Thanksgiving is coming up and preparation is crucial don’t let this be like last year when your uncle tricked you into admitting that “Yes Mussolini did make the trains run on time I grant you that ok.” A woke guide to winning the annual familial debate “Thanksgiving”
This time of year, many of us will make a pilgrimage to see our families. Halls will be decked, candles will be lit, and ancient stories will be told. Hopefully everything for you will be hugs, warmth, light, and reconnection with the people you love. But if you are dreading dealing with that one jerk relative or bracing yourself for an onslaught of intrusive questions and and awkward topics, here’s a guide to keeping your cool and choosing your battles when everyone around you is making it weird.
"Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said he planned to take two months of paternity leave after his daughter is born this year, amid a debate about work-life balance at technology companies." (NYT)
Suffer the Children: A long and heart-rending essay in The Monthly magazine about the Australian Family Law system's ugly response to allegations of child abuse in custody disputes. [more inside]
"When the monsters of your childhood become faded old people with the fight gone out of them, what do you do? How do you find a way to relate? Do you forgive and try to find a way to interact with who they are now or do you hold onto the tight little ball of yourself you've been protecting all this time?" How do I tell my dysfunctional folks I'm not spending the holidays with them this year? [more inside]
That Thing: A True Story Based on The Exorcist (Adam Sturtevant, Electric Literature)
"There is no good answer to being a woman; the art may instead lie in how we refuse the question." In "The Mother of All Questions", Rebecca Solnit writes for Harper's about being asked to justify her own (and Virginia Woolf's) childlessness, and more broadly about how to define happiness and a meaningful life.
The Badeau family have adopted over twenty children over the course of their marriage, spurred on by a mix of religion and a desire to help those who have no one left to turn to.
A family of bears descends upon a human family's pool in New Jersey. Ok, long time listener...first time poster. Please be kind. This is an eleven minute video of a bear family swimming in an above-ground pool. While the video is great...it is really the audio of the human family, filming from a second floor bedroom,that really makes this special.
A cruelly optimistic relationship to self-care is one in which self-care is envisioned primarily as a means to rejuvenate us so that we’re able to work faster and harder—precisely the condition that has caused so much of our stress to begin with. [more inside]
A website for women who have been discriminated against whilst they were pregnant or after having a baby. 54,000 UK women a year are forced out of their jobs due to pregnancy. This doesn't include the women who are demoted, harassed, aren't put forward for promotion, or those that are self employed. Pregnant Then Screwed is a place for these women to tell their story anonymously. [more inside]
As the North Vietnamese Army captured Saigon, Ba Van Nguyen was one of the thousands of South Vietnamese desperately fleeing the country. Nguyen, a major in the South Vietnamese Air Force, would be executed and his family would be sent to concentration camps if he was caught. But Major Nguyen had a plan: he'd moved his family to his mother-in-law's house near a soccer field, and told his wife to listen for--and be ready when she heard--the distinctive whump-whump-whump-whump chopping sound made by the twin rotors of his CH-47 Chinook, the largest helicopter in the South Vietnamese Air Force. Early on the morning of April 29, 1975…
"He sent me long emails about how I was a tool of the devil. I pictured him with two computer screens open — one for looking up scripture, and another to Mapquest the location of his next bathroom rendezvous. We were never going to have the cool kind of gay dad." Why I Answered My Dad's Gay Sex Ad by Aussa Lorens
How to Love Your Father When He’s in Prison for Child Porn, an essay by Lindsay Popper. SFW. Some may find the content disturbing.
The New Normal: Pieces of Grief, by Stephanie Wittels Wachs, sister of Parks and Recreation's co-executive producer Harris Wittels, who passed away in February.
“One night we were eating spaghetti and meatballs and it fell out and rolled across the kitchen table. You said, ‘Dad, your eye popped out’ and kept on eating. I’ll never forget it. You must have been seven or eight. He felt so bad about that—for your sake.”
“I don’t think it bothered me,” I say.
“He worried it bothered you.”
The Glass Eye, by Jeannie Vanasco
“I don’t think it bothered me,” I say.
“He worried it bothered you.”
The Glass Eye, by Jeannie Vanasco
Quiverfull of shit: a Guide to the Duggars' Scary Brand of Christianity - Gawker, Jennifer C. Martin
"In 1985, a writer named Mary Pride published a book called The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality, which detailed her journey away from the second-wave feminism of the '70s and into what she perceived was a woman’s Biblical place in the home, and the commandment to fill the house with as many of her husband’s children as possible.
"Pride insisted that no woman could possibly find true happiness without submitting to her vision of Christianity: Relinquish control of your womb to God, and exist only to please your husband, give birth, feed everyone, and educate your children in the home—almost certainly without having received any formal higher education yourself."
Two years after Elizabeth and Mary Cheney publicly fought each other on marriage equality, another set of sisters, also named Elizabeth and Mary, write about their own challenging experiences:
I know that in this day and age many thousands, if not millions, of families find themselves in predicaments similar to ours. My desire is that our joint disclosure might help others begin to open their hearts and minds to one another. I hope that they can find both the courage and the charity to have those difficult but potentially transformative conversations that they, like we, have avoided for such a long time.
" “I tell my daughters that when I go, they’ll know the good recipes from the dirty pages.” [NYT]] A group of Nashville writers mounts an exhibit of the dirty pages from their own family cookbooks.
While work-life balance is generally seen as an issue mostly affecting women, many men also struggle with balancing work obligations with family. In companies which expect an "ideal" worker to produce 60-80 hour work weeks, men use a number of strategies to conserve time and shorten work weeks--with vastly different consequences depending on transparency.
Down the Rabbit Hole is a repository of observations about estranged parent support forums (previously). It contains comparisons of forum culture between discussion sites for estranged parents and those for children, themes of discussion found on estranged parent sites, and possible reasons estranged parent forums develop toxic dynamics.
My mother is like another country I used to live in, familiar but no longer a place I call home. When I visit, I don't stay long; dysfunction is the official language, the terrain is a desert of constantly shifting emotions, and the weather is grey when it's not dark and stormy. Estrangement is so much easier.
"It's completely alone," I said. That baby, that poor baby. What had it done? "Nobody is coming for it."A meditation on adoption, heartbreak, and healing, by Sarah Church Baldwin for The Rumpus: Build-A-Bear.
Softly she asked, "Would it be OK if we called it 'her'?"
It was then as though my therapist's finger grew very long. It arced through the air, crossing the space between us, and touched my chest, the tip of it pressing into my heart, and my body collapsed around it, folded in on itself from pain, the worst pain I had ever felt because it had no source. I was the pain. I saw that baby on her back, alone, and I understood that she was me. In that moment I was flooded—intellectually, emotionally, physically—by the very knowledge I had so long barricaded myself against: that someone had given birth to me. And worse: that I had not been fit to keep.
Déjà Lu republishes locally-selected scholarly articles from journals connected to regional anthropological associations around the world. The result is a PDF-heavy but fascinating collection of long reads on obscure topics. Via. [more inside]
It had never, in my most repulsive nightmares, occurred to me that my dad might have molested my brother. I believed their unfixable, codependent-isn’t-even-a-big-enough-word relationship was about addiction and guilt and mental illness and hubris and narcissism. No other explanation was needed. When I read Steve’s name on that list while standing in my study with the Russians at my feet, everything froze: the air, my blood, my breath, my brain. I felt it was true. I believed it was true. And I wasn’t even remotely ready for it to be true.-The Terrible Things I Learned About My Dad: On Abuse and the People We Love
Already well on its way to a monster opening box office, Furious 7 is the latest installment in the little franchise that could: ridiculous, more diverse than just about anything else coming out of Hollywood, and beloved by critics like Roxane Gay and Todd VanDerWerff. But in the end it's all about family. (And occasionally cars.) [more inside]
[E]ven though the restaurant's cartoonish decor bordered on offensive, it was still a temple to a people and a cuisine that America couldn't ignore. Taco Bells were everywhere. In every strip mall. Off every highway exit. Even the racists, the immigrant-haters, the people who'd laugh at my elementary-school stand-up comedy routine would run for the border.John DeVore writes about finding the "unexpected, self-affirming solace" of home... at Taco Bell. [more inside]
You can laugh or sneer at Taco Bell. Shake your head at its high fat and salt content. Go ahead and lecture on what true Mexican food is. My mom would probably just roll her eyes at you, and take a broken yellow shard of crispy taco shell and use it to scoop up the pintos, cheese, and salsa.
The Ghost Children of China Forty-five years ago, China inaugurated an era of population control, amid fears that too many people would bring catastrophe. In 1980, it officially announced a national one-child policy, forcibly limiting the size of families. But there have been, inevitably, second (and, rarely, third and fourth) children: children who go unrecognized by the government, have no official identity – who are left to live outside the institutions of regulated society. Little Jie is one of them. [more inside]
Friends often try to assure me that people mean well, urging me to go easy on them, to be gracious, to give people the benefit of the doubt. "People don't mean to be offensive," they tell me. "They just don't know how to say it without coming across that way."Nishta Mehra writes about her family's experience with learning how to navigate the landscape of interracial adoption in a "post-racial" America: Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair.
What these friends don't understand is that when the act of defining your family structure becomes an expected part of every day of your entire life, you grow tired of being gracious. It's exhausting to have strangers view your life as an up-for-grabs educational experience. For my kid, it's to constantly hear the underlying message: "Your life, your family, doesn't make sense to me. Someone needs to explain it to me. You owe me an explanation."
It's the people who live comfortably inside majorities who tend to discount any sort of commentary from minorities as being "overly sensitive." And I imagine that it's hard to step back and grasp the fact that when the world you occupy is built to accommodate you, you fit inside the boxes. You make sense. You are expected.
You are a good man, and a good father, but all this good cannot continue to make up for the race we cannot touch. I am so tired of slipping into black and out of daughter whenever race is evoked. I need for you to meet me as your daughter, as your daughter of color, all at once. We cannot keep evacuating our bodies to love each other. We cannot simply ignore the way our bodies are policed and politicized as antithetical, irreconcilably raced when we stand side by side."An Open Letter to the White Fathers of Black Daughters, from Kelsey Henry in Bluestockings Magazine.
Some are kept in shoe boxes in a forgotten closet corner. Others are glued carefully into albums and kept on the family bookshelf. Many have been lost forever, destroyed out of panic or indifference. In Ukraine, whose tumultuous 20th-century history has spilled over into a bloody battle for its 21st-century identity, every picture tells a story. RFE/RL's Daisy Sindelar traveled to six Ukrainian cities to talk to people about what their old family photographs say to them about who they, and their country, are today. [more inside]
Can the U.S. Ever Fix Its Messed-Up Maternity Leave System?
Most new mothers are in their 20s or 30s, which means they grew up in a world of female Supreme Court justices, politicians, and astronauts. They have more college degrees than men, they entered the workforce in near-equal numbers, and they chose their careers assuming that having children wouldn’t mean losing money. Almost two-thirds of women with children under 6 work, about twice the rate of the previous generation. "I went to college and found something I loved. I got a job. I married and had babies and just assumed maternity leave was something that existed," says Annalisa Spencer, 31, an electrical engineer in Salt Lake City who has three children, and got no leave for the third. "Nobody told me it would be like this."[more inside]
Oklahoma. This was a place where Kathryn's workplace had a cussing jar, a quarter per swear, and the words written on it, “Let Go and Let God.” Here, Christianity was the religion — Tracy and Kathryn were believers — and Oklahoma football was the religion — Tracy and Kathryn were believers — and people could be decent and kind and judgmental, sometimes all at once, which was why, when Tracy told some Rotary Club friends that she and Kathryn were getting married, she kept her eyes planted above their heads so she wouldn't have to look at their faces.
Locals couldn’t understand why police hunting the murderer of a 13-year-old girl were taking DNA samples of elderly women. A high profile Italian murder investigation exposes the secrets of more than one family, with controversial collateral damage. [more inside]
What makes for a merry Christmas? According to a study [PDF] published in 2002 in The Journal of Happiness Studies, having positive experiences with your family and buying environmentally conscious gifts helps - as does being older and male. [more inside]
When Mark Birley died at the age of 77 he left behind a legacy of London nightclubs for the aristocratic set ...and a highly contested $200 million dollar estate with last second will changes, phony ex-girlfriends, and feuding children. Maureen Orth explores the family life of the nightlife king.
An elderly Pennsylvania Dutch woman and her adopted daughter in the kitchen, making quesadillas and talking about life. (SLYT)
My Grandma the Poisoner. And now, once again, I feel like I’m supposed to care. Like there should be closure. Either I purge my past, forgive her, and arrive at a higher vibrational state, or I find proof of what she’s done over the years and expose her once and for all. I’d always planned to search her house one last time, but now the house is gone. And nobody is exhuming any bodies, and Grandma doesn’t even know what Grandma did. And there’s not going to be any grand finale. And as I sat there listening to Grandma sing with my children—not quite crying, I wasn’t quite crying—I realized that I didn’t care what had happened, that nobody cares what happened, that caring is for cops on CSI and doctors on ER and muscle-bound Marines in the movies. [more inside]
Things happen. "Psychic" events mainly take place in dramatic and family-based situations. Not in a lab. Here is one example. [more inside]
Who are these sisters? We’re never told (though we know their names: from left, Heather, Mimi, Bebe and Laurie; Bebe, of the penetrating gaze, is Nixon’s wife). The human impulse is to look for clues, but soon we dispense with our anthropological scrutiny — Irish? Yankee, quite likely, with their decidedly glamour-neutral attitudes — and our curiosity becomes piqued instead by their undaunted stares. All four sisters almost always look directly at the camera, as if to make contact, even if their gazes are guarded or restrained.*
We were each other’s firsts. I was 16, a stressed-out immigrant kid, she was the daughter of Colombian Catholics who were quite fond of the church’s policy on pre-marital sex. So it took us quite a while to awkwardly, semi-defeatedly concede to each other that we had run out of excuses to avoid sex. “This weekend?” I said grimly. A very sweet Guardian piece called "My parents helped me to lose my virginity" by novelist Boris Fishman.
Last month, a video of a teenager coming out to his family went viral, (trigger warning), now viewed almost 6 million times. The young man who is disowned and abused in that video, Daniel Pierce, after receiving more than $90,000 in donations to live on his own, has now asked that donations be re-directed to Lost-N-Found Youth, a shelter in Georgia for LGBT Homeless Youth. Rolling Stone profiles The Forsaken: A Rising Number of Homeless Gay Teens Are Being Cast Out by Religious Families
Staging lives: "Who do you want to be? Or, more accurately, who could you have been? Czech photographer Dita Pepe takes these musings quite literally, re-imaging her life in a hundred different scenarios in her series Self Portraits with Men. Pepe’s photographs are disarming in their nonchalant subtly, the artist possessing an uncanny ability to become a seamless member of each family." [more inside]
What Should A 4-Year-Old Know? "She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always OK to paint the sky orange and give cats six legs. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he couldn't care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he'll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud." (ht sonika on FB for this)
The Cherry Cordial Revolution Do I help Grandma? Or do I follow the (eavesdropped) rules and refuse to buy Grandma her cherries?