Don’t Give Thanks on Thanksgiving!

In a way, it’s unfortunate that Thanksgiving is an official holiday.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the turkey feast with all the trimmings, love the excuse to gather family and friends, love telling my daughters about that first Thanksgiving at Plymouth in 1621 when the English settlers thanked the Native Americans for helping them produce a successful harvest.

But sometimes I think that the act of proclaiming an Official Holiday has the unintended consequence of trivializing the very thing we’re supposed to be celebrating. When we set aside one day in honor of something, most people — because we’re lazy and selfish and busy — tend to feel like we’re off the hook for the other 364 days of the year.

Of course there’s value in holidays, in celebrations. But have you ever thought, for instance, that Valentine’s Day is a little strange? Aren’t we supposed to show love to those we love every day? Why set aside February 14 for that specific purpose? I feel the same way about Mother’s Day. I even wonder whether the birth of Jesus would feel closer to us all year long if we didn’t confine it to December 25.

I suspect the same thing about Thanksgiving.

Click here to continue reading over at On the Willows.

The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Smartphones.

You know those people who seem to always have a finger on the pulse of the times? I am not one of those people.

I’m always a little behind when it comes to what’s going on in the world, be it geopolitical events, entertainment news, or new technology. This is probably due to a combination of living in rural Vermont, not having a television, and parenting four small children.

So it might not be factually accurate to say that this is The Year of Social Media Backlash; I’ll stick with saying that this is the year I noticed a lot of social media backlash.

A sampling of some things that made me take notice: Last May, the commencement speaker at the college where my husband teaches was the brilliant author Jonathan Safran Foer. He devoted his commencement address — later excerpted on the New York Times Op-Ed page — to a critique of modern communication technologies. Then there was comedian Louis C.K.’s viral rant against smartphones on Conan O’Brien’s television show.  Even the popular Momastery blog got in on the action, with a post lambasting the comparisons engendered by social media.

For my own opinion, click here to continue reading over at On the Willows.

Teenage Wasteland

"Happy Sweet 16! Here are your wheels!"
“Happy Sweet 16! Here are your wheels!”

Our fourth daughter was born this summer. We now have four girls, aged 5, 4, 2, and 3 months.

Which means that in 13 years, we will have four teenaged girls.

I didn’t consider that scenario when we were planning our family, for the very simple reason that we didn’t plan our family. It all just happened, fast and furious, and when the dust settled this past July we suddenly had four daughters staring at us.

But I’m reminded of our teenaged future almost daily now, because whenever I venture into public with my daughters, someone will inevitably look at us and say, “Four daughters?!? Wow, that’s going to be interesting when they’re all teenagers!” And instead of “interesting,” they sometimes use words like “challenging,” “crazy,” or “horrible.”

Click here to continue reading at On the Willows.

Life Lessons from the Dog Whisperer

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Our dog suffers from anxiety issues and low self-esteem.

Before owning a dog, it never occurred to me that dogs could suffer from anxiety and low self-esteem. There are a LOT of things that never occur to non-dog-owners; then you get a dog, and the next thing you know you’re consulting a dog whisperer and shelling out $16 at the natural food co-op for “Rescue Remedy,” a plant-based stress-reliever with which to lace the doggie bowl water.

True story.

Click here to continue reading over at On the Willows.

Retreat!

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Last month, I went on a 24-hour retreat with a group of women from our church.

That statement in no way conveys what a Big Deal this was. The last time I’d gone away all by myself was over five years ago. I was pregnant with our first child and working for a nonprofit; in that role, I spent one night at a camp we ran for high school students. Fun, but hardly a “retreat.”

Click here to continue reading about my first solo getaway in five years over at On the Willows.