Breaking the Rules

In this technological age of writing, the rules have changed for becoming a “writer.” Anyone with a computer and Internet access can become a writer. That makes competition a bit stiff, but what’s quite wonderful about the world of writing is that its members are not competitors themselves. Writers enjoy helping other writers become better wordsmiths. That’s probably because we’re also readers and don’t want to read crap. Consequently, I’ve benefited from the wisdom and advice of seasoned authors and bloggers.

Being an earnest writer, I’ve learned the rules. But I don’t like them. I’ve heard that the Dalai Lama said, “Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” Doesn’t sound like Dalai to me but certainly sounds like good advice. Rules govern everything in our lives, even blogs. Apparently, the implied rule of “blog theme” is important. Blogs are generally about one aspect of the blogger’s life or worldview. Readers can journey with a cancer warrior, rejoicing and weeping with her as she wages war against the insidious monster in her body. They can laugh at the antics of someone’s growing puppy as the owner suffers through obedience training and replacing various pieces of furniture and shoes. Blogs can be very lucrative, especially if you get the bright idea to cook your way through Julia Child’s French cookbook and blog about it. I have too much I want to say about too many things to focus on one theme right now. Or maybe I’m plagued with undiagnosed Adult ADD. At any rate, I’m breaking this rule. If it bothers my readers, please let me know. (At least that way, I’ll know I have readers.)

Another rule I must consider is how often one should post a blog. Just when once a week began proving a killer deadline for me and I began to entertain the idea of a monthly babble, I read that a daily blog is advisable. Are they insane? Writing takes time. First, you have to prepare your writing area. A nice beverage is advisable. The dishes in the dishwasher are clean, so my wine glass is ready. While I’m there, I may as well empty the dishwasher. Putting up the coffee mugs, I notice the sugar container is empty. I decide to fill it even though I never put sugar in my coffee, but I may have visitors. I’ve never had visitors either. Returning the sugar sack to the shelf proves difficult because some of the staples in my pantry have somehow moved out of place. After the pantry is straightened, I stand in the kitchen and try to remember what I was doing there in the first place when I see my wine glass. Nestled in my chair with my laptop and glass of wine, I decide some food should complement the wine. Nothing fancy. Just some cheese and crackers. I open a new box of rice crackers that I can readily find in the organized pantry, but I can’t get the inner bag opened. I reach for the scissors I keep handy for such moments, but someone has not returned them to their proper place. Looking for the scissors, I notice the dust that has collected on the wine refrigerator. Well, I can’t let that go. Finally, settled in my spot with wine and a snack, I can begin writing. And I must hurry for it’s almost time for bed. See how much time writing takes? So I’ll be breaking the daily rule as well and stick to a weekly post.

There are some rules that I believe should not be broken. When to put up Christmas lights is one. I noticed two houses in my friend’s quasi-elite neighborhood with Christmas lights ablaze this year two days before HALLOWEEN. I don’t care who you are, that’s just wrong. Now with the push to better market Christmas, stores are opening on Thanksgiving. Another broken rule that I believe should stay intact. Poor Thanksgiving is getting muscled out coming and going. Even in my own family the Thanksgiving rules have changed. For sundry economic reasons, we’ve had to push our once afternoon celebration to dark thirty of Thanksgiving night. While it gives us all more time to prepare the delectables and we have adequate room for the growing family to gather at my sister’s restaurant, somehow I feel that I’ve missed Thanksgiving Day. So this year, my youngest daughter and I will attempt to restore our afternoon Thanksgiving feast and still have our dark-thirty, big family feast.

We will cook our hearts away on Wednesday preparing a small but traditional Thanksgiving feast along with the dishes to feed the masses the next night. Thursday morning we will watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade while we let our pancakes and mimosas settle. After the parade, we will enjoy our cranberry relish and turkey and corn-free/wheat-free dressing on my Mother and Daddy’s heirloom turkey plates. In the late afternoon, it’s off to the restaurant to feast some more with all the extended family. On Friday, we will deck the halls with boughs of holly and sing “fa, la, la, la” as it should be. We should probably stroll around the block a few times to help our gastrointestinal recovery.

When I was a child, Thanksgiving was a magical time with family. Mother and Daddy planned and cooked Southern foods, Uncle Jim and Aunt Lea (the Italian from Rome, Italy) always brought something “gourmet.” My brother and sisters and I would sneak into the kitchen to taste this or that. As the years have passed and the first generation has passed away, we have established another rule at our Thanksgiving. Outsiders may find it odd, but we’ve made it a tradition that won’t be broken: our Table of Remembrance. We decorate a large round table and place the favorite drink of the loved one who is no longer with us around the table. My daddy, my mother, my uncle, and my brother are represented with a glass of ice water, a martini, a whiskey sour, and some peppermint schnapps thing my bartender brother created, respectively. This year we’ll add a glass of Chianti for my aunt who fought her way to 90 years. We gather round the table, a family member assigned to each drink, and toast our dearly departed before our feasting.

There are rules which should be broken, rules which should never be broken, and new rules to help the broken. In the midst of them all, I hope a heart of thankfulness will prevail for what was, what is, and what shall be. May your Thanksgiving celebration be full of joy and thankfulness with family or friends or both.

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