Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving War

First off, I don't mean the war on Thanksgiving. I think that's a thing. People get mad, frustrated that Christmas is eclipsing Thanksgiving. Christmas trees up before Thanksgiving? An elf drowns a baby reindeer. Or so the plentiful Save Thanksgiving e-cards claim on social media. But when those twinkly lights first make their appearance, I get excited. I love the Christmas season. I love being surrounded by happy songs, bright lights, and that heavenly Christmas tree smell. Plus, I get to bake as many cookies as I want, unjudged. Win!

Don't get me wrong; I'm all for celebrating Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving. Well, I love the traditional Thanksgiving. I enjoy gathering with friends and family, sharing what we're thankful, and taking time to be grateful for the wonderful relationships in our lives. But for me, a wife and mother, Thanksgiving is WAY more work than Christmas. Christmas prep is spread out over weeks; Thanksgiving happens all within a few days. It isn't like you can make stuffing three weeks in advance. Christmas is relaxing, because most of the work is already done. Christmas dinner has lower expectations than Thanksgiving, because Thanksgiving is all about the food.

And the shopping. I'm not a fan of stores being open on Thanksgiving. I've worked retail, my husband currently works retail. Opening on Thanksgiving steals time and creates unnecessary stress. End rant on Black Thursday.

Back to the food, and good ol' Turkey day. The Thanksgiving War began a couple of Thanksgivings after my sister's then-boyfriend, now-hubby became comfortable with our family. Comfortable enough to call us out on the jello salad.

As far back as I can remember, we've had a jello salad at Thanksgiving. A lime jello salad, to be exact. The ingredients consist of lime jello, cream cheese, and crushed pineapple, all swirled together in one green, gooey pan of deliciousness. You see, I'm in the pro-jello salad camp. As it turns out, the lime jello salad ended up being a divisive issue during those last few years when my parents, sister and I all got together for Thanksgiving (before we scattered across the country. Blame jobs if you will, but I blame the lime jello salad).

It started out with gentle teasing over the green goo. That evolved, year by year, as the teasing relationship within our family dynamic grew to extremes. It virtually took body armor to attend a meal with us. Eventually, my dad and sister abandoned my mother and me for the anti-lime jello salad side. Defectors! Traitors! My dad had apparently made behind the scenes jokes for years, but because my mom's mom was the creator of the cursed side dish, it didn't come fully out until we no longer lived close enough for her to bring it. When it turned up on the Thanksgiving dinner table without Grandma placing it there, the stage was set. It was only a matter of time, and a newcomer, until our family would be torn apart.

Not really. Those who like it, eat it. Those who don't, don't. There's still teasing, I'm sure. But I'm naturally nostalgic, and it reminds me of a childhood when Thanksgiving was spent with extended family. Three Thanksgivings in Alaska meant it still made its annual appearance, despite my husband's dislike of it. As it turns out, one of his friends defected to my side (HA!). Generally, newcomers to our family don't like it. It is, after all, lime green. But that's okay-- it leaves more for me!
The offending dish, 2014 edition.

I did a little informal FaceBook poll to see how the rest of the populace felt about jello salad. Out of 14 respondents (myself included), only 4 people claim to dislike it. One described it as, "It is the most amazing thing to have been put on this earth…Eating a bowl is like being snuggled up with puppies and rainbows and unicorns and everything else wonderful…but seriously, good stuff." So, unscientifically, for every 14 people coming to your Thanksgiving, 10 of them will clearly want a jello salad. You may want to adjust your menu accordingly.
Has jello salad had a negative impact on your family? Share your story in the comments below. Only support here, people. Only support.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Perfect Fall Movies

I love fall. It's more than just pumpkin spice lattes and instagram shots of colorful leaves. It's an opportunity to layer on scarves and jackets, feel and hear the crunch of leaves underfoot and the crisp breezes, and immerse yourself in the changing of the seasons. The most noticeable change of seasons, to me, is fall. Spring to summer? Eh, gradual warming. Winter to spring? Mud, followed by a few weeks until blooms appear. Fall to winter? Naked trees until snow arrives. But summer turning into fall? What a sight. Sometimes overnight, leaves change color. Some drift down slowly on a brand new, crisp breeze that just smells different than a summer breeze. Bonfires replace cookouts, and fall movies fill in for those summer flicks.

I hope you're getting to experience fall in all its glory, but if you'd rather immerse yourself in the cinematic world of fall, pop in one of these movies and turn your air down low so you feel a little chilled. Cover up with a warm blanket, a cup of hot apple cider, and pretend you live somewhere as picturesque in the fall as these films depict.

1. You've Got Mail
Heavens above, I love this movie. I'll find just about any excuse to watch it. I love the meet-cute, and the fact that books surround them and seem to be their own character in the film. I love the unique characters, the witty conversations, and the beautiful scenery. The film opens up with talk of fall, and buying school supplies. Fall always makes me want to buy school supplies. The storyline drifts over into winter and spring, but fall seems to be a character all of its own, as well. What a lovely story.

2. When Harry Met Sally
Even the case this movie comes in is all about fall. Much like You've Got Mail, this one starts off in the fall. The seasons changing serve as a metaphor for people growing and changing, but also as a way to show the passing of time. The first few times I saw this movie, I thought they were so old when they finally got together. Spoiler alert! Ending reference! Look away if you haven't seen this one! Recently, I realized they were only in their 30s, and probably early 30s at that. Oh, man, I feel old now.

3. Homeward Bound
As an animal lover, I adore this movie. As someone who isn't a huge fan of crying, I have to try to avoid this movie. But the characters, and their situations, and their owners…I just love them all. The plot covers the end of summer and fall through Thanksgiving, and I always think of the ending first when I think of this movie. Ergo, it makes the list.

4. Good Will Hunting
There are so many things I love about this movie. Robin Williams. How do you like them apples?! The rise of the underdog. Faith. Brilliant fall colors and heart to hearts. Yes, please.

5. Remember the Titans (and every other football movie, ever, probably)
Ah, football. Tension. Friendships. All sorts of social change. Such a great film. After all, nothing says fall like football!

6. Dead Poets Society
Sadly, I've only seen clips of this classic. But it's on my list of must-watch films, so I had to include it. It's apparently pretty famous for its fall scenes, as well as the amazing-ness that is Robin Williams.

7. Step-Mom
I can only watch this once every few years, as it is so incredibly heartbreaking. But also beautiful, and set it the fall. So there's that.

8. Beauty and the Beast
Sure, there are some wintry scenes. But the film begins in the glory of fall, with Belle dreaming of more than just a provincial life.

9. Brave
The leaves, the music, the feminism! There's so much I love about this movie. It's the perfect complement to a steaming mug of hot apple cider on a blustery fall day.

10. 101 Dalmatians
I know, I have a lot of Disney movies on here. But the puppies are born on a wild and stormy night in October, and the beginning of the movie is clearly set in early fall. So it fits. Plus, do you really need an excuse to listen to the song Cruella DeVil?

What movies are quintessentially fall for you? Share in the comments!