very least, it is a flanking maneuver. Like Stonewall Jackson at the Chancellorsville in 1863.

It isn’t some grand strategy either. It’s a simple change that befuddles you. Kinda like Rocky coming out and leading with his right instead of his left against Clubber Lang in Rocky III. They simply adjust and give you the impression that they really are following the rules and you stupidly believe them just enough that you lose focus and then – BLAMMO! You’re screwed. They start doing whatever they want and blatantly ignoring the new rules. You don’t realize it until its too late.

Time for a family meeting to readjust things.

We did this last week. Mornings had become so ridiculous that the President’s economic strategy looked organized comparatively speaking. So we laid some simple rules for Kinsey and Bailey. Riley, as expected, wasn’t really causing any problems with the morning preparation. For our purposes here, we will momentarily look past her staggeringly high propensity for instigating fights between her younger sisters.

New Morning Rules:
1-Make Bed (We thought this was clear. It wasn’t)
2-Brush teeth and hair. (Again, this would seem to be apparent.)
3-Get dressed – including putting on socks and shoes before coming downstairs (Over time and in-depth observation, I had concluded that single most important factor in morning delays was the fact that the girls were not failing to put on their shoes until it was time to walk out the door but they hadn’t put on their socks either. And choosing the right pair of socks is evidently like choosing a new Pope.)

4-Eat breakfast and clean up breakfast dishes
5-Get backpack and jackets ready to go and put them by the door
6-If everything else has been completed, you can watch TV until its time to go to the bus stop

We also had to supplement the after school rules that have been in place since the first week of school back in August. We already had the no TV and no computer rules in place. Although I did have to clarify last week that watching a DVD is the same thing as watching TV. I’m sure you can understand the confusion…

After School Rules (For your benefit, I have italicized the new rules)
1-No TV
2-No computer
3-No snacks or drinks in the family room
4-Only one snack or drink
5-Everybody finishes homework. Completed homework is placed on the kitchen table for Mom and Dad to inspect when we get home.
6-NOBODY plays until EVERYBODY is done with their homework

In addition to these changes, we’ve been receiving nearly regular emails from Bailey’s teacher about her daily hi-jinks. Please talk to Bailey about tackling other kids. Please talk to Bailey about the words she chooses. Please talk to Bailey about the dangers of flammable liquids.

Kidding about the last one.

Her teacher was evidently out of the classroom the other day for a minute or two and some boy got out of his seat and started crawling around the room like he was a dog. Growling and everything. Some of the kids laughed and some of the kids told him he needed to get back in his seat. Bails decided to go all Jack Lambert on him and tackled the kid to stop him. Or so she says. Regardless, she broke the classroom rule about getting out of her seat without permission.

Then her, and what I can only assume to be the same boy, got in a conversation about who liked the other the least. Remember, this is a conversation between 2nd graders. The boy at some point later in the day went to their teacher said Bailey was being mean and said that she “hated” him. Or so she says.

This comes on the heels of the incident regarding the word she wrote on the board that rhymes with “bass.” And another encounter in which she was disrespectful to a teacher’s aide by not listening and following directions and mouthing off. I’m certainly not condoning this but don’t 2nd graders and mouthing off kinda go together like peanuts and Paydays? Like Magnum and moustaches? Like George Hazard and Orry Main?

She’s also in a pattern lately where she dislikes dinner. Not just certain things but everything. Except ice cream. So that’s been, um, challenging. I’m mean she’s built like a pencil. If she doesn’t eat, it not entirely unrealistic to think she’d be suffering from malnourishment by morning.

We’ve tried various punishments with varying degress of success. Finally, I decided that my Mom might have been onto something back in the 70’s regarding dinner. Nope, nothing to do with fish sticks. Those are still gross.

“Well, Bailey, this is your dinner. You can eat it or not. Its up to you. But this is dinner. If you don’t eat it, you aren’t getting anything else the rest of the night. So I hope you’re looking forward to breakfast.”

This strategy worked when it comes to getting her to eat her dinner. Still working on the undesirable comments preceeding dinner.

Regarding the behaviors at school, I’ve settled – at least for the moment – on two strategies. The first has been implemented. If Bails screws up at school, she can’t watch TV at home. This, we’ve discovered, is tortuous for her. She hates to be left out. Hates it. Hates it like Chuck Noll hated George Atkinson back in ’76. Hates it like hair metal hates grunge. Hates it like JR hated Cliff Barnes. We had her set up her barbies behind the couch in the family room. This way we could keep an eye on her and torture her with the sounds of TV. The data is inconclusive on the effectiveness of this strategy.

The second strategy involves her Halloween candy. She screws up and a few pieces go in the garbage. And I know what she likes and doesn’t like. Pretty soon all suckers, skittles and Resses Pieces are going to be gone and all that’s left will be Sour Patch Kids and granola bars.

We’ll see how this goes…

Halloween 2011

Yes, I’m late with this. But Halloween is one of many things that makes Fall awesome. Pumpkin ale at Rock Bottom, the smell of burning leaves and the slow wave of gold that overcomes the soybean fields are among the others. Plus there’s football and Thanksgiving too. Oh, and that dusty crispness of the air that smells one way in the morning and then another way in the evening.

Plus, I get to have conversations with Mom about how NFL offensive lineman get away with holding.

“See if they put their hands on the inside and below the shoulder pads, they can clamp on and not get called. But if the DL gets his arms inside first, the OL has no choice but grab on the outside and BAM, that’s holding baby! You know back in the 70’s when rivalries really mattered in the NFL the OLs couldn’t even extend their arms. Its one of the reasons Mean Joe Greene routinely killed guys every Sunday. Seriously. The Pennslyvania National Guard had to set up a field hospital outside of Three Rivers Stadium. One hospital in Pittsburgh started billing him because he was responsible for so many paramedic calls. Not kidding. You can look it up.”

Anyway, we had trick or treating on October 30th. Yes, in Des Moines we continue the staggeringly stupid tradition of Beggar’s Night and trick or treat on a day other than Halloween. Plus, we tell jokes. Yup, the trick part of trick or treating is evidently a joke in Des Moines. So kids get asked to tell a joke before they get candy. Listen, I’m all for earning your candy, but isn’t the costume and braving the often inclement late October weather enough? Back to Beggars Night. Here’s a quick history on it. Way back in the 70’s in Bethel Park, PA we had Devil’s Night. The night before Halloween. Local teenagers would more or less run around their neighborhoods committing various acts of vandalism. Its still rather stunning to me that local authorities put up with this. I mean small fires, broken windows, missing fence posts, soaped windows, etc. Well Des Moines evidently had a similar issue back in the late 30’s. The night before Halloween they go out and vandalize the crap out of the town. Not surprising with the New Deal strangling the national economy. Probably a lot of pent up anger. Anyway the local powers that be decided this hooliganism had to end decided that Oct. 30, and Oct. 30 only, would be the night kids could go door to door for treats. Also decided was that the kids would have to earn the treat through a joke or something. Every year they promoted Oct. 30 as the REAL day for trick or treating. During the WW II, they even so far as to say that ding-dong-ditching or soaping windows was actually helping the Axis win the war. Immaturity was helping the Axis. And Americans think today’s politicians will say anything….

So that’s the story. And we’re stuck with it because, as we all know, teenagers screw just about everything up.

So good friends of ours have a Halloween party every Beggars Night. We all had costumes this year. This is not the norm. Mostly because I’m lazy. Up until today, my best effort was in 2009 when Mom and I went as us…in 1987. I had shredded up jeans, rolled at the bottom while wearing a high school football jersey. Mom had a cheerleader uniform. This year, however, I think we may have surpassed it. Mom was a 60’s go-go dancer. Cool swirly psychedelic dress with platinum blond hair and orange go-go boots. I went as 70’s tennis superstar Ilie Nastase. Couldn’t drop the f-bombs that would have made the costume completely authentic but I did have a sweet black afro along adorned with a headband and a white shirt and shorts in 70’s sizes. Man, I don’t know how my Dad did it. Those are some small shorts these guys wore. Got a pair of white Adidas shorts, 5 inch inseam…size medium. Tried on the smalls but Mom correctly observed that there would be children at this party and the smalls might be inappropriate. I agreed. Topped off the costume with wristbands, sunglasses, tennis racket and a sweet fu-manchu moustache.

Except the sticky adhesive on the back of the damn moustache was like NASA-grade duct tape. It was killing me. Plus, I could barely talk. Or eat since the thing was so big I was concerned I’d be walking around with chili hanging off my ‘stache. Then, since its allergy season, I had a bit of runny nose. Ever try wiping your nose while wearing a big thick 70’s fu-manchu moustache? Can’t do it. It’s impossible. Its like watching the Bigfoot episode of the Six Million Dollar Man and not thinking it was awesome.

The lubricant running from my nose got between the adhesive and my upper lip, and it got, well, gross. Then you add some chili, rib tips and couple beers…dude, it was just ridiculous. Not as ridiculous as the girls looked when they thought they’d wear it as they handed out some candy after we finished up this year’s candy grab.

Now a lot of people like Halloween. I’m among them. But how many people would go so far as to build a scary maze in their garage? Complete with inflatable Halloween arches over the entrance and exit? Not to mention actual plywood partitions and animatronics rivaling Jurassic Park?

Okay, I’m kidding about the animatronics part. But they had real people in the maze, I’m assuming teenagers because you couldn’t get anybody else to do it, wearing spooky costumes, using those creepy voice changers while waving glowing swords and stuff?

Yeah, not many. Especially since they would have been shutdown if OSHA happened to come by. Kids thought it was freaking excellent however. Bails and Kinz went through it twice.

So it was a sufficiently scary Halloween. Although the scariest part was when I got back from trick or treating with the girls and my neighbor tells me the Steelers blew it in the last 30 seconds and lost to New England…yeah, that crap ain’t funny man…

Of course they went and let Joe Flacco drive 92 yards without using a timeout to beat them last night. I hate the Ravens…