“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing. As opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”
— Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa)
The day of my stepfather’s celebration of life service was a brisk, sunny Saturday morning, as good a day as any to celebrate life. We got up before daylight, made coffee, put on our nice clothes, packed the car, and hit the road for the three-hour drive up to Sparta, where we would meet the rest of the family before all the people started showing up to hug us or shake our hands as we stood in a long line to greet them.
It was right around the second beer when I began to settle in.
The warm sunshine and lingering foliage of metropolitan Charlotte was in stark contrast to the chilly air and empty trees of the mountains of Western North Carolina. But, with my aunt and cousin within arm’s reach, and my girlfriend beside me, I immersed myself into the Thanksgiving gathering last week.
Holidays are all fun and games until death and divorce happen. Then they become an aching headache, if a person lets them. My goal is to ward off that headache by any means possible.
I’ve been throwing around ideas for this column over the past week. Thanksgiving is the obvious choice. It’s impossible to write about this day in the same manner as two or three years ago. I remember writing a column back then titled “Surviving Thanksgiving.” It was a light, humorous piece suggesting activities to entertain kids while the adults cooked, drank wine, watched football and conversed about holiday shopping.
The first time I met my stepfather I threatened to beat him up. My brother and I were both in on it. I was looking for reasons not to like him, and as most people know, when ye seek, ye shall find.
In less than a week, I’ll spend Tuesday evening traipsing the streets of Waynesville watching two little boys knock on doors and end the night with bags full of sugary candy and gum. I’m a bit of a health nut and try to keep yucky ingredients and coloring out of my children’s diets, but on Halloween, I push my additive/preservative paranoia aside to be a spirited parent and embrace the evening’s wicked vibe.
There are very few decent photographs of me as a child. When I die, I feel sorry for the poor souls tasked with putting together the obligatory retrospective of my life told in a series of adorable old Polaroids and poignant family photos set to music, probably “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
It’s 3 p.m. on a weekday, a time when any restaurant would be well within its rights to be all but empty. But business at Granny’s Kitchen in Cherokee is humming along steadily, the main parking lot about half full and the hostess busily engaged with fielding phone calls, ringing up customers on their way out and welcoming customers on their way in.
Last night I read Harold and the Purple Crayon to my 5-year-old. He sat wide-eyed with an expression of intrigue as we learned about Harold drawing an imaginative world with his crayon.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a crayon or a pen or a pencil and create a world that’s easier or happier? It certainly would. But that’s not the way real life works.
I’ve always been prone to bouts of melancholy. I’m not sure if it’s a writer thing or a woman thing or just a thing with my own physiological make-up. These emotional phases once bothered me. I identified them as “depression” or “life stagnation.” But, in recent years, I’ve learned to settle into these moods of mine.