Words & Banter

RED & BLACK … A Birthday Turkey

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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Given all the "supply chain warnings", I'm starting my Thanksgiving planning a little earlier this year and saw that this year your birthday falls on Thanksgiving!


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Yes. It happens every so often. And, although I do not like to celebrate my birthday any more than I like to celebrate holidays, at least I can kill two birds with one stone.


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Only you would look for ways to efficiently "celebrate" special occasions.


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Actually, looking for ways to avoid them. For years, when you lived overseas, I would go away for my birthday, which meant it was also a good way to avoid Thanksgiving.


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Well, the girls have always loved having you come out to the house, especially since it's a relatively rare occurrence. Plus, on Thanksgiving, they'd enjoy it when you and Mom would argue with each other. I'd find it stressful, but for them, it's sheer entertainment. Talk about a holiday tradition.


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Exactly. You are probably too young to remember, but when Uncle David and Grandpa Louie were still alive, every large family gathering, regardless of the occasion, included arguments that were actually debates. It is funny, the same arguments would continue for years with us never agreeing. But, it was never mean-spirited. And, for me, it was sport.


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I'm glad you enjoy it, but as one who prefers conflict avoidance, not to mention being the warm and fuzzy one, I like celebrations where everyone behaves or, ideally, actually gets along.


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How boring. Does that mean everyone also has to like the same kind of potatoes? You accept that some people like mashed potatoes, while others like mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows, or some (like me) prefer baked yams. You do not pass judgment, and you always make all of them.


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I'm not sure I'd equate having different opinions with liking different kinds of potatoes. Regardless, it's Thanksgiving, so I want everyone to be happy, at least in their food options. Anyway, it's no big deal because one of the best parts of Thanksgiving, besides the big inflatable turkey on the front yard that always makes me smile, is being able to "hide" in the kitchen for a day of cooking.


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We are so different. You show you care by doing something you enjoy, cooking. Whereas, I show I care by showing up. Eating food I do not particularly like. (Have you ever noticed that I do not eat the turkey or the stuffing?) And, helping you with much of the clean-up because I feel it is the least I can do.


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Really? Although I always appreciate your help, I thought you left the dining room as a way to limit how much you might be tempted to eat, especially as we can sit there for hours talking and nibbling. It's funny because, for most of us, Thanksgiving's more than just a meal; it's about giving thanks for all we have, and about memories from the past and hopes for the future.


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It seems to me those things can be done even if it is not Thanksgiving.


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In theory, yes. But most of us "mere mortals" do better with a specific day to celebrate. It's like birthdays. It's a perfect way to remember how important someone is and to make a point of telling them.


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I do not disagree.


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Then why don't you celebrate your birthday?


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There is a huge difference between acknowledging a birthday and making a big deal out of it. For example, the fact you and the girls, and then once Natasha moved overseas, you and Sawyer, always make a point of coming into Houston to see me, although not necessary, is always appreciated.


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Of course, it's necessary. It's your birthday! But this year, we'll already all be together since it's on Thanksgiving.


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Well, since I know "celebrating" is important to you, just put a candle in one of those cute turkey cupcakes you make every year. You know, the ones with the nasty candy corn as feathers.


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Hey, I love candy corn. But in the spirit of celebrating your birthday in a way that will make you happy, how about a candle in a baked yam? Although I'll warn you now, the singing of "Happy Birthday" is non-negotiable.


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And, you know what else makes me happy? My birthday will not fall on Thanksgiving again until 2027.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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Photo by bhofack2 for iStock

Popcorn! Quite simply, it’s one of my absolute favorite things. Starting when I was a child, whenever I went to the movies, I’d get (and finish!) the largest bucket of popcorn available. And I always thought movie popcorn was far superior to what you could make at home … until a recent trip to visit a close friend in Tennessee, and she introduced me to Great Northern Popcorn (I promise this isn’t a paid ad). Now I’m addicted to it as I can make it on my cooktop. I know Black would be more interested in the science of what makes popcorn pop, but I prefer to just be obsessive about my popcorn …

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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You’re going to roll your eyes, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself.


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That is totally out of character, unless you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions.


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Actually, no. For decades, my priorities, and therefore my life, have always been focused on the girls and Mom. But that’s all changing. And I’m not sure how to “change” with it.
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