Archive for the ‘doing good’ Category

Way back in July of 2007, I talked about the Quality of LOYALTY. At the time, I talked about it from the standpoint of a young employee working at one of their earlier jobs. I talked about the importance of staying loyal to those who employ you and of not being disloyal just because you think you might be getting a better opportunity. Over the next few years, in the classroom, I’ve been able to experience what many kids call loyalty.

What I’ve found surprised me perhaps more than it should have given the reason kids are in school in the first place:

They have no clue!

When I deal with my incarcerated students, many of them have the most screwed up vision of loyalty. In their head, loyalty means you never say anything bad about your hommie, no matter what. Period. End of sentence. Ever. In fact, in their world, one never “rats out” a hommie. If a friend is choking to death on a substance that they weren’t supposed to ever have been in contact with, loyalty dictates that one will never report the situation to someone who could help. Similarly, if a friend is going to commit a crime against someone else, even someone who is completely innocent, loyalty dictates that the friend commits the crime regardless of any other issues. For these students, the code of loyalty can be summed up best in three words:

Snitches get stitches.

While this sounds like a great premise for a Dr. Seuss book, this kind of warped view of loyalty has the very real-world possible consequence of death or some other permanent condition. One that isn’t nearly as funny as a book about the scar-bellied snitch from Dr. Seuss.

I’ve also seen in regular districts where young people believe they are at war with adults. Or where Hispanic kids believe they are at war with Caucasian kids, Black kids with Asians, or any other, arbitrary grouping.

For example, this week, I had a student call me a name in Spanish that basically included a vulgarity and an adjective that described my being overweight. There were three students in a group, and as they all walked away from my classroom, one of them made the offensive remark. When I asked which one made the comment, surprisingly, none of them even heard the comment or knew what that comment even meant in Spanish. None of them was going to be disloyal to his friends.

I had another student in the same class that committed to writing, some more, even more offensive insults about me. This student at least had the decency to wait until they believed I was gone from the school and therefore out of range to have heard the comment. The student denied writing the comments up till the writing of the comment was compared with a previous writing sample. Of course, other students in the class had seen the student writing the comment, but none of them were going to step forward.

WTF! Nobody knows anything about LOYALTY?

I worry about the future when I see students and young people with such a misunderstanding of real loyalty. I wonder where they get these ideas.

Joe Paterno, formerly of Penn State Football, after receiving reports that one of his friends and former assistant coaches had forcibly sodomized a 10 year-old child, did not go to the police as would have been the right thing to do. Instead, Coach Paterno called the athletic director and might have involved the school administration.

To be fair, this has rather less to do with loyalty, and much more to do with immortality. Coach Paterno was working on half a century of being an institution at Penn State and throughout Pennsylvania. He was a hero to many, and while I believe his decision to not be more active to stop his rapist former assistant coach, there is a small part of me that understands staying out-of-the-way and keeping my head down when I’m trying to accomplish something.

Very serious crimes such as robbery and rape are being committed in many of the Occupado protests. Many of them are going unreported to the authority because the victims and other protesters feel that they are being loyal to their cause and the supporters of the protests.

Their rationale is simple. If they report a crime, then the police will have to come in and do something about it. If the police do that, the protest is over. In a way, the victims feel that they are making some sort of noble sacrifice for what they consider a greater good. I believe they are sadly, and seriously misguided young people who were led astray by the adults in their lives for years.
 

So if this isn’t loyalty, what is?

You recognize that this isn’t loyalty. You recognize that true loyalty is more about helping others to be successful at all the right things. You know that loyalty sometimes means you have to “snitch” on a friend to keep that friend from screwing their lives up further. You know that loyalty, true and real loyalty, sometimes means telling someone something they don’t want to hear.

As an adult, and as a parent, you are probably feeling frustrated because you know that these news stories are no longer the outliers. This stuff is happening every day, across the country. People that we should teach our children to look up to, are becoming with increasing frequency, people that we should shield our children from.

But hope isn’t completely lost.
 

What can I do?

1. Show your kids loyalty by being truly loyal yourself. Start with loyalty to your spouse, your family, and to your kids. Sometimes loyalty is protecting your family from malevolent forces. Don’t be afraid to let your kids know how your loyalty manifests itself.

2. Call out B.S. demonstrations of false “loyalty” when you see them. When your kids come to you with some story about not wanting to get a friend in trouble, ask them if their friend will be willing to take the punishment for your kid’s misbehavior if it comes to it. Spoiler alert, they aren’t!

3. Separate your kids from the kids who push for false loyalty. This is a simple one. If your kid has a “friend” who ever says something as stupid as the snitches gets stitches thing, you need to distance your kid from them. First, as we’ve already said, they aren’t really friends, but second, these people are heading towards something dangerous.

I have been unable to verify this story with links to anywhere, but when I was young my dad was big into country music. His favorite artist was George Jones. My dad told me a story about how Jones had either hidden or destroyed all the shoes of his wife at the time Tammy Wynette. I’ve heard that he took the heels of all the shoes or that he took the shoes altogether. Either way, Wynette’s standing by her man definitely smacks of inappropriate “loyalty”. Enjoy.

 

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Last week, I was called in to teach a group of kids that are more difficult to teach than most. Many have already graduated from school, but are still forced to go because of their age. Many will never see the outside world as free men or women. Very few of them care about school at all. In short, they have nothing to lose by missing school, and not much to gain by going. The teacher that I was replacing had given a stock lesson in writing a specific kind of poetry.

School

Pointless wasted

Sucking, wasting, boring

Punks dorks teachers bitches

Sitting sleeping learning

Jail

That’s an actual example (near as I can remember from reading it) of what the students turned in. I can see why the other teacher didn’t want to deal with this class anymore.

When I found out that I was teaching this class, I knew I had to do something that would catch their interest, but that would still be educational and appropriate for them. I worked for most of the day and evening to come up with a kick-ass lesson that would be entertaining and educational. I had hundreds of pages to print out so that the kids could actually complete the assignment. Not wanting to waste my personal printer ink, I saved everything to DROPBOX so that I could print it out at work the next morning (by the way, if you don’t already have a Dropbox account, and you ever save any kind of file, you need one. Click on the link and you’ll get extra space when you sign up for an account. In fairness, I’ll also get a little free space, but I’d use the service regardless).

When I got to work, I learned that for some reason, my district’s internet security policy blocks Dropbox access. No worries, I could use my phone and print remotely to a printer. No dice there either, since the printers wouldn’t accept a connection to print from my phone. I was getting a little worried, since I realized that I was well and truly screwed.

By the time I got to class, I had about two minutes to think of something, or face the very real possibility of a minor riot on my watch. Luckily, I try to have a backup plan for whenever my first two (or three, but whatever) ideas crap out. I learned this by virtue of being caught many times with no plan, and having to pay the consequences. To make a long story end, my backup worked, possibly better than my original plan would have, and I was told by the sheriffs’ staff that I was one of the best teachers to have dealt with these kids.

I told you that for a couple of reasons. Number one, I was really impressed with myself and I wanted to brag a little. Number two, and more importantly, I did it because the lesson I learned and demonstrated has real-world application when it comes to personal finance.

Everybody tells you to keep a small, liquid fund to use in case of an emergency. Most people will say six months worth of expenses should cover you. But what happens if your emergency keeps you away from the bank or safe-deposit box, or wherever you keep it for a few days? What do you do then? One quick way you can protect yourself is by also keeping a small (very, very small) stash of cash within easy access. When I say small, which is the operative word here, I mean just enough to help you survive for a weekend or a few days until you can access your emergency fund if needed.

While we’re talking about emergency funds, what happens when you have exhausted your emergency fund completely? In today’s economy, being out of work more than six months is more the norm than the exception. If the worst ever happens, and you have exhausted your emergency fund, you will still need money. I suggest planning ahead. While you are building your emergency fund, you are putting some money towards it every pay-period. Let’s assume that an emergency doesn’t happen right away. Transfer one month of your emergency fund into something a little longer in term, with a higher interest rate. Keep making your contributions till you have replenished it. As you do this, you are building a bubble for when you run out of emergency “cushion”. If you have a problem with saving, you are also building a painless nest-egg for the future.

At work, you like your job, but what happens if you were the last hired, and your company needs to lay someone off (hint: In most cases, you are screwed). While you are working, in addition to saving your emergency fund, as we’ve discussed above, start building skill sets that will help you to be able to find a job sooner. This may mean formal schooling, or this may mean polishing your resume’ so that your skills and abilities are properly showcased.

At home, stock up on non-perishable foods and water in case of a natural disaster. With the summer we just had, with earthquakes in the east, hurricanes in the south, and floods everywhere, stores are running out of basic supplies. Those people who are prepared, are able to “weather the storm”. But what if something happens to your stored food? Maybe this is a good time for you and your community or your family to work out a plan where everybody contributes for a larger group to survive.

Look, I’m not trying to scare you, but shit happens. Sometimes, you are prepared and you bring your umbrella. Sometimes, your umbrella breaks as soon as you open it. When this happens, you will be glad when you put a change of clothes in a bag for just such a situation. Are you going to be prepared for everything? Not even close, and I don’t recommend that you even try. Sometimes, even the best prepared still lose in the end. I can’t stop that, but you can limit your exposure to losing by having a few backup plans ready should they be needed.

I believe it was Robert Burns who said:

“The best laid schemes of Mice and Men

Oft go awry

And leave us nothing but grief and pain,

For promised joy!”

Given my students, and the lesson I just re-learned and related, I can think of no better message than to be prepared. Enjoy!

 

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This is Jocelyn Lam. She is a fifth grade student at Camino Grove Elementary school in Arcadia, Ca. Arcadia is about 10-15 miles away from downtown Los Angeles, and one of many communities that is close to where I personally live. Jocelyn is a sweet, caring, generous young woman who should be looked to as an inspiration.

Here’s her story:

As is happening in public schools and districts across the country, influential teachers are “teaching” their students about the current budget issues in the state. Jocelyn’s teacher, Todd Weber, said something that caused Jocelyn to donate her entire life savings of $300.00 dollars. Incidentally, her brother also donated $177.00, and other students are also donating money to the school. Jocelyn included a letter with her donation:

Dear Super Indendant (sic) and Board Members,

Hi. My name is Jocelyn Lam. I’ve heard that 65 positions will be laid off and ten of them are from my school! This really breaks my heart. Those teachers had taught me a lot. They guided me to fifth grade. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here right now writing this letter. They changed my life.

I save all this money I earned from chores and high grades. Now I want to donate all this money to save the teachers. I really hope this $300 will help save the teachers who are about to be laid off. I also hope that this is enough to save more than one teacher. PLEASE put this money to good use. I beg you! SAVE THE TEACHERS!

Sincerely,

Jocelyn Lam

As a teacher, this act of kindness and charity from a student is inspirational. To think that this child is willing to give up every bit of money to her name in an effort to save the teachers she so obviously loves and treasures really pulls at the heart-strings. It is a reminder of why we do what we do. Quite honestly, if this doesn’t affect you, you are heartless. On the other hand, the adults involved remind me of why I personally do this blog, and why I personally teach the way I do, and why I stand against the unions that control many of the teachers. I’m left with many questions. Here are just a couple big ones.

Just what did Mr. Weber tell his students that motivated them to donate everything they have?    I’m not going to try to put words in Mr. Weber’s mouth here. I will say that I don’t teach the politics of the union, the teachers, or the school district to my kids. I will answer direct questions in an honest manner, making sure that I do not try to convince my students that my opinion is fact. I will give both sides of the argument, explain my position as well as the opposing position, and clearly tell the kids that both sides have merit. For example, if a student asked me about teacher lay-off’s, I would tell the student that the state is constitutionally required to spend certain percentages of revenues (taxes) on schools. Since the recent budgetary crisis, which started really impacting life about five years ago, the actual dollar amount that goes towards public schools has decreased. The districts have to adjust to the lesser income; much like many families have had to do, and make changes to how they spend the money they have, again like many families have done. Some of the possible solutions are unpleasant to certain groups involved in the decision-making process. The unions, the district, and the state government are all debating the best way to proceed. I don’t make a values judgment on either side. I think that any teacher who does otherwise is acting under a conflict of interests. These teachers need to understand that their job is to teach impressionable children first and only. The adult political stuff has no place in the classroom.

Did Mr. Weber use Jocelyn’s misguided generosity as a teachable moment for thrift, savings, and prudent investment?    Again, I don’t know what Mr. Weber said or did beyond what is in the news story. I can only say what I would do in his position. I would thank her for her donation, send or take it to the office, and have her money returned to her parents. Then I would talk about the importance of budgeting, living within that budget and establishing an emergency fund. Since Jocelyn provided the catalyst, we could have a great question on these issues that would be tailored to a fifth grade level. It appears that the school accepted the donation which opens up several cans of worms for them if they are perceived to be selling grades, favored status, or anything else of value to Jocelyn, or if they are indeed soliciting money from students by virtue of indoctrination and intimidation, which seems to be the case.

Look, at the end of all of this, Jocelyn’s $300.00 won’t even pay for the large pinky-ring of a union leader. It is a sweet gesture, and Jocelyn should be applauded, but the gesture was misguided. I know that many parents have talked about donating to their school to help protect the teachers’ jobs. I’ve heard parents talk about it. They ask me about it. I don’t think that’s the best way for parents to spend their money. Parents have a lot to spend their money on already, and this is not their responsibility. We all pay for public school already, the stakeholders just need to learn to work within the budget, just like you do, just like I do, and just like little Jocelyn will in a very short time.

And now, a few words on the reality of the situation from union member sean combs.

 

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Okay, maybe you’ve already broke your New Year’s Resolution to get in better shape. You probably have broken many of your resolutions. Just this Monday, I had a student tell me that they broke their new year’s resolution to be on time to school. Monday was the students’ first day back after winter break.

The reason I refused to name specific resolutions for New Year’s is because so many resolutions fail. Rather than look sad like my friend here, now you have the opportunity to get off your butt and do something. Just don’t call it a resolution!

Getting in shape is the most popular resolution. Getting out of debt and being better with money was up there. Guess which one I care more about?

  • Understand that learning about finance, much like getting in better physical shape, is a process, not a simple declaration. Take small steps. Right now, you are young enough to make a real effort, and even to make a few missteps once in a while. Don’t give up already.
  • Don’t get hung up on titles or artificial definitions. You want to learn to be better with money than your friends and some members of your family. You don’t need to say that you are going to be “debt-free” in 2011, unless you really think this is a goal that is attainable and worthy of attaining. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with wanting to avoid debt, but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture of being happy and living a fulfilling life.
  • While this is an individual journey, you don’t have to always be alone. If you don’t have friends or family that will go on a similar journey, find people that have already been there or who are on the fence about starting their own. There are tons of Finance blogs out there where this is their whole approach. Check out my blogroll for several of what I consider to be the best examples. Check out my Twitter followers for others.
  • Do not ignore the benefit of doing your homework. Just like in math, science, or any other class in school, you don’t have all the answers. You have access to them, but you have to do the work. Reading these articles will help, reading and re-reading finance for youth: the book will also get you there. Frankly, there are several other writers out there who might resonate more with you that will help. I don’t care where you get the information (as long as it is accurate), just that you get it and read it.
  • Practice what you learn. There is a huge difference between reading books about Bruce Lee and taking martial arts lessons. I’ve done both. The books were great, but they never helped me to defend myself when I needed to. You need to practice the skills I teach you here or else you won’t be able to use them when you need to. Nowhere in the world of f4y do I tell you how to handle every situation. I have no intentions of changing that. I give you guidelines and basic skills. It is up to you to adapt what I teach you into something that serves you in other situations.

There are no guarantees in life, which means you could do everything right and some stupid thing or another could screw it up anyway. It also means that you may succeed even if you do nothing. I’m suggesting ways to increase the probability that you can succeed, and instead of being like my friend above, you can be more like his idol here. Notice how through following my advice, from a very young age, he is now in fantastic shape to succeed. I hope the same for you!

So instead of wallowing in whatever failure you think you are guilty of because you couldn’t stick to something as weighty as a New Year’s resolution, start tonight to build in a determined, planned, reasoned out, regiment to succeed. I’ve got a feeling that you might succeed after all!

 

 


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As we celebrate the end of 2010, and usher in a new decade with 2011, many writers engage in a couple different venues. Some do the countdown list as I did earlier this week. Others do the list of resolutions, which I will not be doing on this blog.

There are many bloggers who do different things to commemorate the New Year, just as there are many different ways for individuals to celebrate. WIKIPEDIA HAS A GREAT LIST OF WAYS THE NEW YEAR IS CELEBRATED ACROSS THE WORLD.

IN THE NEW YEAR, I SINCERELY HOPE THAT ALL MY READERS AND MY FRIENDS, BOTH ONLINE AND OFFLINE HAVE THE successes THAT THEY DESERVE BASED ON THE EFFORT THEY’VE PUT INTO THEIR PROJECTS IN THE PAST. While I’m not going to list a bunch of resolutions that I may not be able to keep, I will say that I want to spend 2011 getting better connected with my friends and peers, and spending a little more time with my readers. 2011 promises to bring more great things for Finance For Youth, and I can’t wait to share these things as they start coming to fruition.

Finally, if you are old enough, and choose to partake in alcohol, be safe and smart about it. Don’t overdo it. And if you do drink, do not drive!

Happy New Year everybody! 

 

 

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Today, I’m going to leave finance again to talk about HONESTY, one of the QUALITIES OF SUCCESS in relation to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  While today’s post isn’t directly related to Personal Finance, the Qualities of Success are directly tied in with Personal Finance, and as such are deserving of coverage regardless of the context in which they appear.

I believe that putting the Qualities of Success in an historical context allows for parents and teachers to be able to have more complete discussions with young people about themes that are current and yet still timeless.  One of the goals of F4Y is to foster these better discussions so that young people can benefit, not only in Personal Finance, but in all aspects of life.

Because this post is a little more “important” than other posts, I’m not including the standard music video or pictures of animals striking curious poses (sorry, couldn’t resist the Price reference) that I usually include.  If that makes you decide not to read this week, I understand.

File:Rosa Parks Booking.jpgDo you know who this person is?  Well, if you’ve looked at Google today or a calendar with historic dates, you would recognize Rosa Parks.  Mrs. Parks was huge in the Civil Rights movement of the United States in the middle of the last century.

What you know about her is probably that she was on a bus, it was raining, and she was too tired after working all day to give up her seat to a white person.  That’s the way I learned it.  I felt sorry for the poor woman.

Her “accidental” breaking of the law was emblematic of an unfair system that treated one group of people as less than another group of people based on nothing more than the color of their skin.  It was shameful, and even though I have no relation to anybody involved in the whole incident, I was ashamed for all of the white people involved.   Then I learned the real truth.

I’m not going to say anything bad about Mrs. Parks.  I’m just not.  But I’m also not going to allow the lie to persist any longer.

Do you recognize this person?  Let me give you some hints:

  • She is famous because of actions she took on a Montgomery, AL bus.
  • In 1955, she was riding a bus, sitting in the section that was reserved for blacks.
  • When asked (ordered), she refused to give up her seat for white people who had boarded the bus after her, leading to her arrest.

Any guesses?  Well, if you guessed Rosa Parks, you would be…, INCORRECTAlthough there are many similarities, this is Claudette Colvin.  She was the first black rider to challenge the Montgomery Bus system and the segregationist policies.  Few people heard of her until a book came out in 2009. 

   CLAUDETE COLVIN: TWICE TOWARD JUSTICEby Phillip Hoose is the first book where I’ve heard the story of Ms. Colvin.

Some things you will learn about this tragic hiccup in history:    

  • Ms. Colvin, a minor, was threatened with being taken to an adult jail for the “crime” she was accused of.  This meant that she would be subject to the punishment that was normally reserved for grown-ups instead of the (relatively) easy sentence of manual labor in a school where she would have faced picking cotton.
  • She was advised and helped by Mrs. Parks who was not simply a tired, working woman, but in fact worked as secretary for the local chapter of the  NAACP.
  • Ms. Colvin’s case was to be a test for the constitutionality of the segregation policy prevalent in Alabama and many other places at the time.
    • It was later decided that because she came from a poor family, lived in a poor part of town, was young, and finally became pregnant by a much older man, that she would not become the face of the Civil Rights movement in Alabama

    Let me say this again.  Because she was poor.  Because she lived in a poor part of town.  Because she was the victim of statutory rape, and got pregnant, she was ushered out-of-the-way to make way for what was a much more acceptable and activist Mrs. Parks.

    Again, I’m not saying anything against Rosa Parks.  I’m glad that due to the actions of Ms. Colvin and others after (and yet still before Rosa Parks), the policy of racial segregation has been repeatedly challenged and beaten.  My point here is that this is yet another case where young people are taken advantage of and shuffled out-of-the-way by older people.  My point here is that once again, an organic, authentic show of bravery by a young person was sanitized by the older establishment.

    What has the movement lost by not allowing the story of Claudette Colvin to be told?  What have young people lost by not knowing about another young hero?

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Please allow a brief indulgence to the history teacher in me.  I’ll get to personal finance, I promise!

 

In 1620, the Mayflower landed in what was going to be Massachusetts.  The pilgrims on the ship actually missed where they were aiming for, landing far north of where they planned.  Dealing with what was, rather than what they wanted to be, they set up camp and made their home.  Contrary to popular belief about the relationship between European Settlers and Native Americans, these pilgrims formed an alliance with the local Wampanoag tribe.  They lived and worked together, with the Natives teaching the pilgrims how to grow corn.  In 1621, after the first successful corn crop in the colony was harvested, the settlers held a feast along with their Native friends where they had fowl (eatin’ birds), deer (brought by the Wampanoag), seafood, corn, and whatever other food they had.  This was the first American Thanksgiving.

In 1863, during the worst war in American history, the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln decreed that the last Thursday of the month of November would be a national holiday.  Lincoln called for all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November.

Prior to that, about 10 states celebrated a regional Thanksgiving.  Sara Hale, a magazine editor and the writer of Mary had a little lamb (among a BUNCH of other achievements) had petitioned FIVE Presidents, calling for the establishment of what was only the third national holiday (the other two were Washington’s Birthday and Independence Day.

Beginning in 1966, when the Detroit Lions lost to the San Francisco ’49ers and the Dallas Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns, and lasting until today, Football has become part of what we call Thanksgiving.  Football had been played before on Thanksgiving, but since 1966 Dallas and Detroit have played football every Thanksgiving. 

So let’s recap:  Initially a huge, three-day kegger celebration of not starving to death during the previous year, Thanksgiving became a day to remember those that died during the Civil War, and finally became a day to watch the game, eat too much, and spend time with the family.  That all works just fine with me.

I’m sure there are going to be plenty of places where you can read about what others are thankful for and admonitions for you to get in touch with all of those things that you are thankful for.  I’m not going to be that guy this year.  Tomorrow is a holiday.  I say we get back to the roots of what this particular holiday is about.  Tomorrow is about spending time with people you love, eating way too much, and watching TV.

What Can I Do?

  • Contribute:  Contributing to the festivities, making a dish, bringing something to the party doesn’t have to be difficult or terribly expensive.  Think of it as practice for the future.  I’m not saying to make the turkey or another main dish, but make a side or a desert.

Make pumpkin ice cream.  Take a quart of vanilla ice cream and mix it with 1/2 cup of pumpkin pie filling.  Freeze it for two hours.  Put the mixture in a food processor or a mixer and mix until well mixed and smooth.  Freeze for another two hours.  (Found on ICHEF.COM)

Not a fan of pumpkin ice cream?  Fine, make a side dish.  Mashed potatoes are easy enough for young people of almost any age to make.

Here’s one from my family:  Take some cans of canned yams, put them in a deep baking pan.  Cover with brown sugar and cook till they are warm enough for your taste.  Top with mini marshmallows and put back into the oven until marshmallows get all toasty and melty.

  • Be Helpful:  Maybe you are the type of person that shouldn’t be allowed around food and fire.  Okay, maybe you do something else instead.

If your family is anything like my family, your mom is going nuts right now making sure that every piece of the house in clean.  Grab a vacuum and start helping out without being asked.

If you are an older child, and you know your family members are stressing out and gong nuts, maybe you mix a round of cocktails.  I found this one on CREATIVEHOMEMAKING.COM

Harvest Cider Punch

1 gallon apple cider
12 whole cloves
2 large apples (Granny Smith, Rome Beauty), peeled, left whole
2 cinnamon sticks
Ground nutmeg

Pour apple cider into large pot. Insert 6 cloves into each apple. Add apples and cinnamon sticks to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and barely simmer over very low heat 1 hour to allow flavors to blend. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat before continuing.) Ladle hot cider punch into mugs. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.

Source, Bon Appétit, December 1995

  • Be Engaged:  Don’t be like the typical teenager when there is a family get together.  Unplug, put down the phone, get off Facebook and join in.

Personally, I don’t enjoy watching the parade that is on TV every year.  Parades just aren’t my thing.  But when I’m visiting with family, if they want to watch the parade, I’m there with them.

Even better, turn off the TV too.  Do something that forces you and your older family members to talk or laugh or engage.  I’m not talking about something boring (but important) like sitting around the table naming something that we are all thankful for .  I’m talking about playing a game. 

Why watch football when you can toss a football around?  Why watch TV when you can play any number of family games.  Sure, your parents might seem dull and out of it.  Guess what- when you become a parent, you will be dull and out of it too.

Or how about this idea?  You have the iPod and iTunes (or whatever you use now to steal music– my favorite was Limewire until it was closed down).  Why don’t you play the music for the party.  Ask for suggestions of your family’s favorite songs.  Create a playlist that evenly intersperses songs your family likes and songs you like.  If you are going to do this, don’t be a bonehead.  Don’t play your Brotha Lynch Hung.  Save your Q-Ball.  This is a day for family, and while you might enjoy Macaframa, I’m reasonably certain that your parents or grandparents won’t.  Remember that there is a time and a place for everything.  Make this the time and the place to play music that isn’t offensive.

Have a little fun.  You’ll be surprised at how your family reacts to music that is different from what they grew up with.  My Father-in-law, even though I’m not sure he’s ever heard of them, seems to enjoy playing Sublime riffs on his bass.  My Mother-in-law likes to sing along with Modest Mouse.  Is it creepy and a little weird?  Damn straight!  Can it also be fun?  Sure, once you get over the weirdness.  Whatever you do, do your best to have a very happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

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