Being Thankful!!!

disney-s-citizen-kid-november-media-thankfulness-shaping-youth-ecqbsb-clipartThis has been a very contentious year and we all can agree with that. So many instances of intolerance, so many insults thrown without thinking, so many hateful actions have taken a toll on all of us. Usually, after an election, everything is colored by who won and who didn’t. That is not a surprise. This year a lot more was involved than differences of opinion and ideology. We find ourselves facing the fact that some of our friends and family voted one way and others voted another. Nothing to do about that since I believe you cannot change people’s mind unless both sides are willing to engage in civil dialogue.

That is what I find disturbing this time around: the unwillingness of either side to extend a hand, to try and heal relationships or to just talk politely to each other. It has floored me!!! I come across as very opinionated and very forthcoming and, in many ways, I am. I am also a firm believer in trying to find common ground and to be thankful when it’s found. We should be able to speak out, but also to listen.

Having lived here and there, I have developed friendships with people of diverse backgrounds, religions and ethnicity. What I have discovered, and I am not alone in this, is that we all have more things in common than we believe. That is the point. We have more similarities than differences, but I am finding that goes over people’s heads nowadays. It worries me.

Still, I am thankful for each and everyone in my life. They have all contributed to make it better, have taught me lessons, have share my good and bad times, have been there when I needed them, have allowed me to be there for them. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Never give up on each other, we are better than we even imagine. Differences of opinion should not make us forget how we really feel about each other. Let’s agree to disagree and enjoy our similarities. It’s Thanksgiving and we all have so much to be thankful for!!!

P.S. The picture used above belongs to Disney’s Citizen Kid. Thank you!!!

Lessons Learned and Sanibel Island

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, my favorite, my family went to Sanibel Island. While I was in Panamá stressing about my mother, her move, her care, my husband and children planned this getaway. As I have said before, these are the best trips!!! All I had to do was pack my bag and go.

We left on Tuesday the 24th, stopped for a fabulous brunch at a small cafe in Coral Gables and drove to Sanibel. It is true that I dislike the roads and highways in Florida. Unfortunately with good reason, but this time I was instantly relaxed, so slept most of the way.

The plan was to relax, watch sunsets, celebrate Thanksgiving and enjoy each other company. It has always been important in our family to take time to recharge batteries and reconnect. This trip was our effort to do this before the craziness of the Christmas Season.

12301709_10153890851636802_8608273706029870815_nThat is the first lesson, not new, but so essential. You need time with your loved ones to reaffirm your bonds, to get closer, to just enjoy their company without any definite plan. Unpacking done, we went to have something to eat. Did you know you can have alligator meat in this area without any trouble? Not that we were going to even try it…..we are not that adventurous!!! The place, fortunately, had other choices.

Lesson two, the family that plays together……yes, we do that. Twice we played miniature golf. I am sure not everyone shares our passion for this game, but it’s a family tradition, if we are together and there is one around: we must play. This is old-fashioned and corny, but we love it. We found one: The Story of Tarzan, complete with giant gorillas, water traps, banana tees and crates of all sizes. Along the way, we were treated to painted boards with parts of the book by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Frank plays real golf, so he did well, but we all had a ball.

When in the hotel, we played rounds of the new Trivial Pursuit. You can get the funniest answers in this family, so there were laughs and jokes. We also played Scattergories.  There was more laughing and joking when words never heard of before made it to Frankie’s answers. My mind was either too relaxed to concentrate or just in suspended animation. My paper more than not was empty!!!

89cbe25a32f8be3c6eca62c05a689d71Lesson three, really, take to the road and see where it takes you. Too much planning could so curtail your fun. Getting to know the place you are visiting is a priority if you want to enjoy the trip. First stop: the lighthouse and the beach. Beautiful weather to be outdoors. We also visited the  Sanibel Historical Museum and Village. It was a great idea. This was easy, relaxing and informative. The lives of those first inhabitants was not easy, but it was exciting. I found out that the mild weather invites rocking chairs……there was an abundance of them and I sat on each and every one. Have pictures to prove it!!! After this visit, time for a late lunch was approaching, so we asked for recommendation from the staff. Got the best:  Rosie’s Cafe & Grill. Owned by a direct descendant of one of the first African-American families to settle on the island. Remember to try their homemade ice cream.

IMG_4582Lesson four: the best Thanksgiving lunch is the one you do not cook and someone else serves for you. Hands down, you will get no argument from me. Camille had made reservations at the Sanibel Island Golf Club. Wonderful setting, delicious traditional food, unlimited Mimosas. The service was attentive and the atmosphere just right. The weather was mild and sunny, so a walk around the fairways after the meal was a perfect idea.

IMG_4608Lesson five, if you enjoyed the beach…..go back!!! Every stretch of beach was fairly crowded and the water too cool for these island people, but walking along the water edge was so what we needed. Went shell collecting, no seaglass…..I wonder why. Of course, when it was that time when the sun goes down and everything is tinted in beautiful colors: from reds and oranges to peaches and golds,  we headed for the beach. Drinks in hand, we sat looking at the spectacle. Well worth it…and I have been an admirer of sunsets all my life.

8534fe5d8d5557c4f231739f247325c5Lesson six, you should go bicycling with your family. Well, in my case I have gotten out of this one for years. Never did learn to do this well and never had any interest in trying again. This time there was no getting out of that, exploring the island was something everyone wanted to do. Easy solution: I got a tricycle!! Yes, it was fun. Not that I care at all, but there were others doing the same and it’s so much easier!!!  Don’t you love the outfit? Stopped for a great and healthy lunch at Traders Gulf Coast Grill & Gifts. Picked up some original gifts for the Holidays too.  On our wanderings around in our bicycles (and tricycle), we got to see the residential parts of the island, the quiet neighborhoods away from the tourists, the lush vegetation. It is beautiful.

The hotel itself had few things to offer, but a dip in the hot tub, was more than welcome at the end of the day. We managed to walked around and enjoyed the full moon on Thanksgiving night. We even had time for a small shopping trip across the road at the outlet stores and ended our stay with a visit to a small arts and craft festival and a visit to a vintage store. Great ending!!!

 We got back to Miami tired, but ready for the Holidays.

Stress-Free Thanksgiving

imagesThis is the time to give thanks. We should do this everyday, but the idea of millions gathering with family and friends to give thanks for the blessings they have received, it’s amazing!! It gives us a warm feeling, so we celebrate. Of course, as with everything else we do as a celebration, Thanksgiving comes with much planning and hard work. Most people love precisely that and thrive on the stress and anxiety of it all. Good for you, I say.

However, this is not the case with many of us. After years of celebrating at home and stressing for days, we want something different. For the ones that find this holiday overwhelming, let’s find a better way. Yes, why not take charge of the celebration and do it your way. You still want to share with your family, right? There is a way and you can do it.

Toss aside the stress, hassle and hard work of the holiday. Listen instead to this idea for a family gathering with all the warmth of sharing with the people you love. Plan a pot-luck Thanksgiving dinner. It is not a novel idea, but it’s ideal. You’ll see. The planning would be all you do. Make a list of everyone attending. Make another list of the things that would be needed: main courses, appetizers, desserts, drinks, plates and cutlery, napkins and such. Send these lists to everyone. Flatter the ones that love to cook into bringing their favorite dishes. The ones that do not cook can bring the rest! Remember to ask for volunteers for setting up and cleaning up. Make it fun, getting people involved and excited. You’ll enjoy the day and this could be the last year you cook and stress and end up exhausted!!

This is possible, believe me!!! Since my husband and I are empty nesters, we do not celebrate at home. I did this for years because this is my favorite holiday. Nowadays, the thought of cooking for more than four people sends me into a panic attack!! Thankfully, now that we live in Miami, we have been offer a solution. We join his very large family. I prepare a dish, we bring some wine and help with anything once we get there. We spend some time with them and partake of the goodies in moderation. We then go to my sister Ana. She is a wonderful cook and loves to entertain and her husband is a great host. The gathering is much smaller, we savor the excellent food and drinks, conversation is relaxed. We come home sated and happy. Perfect!!!