The Thunker - Sarah Donohoe

Next week we jump with both feet into the blizzard we call The Holiday Season. I get dizzy dodging the many holiday thoughts bombarding me like snowballs thrown by nine-year-old boys. For instance:

What size turkey should I buy for 10 people? Will that be enough for everyone to take leftovers home? How many cookies do I need to bake for the cookie swap? Would it look terribly bad if I just picked my own cookies to take back home? I know I like mine. I’m not so sure about those black-pepper-parmesan numbers with candied fruit in the middle.

What is the price limit on the secret Santa gift exchange? What if I go over the limit? I don’t want to make anyone else look cheap. What if I don’t go over the limit and everyone else does? Then who looks cheap?

Am I the only person on the planet who would rather hear Karen Carpenter croon “Merry Christmas Darling” than Mariah Carey pierce our eardrums with “All I Want for Christmas is You”? And who wrote “Let It Snow” anyway? I have ornaments to make, gifts to buy, packages to ship, groceries to stock up on—the last thing I need is a snow storm to force me to stay home. How do people in the South feel about “Let It Snow” and “Frosty the Snowman”?

There are lots of articles and podcasts out there to help us weather this storm. They encourage us to think about what is really important during this time of year. We are supposed to think about what really brings us joy, what fills our hearts and what gives us peace. Here is a compilation of questions to consider to set the right tone for this Holiday Season. [My comments are in brackets. ]

1. What is the most important thing to feel during these holidays? [My feet.] What do I need to do to feel that? [Work in the kitchen for hours. And shop a lot.]

2. What is my top priority for this holiday? What will bring me the most joy? [Introducing something new to the menu, like chestnuts. Because honestly, who—west of the Mississippi—has ever eaten a chestnut? You never see chestnuts in a can of mixed nuts or in a granola ingredient list. How many people do you know roast them over an open fire? When roasting, do chestnuts expand like marshmallows or burst open like popcorn? Where do chestnut trees grow, anyway?]

3. During the holidays, what causes me the most stress? [Contemplating chestnuts.]

[Just kidding. What causes me stress is walking out of the gym into the parking lot and finding that somebody moved my car while I was working out. It makes me feel like I’ve forgotten where I parked.] How can I minimize that stress? [Avoid going to the gym.]

4. What must I stay away from because it causes me to feel resentment, anger, or sadness? [Stuffing. The traditional sage stuffing never makes it onto my plate. I’m just not a fan, which must be why I never get assigned to make the dressing. I’ve always wanted to try a cranberry/apple/walnut (or chestnut?) stuffing but every year we have the same stale, soggy breadcrumbs.]

5. What gets me into trouble and how can I avoid that? (i. e., too much alcohol, not sleeping enough, high sugar foods, overspending, talking politics, etc.) [All of the above. Anymore, one glass of red wine gives me a headache the next morning. Then I don’t sleep enough. The one time I can get away with talking politics is when I’m playing bridge. I can say, “No trump” and my partner nods, looking seriously at her cards. The other two players at the table shake their heads. That’s politics these days.]

6. What helps me feel calm and peaceful? [Expressing gratitude. That’s what this Holiday Season is all about—both on Thanksgiving Day next week, Christmas a month later, and every beautiful day in between. Truly, we can be grateful for absolutely anything! There are the big things like family and friends and democracy and freedom. But there are gazillions of little things too: toenails, gas caps, mortar boards (imagine if we didn’t have mortar boards and we threw our car keys in the air instead), toilets, ticks (opossum have to eat too, you know), scissors, Band-Aids, the pennywhistle—and I’m only getting started.]

I am thankful for all that stuff, but what I don’t say enough is that I am grateful for you, dear readers of The Thunker. You’re one of the big things to be thankful for. I am grateful for Kris and Gary for running my column each week and so very thankful for you, my audience. You bring me joy, fill my heart and give me peace (after I meet my deadline!). Thank you.

You may let The Thunker know what you think at her e-mail address,

© 2019 Sarah Donohoe

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