Thanksgiving may only be my 5th favorite holiday, but I’m still thankful for it

Ah, Thanksgiving. My fifth favorite holiday.

Mostly because it gets me out of school for four sweet, glorious, sleep-filled days.

Well not this year, because I’m going to LA at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning (literally. The VERY crack of dawn), and coming home on the red eye Saturday night because my dad is a complete and utter psychopath and the antithesis of sleep.

Why is it my fifth favorite holiday? Well Purim is the clear winner because you get to dress up in costumes and (they don’t tell you this part in Hebrew school!) you’re SUPPOSED to get so drunk that you can’t tell the difference between Haman and Mordechai. Jews know how to celebrate a holiday.

 Of course, all of our holidays are basically about the same thing. Someone or something tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.

Hanukkah is number two because I love presents. And the hot firemen who show up when I almost burn my house down every year. That alone makes it an awesome holiday, even though it’s a little weak on the religion side.

Thanksgiving probably used to be higher on the list, but the combination of crazy family drama (my desserts aren’t kosher enough for the very recently ultra-orthodox branch of my family. Hypocrisy at its finest considering how often I’ve seen them eat shellfish, but I digress.) and the major weight loss this year that makes me feel that food is my absolute arch enemy has lowered it in the ranking. Now it’s somewhere in between Rosh Hashanah (I like apples. I like honey. Win.) and Tu B’Shvat (which I think is the tree holiday. I’m not really sure what it is, but it doesn’t require that I do anything and I can claim it’s a holiday so I don’t have to do work).

I get to avoid the majority of the drama this year because we’ll be in LA, but that makes this year’s celebration a religious experience for my parents. Their religion? Adamism. They will be spending the long weekend worshipping at the altar of my brother’s feet, while I gag in the corner and try not to incur the wrath of Adam’s most fervent followers while looking at all the yummy food that I no longer eat.

Oh joy, rapture!

Sorry, do I sound bitter?

I’m really not.

And to prove it, here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of the things that I’m thankful for this year.

1) Bruce Springsteen is alive and well and touring. I know it’s an odd thing to be thankful for, but it’s been a hell of a year for me and Bruce! The future of the E Street Band looked uncertain at this time last year because of Clarence’s death, but I did four shows in the same week in the spring run, and then had my own personal Courtney Cox moment when I got pulled up on stage to dance with Jake Clemons, Clarence’s nephew. Seriously, one of the best nights of my life and I’m thankful that I got to experience that!

Hugging Bruce. Yeah.  It happened.
Dancing with Jake. Because he rules.
Campaigning with Bruce.  I still don’t know how this wasn’t the official Obama campaign ad.
Yup.  Just holding hands with Bruce Springsteen.  Typical day in the life of Sara Goodman.

2) My newspaper kids—I promised them a shout-out! It’s no secret that I was pretty miserable at my old school, and I still don’t want to be a teacher when I grow up. But my newspaper kids are the ones who get me out of bed in the morning. Okay, technically, my psychotic addiction to exercise gets me out of bed in the morning, but my newspaper kids are the ones who get me to school. Love you guys!

3) The new version of the Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio in it.  Leo + Gatsby? Oh, there aren’t words to describe the level of thankful that I am for this combination! If there was just a Bruce song in this movie, it would be the most perfect thing EVER in the history of mankind. Just saying.

4) Obama winning! Woohoo! I don’t have to get my ass back in the kitchen and make you a pie!

5) My super awesome boyfriend, who I am sending home for Thanksgiving with a pie that I made. Not because I had to because Romney won, but because I WANT to. See the difference? (But seriously, I’m thankful that this year, when I have to deal with my family, I’m no longer the sad, pathetic, schoolmarm-ish spinster. Not that I ever was, but I was treated that way, which was almost as bad. He seriously quoted Springsteen to me at 7am yesterday. Epic win.)

6) Rosie. That little furball ruined the carpet in my apartment, pretty much destroyed my leather sofas, and has basically destroyed everything else I love. But she’s my baby, and I’m grateful that the little demon is in my life every day.

7) My parents. They annoy the bejeesus out of me. They call me every three minutes with absolutely nothing to say, try to run my life, yell at me constantly, and are generally pretty mean to me. Because they love me very much. They won’t SAY that. But they show it through the constant need to talk to me and the presents they buy me instead of saying they’re sorry when they’re REALLY mean to me (or in my mom’s case, when she creeps me out by picking out baby clothes. STOP IT MOM!)  But my mom did FIND me number 5 on my list, so thanks for that too… JUST STOP BEING CREEPY!

8) That my best friend’s divorce is final. Seriously, I did a little happy dance when that came through. She’s the best and deserves the best and now she has a chance to find it, which I am VERY thankful for!

9) The people who buy and read my books! Someday, when I’m a famous author, you get to say you were reading me before everyone else. You’re my Obie (the Bruce fans get that one) and I appreciate and love you all!

10) Cake. Do I need to explain this one?  (The people who got the joke just died laughing, I promise.)

11) RGIII. Again, no explanation needed. He is the Luke Skywalker of the DC area. He is our hope. He is our future. He will hopefully not kiss his own sister like Luke Skywalker did. But if he does, it’s okay. Because the Redskins suck significantly LESS with him in town.

12) The block feature on Facebook and Twitter.  Some of you know why I’m so thankful for this one. And to Verizon, yes even Verizon, for allowing me to block phone numbers when stalking gets scary.  Thanks guys.

13) Apple products. They all just work, and they work together, and they can do anything and everything. (Hint hint Nick.)

14) Black Friday sales. Because losing weight was REALLY a ploy to get my mother to buy me new clothes. It’s working beautifully.

 

15) Sushi. I’m a newbie, but I’m obsessed. It rocks.

Obviously this isn’t an all-inclusive list, but it’s a start. And thinking about what we’re thankful for is really what this holiday is about.

That and carbo-loading for all the Black Friday shopping! Stock up on that stuffing and cornbread now! You’re gonna need it to keep your strength up for tomorrow!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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TSA: Pull laptops out of carry bags at airport or God kills a kitten or puppy

After all the hype about heightened airport security for Thanksgiving weekend, I was kind of disappointed at how easy it actually was to smuggle dangerous stuff onto an airplane.

I’m kidding. I followed the law to the letter. TSA officials, if you’re reading this, please don’t put me on the No Fly List!

But I WAS expecting it to be tougher to get through security. Maybe it’s because I left my burka at home, or maybe it’s because I look like the quintessential American girl next door. Or maybe it was because I was traveling with my parents way past the age when I should have been, but apparently I don’t look remotely threatening.

Which, as a teacher, I find surprising. I’m pretty sure I can be way more frightening than your average person.

I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find that the guy expediting the x-ray lines at Dulles airport on Thanksgiving morning had a sense of humor because A) I thought it was illegal to joke about ANYTHING at the airport and B) if I had to be working Thanksgiving Day, I’d be blaming anyone who crossed my path for making it necessary for me to be there. But at 7am, when I’m normally anything but cheerful, the guy running the security line had me cracking up.

Completely deadpan, he loudly informed everyone in line to remove all laptops from carry bags and to put each laptop in a separate tray to be scanned. “Each time anyone forgets to take a laptop out of a carry bag,” he bellowed, “it slows down the line and God kills a baby kitten or puppy.”

Because I’m a smartass, I asked him if there was any way to control if it was a kitten or a puppy that died. If it was a puppy, I’d definitely pull out my laptop, but a cat? I’d hide that sucker at the bottom of my suitcase with a dozen full perfume bottles!

By all rights, this probably should have been enough to sentence me to the dreaded scanner machine, considering that you can be arrested for saying the word “bomb” at an airport.

 No joke. I went to show my dad a link to funny photo bombs on The Huffington Post and the SWAT team came swinging in through the windows to throw me into a dungeon.

And if I’m being totally honest, I kind of WANTED to get put in the scanner, just to see what all the hype was about. And I REALLY wanted to see the picture of what I looked like in it. But apparently they won’t show those to you. And my dad said that if I asked to go in the scanner, he would kill me Dexter style (which apparently you ARE allowed to say at the airport, because the SWAT team was still hovering to make sure I didn’t say “bomb” again in any context and they nodded their approval when my dad said that). So I didn’t mention the scanners, just stared longingly at them as I put all of my stuff on the X-ray belt.

“No,” the security guy told me, still completely deadpan, “God picks whether it’s a kitten or a puppy that dies.” Then he began listing items that couldn’t go through security with us and what we should do with them. “If you have a cup of coffee, finish it. If you have a bottle of water, dump it out. If you have tequila, share it.”

I kind of wanted him to be my new best friend.

Sadly, despite setting off the metal detector twice with my jewelry, I was cleared once my hands, wrists, and neck were naked and avoided the full body scanner.

I took my time putting my shoes back on (I’d worn boots entirely because I thought they might give me a better chance of getting picked for the scanner), hoping to see if ANYONE had to go through it, but no one did while I was there. Which I think is kind of irresponsible of the TSA. I mean, I’d forgotten that I had a lipgloss in my purse that WASN’T in my little plastic baggie. If I did that unintentionally, what were people bringing with them intentionally? I TOTALLY could have had a chemical weapon in my bra or something. I didn’t. But I COULD HAVE. (But I wouldn’t. Again, TSA, I promise, I’m not a threat!)

But alas, I wasn’t meant to go through the full body scanner.

My experience was the same on the way back, minus the sense of humor. In fact, I was pretty sure that if I joked about leaving my laptop in my bag with the security guys in LA, I would have been dragged into a back room, beaten within an inch of my life, then shipped off to Guantanamo, Harold and Kumar style.

But they must have sensed my desire to be targeted for some additional screening, because right after the flight attendant scanned my boarding pass, I was pulled aside by a TSA crew seated at a table just inside the jetway and told to display my palms.

Of course, I had no idea what was going on, because I hadn’t heard of this particular type of screening, and thought they were going to say my suitcase was too big to carry on, because after Black Friday shopping in LA, it was stuffed far beyond the allowed size limit and was in peril of bursting, spewing clothes, shoes, and makeup over everything within a sixty mile radius.

 So I panicked, knowing that my dad would murder me and throw my body out of the exit row door somewhere over middle America if we had to wait at baggage claim (and in that moment it dawned on me that THAT is the precise reason why he insists on exit row seats, not the extra leg room).

But no, they just rubbed a cloth over my hand and analyzed it to see if I’d been handling any chemicals. Which, boringly enough, I hadn’t, so they sent me and my ready-to-explode suitcase on our merry way.

So even though I didn’t get to experience any extreme security measures, at least I made it to California and back in one piece over the busiest travel weekend of the year. Which I guess means that whatever the TSA is doing, it’s working. Even if they ARE leaking almost naked pictures of people on the internet.

Which, if it happened, would probably be good for my writing career, publicity-wise.

I’m so wearing an “Everyone Loves a Muslim Girl” shirt the next time I fly.

Although knowing my luck, I’d get a security guy with a sense of humor and be waved straight through. Oh well.

I’m leaving on a jet plane… if I make it through airport security in time for Thanksgiving

Ah, Thanksgiving. Everyone’s second favorite holiday.

It would be everyone’s FIRST favorite holiday if we got to eat like pigs AND got presents.  But without presents, it tends to come in second place.

I’m actually pretty excited about Thanksgiving this year though, because my family is going to LA for my brother’s first Thanksgiving as a California resident. So I’ll be a guest Thursday night instead of the forced slave laborer that I usually am when my parents host it.

A normal Thanksgiving for me starts about a week in advance, when my mother tells me what I’m expected to bake (aka all desserts, bread products, and usually about six other things that I’ve never heard of, but am expected to have recipes for anyway).

Then the epically futile search for a non-horrible, non-dairy cornbread recipe begins. My parents keep kosher at their house, so none of the things I make can have even a hint of dairy in them. I’ve tried soymilk cornbread (horrible), non-dairy creamer cornbread (not so bad), chicken-broth cornbread (drier than eating chalk in the Sahara), and vegan non-dairy/no-eggs cornbread (AVOID AT ALL COSTS).

My parents aren’t super kosher, so they have no problem with dairy products making a cameo appearance in the desserts, but after the debacle a couple years ago when my Israeli aunt ran around making her children spit out my cookies because they were made with butter and regular chocolate chips instead of the paerve ones from Trader Joes, I now have to make my desserts completely non-dairy as well (or at least lie and say I did). Which means margarine instead of butter and no store-bought pie crusts.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is always a big reunion night, as everyone who’s back in town goes and hangs out with their old high school friends. But I can only do this if I’ve gotten enough of the baking for Thanksgiving done. Which, short of taking the entire week off of school and renting out sixteen extra ovens, is not humanly possible. So instead of me going out, my friends tend to descend on my place before THEY go out, not to see me, but to sample the goodies I’ve been baking. Which means I have to bake twice as much as I would otherwise.

This year, nothing is expected of me at all as long as I get myself to California. Which, because my dad is morally opposed to waiting in any line ever, is always an interesting experience. We’re not allowed to check bags when traveling with him.

Even if we’re going somewhere for six months. It’s strictly what we can carry, because if we have to wait for baggage claim, he’s going to leave us at the airport and we’ll never see him again. True story. I’m an expert at Charles de Gaulle Airport because I was abandoned there for a week while my dad enjoyed Paris. In fact, the movie The Terminal was actually based on my life. You’re welcome, Tom Hanks.

And because there could be nothing worse in my dad’s world than facing the lines inherent in traveling today, we’re leaving at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning instead.

My parents will be staying in a hotel, but I’m staying with my brother, which should be fun, because I haven’t seen him since he moved to Santa Monica in July to do his residency.

I’m NOT, however, looking forward to staying with his cat. If it looked like Hitler, it’d be one thing, but it doesn’t.

And I don’t care how cute he says it is, cats are evil. Even The Simpsons made a statement about that this week.

And nothing that’s on The Simpsons could be wrong. Just like no one who speaks German could be an evil man, right Sideshow Bob?

But overall, I don’t mind the idea of traveling. I’m kind of interested in seeing what all the fuss is about with the full-body scanners. Although if I get selected for that, I might just pick the pat down. Not because I really care if anyone sees me naked, but because it’d be the most action I’ve gotten in awhile.

I also happen to REALLY like airports. I know, I know, I’m weird. But I like people watching. Which is why I’m kinda bummed that we’re flying tomorrow, when it’ll be less crowded instead of today. That’s why I hate the terrorists so much. Not because of all of the new security regulations (honestly, if they want to dig through my bag, I don’t care that much. I can’t fold to save my life anyway—if they rifle through it, it’ll probably be an improvement on my packing job—although it IS annoying that I can’t bring a bottle of water or Diet Coke with me and have to pay six times as much to buy one after security… fail), but because I used to like going to pick people up at the airport so that I could sit at the gate and people watch.

Now, people watching at an airport is boring, because the only people at the gates are the people who are actually flying. And if they’re not greeting people or saying tearful goodbyes, it’s just a lot of staring at people as they flip through magazines, bang away at their laptops, and sip coffee. Watching paint dry is more fun than people watching at an airport these days.

I’m excited to see my cousins in LA though, and I’m looking forward to being a guest for once.

The redeye Saturday night flight home, however? Kill me now.

But I’ll worry about that when I get to it.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!

And if you ARE having deep-fried Turkey, try not to burn your house down.

Because I don’t care if it’s the holiday season, you’re not crashing with me unless you cook and clean, in which case, you can move in as soon as I get home Sunday morning.