Thanksgiving: Remembering the Past and Building the Present

This week, my kids are off for the Thanksgiving holiday. Good for them. I have to work Thanksgiving Day and the day after, A. K. A. “Black Friday,” so I’ll be having Thanksgiving a day early. But as I’m preparing the for the upcoming days of madness, I’m thinking about how Thanksgiving was when I was my kids’ age. It wasn’t always about retailers getting a leg up on the competition. It wasn’t about fighting other customers over something that stores probably had a surplus of. No, Thanksgiving was not the cash cow as it is now. At least, not as much back when I was growing up.

It may be hard to believe, but I remember a time when you really celebrated Thanksgiving. When stores were actually closed, or at least had shortened hours. Let me take you down my memory lane; to how I spent most of my Thanksgivings.

I remember waking up to my mom cooking breakfast for the three of us. Biscuits, bacon, sausage, eggs. My brother and I ate the biscuits and meat mostly. I remember Saturday morning cartoons broadcasting on Thanksgiving morning. (We didn’t care for the parades.) I remember watching TV most of the day while Mom was hard at work putting the finishing touches on Thanksgiving dinner.

Before moving to Georgia, I remember traveling to Illinois to have Thanksgiving dinner with relatives. I remember streets and parking lots nearly barren because everyone stayed home. By the time we crossed the Missouri-Illinois state line, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are already there waiting for us. I remember being so hungry because we really didn’t have lunch. While we waited for Thanksgiving dinner, we watched more TV. Football, mostly, with a cartoon or holiday movie sprinkled in during commercials.

When it was time, we gathered around a big table, and we each said something we were thankful for. (That tradition continues when my family moved to Georgia.) After prayer, we lined up in the kitchen, digging in to the cornucopia of Thanksgiving delights. Turkey, ham, dressing, macaroni and cheese, vegetables, cranberry sauce (the canned kind), and sodas. I remember eating with my brother and cousins. Christmas wasn’t a thought until about a week after Thanksgiving.

That’s what I remember about my Thanksgivings growing up. It was such a fun time for us. (Maybe not so much for my mom.) But as Thanksgiving loses its moments as a time for families to come together, I feel it necessary to hold on to those traditions. Since I work retail, it’s hard to celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional sense, which explains why I’m celebrating the day before. And while we’re on the subject of being non-traditional, my wife and I have decided on a healthier spread for Thanksgiving. Am I going to miss a lot of the good from Thanksgivings past? Sure. But we’re striving to be more conscious about what we eat, and that means changing our diet. And it seems the kids are on board. But there is one tradition I want to continue: sharing one thing we’re thankful for. I feel it’s important to take that time to think about everything that we have and remember that we’re not guaranteed what we have.

So, thanks for letting me share my memories. I want to hear from you. What are your best Thanksgiving memories? What traditions do you have or want to start? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time…


Weekend Coffee Share: Growing and Rehashing

Hi there.

Good to see you. I’m sorry if I haven’t been as active on these posts. Sometimes, there’s not a whole lot going on in my life that’s worth talking about. But I’m glad you’re here. Today is an apple cider kind of day. I just finished doing some yard work. And man, it was cold this morning, which is what it’s supposed to feel like in the fall. So I’m going to have my apple cider while you take in whatever you want. I also have some eggnog if you want a different kind of creamer. We also have coconut creamer. That’s Colleen’s new go-to creamer. We have to buy at least two a trip because she goes through it like she goes through unsweetened tea. 

Anyway, glad to see you here. We’ve been busy with the kids, especially Jaxon. Last week, he started school. It’s kind of scary. We were so used to carrying him around with us while running errands. Now that he’s attending special education, the house just doesn’t feel the same. Even when we took him to school, there was something so surreal about it. It was only yesterday that we let the bus pick him up. We met the driver upon meeting his teacher and seeing his classroom. I felt I was going to cry for a moment. It was difficult watching someone else strap him in. And then when he left, I stood there, hoping he would be okay. I thought he would cry when I left the bus. But he sat there, quiet. I was happy, and yet, sad because he was growing. 

It’s only been a week since he started special education, so it’s really unfair to measure progress. Reading the teacher’s reports, though. I get a sense of confidence. It seems like Jaxon is adapting well to the new routine. But even then, they don’t do the same thing every day. That’s good. I guess the one thing I’m trying to learn about having an autistic child is that the definition of progress and success is much different. There are a lot of things we take for granted that are a legitimate struggle for someone like Jaxon. Like following directions (which some people still struggle with), finding ways to communicate wants and needs, using the potty (though he’scoring around). Stuff like that. It’s normal to us, but we have to work extra hard to teach him, and even then, he won’t get it right away. So we have to be patient and adapt ourselves to a different “standard.”

I try not to listen to the news very much. As important as some of these stories are, I feel like the media wants to solely focus on the negative. I don’t know if it’s a ratings thing or what. But there is a direct correlation between what’s going on now and the shape of our country today and how it affects future generations. Take the stories of sexual misconduct that seem to be piling up. Victims have been speaking out more since the Weinstein story broke loose. And with every day that passes, someone new is accused of sexually inappropriate behavior. The thing that concerns me more that I don’t think is being addressed is the lessons we’re teaching our children, especially our young men. I’m concerned about the message we’re sending to them when it comes to women. As a father of two young children, I have a responsibility to teach them respect for themselves and for other people. I also have a responsibility to teach them to defend themselves and not be afraid to speak up against any kind of abuse. 

NaNo is in full swing. It’s been ten days, and I’ve read tweets and Facebook status updates on their progress. While I’m not participating in NaNo, I made it a point to write every day to build that habit. Sad to say, I failed in that goal. And I have no one to blame but me. I’ve let myself get distracted by other things and haven’t made writing a priority. There was one day where I was so stressed, I couldn’t bring myself to continue writing a story I started. And even now, I’m thinking about scrapping it. It might have been the stress talking, or it might have been because I put too much pressure on myself to write a story by a certain time, based on advice I sought out. That never works out for me. In the end, I end up more miserable and unwilling to write anything. That’s something I’m trying to change. So for now, the story I started is on the shelf. But I started thinking of a new story in its place. But i’m taking my time because I want to make sure it’s a story I want to write. And I may incorporate elements of the last story into this one. We’ll see. 

Well, that’s it for today. I got to get dressed for work. Let me know how your week has been in the comments. Contrary to the belief, I do read them. I may not comment on the comments, but I want you to know that you are not being ignored.

So long for now. 

Weekend Coffee Share: Welcome Back

Good day. 

I have missed you guys. I’ve been very busy with work and family. My therapist tells me I need to make time for myself. So that’s what I’m doing right now. Grab a beverage and let’s get to chatting.

Before I start gabbing, let me say that it finally feels like Fall in Georgia. I stepped out of my house and it was genuinely cold. Like 30 degrees cold. And the highs are right where they’re supposed to be. Not this Indian Summer weather we’ve had the past week. But real cool, crisp weather with that slight chill in the air. Now I can justify buying a Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks. Or a hot chocolate. No matter, Fall is finally here. 

Now then, like I said, it’s been very busy these past couple of weeks. Work has been the biggest culprit of taking up my time. Not only at my main job, but also with Uber. Do5 get me wrong. Uber is fun. I’ve met some interesting people and have had some interesting and lively conversations. But it’s getting to the point where I’m getting burned out. It’s hard to say no to passengers, but I need time to rest. And I have to be more selective when it comes to choosing runs. Sometimes it takes me to an area that takes forever to reach and I end up running late to another commitment. And the GPS Uber uses is not the best in the world. Sometimes, it will have me make a circle or do a U-turn just to get on a street where I could easily turn right or left. But sometimes, my passengers will lend a hand and offer alternate routes. That definitely helps. 

Whenever I haven’t been busy with work, my family keeps me on my toes–in a good way. Last week, we celebrated our kids’ birthdays. Officially, their birthdays are this week. However, this past weekend was the only time I could take the time off to celebrate. My main job blocks requests for time off these last few months of the year. Some people had an issue with this, but that’s how it played out. But right now, we’re at the point in our lives where we don’t care. We’re not going to let others dictate what we can and can’t do. If people want to come, then they’re welcome. If not, it’s on them. 

Speaking of the kids, we recently attended some meetings with the local board of education as it pertains to our son Jaxon. Since he’ll be turning three in a few days, certain therapies will no longer be available to him. So we took him to a school to have him evaluated to determine the best course of assistance. This past week, we learned they approved our request for more treatment. He’ll be attending a local elementary school where they specialize in teaching children similar to Jaxon’s diagnosis. We’re a little worried because the school is further from us and that he would have to ride a bus. We’re nervous because this will certainly be a change of routine for all of us. But we try to think about what is best for all of us.

I mentioned that my therapist told me I need to make time for myself. I need “recess,” as it is. I couldn’t agree more. But it’s hard. I work two jobs and I have my duties taking care of the family. It’s hard to find time to do what I want to do. But I think the one thing that would help is detaching myself from my phone every once in a while. No Facebook status or tweet is that important to where I can’t take time to myself. Time to rest as I’m taking a nap. Time to do something fun like write or play video games. Time to work out and get myself in shape. There are a lot of things I can do without involving my phone or tablet. 

Speaking of writing, I had a little bit of a crisis. And it kind of coincided with something I struggled with in my life. There are a lot of regrets and resentments I haven’t worked through in my life. A lot of things I hate having done or haven’t done. I spilled it onto my writing career. I ranted about it on social media groups. I ranted about how I hate that I haven’t done anything with my degree. No manuscript. No submissions in years. I hate that I’m constantly comparing myself to other writers. I hate how I’m so entrenched in writing in one genre; that the phrase “write what you know” has become part of my mantra. But thanks to my writing friends, I realized these feelings are normal. I have nothing to be ashamed about. I am a good writer.

I’m thankful for the family and friends who support my journey. Writing is what I love to do. I can’t see myself doing anything else.

Well, that is it for now. I’ sorry that I haven’t been more active on the Weekend Coffee Share. I certainly will try harder, like everything else that’s important to me.

So, what about you? It’s been a few weeks. What have you been up to? How has life treated you? Let me know in the comments. 

Weekend Coffee Share: Driving (Insert Here)

Good afternoon,

I finally have a chance to catch my breath and meet up with you all. I had an energy drink earlier today. (I know. I’m trying to cut them out of my diet.) I’ve been getting some pretty bad headaches in the morning. Probably stress-induced. I’ll go into detail in a minute. First, let’s get situated. There are K-cups, but I also have unsweetened tea and apple cider. Just don’t ask me to warm it up. 

So, I have some news. I picked up a new second job as an Uber driver. I’m excited, yet sad that I’m leaving Pizza Hut. It was an experience working in the food service industry. And I gained a better understanding on what goes into making great food and satisfying customers. It’s like retail in the sense you have to think about what will make your customers happy. Having the products they want. Being served in a timely manner. Going above and beyond to make sure they come back. I will say that working at Pizza Hut—especially as a delivery driver—doesn’t present as much opportunity to build an one-on-one relationship with a customer. The other thing I will miss is the crew I worked with in the year I was there. But like any other business, I saw associates come and go. I had a couple of go-tos if I needed help with something. And management was very accommodating with my primary job. I will visit whenever there’s opportunity. 

The time has come to turn the page. Like I said, I picked up a new second job with Uber. Unlike taxis, I’m driving my car to take passengers around. And so, I’m putting more priority on making sure the car is clean and running in peak condition. I had to purchase some accessories to make for a pleasant experience. Like a car mount for safety and needed to purchase a car mount so as to not be holding my phone all the mints and water bottles. The only thing I’m missing is one of those car fresheners. I’m looking into what would be ideal. 

In the week I’ve been doing Uber, there have some good and bad things. First, the good. I set my own schedule. I can drive for as long as I want. I get to meet some lively people. (So far, most of my passengers have been pleasant.) I can cash out my fares any time I wish. Especially handy when I’m in need of extra cash right away.

There are some drawbacks. For instance, it’s hard to say no when I’m on a roll. This is not necessarily bad, but sometimes I can end up not getting the proper sleep I need for the next day. Hence, the energy drinks. Also, I don’t know where I’m taking my passengers until I pick up my fare. So far, I haven’t come across an unsavory situation, but I hear stories. And being on call all the time, essentially, cuts into my time I would like to spend writing or doing something to unwind. 

But overall, it’s a fun adventure. I try not to think about driving with Uber as work. But more like I’m learning more about the city and meeting people different from me and getting a glimpse into their lives. Something that might come into handy with my writing.

Well, that is all for this week. Kind of a short visit, but like I said, doing these jobs doesn’t allow for a lot of free time. But I want to hear from you. What’s going on in your life? Anything new? Let me know in the comments. 

Until next time…

Reunion: Time to Move Forward

I think I can safely that high school was one of the most trying times in our lives. I know for me, it was. As a transplant from Ohio, it was so hard trying to fit in. There are things I regretted not doing. Relationships I wanted for myself. Yeah, high school was a time when while I had things going for me, it wasn’t enough. So you can probably imagine my feelings when I heard about my school’s 20-year reunion. 

I was excited at the beginning. I missed the ten-year reunion; I wasn’t going to miss this one. But as the date drew closer, the more feelings of regret and sadness creeped in. Sadness of not feeling like I belonged. That I tried so hard to be a part of the cool crowd, and ultimately failed. So I put it out on the school’s reunion page on Facebook. I wrote it just to get those feelings out. The responses I received were not what I was expecting. My classmates stated that I was one of the nicest people they knew. Some understood and sympathized with my lamentations. So I decided to go, and it was the best decision I made this past week. 

I had a wonderful time that night. I saw friends I hadn’t seen in years. It amazed me that we hadn’t changed. Sure, all of us lead different lives. We got married. Had kids. Moved to different parts of the country, even out of the country. But we were still the crazy class of 1997. I was glad to introduce my wife and tell everyone about my kids. I felt proud. I felt like I had nothing to be ashamed of. I look forward to the next reunion, where impromptu or organized. Whether it’s with a bunch of classmates or a few. Going to the reunion made me realize that my life is better now than twenty years ago. Do I still have regrets? Sure. But I’m not letting them stop me from living now. 

Weekend Coffee Share: Short Visit

Good morning.

It’s nice when we get together for coffee and a quick bite. I’ve been trying to get back to a healthier diet. Having energy drinks doesn’t help, but I’ve felt it necessary because I’ve had to take my sister-in-law to work early in the morning. But I could do without and stick to making a cup of coffee to get me through the day. And eating foods that provide the protein I need for energy. Which is why I like these Jif To-Go packs. Makes for a quick snack, but like everything else, have to eat it sparingly. 

So, let’s talk. 

I really don’t know where to begin. There are a lot of things to complain about, but I’m trying to be grateful, especially with work. I must say that I’ve had issues with customers and their blatant disrespect for the associates and the goods we sell to them. I know I shouldn’t be so worked up over it. It happens all the time. But I can’t help but to feel—what’s the word? Upset—about it. We do all we can to make the store presentable to our customers, and they just wreck everything. It’s maddening. 

Ok. I’ve had my rant. Now to better things. 

My wife recently started a blog on our journey with our son who, as I mentioned before, has been diagnosed with autism. Some of the things she’s shared, I couldn’t agree more. There are a lot of assumptions made about parents of autistic children. She doesn’t shy away from addressing those issues. (Actually, she doesn’t shy away from a lot. That’s one of the reasons I fell in love with her.) I encourage you guys to have a peek at her blog and let her know what you think. Here’s the link.

As far as writing goes, it’s been pretty slow. I have a few ideas for stories, so I’ve been writing them out just so I can get them out of my head. I don’t really know what I will do with them. But I figure it’s best to do something to keep my writing brain in shape. And I have been journaling more to express my frustrations. But that only goes so far. At some point, I have to put myself out there. I have a slew of unfinished pieces waiting for the editing block. And if I’m going to be a better writer, I need to get some–you know what–and get these stories into the wild. Be prepared for the inevitable rejection. So, wish me luck. 

Well, that is all I have to say about this week. It’s been slow. Next week, though, I’ll share my time at my 20-year high school reunion. I’m looking forward to it. In the meantime, feel free to share your week in the comments. 

Until next time, take care and watch your step. 

Weekend Coffee Share: Getting Back Into a Routine

Good afternoon,

Nice to see you guys again. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. Sorry about the mess outside. Haven’t had a chance to clean up after Irma blew through here. Help yourself to some treats, including some autumn mix candy. We love this stuff, but can’t eat all of it. I’m sure my sister-in-law won’t mind. 

Ok? Good. 

So, it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve seen you. Last week, everyone was focused on Hurricane Irma. At my Walmart, people were buying water, portable battery packs, flashlights, battery-powered radios. Pretty much anything that could be of help when the storm hit. By the time my shift was over, the store was practically picked clean. 

I paid a lot of attention to the weather reports on the days leading up. I had a local weather app I checked frequently. I watched and listened to weather reports whenever I could. By Monday, I breathed a little sigh of relief when I heard the hurricane weakened to a tropical storm upon reaching my neck of the woods. Still, it was pretty scary and it was no time to rest. There was still the issue of winds gusting up to over 60 miles an hour throughout the day. Monday afternoon, our power went out and was out for a little over a day. School for Zoe, obviously, was cancelled the day the storm landed. And the following day. I assume the school had their power issues too. I was off of both jobs that day, thank goodness. But I had to come in at Walmart the next day. And they were still out of power. From what I understood, the power was out for two days.

The focus this past week has been on trying to get back into a routine. We had to buy some supplies we used during the storm, which wasn’t a lot. I spent some time with my grandmother last week, too. It was nice to get out of the neighborhood. And Colleen posted an impromptu reunion for some of her friends who went to Georgia because of the hurricane. But the day of, there was a change of plans. We went to meet with one of the friends and had the makeshift reunion there.

The one good thing that came from the storm is the amount I had for assessment. Trying to figure how to make things better for me and my family. One conclusion I came to was finding another second job. So finally, I pulled the trigger and applied for another job. I hope to hear something within the next week. Also, I need to be more diligent in taking care of my health. I’ve been lackadaisical in not only counting my calories, but also my gym attendance. I think that comes from not making a schedule for the week and not getting the sleep I need in order to have a productive workout session. Starting today, even though I can’t make it to the gym, I need to get back to the enthusiasm I had starting out. 

I haven’t done a lot of writing the past couple of weeks. Last week, my focus was on the storm and trying to keep the kids busy. But that’s not to say I haven’t been thinking about it. The past couple of chat sessions on Twitter have been very spirited. So much so that I’m thinking about a new project. I’m not going to talk about it now only because it’s in the planning stages. I can say that this will be something I hadn’t thought of before and it will be probably the biggest undertaking of my writing journey. And truth be told, that’s what scares me about it. But I am lucky to have some great supportive writers. I’ve been doing on research on not only the project, but on how to “publish” it. I thought about starting a Wattpad account, but I got a lot of negative feedback on the idea. So I’ll leave it to my blog. And with some perseverance, you will be seeing my work coming to life. 

So, that about wraps it up. My thoughts go out to those recooperating from Harvey and Irma. Feel free to leave comments on how you’re dealing with things after the storms. Did they give you some perspective on certain things in your life? Let me know. 

Until next time, take care…