Thankful for Pickled Beets

Thanksgiving was my Grandma’s holiday. She owned it like a boss. It was her birthday, plus Thanksgiving, and the mission was clear: fill the Taopi town hall with her family. Grandma is gone now and new traditions have replaced the old trek to the drafty hall. I miss the bent folding chairs and being paraded on the town stage.

I have two feet planted squarely in middle age and have never bought pickled beets till this year, because Grandma isn’t here to make them anymore. I saved her last beets until I needed to google shelf times, safety and canning. My sister made a commemorative batch, but it wasn’t the same. Nothing is as good as the loving original.

Grief is the thing that makes your throat hurt when you’re past the point of crying. I stood in the grocery aisle staring at a jar of beets this week and my throat hurt a little. “Are you finding everything, Ma’am?” My voice cracked on “yes.”.

This month I met with two families that have lost their children and wanted to set up scholarship funds in their memory. And I heard it again, the voice crack. Their throats hurt a little. Those hearts bear scars that they will never show to the world, but will smile this spring giving scholarship money to someone else’s child.

The dark side of holidays is the simple truth that sometimes they suck for others. It’s hard to celebrate when your heart hurts, but celebrate we must. I think it’s important to be thankful for a life well lived, however short or long. It’s also good to give an extra squeeze whenever you hear someone’s voice crack. This Thanksgiving let us be thankful for those that are gathered around our table and the empty chairs that we wish were still filled.

If I were to assemble my favorite meal, it would have Grandma’s pickled beets, my mom’s chocolate cake, Willie’s fish, Jan’s deviled eggs, and my husband’s steak. Some of these people are living and some are not, but I’m thankful for all of them. Who makes your perfect meal? Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

Keep sharing moxie.

Winning & Losing Graciously


Last weekend I ran (walked) a 5k race with my 4-year old. Once he realized that the race didn’t end at Dairy Queen he started crying. This quickly devolved to the point where he pointed to everyone ahead of us and yelled “They’re cheaters!! They are all FAST CHEATERS!”

I was pissed.

We walked back to the starting line talking about the importance of trying .We discussed that he isn’t going to win every time, no one does. I thought we had an understanding, a good talk, valuable life lesson. Pat on the back, well played, Mom. Wrong.

We got to the end of the race and he started yelling about cheaters again after he saw the racers got medals. Awesome. We hit the high points again. We talked once more before nap. We talked at dinner. His dad talked to him. We will continue to have this conversation again and again until he gets the concept of losing graciously. I will suck it up whenever I lose, because I know he is watching my every move.

Tomorrow it’s election day in the United States. We have had a hotly contested, dichotomous and divisive race. We will have winners and losers tomorrow. It will sting. It will be celebratory. It will still be divisive.

Some lovely, albeit naive, people are talking about how great it will be when the election is over. I fear that it won’t be. We are not a nation that loses graciously. We give out medals to all in order to avoid it. We blame it on other people. “It was THEIR fault.” “It was rigged.” “The (teacher, boss, supervisor, colleague) doesn’t like me.”

I really, really don’t want to debate the merits or weaknesses of anyone in any race at this point. Let’s just get mentally ready that there will be winners and losers tomorrow. If your candidates win, please don’t be obnoxious. If your candidates lose, please don’t be obnoxious. Remember, the preschoolers are watching. Let’s try and set a good example for them. 

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