Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Favorite Things '13 (AKA What I'm Thankful For This Year)...

Personally I've never been a fan of Thanksgiving-- not for its origins, especially. After all, Columbus didn't discover this land (which is why I don't celebrate that ridiculous "holiday" either) but instead claimed it for a territory that didn't deserve it when he ultimately got lost. The pilgrims were basically invaders-- kind of how modern entertainment shows aliens descending from the sky in our world-- yet we're asked to side with and celebrate their conquering of those who were just trying to live in the society they loved. I also never really enjoyed Thanksgiving because the day wasn't a day to see extended family that I would otherwise miss for most of the year. While I come from a big, extended Italian family, my parents didn't keep in touch with most of the cousins, so growing up it was usually just the four of us (my mom, my dad, my grandmother who lived in the neighborhood, and me) around the table. My parents would pull out a big dining room table and make the traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and rolls while I watched the Macy's parade and picked marshmallows out of the ambrosia, but it was pretty much just another day, another dinner. We never even went around the table to say for what we were thankful. As I got older, I dissolved the traditions further to drift further from what society has made the day and create my own: dinners became potlucks more commonly consisting of lasagna or pizza than any bird; all of the Friends Thanksgiving episodes were added to the schedule after the parade, and the evening often consisted of putting up my Christmas tree while baking cookies, drinking cocoa, and watching Home Alone and Surviving Christmas. I surrounded myself with friends who had become my family, but still we never went around and said for what we were thankful. After a particularly tough year, I think it's important to finally sit down and click down that list, even if some of the things seem trivial or superficial to some. It's the little things that can make us smile and keep us sane in the face of hardships, after all.

Clever comedies like Trophy Wife, The Mindy Project, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Awkward, The Goldbergs, and of course Parks and Recreation. Each of these has different merits, but each took me by pleasant surprise by just how smart and at times subtle they have been able to be with their humor. They have the ability to be both relatable and somewhat wacky at times, and they never treat special guest stars as just that: instead they blend everyone seamlessly into the world of the show creating characters you want to hang out with but have to settle for GIFing.

The awesome success of my friends. It's often hard to be entirely happy when someone makes a huge stride while you feel like you're barely keeping your head above water as you tread. Believe me, I am no stranger to the slightly forced smile and gritted teeth "congratulations." But life is too short for that, and honestly anyone breaking through and hitting a big personal creative stride is a win for any aspiring to do the same. No disrespect to anyone who got engaged or had babies but that's a much more common occurrence-- though friends of mine got the call that they were finally going to get to adopt today, and that's pretty damn special in and of itself. Patricia finally seeing her passion project Dating in L.A. and Other Urban Myths in production and then on-screen and/or Heather's first novel finally being packaged and given a publishing date are huge milestones that brought them joy while they worked on them but now will bring thousands of others the same joy while consuming the products.

My mother. She may not still be alive, but her presence is felt more than ever now that I am officially unemployed and tapping into the money she left me. When she passed away, I put it away-- way away-- for the future. It was earmarked for a house, an adoption, an eventual retirement. I had to pull a little out here and there when I couldn't make ends meet just from my writing, and I knew it was a cushion, but I never really realized how much she was still taking care of me until more recently when I realized I would literally be out on the street if not for that cushion. I hate that I have to use it, and I'm determined not to use it all, but damn if I am not eternally grateful that it's buying me some time and acting as a band aid.

And of course, Madison Chandler. This little guy is the best friend and softest pillow for which a girl could ever ask.

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