Uncategorized

Dysfunction

Today I planned on having my normal visit to the hairdresser. It didn’t quite work out that way.

Things took a turn for the worse when the girl who works next to my beautician got the news that she’d be having a six year old client who needed a press and curl. The little girl who’s cute as a button and her grandmother get situated. Granny mentions that her granddaughter is going to be a flower girl in a wedding on Saturday. As she walks past me, I notice that the child looks almost panicked, not the way you’d expect a happy child with no worries to look. Their beautician gets started and I’m whisked away to the shampoo bowl.

Over the sound of the water, I hear wailing on the other side of the wall. My beautician says the the girl is having a fit. We get back from the and the child is in tears. These weren’t the ‘I don’t want to get my hair washed’ but the ‘you’re trying to kill me’ variety. Since this is also a cosmetology school, an instructor is called over and she takes charge of the situation.

When they bring her back from shampooing, that’s when the real show starts. The girl starts bucking out of the seat as her hair is being blow dried and combed. Grandma or as I later find out Great Grandma explains that she just had braids taken out, which had been in the child’s head for several months. With the situation being too much for just one beautician, three hover over this child’s head with combs and a blow dryer, trying to make sense of her chaotic mane of curls. You see, the braids were in her head so long, they started to turn into dreadlocks. Clumps of matted hair are combed out of her hair all the while she’s screaming bloody murder.

Oh great granny attempts to help in her own demented way. She repeatedly reminds the child that she’s not going to be in the wedding, which causes the kid to scream even louder. She shrugs off responsibility for the tangled mess, blaming it on the child’s mother and swearing it will never happen again.

For an hour, I’m listening as a poor child is being tormented. A few hair stylists wander into the area and watch the circus before walking away and shaking their heads. Granny isn’t concerned with her great grand who’s been so obviously neglected, her primary concern is the wedding tomorrow and what they’re going to do without a flower girl. The old woman even suggests bringing the girl in the morning and having her hair relaxed, which the instructor politely tells her is not possible since it was just washed.

After all remedies are exhausted, the instructor leaves and returns with a partial refund. There’s no way they can do anything with this child’s head because she can’t keep still. Grandma calls ‘grandpa’ who starts yelling at her over the phone demanding an explanation as to why the girl’s hair can’t be done. Obviously brow beaten for years, she meekly explains the situation, and leaves to wait for him in the lobby.

I feel bad for the girl. It’s bad enough that her mother is neglectful, but she’s surrounded by elders who have their priorities in the wrong place. I have a feeling that there are probably chapters and chapters of dysfunction in this child’s life. Sure she’ll probably walk down the aisle tomorrow in her pretty dress, but what about the next day? What about the day after that? At what point will someone say enough is enough and pull her out of that dysfunction?

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Uncategorized

Back to Normal

Last week was especially tiring. There were some changes at work so the number of our calls doubled. I took on some early morning baby sitting duties, while running the gauntlet called buying a car. Von’s brother was hospitalized with pneumonia and spent a few days in the ICU. Needless to say work on our latest project went by the wayside.

Thankfully, Von’s brother is doing much better. He’s recovering in the hospital. Monday starts Winter Break so I don’t have to worry about getting my nephew to the bus and I can sleep in until my normal time. Things at work have slowed down to their regular pace and I got the exact car I wanted on the first try.

I hope Monday starts the beginning of a better week. I’m looking forward to getting back into the imaginary drama of our making.

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behavior, daughters, family, life lessons, mothers, relationships, values

Mothers

My childhood memories of my mother consist of her constant worrying about whether we’re safe, warm, and not hungry. I remember those annoying mitten holders I was forced to wear on the sleeves of my winter coat to make sure I always had my gloves. Or those annoying snow pants I had to fight my way into. When my brother came home from school with his eye practically hanging out the socket from getting beat up by bullies, I remember the way she jumped into her car, tires screeching to confront them. I also remember thinking my mother was going to prison, but it worked out fine. ; ) She put her own health on the line, working constructions jobs to keep food on the table. All these things she did for us. She’s the type of mother I want to be one day.

What I don’t understand is how someone could just throw their flesh and blood away without a passing glance. For nearly a year, my mother has been raising her niece’s, my cousin’s baby. The whole saga started last January when she received a call that my cousin was giving birth at the hospital. It came as a surprise to us since we’d just talked to the girl, who’s in her early twenties back in October and she hadn’t mentioned anything about even being pregnant. Since the girl’s mother, my mom’s sister had just moved out of state, my mother went to see about her and the baby.

Mom immediately fell in love with the 3 pound preemie and promised to do everything she could for her. Since my cousin was close to getting evicted from her place and the government was in her business because the child was born with drugs in her system, my mother came to the decision to take care of the baby until she could get herself together. I was skeptical at first, fearing that Mom was taking on too much, like she tends to do. With my mother, myself, and my two sisters sharing an apartment, it was a group effort but we all did our part to take care of the baby from the time she left the hospital.

Knowing the mother could barely take care of herself, Mom paid for everything the baby needed out of her pocket, from clothes, to diapers and furniture. Mom provided while all the girl and her family could offer were thank you’s. Mom isn’t the type to worry about getting paid back for her efforts, she does it because it’s the right thing to do and God will see to her having what she needs. The sleepless nights and 3 am feedings belonged to my mother, who’s staring down the throat of 60, works 40 hours a week and goes to dialysis 3 times a week.

In the meantime, she coached my cousin on getting support for the baby, including WIC for the formula, and making sure the baby got part of the father’s income from the government. My cousin came to get the baby late in the spring and 3 months later we got a call from her saying that she needed us to take the baby again.

The relationship with the baby’s father was taking an abusive turn and she was moving out of town to be with my aunt. The baby was returned to us in deplorable conditions. Her eczema was out of control, diaper rash had run rampant, and the clothes my mother sent when she gave her back the first time were filthy with most of them having to be thrown away. Once my mother got her home the poor thing guzzled three bottles of milk until we could go get more formula.  The vouchers for the food and milk that the government gave for free had not been used and the lump sum of money my cousin received for her child, definitely wasn’t spent on her.

 

My cousin left with promises of sending a portion of the baby’s money every month for expenses, but that’s one promise that hasn’t been fulfilled. Since she skipped town we’ve only seen $100 of the promised money and we haven’t heard from her in nearly two months. When she does call it becomes an ‘I’m a bad mother’ docudrama worthy of Lifetime TV where she wants to rope you into feeling sorry for her. The focus turns to her, not to the baby she left. I see that the longer she’s away from her child the more disassociated she becomes, the bond between mother and child broken.

The baby is doing just fine and approaching her first birthday. She’s smart, loves to talk, and is happy as she can be. But kids grow up and one day she’s going to have questions. How will her mother explain why she abandoned her and took off with the money that was intended for her care? How will she tell her daughter she didn’t do all she could to make sure she was taken care of? Isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do?

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behavior, brothers, daughters, death, dysfunctional families, family, fathers, grieving, Indie Author, life lessons, Mental Health, mothers, relationships, Uncategorized, values, writing

The Marrying Man

My Father

My Father

The innocent looking boy in the picture is quite the cutie isn’t he? He would live to be 87 yrs old before being called home, and while on this earth, lived quite an eventful life. He married 6 times, with only 2 marriages ending in death, my birth mother, wife #3, and wife #5. 

He worked in the auto industry for most of his adult life. He believed in Generous Motors until the financial collapse of GM’s bankruptcy broke his heart. Life changed around him and he just couldn’t understand the why’s. He refused to believe that after all his years of blood, sweat and toil to a company he loved, he suddenly had to pay doctor co-pays and worry over the possibility of his pension being cut. The latter thankfully never happened.

 I’d love to say in this post that he was a perfect father ect…. I’d love to say it, but truth was, he was blissfully unaware that he was a complicated man. He believed in simplicity and yet he convoluted his life so badly when it came to his family. With his last wife, he believed his kids should have just fallen all over the woman he loved, and love her just as much as he did, even as she was ripping our family apart.

This of course was his pollyanna, his utopia. Blood will always be thicker than water and the woman made sure that her grown child and grandchildren were to always come first in his eyes. At times I believe she succeeded and enjoyed rubbing my nose in it.

That’s not to say he didn’t love us. I think he just assumed we knew he did, and felt he had to outwardly show it to her children more. He had to prove to the new wife his loyalty, and I believe she exploited it to a high degree. I know in later (rare) private conversations with him, he later felt trapped in that loyalty, but felt powerless to do anything about it.

I loved him to a fault when I was young, and I do have many fond memories of him. My most valued memory is the father/daughter dance at my wedding. It was one of the few times I really felt connected to him, that he cared and was happy with my choice of partner. he loved my husband and thought highly of him. He even defended him against my husband’s own father. Yet another father story for another time.

 After wife #5’s death, my brothers and I struggled to reconnect with him, feeling that for the first time we could have had that long awaited, and unencumbered relationship with him. 

Not so much.

 I quickly realized that he was the ‘marrying man’, when he announced at 73 yrs of age, that he was seeing yet another woman. This was literally months after wife #5 died. It was like a sickness, he just couldn’t be without a woman whom he wanted to give control over his life.

As an adult I began to see the pattern emerge. I don’t know much about wife #1 and 2, except with #2, he had 2 boys that he let another man adopt because he didn’t want anymore animosity and fights between wife #2 and #3, besides he had young children with #3 and another new life. 

With wife #4 he had no children, and after a contentious relationship, ended up leaving her for wife #5. With wife #5 he gained 4 stepdaughters that he truly loved. It was inexplicable to me that he also dropped them all by the wayside when #6 came around, though later he would believe wife #6 when she said it was their fault and they abandoned him. It’s that ‘why didn’t they worship #6 like he did’ kind of thing. Through rose colored glasses of love and obsession, he failed to see #6’s jealousy and that she pushed us all away.

The 4 girls would never be able to have any semblance of a relationship with him again, with only one of them being able to see him once before he died. Wife #6 made sure of that. She also made sure my brothers and I were tossed out of the picture until she finally relented to having me around. 

This was an eggshell walk for me, treading water carefully as to not upset the balance that allowed my continued visits. My brothers just gave up.

Now here’s the weird part, as time went on he just couldn’t understand why things were the way they were. He couldn’t see his role in the drama. Sensing that he was losing his touch on reality in his last years, I let it be and decided instead to try to persuade the brothers to make up and just be a family before he passed. It didn’t work. I spent years on this fruitless endeavor, arguing and pleading with them to no avail. I swallowed so much pride I was drowning in my own tears.

I was with him that weekend at his home, watching his chest rise and fall with each ragged breath, hanging on to life with him in his few moments of clarity, in-between  blissful pain free naps. I held his hand, stroked his hair and prayed for a peaceful ending, letting him know he wasn’t alone. 

I watched as the funeral home came and zipped him up in a body bag and carried him out on a gurney at 5am, after hospice came and declared him what we already new him to be. 

I sat in the funeral home alone for calling hours, my husband having been taken ill that day. I was surrounded by wife #6’s family, very few I truly believed loved him, and senior center friends of his I didn’t know. My family was nowhere to be seen. It was totally awkward sitting there. Many of his ‘other’ family didn’t know who I was, since I was never spoke of by #6. I felt like it was me, not him, that was the ghost in the room. Only one of #6’s family offered a condolence to me, thankfully it was #6’s daughter, who was gracious enough to put aside her own grief to see that I too, was hurting. I dreaded the funeral the next day.

Then a miracle happened. The 3 step sisters who were still alive (1 passed away 2 yrs prior)  and their spouses and children, who’s hearts were also broken by the man lying in the casket, had made a last minute decision and showed up at the funeral, swallowing their pride with me, shedding tears for the relationship they remembered with him, not what for what it became.

I don’t want my readers to get the wrong impression about this post. It’s not a bash my father for the last time kind of thing. He was, after all, a funny man with down home, countrified kind of humor. He enjoyed playing his music and was quite an accomplished singer and guitar player. He played in many bands and gave generously of his time to playing for the ‘old’ folks at the senior centers and nursing homes in his seventies and early eighties, before his health demanded he stop. He was beloved by his friends as an affable, kind man, who would give you the shirt off his back. Like I said, he was complicated without ever realizing it.

There is, of course, a huge amount to tell of his life that would have to be classified as fiction, because, well, truth is stranger than fiction. I just wanted to share this more for me than anything, to help reconcile on digital paper my feelings of undying love for this man and simmering disappointment of what could have been.

If any of you have had a parent like this feel free to comment and tell me about it. I’d love to know I’m not alone.

 

 

 

 

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behavior, celebrity worship, daughters, disrespect, Fame, family, fathers, life lessons, morality, mothers, nudity, rape, self respect, teens, Uncategorized, values, women, youth

Pimping Yourself For Fame

The opinions in this post is mine and mine alone. Agree, disagree I don’t care. I just felt it had to be said.
I saw a picture posted by a barely 18 year old on a news story on the internet, and when I say barely 18 I mean she’s not even a month into supposed adulthood. Kendall Jenner made news this week with a picture of her in a black fishnet type shirt with no bra and leaving nothing to the imagination. It was extremely see thru much to the delight I’m sure of many males both young and old.
kendall
Now I’m not a prude, I am not above writing the love story that gets physical, but the books we write are for grown adults not YA. My issue with the picture of Kendall Jenner’s nips is this. She wasted no time in sexualizing herself the minute she turned 18 and it’s now reported that her father, Bruce Jenner, is supporting her decision to instagram this picture to 7 million followers and now millions more thanks to the power of the internet. She might as well get it over with and make the sex tape and post the completely nude photo announcing her new found self depreciation and degradation into an object to be lusted over.
Where is the self respect? Yes she is technically an adult and in this country can do what she wants, but the fact that she did it so quickly after turning the magic adult number tells me that she has been thinking about this for a while way before she turned that magic age. Face it she didn’t wake up from innocence the morning of her birthday and convert to sluthood that same day, she had role models.
I understand the Kardashian/Jenner motive is to strictly whore yourself out for money. What is nonsense is the man who is supposed to be her moral compass,  her protector, her father, basically gave his tramp stamp of approval and has solidified her place in the Kardashian world of being slutty equals money. This approval by her father and no doubt her mother who’s every move is about the almighty dollar, sends a dangerous message to the followers of this young lady that dressing like anything goes is OK and consequences be damned.
Till something goes horribly wrong.
Normal everyday girls do not have Kardashian/Jenner money to protect them when things go wrong.  We read stories several times a week where there is a rape, gang rape, abuse, molestation and incest of women and young girls, some are so young they are barely out of diapers. We are shocked and appalled when this happens and before you scream at me, I’m in no way defending the men or boys or even saying the girls deserved it, but I am railing at the collective lack of consciousness that allows the celebrity to be our moral compass and give way to the anything goes attitude. How can we cry foul when the image of the willing wanton slut is shoved in our faces on a regular daily basis. When we individually or as a society, applaud, imitate and condone the behavior of the wannabe celebrity or musician that ‘twerks’ onstage provocatively and glorifies the use of drugs and sex. The message is clear, all women if they are showing it off or not are fair game.
Justin Bieber was just reported as having a party where strippers were hired to be naked at this party. The comment continued that the other women or girls at this party felt ‘out of place’ and pressured into also disrobing and parading nude for the enjoyment of many male celebrities that attended. The lure of being able to say you partied with the male celebs and had money rain down on you overrode any modesty and moral decency, allowing the girls collective debasement and lack of self respect to take hold. Partygoers were made to sign confidentiality agreements that they would not disclose anything that happened while attending said party or face a fine of 5 million dollars. Yes, I said 5 million.  Now who is that for? It doesn’t take a genius (or maybe it does) to know it was for the further intimidation of the girls, especially if something untoward was actually done to them while in their state of disrobement. To protect the male celebrity against being charged with whatever illegal activity happened whether it was sex she didn’t consent to or the slew of illicit drugs that were consumed that night.  May I also remind my readers who say it was The Bieb’s right to throw such a debauched party that he is not yet even 21.
Where are the parents? Where is dad to drag his daughter away and say I love you too much to let you debase yourself like this, or is dad to busy ogling young Kendall Jenner on his laptop or phone.
Where dad to teach his son that objectifying and disrespecting women and girls is wrong. Where are Bieber’s parents to reign in this kid and help him stop his path of self destruction we see happening to so many young celebs these days?
 Where are the mothers to advise and counsel their daughters on being self respecting, strong young ladies that don’t need to parade her nakedness to get attention. That the kind of attention she gets by putting it all out there is not the loving attention she is actually seeking.
We’ve all seen pictures of very young girls trying to be older than they are, wanting to show skin and appear sexy way before their time. We rail against this holding our hands up decrying the situation while we are buying her the Halloween costume of the slutty celebrity she emulates and call it cute. We enter her in the beauty contest shoving her little feet into high heels and have her practice her smile and call it investing in her confidence.
All because society and celebrity told us this is the way to be accepted.
There is some truth in the statement “little girls marry their fathers.” What she grows up with and see’s she will carry with her into adulthood and pass on to her own daughter in an endless cycle. It is proven that a girl who witnesses abuse by men in her home will more than likely end up with an abuser at some point before hopefully the cycle is broken.  If she is brought up with low self esteem and little respect, she will not magically obtain it when she turns 18.
A final thought. If we wouldn’t want our own young daughters, granddaughters, nieces to be emblazoned on instagram in a see thru top showing her nips to the world, or would die of shame to know our precious girls paraded around at a party butt naked to be used, objectified and reduced to the level of sex toy, then we need to stand up and let our objections be heard. We need to talk to and educate our boys on respect for women and how to be proper gentlemen. We need to educate and promote self respect and self esteem with our girls. We need to kill this celebrity worship and stop rewarding bad behavior.
If we don’t we all must look in the mirror and wag a finger at ourselves the next time we are shocked and appalled when our girls and women suffer with our indifference at the hands of bad men.

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daughters, family, fathers, life lessons, mothers, relationships

Kids Grow Up

I am an adult child of divorce. I was about sixteen when my parents decided to end things. To make a long story short, my father wanted to do what he wanted and my mother wasn’t having it.

Kids aren’t stupid and they know who looks out for them. I watched as my mother, a housewife for eighteen years, pulled out the newspaper the day after he left and went to work the next day. She worked jobs she shouldn’t trying to put food on the table.  Recycling plant, cleaning toilets, construction; it didn’t matter, if the money was green she took the job. We may have had utilities off from time to time, but there was always food on the table, even though it may not be the gourmet cuisine you wanted. We learned how to make food last on a limited budget and we were never on any public assistance. The struggle bonded us deeply.

Now my father on the other hand was living the life he wanted with no responsibilities to tie him down. He went and married the woman he was seeing while he was married to my mother, about two months after the divorce was final. He went and bought that brand new red Mustang, not the type of car you would expect from someone with three kids. He wouldn’t call to check on us, but to brag about where he’d been on his vacation. He couldn’t come for his scheduled visits but he made sure we saw his shiny new sports car. He could care less that his kids were hurt, scarred and traumatized, it was all about him.

The same could be said for his parents. We were their only grand children, so on Christmas they doted on us with the huge gift boxes from Hudson’s. My grandmother would go all out with the beautiful hand knit sweaters and name brand items for kids. After my parents split, that was it. No Christmas gifts, no birthday wishes, nothing. As we struggled, no one called to see if the kids had shoes, coats, or even food. We were cut off completely, even though they only lived eight minutes away from us.

Now, the time in the hour glass is in our favor. We’re stable adults now, no drug use, no illegitimate children, my brother had his growing pains as a young black male growing up in Detroit, but these days he’s a workaholic and he’s fine. We’re as close to Mom as we’ve ever been.

Mr. Sherman on the other hand is another story. Having worked for Ford since he was eighteen, he makes a nice salary, but you can never tell. His life is a never ending spiral of dysfunction. The divorce from wife number three was final a couple months ago, so I know he’s looking for his next flavor of the month. He has no choice but to flit from woman to woman because he has no bond with his children and has to assimilate himself into their family. He’s the type who likes to rewrite history, like he was Cliff Huxtable; I have no problem reminding him what a terrible father he was.

Our relationship with him is awkward, like we’re operating at two different frequencies. When we talk he makes juvenile jokes, like he doesn’t realize we’re grown adults now. He doesn’t know me. He can’t tell you my favorite food or color. He’s even clueless about me being a writer, which I plan on keeping that way. Whatever he is, I’m stuck with him.

The ‘accessories’ on the other hand are optional. We eventually reconnected with my grandparents a when we learned after about fifteen years when we learned my grandmother was dying of cancer. We visited the hospital a couple times, but I felt the coldness, like I’d wandered into some random stranger’s hospital room. How pathetic is it when your own grandparents have to ask if you have any children? After a knockdown drag out debate with my brother and sister, we attended the funeral and started visiting with my widowed grandfather again.

Every week or every other week, we’d visit, go out to dinner or a movie. We even invited him over to dinner a couple times and my sister called him every day. A couple years later, a few of her daily calls went unanswered and he called back when he felt like it. He had a new woman in his life and little by little we could feel that chasm opening up again. My sister trying to be nice tried to give him another shot, but the writing was on the wall for me. Dear old sweet granddad used us as placeholders to keep from being lonely until he found another wife. After that I was done with the Sherman family completely. It’s been about two and a half years and I haven’t looked back.

Which brings us to the very reason I’m so pissed today. Sunday my father calls with his normal chit chat which results in him holding the phone in silence and me trying to come up with conversation because he doesn’t know what to say. Before he ends the call, he tells me to call my grandfather on Tuesday, cause it’s his birthday. Huh?

Today I had a missed call from my father and I know what he wants. If I didn’t know what he wanted, the text with my grandfather’s phone number is a clue.

I’m not calling him. Call me cold, callous, heartless, whatever, I’m done with these people. I’m not a toy you can take out of the box and play with whenever some one feels the need. My grandfather has kicked us to the curb twice; once as children and once again as adults, after we gave him a second chance. This isn’t the Oprah show where the long lost relative is hiding behind the curtain. Fake isn’t in me, so I’m not doing the loving granddaughter routine, pretending every thing is fine and make him feel better. I don’t think so.

People need to know that kids aren’t stupid. They may be little and defenseless and can’t do anything when you break promises or break their hearts. But they grow up. Be careful what you throw away.

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cultural understanding, customers, family, holidays, life lessons, shopping

What Happened to the Holidays?

When I think back to the family holiday celebrations when I was a child growing up in the 80’s, I remember the family gathering at my grandmother’s house. The food would be set around the dining room table and the desserts on her buffet. Mom and Aunt Pat would see what needed to be done in the kitchen. It wasn’t yet known if Aunt Pam would be making a guest appearance, even though she literally lived right around the corner. My grandmother would have every thing covered in that cheap plastic wrap she used to buy, the food barely covered. We’d hold hands to bless the food, one random adult selected to say the prayer. Everyone would say Amen and we’d commence to making plates.

It was a guessing game as far as the meats, pick one at your own risk. Grandpa was a hunter, so you were subject to get raccoon, rabbit, or even goat on your plate. I remember the Christmas where my Uncle Phillip, jockeying for position to get closer to the bowl of chitlin’s knocks over several of my Grandmother’s house plants, spilling dirt every where. It’s thirty years later and he still can’t live that one down.

Now we wouldn’t eat at the dining room table, so everyone would take their paper plates out to the living room. God forbid if you spilled any of the red pop on the carpet. After everyone was stuffed, we’d either see what was on the TV or the rest of the evening would be spent catching up on family events. Aunt Pam would show up with her family, right after the dishes were washed and all the clean up work was done. ; )

These holiday celebrations from years past live on only in old photographs. The kids are adults now, some with kids of their own. Uncle Junior, my mother’s baby brother has been sleeping in his grave since 1999, Grandpa followed a few years later, and this year Grandma joined them in eternity. My parents have been divorced for years, Aunt Pat is still up in Grand Rapids, and Aunt Pam and one of her daughters are hours away in St. Louis. Life happened between then and now, which is why those holidays spent together are so precious.

Those are times that we can never get, which is why I don’t understand people nowadays. Instead of spending the holidays with their loved ones, they’d rather spend it in a tent outside a store, waiting to buy some item they don’t really need. When did Thanksgiving or the other holidays become so twisted? With today’s society and everybody focused on me, me, me, and what I need, they forget the real meaning. Worse yet, their shopping habits affect the poor people who work at these stores.

My mother works for a retail giant, the head of her office which is vital to the running of the store. We can’t spend the holiday together because she works Thanksgiving morning and then has to report to work at midnight the same evening to be ready for Black Friday. Now our holiday dinner has to scheduled before or after the actual holiday because some executive who’s having his holiday meal catered by the help decides they can make a lot of money on Thanksgiving. All so somebody’s kid can have that nice new tablet or laptop, which truth be told is last year’s model anyway. It’s something you might want to consider if  you decide to venture out on Thanksgiving to shop.

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