Tag Archive | Thanksgiving

Why We All Need to Stop Complaining About Christmas in November

I’m not one to post an opinion piece. Lord knows I don’t want to add to the cacophony of “expert” opinions. However, something has been on my mind lately about Thanksgiving so I’m just going to say this real quick and then get back to our regularly scheduled programming of running videos and personal introspection.

Stop complaining about Christmas in November. Seriously. If you don’t, the shops/ad agencies/networks are going to start to think you’re just as willing to buy Thanksgiving as you are to buy Christmas and do you know what will happen then? Thanksgiving, the last true good holiday that remains about family, feelings, charity, thanks, will be sold out in commercials, movie specials, songs, and various other things you can buy.

I know what you’re going to say next. Well why can’t these companies just wait until after Thanksgiving to start selling me Christmas? Well that’s a nice thought in’t it? It ain’t gonna happen. Ever since Tim Burton paved the holiday bridge between Halloween and Christmas, the man caught on. Capitalism, commercialism, it has no moral compass of its own. We know this. It follows the almighty dollar as far as it will reach. As long as they think then CAN sell you something, they will. Right now they can sell you Christmas in November. And frankly that’s fine with me, because it keeps Thanksgiving sacred. Christmas is kind of a lost cause as far as commercialism goes. Wouldn’t you agree? The trippings and trappings and ribbons and bows are all intrinsically embedded in the American celebration of the holiday. I’m ok with that. I love a good made-for-tv Christmas movie and a $5 Gingerbread latte. I will pay for those things. But we’ve been duped into thinking that that level of commercialism is the measure of honoring a holiday. As much as I love Christmas I don’t really want to see the same thing happen to Thanksgiving. It’s still sacred. For whatever reason the execs still agree that we don’t want to buy it. Be warned. The more we complain about Christmas carols on the radio in November the more they’re going to take it as a sign that we must want to buy Thanksgiving carols instead.

Thanksgiving occurs around the same time as the single most commercially represented holiday in the U.S. and so we all have this false notion that because we’re seeing ads about Santa that must mean we don’t honor Thanksgiving. Is a holiday without commercialism unacceptable to us? Do you really see the advertising of Christmas in November as an affront to Thanksgiving? Following that logic, the only way to honor a holiday is to sell or buy it. Is that what keeps a holiday sacred? Do we measure the value of a holiday based on the commercials promoting it or the songs on the radio those commercials have sponsored? I sure don’t. I have some news for you. All those Christmas commercials/songs/scented candles? Yeah, they’re not about honoring the true meaning of the holiday. I hate to break that to you. They’re about getting you to buy something. Don’t confuse those who sell us stuff as those who determine our value system. Very dangerous. I really believe the fact that there is a lack of Thanksgiving “stuff” is the most wonderful testament of all to how we value the day.

I often think of how holidays are celebrated in various specific cultural groups. Let’s take Jewish holidays for example. They don’t need greeting cards, magazines, and radio commercials to mark the value of Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. The holidays’s meanings run so much deeper. Wouldn’t it be nice for us as an entire country to have ONE American holiday we didn’t sell out to Hallmark?

But we have to be careful. They’re listening, and responding. More and more stores are staying open on Thanksgiving. Black Friday is encroaching on this truly sacred day of thanks and love. The other night I watched a Hallmark movie about Thanksgiving!

Let’s keep Thanksgiving pure. Let them play Silent Night on KOST 103.5 starting November 15th. Let Hallmark hawk their collector ornaments in October. It’s just stuff to buy. Thanksgiving still thrives beyond all that. Without money, without ads, without sales. Thanksgiving endures as a day of being good, giving back, saying thanks, loving each other. Let all that other noise continue. It’s fine. Seeing Santa at the mall the day after Halloween is the biggest compliment of all. It affirms the truth that, no, we don’t want to buy Thanksgiving.

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30 Days of Thanks – The Day Itself

Day 28

Thanksgiving. The day itself. I’m thankful that a day exists to stop and reflect on our gifts, our blessings, our accomplishments, our dreams, our loved ones, and our values. Abraham Lincoln said it best:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

Whether you relate to the presence of God that Lincoln spoke of in reference to Thanksgiving, no doubt we can all agree that perhaps even more importantly than taking a day to acknowledge all that lets us count our lucky stars, we must also remember all that needs to done; all who need our help. For those with a void of things to be thankful for, we must create those things. So today I’m going to list some things I’m not thankful for, and I’m going to vow to do what I can to make the list shorter this time next year. Not thankful for:

Hunger, not just in the third world but in our backyard. I’m surrounded by hungry faces every day in downtown L.A. and Venice Beach. I can do more.

Disease. I’m tired of losing people. I’m tired of sick friends. I’m grateful the list is short, but one friend lost is one too many.

Access to healthcare. Goes hand in hand with the above. I lost a friend earlier this year and partially due to the fact that he did not have affordable access to healthcare. This makes me sick. I hope it changes. Obamacare, you give me hope. Please work!

Anxiety. It weasels it’s way into my life too often. Away with you!

That lady who killed that lion and sits next to it like a trophy in that picture with that ugly smile on her face. Ugly. Face. Ugly. Ugly. Don’t like her.

 

The endless battle of opinions. I think it’s grand how the internet has turned us all into experts on everything; but I think it’s important to remember that none of us actually knows anything about anything. While it’s great to have opinions and to get engaged, I wish we did so with more respect. I enjoy engaging in debate with friends on Facebook, but I insist we keep things civil. This country is currently led by a bunch of buffoons who can’t stop name-calling. Let’s do it better. Don’t let the anonymity of the computer screen zap all of your empathy.

I won’t go on and on, I just wanted to list a few things that I’d personally like to focus on in the next year to enrich not only my life, but hopefully my neighbor’s as well. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I’m thankful for you!

And I really strongly dislike that lady with the lion.

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See ya tomorrow

 

30 Days of Thanks – My Bro

Day 25

Today marks the anniversary of the day of birth of one of Earth’s more unique individuals. I’m talking about my brother, Matthew Sigl. It’s his birthday. A perfect day to take the opportunity to say, I’m damn grateful for you. To truly honor my brother and capture his essence would require an article that would take at least an entire day to write, maybe longer. In the little time I do have here on my lunch break, I will try to express in a few paltry words why I’m so lucky.

First of all, I’m grateful to have a sibling. For anyone who can claim a family with special eccentricities (umm, everyone), you’ll agree that it is our siblings who are the ones who truly understand said eccentricities as well as we do, and can laugh about them with us between therapy sessions. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. I got real lucky in that we are all pretty much happy and sane and always loving; but of course there are those times that the eye rolls and giggles shared with my brother got me through some awkward family moments.

I’m grateful that we are so close in age. It couldn’t have been easy on my mom to bring us both into the world just 18 months apart, but thanks to the small gap we have much in common, always enjoyed playing together, and are pretty much best friends.

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My brother has the most complex and unique mind of anyone I’ve met. He’s kind of a genius. It’s certainly a good mental challenge for me to try to keep up with him. I know he’s made me smarter, more open-minded, skeptical, hopeful, rational, and inquisitive all at once.

More than anything, I just love the guy. I love him probably more than he’ll ever know.

Getting a lump in my throat so I better wrap this one up before my boss comes in and sees me crying at my desk, again (damn you Batkid!). Matthew, I love you like a crazy person. When they were handing out brothers I really got the jackpot. I feel truly special that I get to be your sister. You know I’m always here for you. Always. It’s me and you. Oh, and don’t forget to call Mom. Happy birthday!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Birthday Matt

 

 

See ya tomorrow.

 

30 Days of Thanks – Friends, Suspects, Sunsets, and New Hobbies

Guys I got so behind this week! That’s what a vacation will do to you. I’m not complaining! Plus this month is all about giving thanks and so I am not going to be hard on myself for not writing for a few days, but instead get right back on track and focus on the positive.

Day 19

Since I missed her actual birthday (yesterday) while I was galavanting around the central coast of California, today I simply must pay homage to my bestie of SO many years that it’s gotten to the point where I have to get out a calculator to count them. Friends since high school (I was actually in middle school and super cool for being friends with a high schooler), today is all about saying thank you to Dana Block. Thank you for being a sister. As someone with only one sibling who happens to be a dude, it’s nice to know what sisterhood is like. Thank you for never judging me, no matter how many stupid things I do and how many times I let you down. Thank you for being a shoulder to cry on. Thank you for introducing me to The Walking Dead. Thank you for the slumbies, the nail polish, and various other girlie tropes. Thank you for being my Maid of Honor. It’s just rare to meet someone that you WANT to know for 15+ years, let alone get to actual hang around for that long. There’s only one word for it. Family.

We even kinda look like sisters.

We even kinda look like sisters.

Day 20

The first day back to work after a vacation is brutal. Instead of capsizing from the load of work waiting for me on my desk, today I’m going to be grateful for my amazing job at The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company.

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I’ve worked for The Unusual Suspects for 5 years as the Program Administrator. Hard to believe it’s been 5 years! I came into the office with less than a year’s worth of experience in administration and human resources and pretty much zero experience in accounting, and this company has empowered me and elevated me to implement all three on an organization-wide level. I think it’s rare for a company to nurture an employee as much as The Unusual Suspects has nurtured me, and I owe it largely to our Executive Director, Sally Fairman who for whatever reason saw something in me that was worth mentoring! I really can’t believe the skills I’ve learned. Like, really. Accounting? Me?? I’ve been even more surprised to discover how much I love it. Numbers are like puzzle pieces of the universe!

On top of my little role, this company is staggeringly powerful in the affect it has on LA’s youth. I have witnessed firsthand the awesome power of arts education and specifically theatre. I know for a fact that The Unusual Suspects is making the world a better place. This is starting to sound like an acceptance speech so I’ll move on but man, I really am thankful.

Day 21

Today I’m thankful for PicMonkey! That sounds totally dumb but it’s actually totally amazing. I never knew the first thing about graphic design. Less than I knew about administration, human resources, and even accounting. Through this silly little user friendly web-based picture editing software, I have now discovered, I wouldn’t say talent, but I would say major interest. It’s amazing! I have fallen down the rabbit hole and spent many nights up into the wee hours tinkering away on PicMonkey. I’ve always fancied myself a visual artist, though not a good one. I’ve never been able to match the image in my head with what I want to see on the canvas. Frustrating. With the computer it’s much easier to tinker and edit and tweak until what I envision in my head matches what I see in front of me. Oh the satisfaction!

The most joy of all is that I’ve been able to design our entire wedding stationery suite myself. Our Save the Date cards arrived from the printer today and I can’t tell you how giddy I am! The sense of accomplishment and ownership in creating all of these details in our wedding means so much to me. I love you PicMonkey. One day when I’m rich and I can afford to purchase the Adobe Creative Suite, I’ll never forget you.

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Here are some of my little creations. I know the pros out there will be able to point out the million and a half things wrong with these from a graphic design perspective, but that’s ok. That’s the joy of doing things for fun.

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Rainbow Grove with Frame

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Sagan only through love

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Love Balloon

Save the Date bookmark FINAL

Day 22

Today I am thankful for good theatre pals. I know I’ve already thanked Theatre of NOTE proper, but this is specifically about the people. I watched a preview performance of The Invisible Play at Theatre of NOTE tonight and was blown away once again by the talent, commitment, charm, good looks, friendliness, love, and all around good cheer in that theatre. First of all you need to get out to see this play. It’ll make you all kinds of happy, and it’ll be a treat to surround yourself with the list of attributes previously listed. These are good people.

Day 23

That’s today! First of all I’m thankful for getting caught up on my thankful days. Yay! And secondly, I’m thankful for this amazing sunset that accompanied me on my evening run.

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See ya tomorrow.

30 Days of Thanks – ABC’s Sesame Street Style

Day 14

Lately I’ve been thinking about the internet. I’m on it often enough, and sometimes I have to step back and reflect on this crazy infinite invention that provides us with an endless wealth of information about absolutely everything. Scientific data. False information. Lies. Jokes. Studies. Biographies. Histories. OPINIONS. Sooooo many opinions. We’ve become so much more opinionated in the past 15 years haven’t we? I just can’t believe how many people out there have strong opinions about things they really know nothing about. It’s incredible, and not just in a bad way. I mean ultimately I think it’s probably good. People care about things! Everyone can feel like an expert. What I’m hoping is that the exposure to so much information and so many opinions is compelling people to eventually do their research. I know that’s what has happened to me. Anyway, what am I talking about today. I’m getting all meta and going off on a tangent. What I really want to say is, I’m grateful for so much language.

So much to read. So much to think about. So much to write about. Sometimes it feels like I will write more and read more in one day than I did an entire year in high school. It’s given me a real unquenchable thirst for knowledge. The secrets of the entire universe at my fingertips. What a gift.

I’m grateful to have been born in a country that fosters literacy, especially for girls. I know there are plenty of places in the world where that is a daily challenge. When a teenage girl has to get shot in the head to stand up for her right to write, I take a deep breath and thank my lucky stars that I never had to even imagine such a threat. What an amazing young woman. If you haven’t seen this interview of Malala on The Daily Show, take a few minutes and do yourself a favor. Grab a box of tissues first.

I’m grateful for Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and Reading Rainbow. The shows that made me fall in love with learning and books. I’m thankful for this blog. I can always be challenging myself. To put my experience into words. To make people relate. It’s different than writing in a journal because I’m accountable to my readers. I want you to understand.

The art of language. The building blocks of knowledge. It’s a beautiful thing. But don’t just take my word for it…

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See ya tomorrow.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 9: Apple Picking with No Apples

This time of year, all peoples of the Greater Sacramento area make a pilgrimage to Apple Hill in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It’s a place where nearly everyone I grew up with in Sac has forged some special family memories. Apple picking, apple cider, apple pie (no shortage of apple associated things as you can imagine), also beautiful rustic hills, train rides and pony rides for kids, animals, craft booths, face painting, and a general lead-up to holiday cheer. It’s a place I hold in my heart fondly.

This is also the time of the year where NorCal transplants living in Southern California get rather heartsick for the annual tradition. Luckily, thanks to my friend Janet, I discovered a rather suitable substitute about an hour and half outside of Los Angeles. It’s called Oak Glen and it’s a charming scenic loop of orchards and farms that sit at the feet of the San Bernardino Mountains. The San Bernardinos surely aren’t the beautifully dense and rustic Sierra Nevadas, but they’ll do. Oak Glen and Apple Hill, as far as charm and attractions go are forged from the same mold. The two locales are so similar in fact that I can’t help but think that in either Oak Glen or Apple Hill, one must have been based on the other. Not sure if that’s true, but I do know that I’m thankful Oak Glen exists. This autumn-deprived lover of all things fall is grateful.

Unfortunately due to a tough year, there were no more apples to be picked. 543927_10101868626479360_135696702_n

 

Whah-whaaahh. Sad fact for an apple-picking outing. We had fun nonetheless. Luckily there were still plenty to be eaten. Oh the apple pie! Yum. Oak Glen, I’m thankful.

Strawberry Fields

There WERE Strawberry Fields

I stole one. Shh!

I stole one. Shh!

We went to place called

We went to place called Riley’s Farm, which is an old Colonial style orchard and farmhouse, so naturally they do Revolutionary War reenactments. Those rascally Redcoats!

We met a blacksmith. Never broke character. Well done blacksmith.

We met a blacksmith. Never broke character. Well done blacksmith.

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So nice to see some color on the trees.

So nice to see some color on the trees. Still too warm for my taste, but I’ll take what I can get.

Oak Tree Village. Shopping, food, and creepy mannequins in carriages.

Oak Tree Village. Shopping, food, and creepy mannequins in carriages.

Yay for Fall!

Yay for Fall!

 

And Brad already made a video of the day’s adventures. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

30 Days of Thanks – Day 7: My Lucky Penny

Yesterday a series of events occurred which reinforced my belief in serendipity and magic. Before I begin there are a few things you need to know.

Earlier this year the corporeal Earth lost one of its best creations. Scott McKinley. He was an angel on earth and as of yesterday I’m even more convinced he continues to be an angel of the universe.

I think about him often, and most often in scenarios where I ask myself “what would Scotty do?” You see he was the kindest and most loving man I’d ever met. No matter what troubles befell him or what mood he found himself in on a given day, he made everyone feel special when he saw them and he greeted them with the most warm and loving “Hey there.” I often think that he played a part in my life to teach me about kindness, to be a living example of what the Golden Rule is really all about.

Now here’s another thing you need to know before I tell the story. There was this thing he and I had with pennies. One evening at Theatre of NOTE Scott handed me a penny. I was in a grouchy and cynical mood and guffawed. I told him half sarcastically that I thought pennies were stupid and lucky pennies just perpetuated their ridiculous use in society. Of course, magical love creature that he was, he was shocked and appalled and insisted I take the lucky penny, while he proceeded to school me on their magical attributes. It all made such perfect sense. In a moment of cynicism and grumpiness, here is Scott to remind me that beauty and goodness is a better choice. From that moment on every time I saw a “lucky” penny on the ground I picked it up and thought of Scott. And the pennies have reminded me that I always have a choice, to be good, or to be a grouch. To be like Scott, or not.

The night before last he visited me in a dream. It wasn’t just a dream wherein he made an appearance. It was one of those conscious/aware dreams where I knew I was dreaming and I knew he was visiting me. I said to him “Scott! Thank you! Oh my God it’s so good to see you!” And we caught up a little, and he smirked his Scotty smirk. And then I woke up.

So that’s what you need to know. Now here’s the story:

Yesterday evening I was walking to my car after work. Traffic was heavy downtown, as it often is. I’m waiting on the corner of 8th and Olive to cross the street. It was one of those situations where cars were pulling into the intersection because they had a green light, but the traffic was so backed up there was no way they were going to make it all the way through before the light turned red, and thus the cross-traffic wouldn’t be able to make it through their green light, causing even worse traffic. This is a pet peeve. I feel like there’s a special circle of hell reserved for those who block the intersection. Back to yesterday. There is a minivan stuck in the intersection obviously hoping to get through, but her light turns red and MY light turns green to walk. What I could have done was wait a minute before I started walking and let this poor woman in the minivan who’s probably late to something important just pull through so she wouldn’t feel like a jerk for blocking the intersection. But I don’t. Like I said, I’ve got a beef. I want to teach her a lesson. The moment I walk in front of her car and grab a glance at her distressed face, I think, “This isn’t right. What would Scotty do?” i.e. what is the kind thing to do? Once he enters my mind I realize instantaneously that I should have done the right thing. I make it to the other side of the street feeling a bit like a jerk and thinking about how I failed the Scott test today. For whatever reason I look down briefly. What is the first thing my eye catches?

I’m stunned. The exact moment I’m thinking about him, there he is. I stoop down to pick up a lone penny. To make sure it’s real. I don’t know what compels me, but I check the year of the penny thinking, now THAT would be weird.

1957.

The penny was from 1957.

Same year Scott was born. This penny and he came into the world the same year.

I stand there on Olive and 8th under the lamplight and start to cry. At once sadly reminded that such a good soul has parted, and joyfully reminded that he never truly left. Serendipity. Goodness. Magic. It’s real.

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I want to keep the penny. I want to make it into a necklace and wear it next to my heart every day. But I wonder if I shouldn’t send it back into the world. Leave it on another boulevard for the next person who needs it. I don’t want to be greedy. I do, but I don’t. What would Scott do? My heart’s desire is to take this little sign of him and hold onto it with all of my might. Should we keep such tokens? Or send them down the river? I haven’t decided yet.

Everyone slips away into the cosmic dust. Maybe when we do we get to leave little signs of ourselves around the ol’ neighborhood. Little bread crumbs that we’re still there.

Thank you for being my lucky penny Scott. For being everyone’s. I’ll keep following your bread crumbs. I love you. I miss you.

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