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The day before Thanksgiving, I had an invitation to a party. I wanted to go, I really did. But because I had so little time on Thanksgiving Day to make my pumpkin soup appetizer and my double chocolate pecan pie, I had to do them the night before. I got stressed out about the crust on the pie. It shouldn’t have made me freak out, but I did when I realized I had to redo the crust or else I wouldn’t be able to put the filling in. My inherent need for perfectionism made me lose it. I cried. Mom tried to console me, said she would bake the pie and make the soup while I should go to the party. But I knew she had so much cooking and cleaning to do for the event, and I should help her.

I didn’t finish the soup and pie until 9:00. If I had gone to the party, I might have had an hour to socialize before I had to leave for work, and that wasn’t going to work. I hadn’t seen the people I knew would be at the party for months, and I would want to be there for longer than an hour. So I didn’t go, and I drove to work with a lonely heart.

I would say Thanksgiving was nice. Not the best, but all right. Mom was cleaning when I got home that morning, I ate, crawled into bed, and I didn’t wake up again until a little after 2:00 when I got a text. I tried to go back to sleep, but then I started having hunger pangs. I rolled out of bed. Grandma and Grandpa had arrived,, and they were all very apologetic because they thought they were being loud. I had to explain, “No, it’s not that. I’m just hungry.” Luckily for me, they were snacking. I had some sweet pickles, black olives, crackers, and cheese. Then, since I figured I wasn’t going back to sleep any time soon, I took my shower. After that, I hung around for a bit.

We ate dinner around 5:30 – curried pumpkin soup, stuffing, turkey breast, carrots and parsnips, and mashed potatoes that Mom made (though I hate to tell her that mine are much better and don’t have to have all the onions, bacon, and garlic that she threw into hers). Everything was going well until the first words out of my grandpa’s mouth as soon as the blessing finished was not, “Please pass the turkey,” but rather, “I bet Sam is glad she has a job.”

I have no doubt in my mind my mother briefed my grandparents on what has been going on. I hear her whispering sometimes about me to them when they visit. I figured that, in their hours before my awakening, they heard the truth about how I feel about my job, and how I have not been myself at all. That remark really put a sour taste in my mouth. I just simply replied, “No, I’m not thankful for my job. I’d rather be spending time with my family and friends.” My mouth was shut for the remainder of dinner, for fear that if I opened it for even the slightest response, I’d bust and the well of emotions would come out again. I only ate single helpings of everything but the cranberry relish, because even though I like cranberries, I just really didn’t feel like having it. I excused myself from the table early because I was feeling tired, and I crawled back into bed for another hour. A call from my dad wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving awoke me. I just wish I could have a conversation bearing happy or good news, rather than the, “I’ve got work. There’s nothing else going on in my life right now because I have no life.” answer I seem to give every time we talk anymore.

We finished the evening with a viewing of Up, and even though I like the movie, it was difficult to keep my composure while watching it. The opening gets me every time.

Friday was worse. I came home after my nine-hour shift (that was actually a little longer because my relief came in ten minutes late. Apparently being punctual doesn’t extend to all employees). My mom had made me a breakfast sandwich, which I ate while crying. I went to bed shortly afterward. I woke up and started to cry, so I ducked into the shower to disguise it.

Mom and I had already put the Christmas tree up, but she got the ornaments and other decorations out while I was sleeping.  We ordered pizza and decked the halls while waiting for the delivery guy. Our tree looks lovely.

Before we ate dinner, Mom told me she had a surprise for me. I was led out to the outside of our house, where Christmas lights lined the roof of our house. For the record, I cannot remember the last time we had Christmas lights on our house. My dad and mom did it at least once when they were married, but that was over seventeen years ago. Mom and Paul never decorated the two houses we lived in, and we’ve been in this house for seven years and never put lights on it. We’ve always been so busy, or Mom knows how much work it is to put them up there. I’ve looked at other decorated houses with envy for years, and now, even though it is quite simple, I have Christmas lights on my house.

“We just wanted to make you happy, baby,” my mom said. It did. I mean, I was incredibly grateful for the time and thought that my mom and grandparents put into decorating our house. That was the problem, though. It just made me want to stay at home with them even more.

We ate dinner and watched Tangled, and everything was good. But after the movie ended, Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa played a game of Rummikub while I had an hour before I had to leave for work. I was going to have a slice of my chocolate pecan pie, but after I got the plate and the pie out, I started crying. I lost my appetite and put them back. I just went ahead and put my uniform on, and tried not to say anything.

My mom stopped me by the door before I was to go. She asked if I was okay, and I lost it. I couldn’t stop sobbing. She pulled me close to her and let me cry. For the first time in a long time, she didn’t yell at me or make me feel like a failure. I barely made it out of the house, for I was overcome with so much emotion and pain.

I don’t even know how I made it to work because my eyes were so blurry with tears. There was a moment when I looked up and realized, with a little confusion, that I was already at my exit and hadn’t noticed how close I was to it. When I thought I had cried so much that nothing else would come out, there were fresh wet spots on my green scarf. If the police had pulled me over, they would have thought someone had died.

I don’t know how I made it through work, either. Thankfully, it was a night I was able to leave early.

My Saturday was relatively good. I came home early, ate breakfast, and crawled into bed. Mom woke me up around 11:30, which mean I got about five hours of sleep. I felt pretty good. I got ready and we were out the door and down at the shopping center by 1:00. We ate at McAllister’s Deli, and then we walked around and went into stores. Mom and Grandma wanted to hit nearly every women’s clothing store. Grandpa stood outside. I felt bad for the guy.

I did buy something, but it was technically Mom’s purchase before I decided I’d pay for it so she didn’t have to put it on her credit card. It has gone from an immediate gratification purchase to being her birthday present. However, I didn’t buy anything for myself, nor did anyone buy anything for me. In the stores, Mom and Grandma would say, “Isn’t that nice? What do you think about this?” and I had to tell the truth: “It’s nice, I like it, but I can’t justify having it. I would have no place to wear it to, or I might wear it once.” I know this job isn’t permanent, that I’m not going to work here forever, but it feels like I will. When I have two pairs of work pants (which are technically my two pairs of nice khaki pants that are getting stains on them because my manager still hasn’t ordered my work pants) and three shirts, why bother? I spent so much money last year on professional clothes to use for teaching or a nice little office job, and I hardly wear any of it. I looked at so many nice items while shopping, but I knew that it would all be money wasted.

I tried to find a few gifts to complete my Christmas shopping list, but I didn’t succeed at that, either. For the most part, though, the gifts I need to make or buy are done. Why yes, I am an overachiever.

After walking around in the open air (and in the air of the stores), we went to Orange Leaf. Grandma and Grandpa had never heard of it, and since a new store opened in Noblesville a few weeks ago, we went. It was good, as always. Then we came home and I took a two-hour nap, which refreshed me just enough. We had little snacks and watched The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I had been wanting to watch for a few days. The DVD skipped a little, but it still worked, and it was a nice night.

Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa played a game while I did some knitting. I had some coffee and a slice of my double chocolate pecan pie before I had to get into my uniform and go to work. Everything, for the most part, went well. I was only a little upset when I had to leave, and then when I got to work I sat in the parking lot and cried a little bit, but I pulled myself together and came in. It was a fairly uneventful night, thank goodness. I did cry a little, though I think I hid it well from my co-worker.

All in all, if it hadn’t been for my job and all the crying, it would have been such a wonderful Thanksgiving…

I have to go back to Muncie in a few hours, but it sure doesn’t look that way at my house. None of my belongings are in the car. The house is a mess. There’s still laundry in the dryer.

I don’t want to go back.

I have been fortunate, enough, to have such a great Thanksgiving Break. Enough food in my stomach that I’m sure I could hibernate for the winter and be fine, a big cozy bed that actually has a bed frame, a shower that I don’t have to share, and a kitchen that is big enough to support all my cooking/baking endeavors.

Mom and I went to my grandparent’s house, where my Aunt Jo and Uncle Dave were there as well. I worked on my unit plan most of the day, but I took breaks to chat and snack. That could sum up our visit, really. My pie and cheesecake were hits, and we came home with leftovers, which my mom is sending with me back to Muncie.

We came home on Friday. We had to stop in Indianapolis and ask about my car. Turns out, the service center won’t be able to look at it until tomorrow. So I’m returning to Muncie without my car, and who knows how long it will be until I’ll have it back. I am lucky that one of the girls in my practicum is willing to give me a ride to the middle school until further notice. I did a lot of crying about the whole situation, though, since I’ve only had the car for two months and now I feel like I’m right back to where I started from – depending on others for rides and feeling like a loser. It’s funny how one thing can change everything. For instance, I was looking forward to driving down to Alex’s house yesterday, and instead, he had to come pick me up. Same as it ever was.

There have been some accomplishments, though. My car is finally registered, and I now have a license plate! Ironic, isn’t it? There was also a special upgrade offer for my phone, and I now have a shiny new phone that I like, but it’s a little weird to get used to. The texting on my old phone was much easier, I’ll say that.

Mom and I also put up our Christmas tree. Let me just note that we never do this. NEVER. It’s like living in the Twilight Zone. We put up the tree and a few other decorations the day after Thanksgiving. Mom had a point, though. Last year she decorated and I wasn’t a part of it, and if we waited for me to come home from school, the tree would only be up a week before Christmas and it wouldn’t be worth it. So, yeah. We’re one of those weird people this year.

Like I said before, Alex and I got together yesterday. We hung out in Indianapolis, saw Despicable Me at the dollar theater and thought it was cute, and then had Skyline Chili for dinner. He also brought pumpkin muffins and an entire pecan pie, courtesy of his mom. I nearly cried because I know that all my months of working out are just going to go to hell this season. I retaliated by sending him home with slices of my pumpkin spice latte cheesecake, though.

It’s been quite a break and, despite my sadness, I’ve been lucky for what I’ve got. My list of things I’m thankful for hasn’t shrunk at all since last year. I’m thankful for my family, my sweet, caring, awesome boyfriend, my friends, the roof over my head and the food in my stomach, my job, and my opportunity for an education. So what if my car’s in the shop? At least someone in my practicum is willing to help me out. And so what if I only got five days off? At least I didn’t have to work, and I only have three weeks left to the semester. Next week should be difficult, but I know I can make it.

I love having a car, you know that? I don’t know why I was so afraid of driving the past five years, but I’m loving every chance I get to drive in my car. It especially comes in handy when you need to go home from college. Yesterday after I left the middle school, I went home, packed the rest of my stuff (consisting mostly of laundry), ate lunch standing up while doing dishes, ran back out to my car, and put everything in my car before I drove to work. I didn’t even take off my coat, and when I was at work, I realized that I still had my badge on for when I’m in the schools. I traded that for my work name tag, and was busy for the next three hours.

I made it home shortly after 3:00. I put in a load of laundry, had a snack, and drove to meet my mom at work. I then followed her from there to the auto repair center at the dealership that would be taking care of my car. I had separation anxiety from her, my Hannelore (Yeah, that’s my car’s name. You can guess what one of my favorite webcomics is…). We have good times. I blast Electric Six, Depeche Mode, and Devo in her, which comes in handy when I’m stuck in traffic. I’m really sad that I’ve only had her two months, and already, we’re having major issues.

Mom stopped at Starbucks and we got coffee. We got stuck in the traffic on the way home, but we got to talk a lot. At home, we ate dinner, I did more laundry, and watched Glee while Mom did homework.

I slept in until 10:00 today, and that was great. I bummed around for a bit, worked a little on some crafty projects I’m doing, and I have now made one dessert for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving. It’s a Dutch Apple Pie for Uncle Dave. He doesn’t like pumpkin, and my other dessert for tomorrow is a Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake – Thank you, Sprinklebakes! I’ve also been listening to the Electric Six albums I don’t own on Grooveshark. It’s so much fun. I hope I’m able to go to their show in April, even though it’s on a Tuesday and I’ll be student teaching…

I got a call about my car today. They sent it to another affiliated shop to specify the problem, but yeah, it has something to do with the transmission – exactly what I feared. I still don’t have the car’s title or registration yet, and it’s the damn transmission. Sigh.

I should be working on homework. I have an eight-page paper for Victorian British Lit due next week (I think), and I have a huge unit plan due in about two weeks. I just can’t get motivated. Part of me is saying, “Stop being lazy!” but another part of me says, “You really deserve this break. Enjoy what you can.” I like the latter’s point of view on all this. Besides, I know I’ll get everything done, one way or another.

I got out of school for Thanksgiving Break on Tuesday. I had four assignments due that day – ugh. It was so nice to leave campus for a while. My mom and I now have wireless Internet, thanks to my grandparents. It’s going to help us out a lot, since my mom is planning on going back to school, and she’s still trying to find a job.

We went to Ohio on Wednesday. Alex was coming up to my town to meet Nick and get a few games he requested, but since I wasn’t going to be there, I left a note and a mix CD on my front door and told him to stop by my house. I got a “thank you” text from him, and that was the last time I heard from him for two days because his phone died and he left his charger at school. It worried me a bit, but he called me today.

Thanksgiving with my grandparents wasn’t bad. I love them, but in all honesty, I’m terrified of my grandpa. He’s a military man, and he always seems so stiff and, a “downer,” if you will. My grandma is nice, although sometimes I get so frustrated with her “hovering.”  She likes to watch over my shoulder while I cook, and during our visit, whenever I dug out one of my four knitting projects, she always met me with a dozen questions.

I feel really bad because I probably come off as selfish and rude to them. I don’t mean it like that. I just hate being the only grandchild and I hate a quiet, tight-ruled, religious household. I was horrified to see that they own a book by Bill O’Reilly. We’re so different, our generations, and that’s difficult.

But Thanksgiving still went well. I read The Graveyard Book, finished a scarf for Alex’s mom, and worked on a pair of corseted fingerless gloves I started back in October. We watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade (Alan Cumming followed by Cyndi Lauper was the BEST part!), and the food was good. We weren’t going to have mashed potatoes, but I wasn’t having that, so I made the mashed potatoes myself. I also made a pumpkin-pear pie for dessert that turned out well.

Things I am Grateful For:

  • A loving family, despite my flaws and theirs.
  • A charming, wonderful, caring (and patient) boyfriend.
  • Good friends to turn to when I need advice, support, and a good laugh.
  • An education, a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and a bed to sleep in every night.
  • I am (as far as I know) healthy, and so are my family members.
  • For life, love, truth, and beauty – even in the darkest of nights.
  • Hope that things, no matter how bad they seem, will get better.

Mom and I left this afternoon and came back home. We ate chili and watched Choke. It was an okay movie, but I love Sam Rockwell and his weirdness. My boy called me. I was glad to hear that he had a good Thanksgiving. I can’t wait to see him Sunday, because this upcoming week is going to be a long one, and I don’t know if I’ll have much time to spend with him.

The good news: Only a few more weeks, and the semester will be over. Finally.