Hints for the Holidays

…Helpful hints for the holidays.

Fall dining table

Thanksgiving Table

As I thought about the November issue of Roving Ruth, I wondered how my friends cope with the chaos and pace of the holidays. How can we look serene when people arrive at the Thanksgiving and Christmas tables? Rather than research what others say online, I polled 25 of my friends to see what they would suggest to improve the holiday cheer.

I received ten responses: some sent short replies, all contained serious thought, and one response arrived from a male.  I’m sharing the best comments from each participant. The responses show kindness, wisdom, and humor devoted to our celebrations.


1) Buy a smaller tree which requires no help from others to trim.

2) Potluck parties.

3) Be kind to yourself; enjoy “time off” to relax.

4) Donate and volunteer.

I asked for two or three sentences and I received enough words for a short story or article.  I was stunned, pleased, and overwhelmed with how to use the insight wisely. Only one person responded with three sentences. I am sending her a small gift of appreciation for the ability to follow directions.

Best Christmas Poll Hints (in random order, slightly edited)

~Several years ago we decided in our extended family of twenty-four, to economize by starting one of those crazy gift exchanges. We created guidelines for letting each person bring one gift to exchange three times before the final stop. We use a pie tin and dice to keep things rolling with laughter and fun.

 ~I do not have family to celebrate with so I decorate the house early and invite my friends for a holiday party the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I am grateful I created my “family.” It sets the tone for the entire season.

 ~One thing I do each year is attend a holiday concert, play or other event with my immediate family or just my husband and I. It’s a brief respite from the chaos that otherwise ensues, and it gives us a few short hours to really enjoy each other’s company in the midst of a hectic time.

 ~I send relatives and friends a Christmas letter telling them we want their presence in our life, not presents.   

 ~I buy boxes of peppermint candy canes and keep them in my purse.  I give them to waitresses, cashiers, postal workers, or anyone I come in contact with…to remind them of the love and care that people still have in this world.  

 ~Now if you are Jewish this is a no brainer.  My sister and family would go to the malls and watch the people hurrying around and just enjoy the view!

 ~Buy a book for everyone on your shopping list or give them your book if they haven’t already read it.  It is so enjoyable. (My favorite, for some reason.)

The Winner of the Christmas Poll Hints

Wagon Wheel Antiques & Gifts Christmas Pole in Calico Rock, Arkansas

Wagon Wheel Antiques & Gifts
Christmas Pole in Calico Rock, Arkansas

Dale Wiley, long-time friend who lives in Florida, is the only man who took the time to answer the following question I posed in the email. In the email to my friends, I asked how to seek help from the spouse. His response resonates for all of us.

~It must be a guy thing about that Christmas tree and not being helpful. It’s not that we don’t want to see a nicely decorated Christmas tree or we don’t want to help. It is what a Christmas tree represents; that the Christmas season is really here again and in our minds it was here not that long ago. We are rarely ready for it to come again. Translation: Now we have to go shopping and there is no way out of this.

 The quote by Edna Ferber just might keep you and the rest of us sane. Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.

 Thank you, Dale Wiley. Your Gift of the Suitcase (my latest book) is in the mail.

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year!

The December issue of Roving Ruth is in process.

At the Thanksgiving Table

Fall dining table

Thanksgiving Table

As we join family and friends at the table for our Thanksgiving feast, we tune out the latest news of an absent uncle. We try not to sit next to the relatives we don’t particularly like, but tolerate. We laugh, joke and ponder how goodness and misfortune permeate our lives. Someone in the group needs another job or new business ideas. A friend’s cancer returned. The teenager chatters about her enlightened views on the value of vegan menus. The new baby in the crowd sleeps peacefully. The two year old wants hotdogs.

We are thankful we live in the safe surrounding us. We watch football and fall asleep before the 4th quarter. We awake surprised the game is over and elelated the Packers won. But we realize a haze hovers over the warmth in the room.

Although the recent Paris massacre causes a cloud in our lives, we deem our country unconquerable and hope for wise leadership from our government. We take sides. Our outrage causes us to wonder why the murders in Damascus, Beirut and Tel Aviv rarely appear on our favorite news channels. Greg Abbott, our Texas governor wants to prevent any Syrians from settling in our state.

We forget why our ancestors left Europe. They arrived in Massachusetts, Virginia and Florida from Ireland, Poland, France and other continents, mostly as a result of religious persecution.

We must look to our heritage. Did a great-great grandfather serve in the Revolutionary War? Do we plan to arm ourselves or find solutions to end the killings? Can we avoid another season of internment camps in Europe and the US? Read stories of World War II and Vietnam or the Middle East for fast instruction on why we must prevent this from happening again.

As we come to the table on Thanksgiving let’s eat, pray and watch favorite team. Can’t hurt to say a few prayers. We want a united team. We are grateful for our freedom and grasp no easy answers exist. Whether our heritage is Louisiana Vietnamese or Louisiana French, whether our ancestors are German, Mexican or other ethnicity, we need a team at the table.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. Go, Bucks!