Keeping the Best, Changing the Rest
Growing up, a family gathering wasn’t complete unless there was a game of Pinochle -- the click of cards and conversation punctuated by laughter and exclamations.
Pinochle is uses a special deck of cards (made by combining the Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Jack, and Nine of two decks) and is most often played with just four people.
To include more players, the family added decks, so instead of two of each card, there could be three, four or more, depending on how many people wanted to play. To make things even more interesting, new partners were picked every hand by turning up a card from the ‘blind’.
Over the years, the family drifted away from the card games. Football, television and electronic games began to dominate.
But this year, Thanksgiving was at our house and we had a bright idea -- reviving the family pinochle tradition!
First we had to remember the rules. With a bit of help from the Internet, we pieced together a quick overview of the rules for the younger generation (and those that hadn’t played in a long time). It went pretty smoothly until we got to what constituted meld - the points you accumulate before the hand is played. Then the questions began:
Asking good questions and challenging assumptions are great skills for innovation, even if that wasn't the objective and most of them were asked for the fun of asking. They paved the way for the final question:
If my grandfather could change the rules to make it fit the situation, so could we. Tens, Kings and Queens now counted for points.
This changed the game slightly (Oddly, it was more challenging to count the points). But we still had conversation, laughter and some exclamations.
That made me wonder about the upcoming Holidays. For many, they are full of family traditions and “have to dos”. Perhaps not everything makes as much sense as it did for our grandparents, or parents or even ourselves at a different stage of life.
By questioning and challenging assumptions, you can keep the best parts and change or eliminate what doesn’t fit. Make them your own – and maybe you’ll come up with something even better.
Are you changing some traditions? If you are, please tell us in the comments.
Have a wonderful week!
The American Thanksgiving Holiday!
It's almost time for pumpkin pie, stuffing and some well-deserved relaxation (unless you’re cooking for a houseful or having relatives that are a handful).
And while any day is a good day to be grateful, this is our day to officially step back and give thanks.
But it wasn’t always.
So let’s take a peek into history -- how did the observance of the American Thanksgiving holiday start?
Thanksgiving is most often traced back to 1621 when the inhabitants of Plymouth Plantation celebrated a harvest feast after their first successful growing season.
The Pilgrims, or Separatists (Pilgrims held similar religious beliefs to the Puritans but insisted that their congregations be independent of the English state church) had good reason to be thankful. They had left England to escape religious persecution and after enduring the long, perilous voyage to the New World, disease and the harsh New England winter took it’s toll on about half the group.
They were short of supplies; total collapse of the colony the first winter was prevented by Chief Massasoit of the Wanpanoag tribe, who gave them much needed provisions. (One way to get Pilgrims to invite you to dinner! )
Reports say that the Wanpanoags invited to the feast brought deer with them.
So that’s the first recorded harvest feast of Thanksgiving and the first good guests.
Despite being a great idea, it didn’t become a wide spread holiday. There were feasts of thanks after good harvests or events, but it wasn't until later that all 13 colonies celebrated a day of Thanksgiving. In 1789, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday, November 26 to be "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer," to give thanks for the opportunity to form a new nation and the establishment of a new constitution.
Thanksgiving finally became an annual holiday due to the efforts of a woman author named Sarah Josepha Hale (known for writing “Mary had a little Lamb” nursery rhyme). She spent 40 year advocating for a national, annual Thanksgiving holiday – a very determined person.
When Lincoln was looking for a way to bring the nation together, Sarah got her chance to convince him. In 1863, Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation declaring the last Thursday in November a day of “thanksgiving and praise”.
For 75 years after Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation, succeeding presidents honored the tradition and annually issued their own Thanksgiving Proclamation, declaring the last Thursday in November as the day of Thanksgiving.
However, in 1939, there was a controversy.
In 1939, Thanksgiving was going to fall on November 30. That meant only 24 shopping days until Christmas. Retailers begged FDR to push Thanksgiving just one week earlier. Retailers hoped that with an extra week of shopping, people would buy more. (Retailers are still trying ways to extend the shopping season – like the stores that start their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving. Kudos to REI, HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and all other retails that are bucking the trend this year. If you know of one, please give them credit in the comments.)
So FDR announced his Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1939, declaring the date of Thanksgiving to be Thursday, November 23, the second-to-last Thursday of the month. Not one of FDR’s good ideas. It caused quite a bit of confusion and governors, who customarily issued their declarations after the president, didn’t all follow the new date.
Finally, on December 26, 1941, Congress passed a law declaring that Thanksgiving would occur every year on the fourth Thursday of November.
So if you are one of the lucky ones that will have family gathered together and a feast to eat, reflect back and give thanks.
Have a wonderful holiday, wherever you are!
"In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices." — Elizabeth Gilbert
Composting Your Stories
I was cutting up a bouquet of wilted flowers, ruminating on how the bright blossoms that are so cheerful when they’re blooming are so sad when they wilt. But it was comforting to think that the dead flowers go to good use as an ingredient in compost that will help new flora grow.
Composting works best when you have multiple ingredients – a blend of “greens” (bits of vegetables, grass, small weeds and bush trimmings), “browns” (small sticks, chopped leaves, and even paper from the shredder), occasional eggshells for calcium, and moisture. And if you stir it regularly, you'll be rewarded.
Like the flowers, discarded story ideas can be put into the bin or file to compost and combine with other elements. With any luck, the “brown” of discarded ideas, characters and random writing sessions, combined with the “green” of observations and themes from real life will help fuel the imagination. You can add moisture and stir them by expanding your horizons -- reading, trying something new or attending a workshop.
So if you want compost, keep adding layers of green and brown to the bin, add water and stir. If you want to write, keep adding to the notebooks, making observations, and trying to write something new. Keep at it, you'll be rewarded.
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Have a great week!
Do you know this word?
Today's word is Twitterpated.
Do you think it means:
According to Dictionary.reference.com twitterpated was first used in 1942 in this classic Disney movie. Click here to view the scene.
Have you ever wondered what actress would play your role in the movie version of your life?
Just for fun, try it. It's only nine easy questions.
The quiz is from Buzzfeed: Quiz Link
I came up withMeryl Streep. Think that fits?
Let me know who you come up with and if you think it makes sense.
Have a great week!
Insights on writing, characters, humor and other tidbits from the author of the "Scoops and Schemes" series of novels.
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