Happy Thanksgiving, of course!

It’s a wonderful American holiday, this day when we choose to interrupt our normal routines and be mindful and expressive of all for which we are thankful.  Of course, the pilgrims took three days to celebrate – why couldn’t Lincoln have thrown us three, too, eh??  One for proteins, one for dessert, and one for parades and football.  oh, and shopping, of course!  We have chosen not to keep up with the Joneses this year, no, we are not opening at 4:00 a.m. ~ but we are opening early at 8:00 a.m. on Friday.

In case someone expects you to wax eloquently on the subject, here is a gathering of quotes for you to share over your turkey (or tofurkey or turducken or fowl-of-choice) dinner.

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.  ~Edward Sandford Martin

 We give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.  ~Author Unknown

 What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets.  I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?  ~Erma Bombeck, “No One Diets on Thanksgiving,” 26 November 1981

 As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

 Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace, the celebration of work and the simple life… a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seedtime and harvest, the ripe product of the year – and the deep, deep connection of all these things with God.  ~Ray Stannard Baker (David Grayson)

 Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.  ~Seneca

Quick! Say the Thanksgiving blessing!
Then pass me that gravy and dressing.
More turkey, mashed potatoes,
Green beans, pie, and hot rolls.
Weight Watchers tomorrow, I’m guessing.
  ~Patty Talasy, Crockett

 Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.  ~William Arthur Ward

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.  ~Melody Beattie

As for me, I wish you a holiday of enough.  Most of us have not known true want, and I hope that for you and your loved ones such is the case.  If you feel as blessed as I do, I encourage you to share from your blessings with someone near you, and be thankful for the privilege of being able to do so.name-plate-2

Life is good!

Food for Friday

Today, a super-sweet -and super easy- treat from Melissa in Illinois!  Fortunately or unfortunately, these don’t linger long…

Magic Cookie Bars

1/2 C butter or margarine
1-1/2 C Graham Cracker crumbs
14 oz can of condensed milk (you can use a lower fat version, but what would be the point?)
1 C each of chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut, and chopped nuts of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a 13×9 pan, melt the butter in the oven, remove and sprinkle in the cracker crumbs, and spread this to a consistent thickness in the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle the chips, coconut, and nuts evenly across the crust.  Coat everything with the condensed milk.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, uncovered, keeping an eye on the edges as they will brown more quickly.

Cool and cut into squares.  These have a tendency to disappear rapidly, possibly even before they get to the party! 

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food battle it out inside.  ~ Mark Twain

Almost Wednesday ~ and almost July

There seems to be a general case of that “almost Wednesday” feeling floating about today – I know I am not alone in wishing for some nap time…some Mondays are just that much more Mondayish.  Where’s a George Costanza desk when you could really use one??

Of course, by Wednesday, it will be next month already, and into what mist has the first half of 2008 vanished, precisely?  Ah, well, July will be a great month – after all, we get to celebrate all this wonderful summer stuff for the next 31 days:  Blueberries Month and Air-Conditioning Appreciation Days; Grilling, Ice Cream, Horseradish, Hot Dog, and Bikini Month; and Women’s Motorcycle and Nation Recreation & Parks Month.  I see some real alignment of the stars going on here – and the earth is at aphelion on July 4th!  ((The best thing about looking at the calendar occasionally is all the new stuff I learn.  Check out aphelion here if you don’t know it already.  Although this article refers to the year 2001, aphelion is occuring on July 4th again in 2008 according to the Navy.))

In addition to celebrating our nation’s independence this Friday, there are a plethora of special days this month.  Let me just mention the one which, perhaps, holds the most significance for the human race:  Chocolate Day, July 7th.  Never mind national or international chocolate day or any of the varietal chocolate days.  I find the simple Chocolate Day to be preeminent, expressed preeminently in the fudge state of being.  It comes long before Cow Appreciation and even Walk on Stilts days.

The United States is the only country with a known birthday.  ~ James G. Blaine

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.  ~ Erma Bombeck

We welcome a visit by Uncle Sam to the store this weekend.  He will be handing out American flags to our guests, and reminding us of the hard-won freedom our nation cherishes and celebrates on Independence Day.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Summer reading

I love to read all year round, but on a warm afternoon when you’re barely maintaining consciousness, with a cold lemonade and a stack of saltines at hand – mmmm…..  NPR has done its first installment on summer reading, which drives me crazy, because I am compelled with every story to immediately go out and find all these books.  I enjoy haunting second-hand book shops, and I recently discovered an on-line book swapping service which I hope to use to my advantage.  At least I do eventually read all the books I pick up, unlike CDs – which I like to buy but don’t necessarily have to listen to…doesn’t make sense, I know, but there it is.

Anywho, you can go to www.npr.org/booksto find all their recommendations.  I’m going to finish off a light Maeve Binchy and then pick up “The Geography of Bliss” by Eric Weiner to start my summer reading.  I may need to add a hammock to my shopping list for this weekend…

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”  ~ Frederick Douglass

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”  ~ Groucho Marx

“The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can’t.”   ~ Mark Twain


Speaking on Memorial Day

NPR had another great StoryCorp entry this morning, about a man who learned about his father’s life through helping him tend the graves of his community.  Go here to listen to the story.

A few quotes in honor of our service men and women this weekend:

We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them.  ~ Francis A. Walker

The story of America’s quest for freedom is inscribed on her history in the blood of her patriots.  ~ Randy Vader

These heroes are dead.  They died for liberty – they died for us.  They are at rest.  They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines.  They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Place of Rest.  Earth may run red with other wars – they are at peace.  In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.  I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead:  cheers for the living; tears for the dead.  ~ Robert G. Ingersoll

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.  ~ Thucydides

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

It’s here! It’s here!

Summer is HERE!

Forget about waiting until summer solstice on June 21st, that’s actually midsummer.  May 1st is halfway between the winter equinox and the summer solstice, and that counts for me!  Sorry to all the kids still laboring away in school, desperately – no, lackadaisically! – clinging to a last thread of classroom consciousness in the presence of green grass and blue sky and the sound of pools across the country filling with water.  Kids, summer came today!  (After all, when I looked out at 9:00 p.m. last night, there was still a vestige of light on the western horizon – now that’s a long day.)

So, whether you choose to celebrate by running into the ocean at sunrise, dancing around a Maypole, giving May baskets to neighbors, strapping on skis or skates and hitting the appropriate surface for an energetic hour or enjoying a relaxing evening walk in the garden, a very Happy Summer to you today.

Now get out there and grab some Summer!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

All things seem possible in May.  ~ Edwin Way Teale

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.  ~ James Dent

Cowboy Sky Off Fish Week

I participated in a youth leadership weekend recently (see Key Leader- it’s a great, great thing!).  Teams had to name themselves, and our fav was “Fiesty Baby Chipmunk Cookies” – this brilliant group of future leaders put a whole bunch of words into a hat and pulled four out – and we love love love the results.  I think this is how I will name all future posts.  [I think this could be how a lot of things should=can=do get named!  Have you seen any of the business-speak-generation web sites?  BRILLIANT!]

So, we’re half-way through Cowboy Poetry Week, Sky Awareness Week, Fish Fry Week, and TV Turn-off Week.  On top of all that, it’s Bill Shakespeare’s birthday today!  How many more excuses do we need to put on the pointy hats and eat cake with butter cream icing?  Sugar-high line forms behind me…I’ll take a corner slice, with flowers, please…

Okay, Cowboy Poetry ~ I recommend “The Night Before the Jackalopes Saved Christmas,” a rousing tale from David Althouse.  Not only will you find a wide-ranging selection of poetry at the Cowboy Poetry site, they also include a really cool selection of cowboy art and old ~ and new ~  photographs like this one.  I could spend some time here.

Sky Awareness Week ~ subtitle, “Chicken Little Was Here”?  Turns out this is serious stuff.  Now, the biggest sky of which I am aware is found in Montana, where I have many friends.  They have confirmed that yes, indeed, they are fully aware of the sky, and have particularly noted its presence above them this week.  Here’s an important take-away from SAW ~ there really is a difference between “partly cloudy” and “partly sunny.”   Take that to your next party and stop standing in the corner by the window – get out there and wow them with your clever banter and weather knowledge – you’ll be on everyone’s guest list by Christmas.  If you really want to rocket to the top of your social ladder, of course, you’d better nail your nephelococcygia.  Crucial for garden parties, weddings, barbecues, shrimp broils and what not.  I also think this is a great time to practice flying airplanes.  I mean the ones like this.

Oh, and Fish Frys, too – check out the Ultimate Fish Fry guide here.  My diligent, exhaustive,  and comprehensive search of the entire first two Google pages on “Fish Fry Week” failed to return a home site for this celebration, however – which means one of you opportunists out there can still grab “www.fishfryweek.com”, “www.fishfryweek.org” or “www.fishfryweek.net”.  Dude – fishfryweek.wordpress.com – start the blog!

As an avowed -though selective- TV-enthusiast, I cannot bring myself to say anything more about TV Turn-off Week.  Please take my actual mention of this so-called celebration in this column as the first of 431,567,908.2*{√π} steps to conquering my addiction.  Let’s move on.

Finally, The Bard’s Birthday!  I know you’ll make time today to reread a couple of plays and poems and insert a few pithy quotes into casual conversation.  It’s so easy.  “To be or not to be” “a rose by any other name” “is rotten in the state of Denmark.”  See??

“When you do dance, I wish you
A wave o’ th’ sea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that.”

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. Watch for it Saturday ~ Hug an Australian Day!