Writing Exercise: I’d Like to Make a Toast

Have you ever made a toast? I mean, a real one–not just “to us!” but a long, thought-out, possibly memorized speech. It’s an embarrassing prospect, especially for those who fear public speaking, but it’s also a nice idea, isn’t it? So I thought this year, though I won’t be standing up in my dining room making everyone listen to me prattle on, I’d write a toast–just for the heck of it. And then I thought it’d be more interesting to write a toast from one of my characters’ perspectives. Even if they, also, would never stand up and orate.

From the perspective of a highly introverted, possibly autistic sixteen-year-old girl, to her very large family on Thanksgiving:

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How to Be the Greatest Holiday House Guest*

Are you traveling this holiday season? Staying with family? Using strange towels that smell of strange fabric softener? Sleeping in someone else’s bed?

You’re not alone. Over twenty million Americans** will be staying with family members for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year, and at least half of them will feel displaced, displeased, and generally disgruntled–especially if those family members are in-laws.

Here’s hoping, if you’re part of this group of intrepid travelers, you’re one of the happy ones–basking in familial love and the comfort of home. If not, don’t worry! We’ve got five happy hints to make your holiday away from home completely holly jolly.*** For you, anyway.

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Miss Sheri’s Steps to Preparing for Guests

Are you hosting this holiday?

Are you panicking?

Having company can be overwhelming, and readying your home for guests can seem like an enormous task. Lucky for me, I have a friend who knows about these things. One text to Miss Sheri, and I’ve got a guide to help me focus (and to choose which chores to ignore!).

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My Thanksgiving Binder (and How to Make Your Own!)

I love to cook. I love to chop and peel and knead and whisk–if there’s a menial kitchen task that most people delegate to an appliance or the processed food companies, I probably enjoy doing it by hand.

Not every day, of course. I have a food processor and a blender and a garlic press for everyday use. I use my KitchenAid mixer so much I’ve worn out several paddle attachments and one dough hook. I am no stranger to frozen pizzas and canned chili. These things help me (and my family) survive.

But every once in a while, an occasion calls for some serious cooking–and I actually have the time to do it. These are my favorite days.

That’s why I love Thanksgiving.

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This or That: The Twilight Zone or The Week After Christmas?

TWZTitleSpiral001edI’m totally stealing this format from McSweeney’s and they’d probably do it better, but oh well. I thought it was funny.

  • The same things happen over and over. All sense of time dissolves.
  • A man on an airplane becomes convinced there’s a gremlin on the wing.
  • A woman goes to sleep and finds, when she wakes, that the world has changed entirely.
  • The world is destroyed and rebuilt again, all in twenty-two minutes.
  • You look into the mirror to find you’re suddenly an old woman.
  • The ants are in control. Resistance is useless.
  • Santa Claus decides to move to Bermuda.
  • A woman meets a man in a bar. They fall in love. Then he tells her he’s going to outer space in the morning.
  • The power goes out for three days. By the end, people are resorting to cannibalism.
  • Ice. Ice. Everywhere: ice.

Office Parties

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Does your/your partner’s company throw a holiday party? We attended one at my husband’s office yesterday afternoon. It was pretty low-key: some snacks, a ping-pong table, and coloring pages for the kids. My husband won second place in the ugly sweater contest for that Mario jumper you see in the picture, which isn’t really that ugly but only like four people wore ugly sweaters.

I always find office parties a little awkward–perhaps because it’s never been my office we’re partying in, but also because it seems so forced. I got to have a nice chat with somebody’s wife and daughters, but mostly people kept in small clumps of well-known office mates, talking about office stuff and sports teams, about which I know nothing.

The kids had a blast, though. Violet spun and spun to the Christmas music in her head, and Sam tried his hand at ping-pong.

What are your office parties like? I know they vary hugely in size and style. I’d love to hear your stories.