Thanksgiving free-for-all – November 24-25, 2016

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers. (This one is truly no work and no school. If you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

No politics, please.

Happy Thanksgiving!

{ 638 comments… read them below }

  1. FDCA in Canada*

    Happy Thanksgiving, Americans!

    Non-Americans, happy Thursday-and-rest-of-work-week! Winter has arrived with a vengeance here–we got about a foot of snow Sunday/Monday and the scheduled “2-4cm” for today is looking to be more like 5-10 cm and sloppy. And maybe rain next week. We’ve all shifted into Winter Mode here, somewhat grumpily. The winter boots, parkas, snow shovels, salt bags, and snow tires have all appeared!

    1. Snow Bogged Canadian*

      I could not believe my eyes Sunday morning when I looked out the window… I was visiting my parents and had only brought a light sweater and sneakers because it was beautiful when I left on Saturday! As much as I hate it, I am glad we’ve gotten it over with.

    2. Canadian Marche*

      Oh, gross! We’ve been fairly lucky so far, it’s been double-digit degrees… until today. Started snowing about an hour ago, really wet, sticky stuff.

      1. FDCA in Canada*

        We’re supposed to jump back up to 7 and rain next week! I’m hoping it comes to wash away some of this muck.

    3. Crazy Canuck*

      Four comments, and three from Canadians. I’m thinking the Americans are all sleeping in on their holiday, the lucky *******.

      We’ve had snow since halloween in my neck of the woods, so we’re well into winter mode here. The ice fog today is a nice touch though .. can’t see all the snow with five foot visibility.

      1. Snow Bogged Canadian*

        I am forever jealous they get a holiday in November… just doesn’t seem fair. The span from our Thanksgiving to Christmas is just too long. I could totally use a day like this to sleep in and strategize the rest of my Christmas shopping. But alas, I had to wake up on time and strategize secretly at work.

        1. EngineerInNL*

          Do you not get Remembrance Day? I’m in Canada too and we get at least one stat a month from May to December! (now January to March/April is another sad story)

          1. Snork Maiden*

            Remembrance isn’t nationwide, although everywhere I’ve lived has observed it, thank god. I would not like to have that stretch without a break. There are some downsides to living in my province but we get a stat a month except for June (which is when my birthday is, so I declare my birthday a holiday.)

          2. Crazy Canuck*

            Beat to the punch by EngineerinNL. As far as I know, Remembrance Day is a stat holiday for all of Canada. This year it was even on a friday for a long weekend, which was nice.

            1. LaurenB*

              I work for the feds so I get it off, but I had the impression that was fairly rare. Schools in Ontario didn’t close when I lived there, not sure if that’s changed. Retail operations are all open. I now live in NS where everything closes, but everything still closes on Sundays and after 5pm as well.

              1. Crazy Canuck*

                Well, now I went and learned something. It’s not a Stat in Ontario, Quebec, NS or Manitoba. I’ve worked in BC, Alberta, Sask, Yukon and NWT and it was a stat in all of those, so I thought it was everywhere.

                1. Al Lo*

                  In Alberta, it, like Heritage Day in August, is also sometimes a stat that gets banked. My work often works Remembrance Day and then takes an extra day between Christmas and New Years.

              2. FDCA in Canada*

                Here in Ontario schools are all open, and around where I am most retail was open reduced hours (lots of places opened at noon, for example). But I also live three minutes from a major base, so…probably different from how they do things in the cities!

          3. Snow Bogged Canadian*

            In my province only government and bank workers get the day off… it is painful considering my job relies on working closely with these institutions so it is a day of catching up on paperwork. I think it should be put as a federal stat so that more people can make it out to the Remembrance Day ceremonies.

        2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

          Funny, after contemplating our feast tonight, I was just thinking we should space our big eating holidays better. One month is too close together for me, both for having to arrange family visits and for eating large quantities of carbs and other assorted delectables.

      2. Lissa*

        Just here to add to the Canadians in the thread! Though my area of the country doesn’t get snow (west coast!) It’s just generally crappy and grey and raining on and off…

        Normally Friday is my short day but I agreed to take on extra work that means I have to wake up way earlier than normal and bus out to a place I don’t know that well. I am really regretting agreeing to do it now. :D

    4. Susan C.*

      Brrr, snow >.<
      Central Europe is still in peak autumn-mode, which I personally love, but all the wet leaves everywhere make me glad I finally got my winter tires on today.

    5. Aurion*

      The roads were strangely empty this morning (granted, my drive is very short). I was wondering if we decided to emulate the Americans and take the day off as well :)

      No snow over here, but super windy last night and this morning. I feel like I’m about to blow away on the wind.

    6. Felicia*

      Another Canadian commenting to say that there was so much snow by my parents on Sunday night, but when I got to my home, which is only 25km away, there was absolutely no snow. The snow persisted there all Monday, but wasn’t in my area at all. What a difference 25km makes.

    7. KarenT*

      Yes, happy Thanksgiving, Americans!

      Another Canadian here. It’s cold and wet, but no snow yet, though that may not be true as of tomorrow!

    8. Ihmmy*

      Weirdly we barely have any snow here, mid Canada prairies, and we normally get a giant dump right around Halloween. It’s messing with my head to be nearly into December with only a dusting of snow on the ground.

    9. Nella*

      Happy Thanksgiving from yet another Canadian.

      It’s raining and maybe we will get snow this winter. It hasn’t been even cold enough to out on Winter tires yet. I also want snow and am snow toy prepared. Now to trudge through the yard and get some extra firewood as I forget to haul some I yesterday when there was no rain for part of the day.

    10. Jen RO*

      Eastern Europe is cold, but not horribly cold yet. I am going to Cyprus next week and hoping for summer weather!

    11. rubyrose*

      On behalf of the Americans, thank you so much for you best wishes. One of the things we are grateful for (and don’t express often enough) is our wonderful neighbors to the north.

  2. Girasol*

    Hey AAMers! What do you do to give back? Where do you donate time or money?

    We like to give to Nature Conservancy and Doctors Without Borders, and we replant native plants where wildfires have burned. You?

    1. LizB*

      I donate to Heifer International and various small local nonprofits. I work for one of said small local nonprofits, but I also volunteer through my synagogue every year, usually on projects related to homelessness (making meals at shelters, assembling small kits of useful items to hand out to folks on the street, etc.)

    2. Graciosa*

      Fisher House (families of injured service members), a local food bank, and my local PBS station at the moment. I’ve also done Project Linus and Soldier’s Angels not too long ago (I re-evaluate every December).

    3. Me2*

      Mercy Corps, SMART (Start Making a Reader Today), our local school district has a school just for homeless kids and we give them as much as possible, the local public radio and NPR, the Dougy Center, and our local symphony. My heart is definitely with the school for homeless children, we are invited every year to share their Thanksgiving lunch with the kids. It’s always the day before Thanksgiving and is often the only Thanksgiving meal these kids have. It was yesterday and we got to sit with some delightful 7 year old girls, and a precious little four or five year old. These kids have so little and are so happy to get a turkey meal and to host the adults, it truly makes you understand gratitude and giving thanks.

    4. evilintraining*

      Donating my time today. Babysitting a friend’s elderly, incontinent dog so she can go to Son #1’s house for Thanksgiving. Son #2 went to rehab last weekend, and she’s pretty depressed. Molly and I will have a great time, and she gets whatever falls on the floor. (I might be extra klutzy today with the meat.)

    5. Windchime*

      I usually like to donate to the local homeless shelter. Which reminds me that I should write them a check because it’s the time of year when they really start to need it. I’m also thinking that I should add a little room in the budget to donate to the local food bank as well.

    6. Claire (Scotland)*

      I give monthly to Cancer Research UK in memory of my dad, to the Trussell Trust (foodbanks) land to a local children’s hospice. I make micro loans through Kiva, mostly choosing projects that help women get education and training.

    7. Viktoria*

      I just added a few recurring donations. I do small monthly donations to Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Human Rights Campaign, Southern Poverty Law Center, a local homeless org, my local public radio, and Wikipedia. I give sporadically to the shelter where I got my dog, usually whenever they put out a request on Facebook and on her gotcha day. I’m really trying to donate more of my money- i spend $10 so easily on frivolous things, so I usually do it in $10 increments.

      And your post reminds me to update my credit card info for one of the recurring donations as I think that has expired. And to mail in a volunteer app I filled out. I currently don’t volunteer my time at all.

    8. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We have more money than time, so we put a set amount into a separate account every month. (Although I do serve on a couple of local committees.) We might respond to fundraisers during the year, but we do most of our donations in early December. I’ve mentioned before that I keep a spreadsheet that shows what we donated last year, and adds up our current and planned donations for me. That way we can shift around the still-pending donations if we decide to spread the love or focus our efforts more.

      Some of the organizations to which we have donated or will donate this year (I took out a few like alumni associations or PTAs):
      American Cancer Society
      American Civil Liberties Union
      American Heart Association
      American Humanist Association
      Americans United for Separation of Church and State
      Capital Area Food Bank
      Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
      Consumers Union
      Council on American-Islamic Relations
      Doctors Without Borders
      Electronic Frontier Foundation
      Friends of the Library (local chapter)
      Friends of the National Zoo
      Gay Men’s Health Crisis (AIDS Walk)
      Manna Food Center
      Maryland Public TV
      N Street Village
      National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative
      No Child Goes Hungry LLC
      Planned Parenthood
      Planting Peace
      So Others Might Eat
      Science Spark
      Secular Avenue
      Southern Poverty Law Center
      Transkids Purple Rainbow
      Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force
      Wikimedia Foundation
      Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue
      Days End Farm Horse Rescue

    9. Christy*

      I give to So Others Might Eat, a DC homelessness nonprofit, as my local charity. I just did their turkey trot today! I also give to Planned Parenthood and Southern Poverty Law Center as my national charities.

      In addition, I volunteer with the DC Abortion Fund, which makes grants to pregnant people who can’t afford the full cost of an abortion.

      I love hearing about all of us giving our money and our time!

    10. Jen RO*

      I donate to a local children’s hospital. I do think universal healthcare is better than the American version, but the state of the state hospitals in this country is atrocious. I don’t have kids and don’t plan to have them, but I started donating after a friend’s young child got sick. (She had the means to travel outside the country, but most don’t.)

    11. Artemesia*

      In each city we live in we have researched local charities that give a lot of bang for the buck — always a homeless program, always a foodbank program. And we give to PP but we target it to a subset of the organization that specifically provides abortion support to individuals. (we have been distressed at the general ineffectiveness of the national leadership in the political arena ) We also give to several cultural organizations and have recently been ear marking for youth outreach e.g. when we give to the opera we give to the fund that provides programs in the schools. I also give to in my community and choose to fund reading programs in inner city schools and sometimes science programs.

      In the past we have been foster parents.

    12. Meeeeeeeeeeee*

      Donate monthly to Earth Conservancy and my local NPR station. Occasionally donate to Second Harvest Heartland, Planned Parenthood, and issues as they come up in the news (refugees, etc).

    13. JoniKat*

      I donate to ASPCA, a local animal shelter, ACLU, and Second Harvest Food Bank of my region. We have a really bad problem with housing here so we have a lot of homeless unfortunately. Second Harvest is really good at helping them out with great accountability.

    14. Cath in Canada*

      Médecins Sans Frontières
      Amnesty International
      Canadian Civil Liberties Association
      Local food bank (two of the three supermarkets I use have little tear-off paper pads at the checkout that the cashier can scan for a $2 donation to the food bank – I do that every time I go)
      Various local environmental groups
      Various podcasts, via Patreon or Kickstarter – Radiolab (science documentaries), The Bright Sessions (awesome radio drama), To The Manor Borne (By Robots) (ditt0), Greater Boston (ditto)
      My federal and local political parties of choice (I try to be interested in Provincial politics, but the issues I care about most are at the federal and municipal level)

      I also consider my lower salary compared to what I used to make in the private sector as my ongoing donation to cancer research :)

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I don’t do any ongoing volunteer work, but I’ve volunteered at events run by the BC Cancer Foundation, MS Society, and with my federal and local political parties.

        Oh and I also gave a one-off donation to PP last week. All the others are recurring donations.

    15. rubyrose*

      Local NPR station, the Forward (national Jewish newspaper), the David Lynch Foundation (transcendental meditation), the Girl Scouts (I don’t need the cookies, so I just give them the cash), synagogue, Denver Dumb Friends League (animal shelter). Also known to periodically pay strangers grocery tab/hot meal/gas, as the moment moves me.

    16. Franzia Spritzer*

      I make monthly donations to a bunch of artists on Patreon, art associations, a feminist media outlet, PBS, and a few political causes (which shall remain nameless in honor of the no politics rule).

    17. Natalie*

      We do sustaining donations to a few places – local Planned Parenthood, local NPR, a homelessness org, and my college. We’ll be adding the ACLU and something environmental soon. I think we can give more, so every quarter or so I’m going to increase one donation $5-10. We won’t notice it, but within a year or two we’ll be closer to the amount I think we should give.

      We donate stuff a lot when we’re getting rid of it, usually to a homelessness org or Goodwill. But I never buy stuff specifically to donate. They can almost always use the money to better effect than whatever I pick up at Target.

    18. Cristina in England*

      I am really excited to donate a bunch of baby and maternity things to a local women’s shelter. It started as a push to clear out baby stuff I don’t need, but now I am thinking of including a gift card or buying some new toys to include as well because I want to make the most of the opportunity, especially before Christmas (friend of a friend is the manager there, I don’t think members of the public can normally donate).

      1. Anion*

        We donated my sewing machine to a women’s shelter years ago when we moved. My husband handled it; he had to make several calls and arrange to meet in a third location, which of course he understood and was no problem. So it can be done, but the process is–understandably–involved and complicated.

    19. Trix*

      There are so many great ideas here! It’s almost a little overwhelming seeing so many amazing causes that need assistance.

      I am finally starting to take advantage of my employers charitable match program, which I’m excited about. (Now if they’d only take the suggestion I’ve made in every employee survey and give us the option to donate time as well.) Planned Parenthood, always. And actually, the last John Oliver episode a couple of weeks ago mentioned several organizations that I started looking into. I wish I could do more, but the NRDC and the Trevor Project really jumped out at me.

      On a related note, how do you all decide where to donate/help out? There are so many options, and I really want to make sure that I pick responsible, helpful, amazing organizations.

    20. Nerfmobile*

      Our local food bank, Mercy Corps, Planned Parenthood, and my high school (a private school). My daughter’s school also does occasional charity fundraisers and we participate in those.

    21. Punkin*

      I volunteer at a local cat rescue group.

      I also do animal transports to move (mostly) dogs from shelters to rescue groups/forever homes. A leg is usually like 1-1.5 hours and I love meeting the dogs & other transporters.

      I donate $ to:

      Local NPR station
      Kittys Purrsuit of Happiness
      Angels Among Us Pet Rescue
      Dallas DogRRR
      Arkabutla Rescue Rehabilitation & Foster – Arrf
      Local Food Bank
      Local Soup Kitchen
      Associated Humane Societies & Popcorn Park Zoo
      Bluff City Feral Friends – TNR and Feral Cat Advocacy
      The Savior Foundation
      Local community college book scholarship fund

      I also buy pet food & a few other things for a couple of elderly residents in my town. Double bonus – the pet does not go to a shelter & the people have a reason to get up in the morning.

    22. Adulting*

      Places I’ve been giving to, especially post-election to prepare for the years ahead.:

      – ACLU
      – Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)
      – BYP 100
      – Audre Lorde Project
      – Streetwise and Safe
      – National Center for Transgender Equality

    23. CA Admin*

      We give to:

      Doctors Without Borders
      Planned Parenthood
      House Rabbit Society*

      *We got our 2 buns from their facility in Richmond, CA and they’re absolutely wonderful. The volunteers are the best, the staff is wonderful and caring, and they take great care of their residents. They adopt out over 100 rabbits every year and always have 30+ in the facility and foster network. They’re also the headquarters for the international organization, providing resources to rabbit-lovers worldwide. And who doesn’t love those furry faces?

    24. MsChandandlerBong*

      I don’t have a lot of money, but I like to do little things. I’m good at couponing, so I’ve used my skills to stock up on toiletries for a women’s shelter, purchase winter coats for an org that helps women get out of abusive situations, and purchase items from the Ronald McDonald House wishlist (cleaning supplies, snacks for the kitchen, etc.). My husband and I volunteer with a local program that helps women break the cycle of incarceration. We also like to donate to the local food bank and help with pet charities.

      1. chickabiddy*

        “I’ve used my skills to stock up on toiletries for a women’s shelter”

        Oh, I do that too! Most likely this is TMI but in our house we do not use reusable menstrual products so I use coupons and stock sales and make a point to spend (at least) what I otherwise would have in order to donate the products.

    25. Chaordic One*

      I volunteer at a used book store run by the Friends of my local library. I also donate to the Friends, to our local food bank and to the Pacifica Radio Network (similar to NPR).

    26. Elizabeth*

      The Farmland Trust, among others. One of the biggest problems in agriculture right now is the lack of arable land. It isn’t like we can make more of it, and almost every suburb that is built takes farmland out of production.

      The Trust buys land that is in production but is at risk for development, then leases it for continuing production using sustainable agricultural practices. It helps to stabilize the food supply and keeps productive land near urban centers in use, reducing the cost of transportation of food.

    27. chickabiddy*

      Money to First Book. I was a CPST (child passenger safety technician — car seat checker) for many years and have lapsed but hope to recertify soon). I teach a water fitness class at the Y and while everybody is welcome I try very hard to make it accessible and helpful for the elderly and other people who may have special needs.

    28. Dan*

      Give back? Annually, I pay $20,000 in combined state and federal income tax, some of which goes to entitlement programs and other things to support the needy. I consider that enough.

    29. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Used to volunteer at the animal shelter and with the Kiwanis club but now time and energy are scarce so money goes to: supporting my family and keeping them off the streets,
      assisting friends who run into particularly overwhelming tough financial situations (two deaths this month alone),
      local homeless shelter,
      Local animal shelter,
      the local breed rescue,
      Refugee NGOs and NGOs assisting in disaster areas,
      There are likely a few more but I can’t remember at this time of night.

    30. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

      Usually I split my donations with international ones (the Carter center especially) and domestic, but this year I’ve given quite a bit to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, NPR, and Mother Jones. Alison said no politics so I’ll leave it at that though.

    31. Today's anon*

      In addition to some that have been mentioned, I also donate to the Ali Forney Center that provides services, general empowerment skills and housing to homeless LGBTQ youth.

    32. Beancounter in Texas*

      My husband is on the board of a charity for homeless children in a tri-county area – they distribute over 15,000 diapers a week! – so much of our financial & time donations are spent with them. My husband also enjoys participating in the homeless count in our city, and I donate to the local food bank.

    33. Anion*

      One of my husband’s work responsibilities is to find charities for the company to support and arrange events/for the company to sponsor events, so that takes care of most of our charity giving etc.–he’s also been asked a few times by the charity heads to help them out with events independently, and of course we’re happy to do that. I’m an avid (and excellent, if I do say so) baker, so not only do I often bake things for his events but I usually offer to contribute something to local bake sales here in town (frex, our local pharmacy will be doing their semi-annual bake sale for a children’s hospice in a couple of weeks, and on Monday I’m going to stop by and ask if they’d like my usual baked-good contribution. Last year I helped them make over £160, which isn’t a lot but this is a very small town, and I was/am proud that my cupcakes and bread rolls made up at least £30 of that).

      We make a standing monthly donation to the NSPCC (children’s charity) and Save the Children.

      In the US, we have for years been members of PROTECT (, which is a bi-partisan lobbying group aimed at preventing child abuse, helping the victims, and promoting and passing legislation intended to aid those goals. They’ve recently gotten Alicia’s Law (which helps prevent child exploitation) passed in several states and are moving on to do more. I highly recommend that anyone interested check PROTECT out–it’s some of the best money we spend all year. (They have a charity side as well, which also does great things.)

    34. Jules*

      Local donations to food banks and monthly contribution to United Way. I prefer to keep my donation local since there are so many still in need.

    35. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I donate to the local NPR station, my Unitarian Universalist fellowship and give a small amount to United Way through my job; I specify for my donation to go to the local homeless shelter, and I hope it does. Post-election, I want to commit what I can to the Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, or Human Rights Campaign. I don’t have much, but I’ll feel like I’m doing something to help by donating regularly to one of those.

    36. Overeducated*

      I used to donate regularly to the local food bank, my church, and alternating international charities (usually Oxfam or Doctors without Borders).

      Then I had a period of financial instability and the budget got pared down to necessities; with a new job, I’m just starting to figure out where charity fits. Recently I have only donated to Standing Rock camp operating and legal expenses and the ACLU. I’d like to add a local hunger or immigration help charity, a refugee aid organization, a small black history society I used to work with, and my new church.

      I consider media “donations” different in a way because they’re almost like voluntary subscriptions. My husband and I do donate to NPR when we can, and he supports a couple Patreons, but recently we’re feeling a need to get behind traditional journalism and we’re trying to decide which paper to subscribe to.
      Sadly money is still limited.

  3. LizB*

    In a spectacular stroke of bad timing, I came down with a nasty stomach bug yesterday. Of all the days of the year, right? I’m definitely on the mend today, but not 100% better, so I’ll be spending the day hanging out in bed with my saltines and diluted gatorade. Don’t want to infect the rest of my Thanksgiving crowd, even if I could eat the food.

    On the plus side, I am now extremely thankful for every single day in my life that I haven’t had a stomach bug. I hadn’t had one since I was a little kid, and I had forgotten how thoroughly unpleasant it is.

    1. the_scientist*

      They truly are the worst, aren’t they? I got a bad one a few years ago from my (at the time) high school aged sister. I was home for a week for a family member’s funeral, so it was terrible timing and we ALL got it. I just remember lying in the fetal position sort of wishing for death, I was so miserable.

      1. LizB*

        That’s terrible timing! I’ve definitely had a few moments of clinging to the toilet praying for the sweet release of death.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      That sucks!
      It happened to me one Thanksgiving when an ex and I went to see my family. So not only did I throw up my Thanksgiving dinner all night, I had to do it in a motel. My poor ex got NO sleep.

      I hope you feel better soon.

      1. LizB*

        Thank you! I’m so glad I decided not to travel to boyfriend’s family’s Thanksgiving this year… I would hate to be doing this in a cheap hotel or some poor person’s guest room.

    3. Artemesia*

      Reminds me of a thanksgiving in the 50s where 24 relatives came to our tiny tiny two bedroom home and one of them brought a sick kid. Soon we had a dozen people throwing up in that tiny house with one tiny bathroom. It turns out the incubation period for this bug is only a day or so often. When the relatives left, we all got it and were sick as cats for days. Worst Thanksgiving ever.

    4. Cath in Canada*

      Ugh, sorry. I’ve lost two Christmases to norovirus in the last few years – once I got it at 11pm on Christmas Eve, and then last year I got it on the 22nd. I was mostly better on Christmas morning, but my husband got sick that day so we didn’t do our Christmas dinner until the 27th. It is the worst.

    5. Red*

      Oh, that sucks! I’m in the same boat, though. I have one hell of a cold, so I’m huddled up on the couch with DayQuil and tea while my bf boyfriend goes to Thanksgiving without me.

      1. LizB*

        My boyfriend is going to bring me home leftovers, so we’ll see what I’m feeling up to when he gets home in a few hours. :)

    6. Wandering not lost*

      You’ve convinced me to see it! I see that there’s a regular screening plus a 3D option. Is the 3D the better pick? It’s certainly the more expensive one!

    7. SeekingBetter*

      I hope you feel better soon! It seems like everyone around me is coming down with either the cold or the flu, so I’m crossing my fingers not to get it.

    1. Office Manager*

      Pie wars! My extended family is a big fan of fruit pies. I love pumpkin, sweet potato, shoo fly…. basically, sugar in pie form.

    2. Wrench Turner*

      Persimmon & fig pie from our garden is the best. Make it like an apple pie, but use persimmons and figs in the sauce.

    3. periwinkle*

      I don’t like pumpkin pie (sweet potato pie, absolutely, but not pumpkin). My husband loves pumpkin pie. The compromise is that he buys pumpkin pie for himself but for Thanksgiving, I pick the pie. And it’s always chocolate cream with a massive layer of whipped cream on top. In fact, it’s almost time to go make it…

    4. Marzipan*

      I am making pumpkin pie! Right now! Even though I am British and find the whole idea rather odd! (Themed lunch at work tomorrow…)

    5. Searching*

      Home-made Dutch Apple! The real Dutch appeltaart, not the stuff that’s called “Dutch” by Marie Callenders.

      There will also be a pumpkin pie on the table, but I can’t stomach that one.

    6. Beancounter in Texas*

      I get tired of the same ol’ pies at Thanksgiving. Pumpkin? Eh. Pecan? Sometimes too sweet. Pecan with toffee? Yum. Apple? Okay. Cherry, eh. Chocolate? Bring it on. Lemon? Better yet. Chess or buttermilk? MINE. :-)

  4. Blimey*

    Anyone else seen the movie Fantastic Beasts?

    I like the Harry Potter movies and worried I wouldn’t like a movie with almost entirely new characters – but I LOVED it! It was refreshing to enter the magical wizarding world without a story revolving around Harry Potter’s dramatic escapades! I can’t believe I almost didn’t go out to see it.

    I can’t wait for the next 4 to roll out to see where they are taking this – I think this is my first movie series where I haven’t been able to read the books ahead of time!

    1. A Jane*

      It was a brilliant film :)
      Loved the new characters & the beasts too. It was a good story and good to learn a bit of history too.

      Found it a amusing too as the American’s were kind of the baddies and the English guy the good-guy, it’s so often the other way around in films these day! Mind you the ministry of magic in England isn’t that great either in the
      Harry Potter books/films, so maybe they were just reflecting that in this film too.

      Good fun and looking forward to the next ones!

    2. ace*

      I saw it yesterday. I enjoyed it but really missed having read the book before! It felt like a lot of the backstory was missing. Still, fun to be back in Harry Potter world! :)

    3. KarenT*

      I had no intention of seeing it for the same reasons you mentioned, but after hearing my friends talk about it I’m going to see it next week. I’m so excited!

      1. Thomas*

        I really enjoyed it! I liked that there were no expectations. In the Harry Potter movies I was all worried about how they would portray my favourite characters/scenes. That wasn’t an issue this time around; I didn’t have to worry about how they were going to portray Newt Scamander because I’d never pictured him before.

        1. Blimey*

          I liked that too – I didn’t have to worry about my fantasy being crushed because I pictured people/things differently than in the movie. I loved not knowing the ending or looking forward to any scenes – some scenes were genuinely hilarious because you didn’t expect them.

    4. Wrench Turner*

      I’m not a big crazy Potter fan, but I still really enjoyed it. Lots of cool monsters, interesting concepts, etc. To me it really seemed like a long Dr. Who episode, which is just fine. I would recommend it to anyone.

    5. A. D. Kay*

      I really enjoyed it and want to see it again, but someone I follow on Twitter (Mikki Kendall) pointed out the whitewashing of historical events. The *SMALL SPOILER* Harlem speakeasy scene with the obviously Josephine Baker-esque elf singer had no African Americans. I didn’t even notice it until she pointed it out!

      1. esra (also a Canadian)*

        The lack of diversity is what has it on my no list. I don’t really love the way Rowling has dealt with those criticisms, either.

      2. Trix*

        That scene was really the only part I actively disliked. Not necessarily for the reason you mention (although it’s a great point, and maybe contributed to some of the underlying icky-ness I felt). But because it reminded me of the cantina scene in the first Star Wars after they redid it, where they were just squeezing effects in where they don’t belong, just because they could.

        That guy’s fingers…. *shudder*

    6. Sorgatani*

      I enjoyed Fantastic Beasts when I saw it.
      I did not have any expectations, and the movie was worth seeing.
      I’m notoriously picky when it comes to book to screen adaptations, and although I try to cut people some slack, I’m often disappointed when ‘Things I Remember From The Book’ are left out – I don’t often gripe about how a character should look, but I do enjoy seeing vignettes from that world.
      For example, the first Potter movie did not have Peeves. There were plans to include him (Rik Mayall if I remember correctly) but he wasn’t in the finished product. His presence would have helped with my immersion and willing suspension of disbelief because he is different from the ghosts, and proof that Hogwarts is a different world from ours.
      Fantastic Beasts, as a new movie, did not have that problem. So I could enjoy it for its’ own sake.

      1. EW*

        I missed peeves as well! I think I read before seeing the movie that they didn’t include him so I was prepared.

    7. Al Lo*

      I’m very excited for the way the story pans out. I’m relatively spoiler-free, but am speculating about how much of the inter-war period it will cover. Knowing that Grindelwald was defeated in 1945, I’m excited to see the story pan out, I hope, between 1926 and 1945. Again, not spoiled, just my speculation. To me, it’s probably the piece of the Potterverse history that is the most interesting and rich for stories. (This and the Marauders are probably the two biggest stories that could be told. I’m personally more interested in this one, and its two-generation remove from Harry himself.)

    8. Wandering not lost*

      You’ve convinced me to see it! There’s a regular version and a 3D at the nearest cinema. Is the 3D worth the higher price?

    9. Jessi*

      Isn’t that interesting!

      I thought it was a very pretty film and I loved seeing the American ministry of magic vs the UK one we know, but I kept waiting for the plot to start….. By the time the film had finished i was like ‘but where was the plot’?

      I enjoyed it but wouldn’t pay to see the others on the big screen.

  5. Rachel Greene*

    Over the past few years, Ive realized that my core group of friends and I have drifted. Its okay, because thats life. As a result, I just dont share as much with them as i used to. Some things have happened and the trust just isnt there for me.

    Last week, I got a ranting text message from one of those friends, demanding to know why i hadnt told her that our house sold. We had our house on the market but the buyers backed out, and I decided not to tell anyone until it was a done deal. I told her this and she accused me of hiding info from her and others in our group. She admitted that her and another friend had been talking about me this week and thats why she texted me about the house situation.

    To be honest, this kind of behavior makes me want to back away completely. I dont share as much as i used to, but thats because i felt judged and criticized constantly.

    1. Joe X*

      That just shows you are right in pulling back. I’ve found the adage that most friends are “situational” to be very true. And making new friends in middle age is difficult.

      1. KarenT*

        Agree, 100%. But there is something freeing in letting friendships go when they are not working well. Even if it is harder to find new friends.

        1. Joe X*

          I agree. I didn’t mean that part of the comment to imply she should keep the friends, it was just a totally separate observation.

      1. Rachel Greene*

        Nope, she had never expressed interest in buying our house, which made her reaction even weirder.

    2. Artemesia*

      Well that is just weird. I cannot imagine having friends who would do this sort of middle school flounce over what I decide to disclose to them about my life. Back away slowly. Find new friends.

    3. Seal*

      I extracted myself from my core group of friends from college almost 20 years ago and have never regretted it. We met in college in the 80s through our mutual interest in performing arts activities, which we continued to pursue well into our 30s. Some of that crowd is involved, but many of us moved on to other things as we came to the realization that pursuing our passion wasn’t going to pay the bills. The beginning of the end for me was the growing realization that the more successful I got, the less supportive my so-called friends were. Apparently there was a hierarchy amongst the group; woe to those to dared to challenge the status quo. Eventually I burned out on our mutual activities and withdrew to focus on other interests, including and especially my career. At first no one seemed to notice, but after a while a few people tried to re-engage me; I more or less ignored them. A few times I had to set some hard boundaries, but eventually people got the message and left me alone.

      After all these years, I still have some lingering animosity towards certain members of that group. I was the group’s scapegoat, the butt of everyone’s jokes, the one everyone felt they were superior to. When I stopped accepting that role, they turned on me. It took my a long time to realize that it wasn’t about me but rather about them. I’ve since moved halfway across the country in pursuit of my career so there’s little chance of my running into any of them. But I still visit family in the area a couple of times a year and once in a great while I’ll run into someone from that time of my life. When I do, it’s always a very strange and awkward experience, especially if it’s someone who’s still involved in what used to be our mutual activities. They can’t seem to accept the fact that I’ve moved on; I often marvel at the fact that they haven’t.

      1. Rachel Greene*

        Thank you all for affirming how I have been feeling about these friendships. It’s nice to know that I am not in the wrong here. Over the past year, I have been tapering off how much time I spend with them and will continue to do so.

    4. Drew*

      Way to confirm what you had already been feeling, that maybe this friend is now a former friend.

      Be thankful that sometimes the universe sends Flashing Neon Signals that you’re doing the right thing. :-)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Hiding it from the group: Uh, privacy, it’s a thing. Friendship is a gift not a given. No one has to do anything. The sooner your friends learn that then the sooner they will understand a large part of life: no one has to do anything. Every single interaction is a gift.

      Send them a one liner: “Am feeling the love here.” When people use their words like baseball bats we don’t suddenly start loving them more.

    6. David St Hubbins*

      She’s wrong. You selling your house is none of her business. You’re “hiding” if from her? What?

      ” i felt judged and criticized constantly.” That’s why I don’t see my old friends anymore. Always judging, looking down on me because I’m not successful, don’t like sushi (seriously, they gave me crap for not liking sushi), don’t have a girlfriend, etc. I always had confidence issues, and they just made me feel worse. So I just backed away.

      Now, I don’t have any friends, but I feel much better about myself.

      If this is how they react to stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with them, then you’re absolutely right to move on.

    7. TGIF*

      That’s such a bizarre reaction to have. It was big news among my friend group that my family was selling my childhood home, since it was one of our primary gathering locations for my friends. I kept them in loop (some even came over to help paint prior to the house going on the market) but even if for some reason I hadn’t told them when the actual sale happened, none would have accused me of ‘hiding’ it.

      That their minds go to such a negative and defensive stance seems like a definite sign of the group’s thoughts towards you and reason to back away. Sorry it has come to this for you.

    8. Gaia*

      She seems to be under the impression your house selling was her business. Unless she lived there, had told you she wanted to buy it, or was in some other way related to the selling of your house – it really is not. If you had chose to share it, fine, but you don’t owe her information.

      She is really overreacting.

  6. Perpetua*

    What is the best unusual/less common gift you’ve gotten or given? Something that made you go “wow, I wish I’d known about this sooner!” or “not enough people know about this!”.

    Bonus points for things available internationally. ;)

    1. Office Manager*

      This probably isn’t quite what you’re asking, lol, but one of the best gifts I got as a wedding present was a simple wooden step-stool. I thought it was the worst gift ever — who gives a step stool?! And it’s one of the handiest, most used things I have, 25 years later. Outlasted the marriage :D It can be extra seating, a side table, etc. Another wildly under-appreciated gift: a homeowner’s tool kit from Stanley. It comes in its own case. I thought that was a crap present (from my brother in law.) We use it all the time.
      I never really appreciated the joys of an immersion/”stick” blender until I got one. Also: our house has an electric stove, which I dislike. At the suggestion of a friend I got a single induction burner. It is FANTASTIC. I think induction ranges are much more common overseas (?) than in the US, my friends find it kind of confusing.

      1. Artemesia*

        We have a glass electric top and I hate it — we had gas before but can’t have it in this building. We have used induction burners in Europe and they are fabulous. When we replace this current range, we will definitely get an induction top.

      2. Perpetua*

        Yes, I can see how a simple wooden stool can prove quite useful!

        We actually have an induction range in our current apartment (Europe, although they’re not that common because of their cost) and while I like having things cook sooner and not worrying about getting burned on the range, we’re moving soon and I won’t miss not being able to use all pots and pans. :P

      3. FDCA in Canada*

        My parents got us a stepstool when we bought our first house. I thought it was a crappy gift, but holy hell that thing has come in handy more times than I can count. See also: the tools Dad gave me when I moved out, the fact that my parents ensured we had a couple of buckets (buckets!!!), and an electric drill.

      4. Blossom*

        I think you’ve just solved two of my living room dilemmas – high bookshelves and no space for a full-size coffee table – in one stroke! Now to google step-stools…

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Only useful for a certain demographic of gift recipients, but I’ve decided that for any baby showers I go to in the future I’ll give wet bags. They’re sort of like a reusable ziplock bag – waterproof fabric with a zipper, and machine washable. I had them recommended to me because I’m doing cloth diapers, but I think any parent of a baby or toddler should have one in the diaper bag for when an outfit gets dirty or soaked.

      On a less parent-specific note, someone gave me the Ove Glove (As Seen On TV!) one year and it’s the handiest thing. Much better than a regular awkward oven mitt.

      1. Lucky*

        Ove Glove! Bought one for my dad one Christmas, and he had bought one for each of his sons-in-laws. As he would say, it’s handy as a pocket on a shirt.

    3. HannahS*

      It wasn’t a surprise, because I asked for it, but for my birthday last year my parents got me a sunrise alarm clock. It made a HUGE difference to how I feel, especially now that it’s dark outside when I wake up. The difference is astonishing. I don’t wake up groggy. I don’t feel like I’ve been wrenched out of sleep. My body doesn’t feel heavy. Obviously, if I didn’t sleep enough hours I’ll be tired, but it makes getting out of bed at 5:30 way, way easier. Highly recommend!

        1. Natalie*

          Not HannahS, obviously, but I love the Phillips wake-up light. I think they have two models, and the cheaper version is under $100. But they go on sale frequently, so if you’re patient you can pick up the expensive one for $75 or so, which is around half price.

        2. Cristina in England*

          The Philips ones are on sale on Amazon right now, go get one! You can get a basic non-branded light alarm clock for less than $30, or a fully functional Philips one with multiple alarm sounds and maybe even a radio for near to $100 right now. They are life changing.

        3. HannahS*

          I have a Phillips one. Unfortunately it was pretty expensive, which is why I’m VERY glad I got it as a gift!

    4. Seal*

      About ten or so years ago, my then-teenaged niece gave me a pair of silicon oven mitts shaped like animal mouths (a duck and a frog). I still use them regularly.

      A couple of years ago I got my brother a beer-making kit and a box of empty beer bottles. Don’t know that he ever used it, though.

    5. Snork Maiden*

      Programmable kettle. Yes, it seems silly to pay $100 for a kettle, but we couldn’t think of anything else we wanted, so my spouse’s family glommed together and got it for us one Christmas. It is fantastic. Spouse likes a French press, I do Aeropress for my coffee and have a wide assortment of loose teas. My tea and coffee have never tasted better, and the keep warm cycle on it means we don’t waste hot water. Also, the auto shutoff feature soothes my nerves if I happen to forget or fret during the day I’ve forgotten to unplug it. I hope I never have to go back to overcooked green tea again.

      1. Snork Maiden*

        (It has six temperature/solute presets, so you can set it and walk away, ie 165 for delicate tea, Boil for black tea.)

      2. Cristina in England*

        I did not know this existed! Apparently for £100 I can turn on my kettle remotely with an app. Clearly that is only for people who feel very confident that they did not leave a bread bag or anything else that melts easily next to the kettle.

    6. caledonia*

      This isn’t really what you are asking either but when I was in my mid teens my brother & I (with help from our mum) gave our dad a brick. It was part of his football team’s stadium rebuild and has his name and dob on it. Think it was his best present ever!!

    7. Cath in Canada*

      Well, the Christmas right before I emigrated to Canada, my sister asked what I wanted and I said “something small and light”. She got me a fondue set. That was certainly unusual.

      (It’s still in my parents’ cupboard – I moved with one suitcase and one backpack, and a fondue set was not a priority. But she sent me another one (via Amazon) a couple of years ago, and we’ve actually used it! Like, two or three times! Not just for chocolate fondue, but also to keep butter liquid when we occasionally have crab or lobster).

          1. the gold digger*

            From when SNL was funny. Just like with Shakespeare, it’s better to watch and hear the performance than to read the script.

            Saturday Night Live Transcripts
            Season 1: Episode 19
            75s: Madeline Kahn / Carly Simon

            Namibia Fondue Sets

            Mark Mbutu…Garrett Morris

            [Open on black man dressed in African clothing. He speaks in a slow, hesitant manner]

            Mark Mbutu: Hello. I’m Mark Mbutu from the newly emerging African nation of Namibia, a former German colony located in southwest Africa. Namibia is an undeveloped nation, and we are appealing to you as world citizens.

            We need your fondue sets.

            Many people in the United States received these fondue sets as gifts for anniversaries, birthdays and housewarmings, and often put them up on a shelf and forget about them. There are thousands of Namibian housewives who could cheer up an otherwise dull dinner party with one of these sets.

            Oh, please think, please give, please send.

            We already have enough of the little sterna cans for underneath the sets from when the Germans were here, so only send the fondue pots themselves, and the long fark–forks if you have them. [Dissolve to address on green background] Our address is: Fondue Sets For Namibia, Box 180, Namibia, West Africa. [Dissolve back to Mbutu]

            Oh, and we would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Norman Prager for sending us the Water-Pik and the deluxe toaster oven. [Raises fist] Thank you!

    8. Natalie*

      A good quality hat for gardening, made out of that sunscreen fabric. Totally something I wouldn’t have thought to buy myself (I don’t know why) even though I garden a lot and in the summer it can get really hot here.

    9. Stellaaaaa*

      Outdoor fire pit bowls make great gifts, provided the person’s home has a suitable setup.

      I recently discovered that Acure Organics sells little sets of argan oil bottles – 3 full-sized bottles in different scents for $25 (if you’ve ever priced argan oil, you know that’s a good deal). It’s skincare plus it’s scented so it’s not something I’d give to just anyone but I recently gave a set to my mom and she’s really enjoying it.

    10. Temperance*

      I bought my husband the Randall Jr. from Dogfish Head. It’s a device that allows you to add fruit/herbal infusions to beer. We’re beer nerds, so it was a HUGE hit. We bought one for a friend’s birthday as well.

      1. Overeducated*

        Just for homebrew or can you use it for purchased beer? This is an intriguing gift idea, but with a toddler and an urban apartment we don’t have space to homebrew.

    11. NYC Redhead*

      Onion goggles. They work great for me; less so for my husband, so I assume it is important that they fit tightly to your face.

    12. ginger ale for all*

      The best gift I have ever gotten is a grave. I am the proud owner of two graves next to my family in a historical cemetery that has no more room for others. My great grandmother used to take me there and introduce me to my family and the various people she knew who were buried there so I have good memories of it.

      1. Gaia*

        That is awesome! I am a big proponent for planning for your own demise. Funeral costs can be such a burden if you haven’t planned in some way (either through actually making the plans and buying the grave, etc or through insurance). I’ve seen a few families struggle to figure out how they can afford a funeral and costs and that is just too terrible to deal with while also grieving. I’m rather young so (hopefully!) won’t die anytime soon but I already have a grave and I have life insurance and plans in place to make things as simple as possible when it does happen.

        I think people don’t like to plan because they don’t like to think about dying. But we’ll all die one day. That’s the only guarantee in life!

    13. Sled dog mama*

      Was given a colander as a wedding gift, this one is expandable and has fit the sink in each of the 10 places we’ve lived in over the last 8.5 years.
      My mom always said that the best present she ever got was a wedding gift, on of her mother’s friends went through her own kitchen and made a list of all the little super useful items that she had spent years accumulating, then went out and got all of them. My mom still has most of them and uses all of them.
      The best baby shower gift was my sister in law got me something called “gripe water”. It’s a naturopathic remedy for fussy babies and works so well, it’s now my go to baby shower gift.

  7. Wrench Turner*

    Took Padre out for breakfast at a local diner so he wouldn’t be awkwardly shoved among my politically opposed friends when they come over later for a BBQ. Collards are in the slow cooker already, mashed yucca, sweet potatoes with Old Bay and chicken marinating since last night for the grill. Mrs. Turner is making a pie from persimmons and soup from butternut squash, both picked yesterday from the garden.

    I hope all of you are stuffed with love, basted in laughter and free from want. I’m thankful for this community that helped me, a blue collar guy, navigate a white collar world for a long time – and take some of these skills back out in the greasy new field. Be safe out there y’all. See you after the nap.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Persimmon pie??? You don’t need to share a recipe (although that’s welcome), but I have questions:

      1. Pastry crust? If so, double or single?
      2. Custard, or simply persimmons with seasoning (sugar, cinnamon, ginger, I’m guessing)?
      3. Any other fruit, or just persimmon?

      Inquiring minds want to know.

      1. Office Manager*

        I love your user name! Also I was watching a holiday baking show and they made a quince pie and I thought, that sounds lovely. They did pre-cook the quince.

      2. Wrench Turner*

        I just get the store-bought ready pie crust, so don’t now that – I assume single.
        But no custard base, just sugar/spices, little butter. Peeled persimmons treated just like apples – and they keep their texture! She also likes to use figs from the garden we’ve kept in the freezer in lieu of making jam.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Excellent! Thank you! I’ve had persimmons once and didn’t get all the love, but they would probably be very good in a pie. Something new to try, for sure.

          I’d bet it’s a double crust– one on the bottom and one on the top? :)

          1. Wrench Turner*

            Yes, that! Although the weave she made sank in so it’s more like a crust and middle cobbler but I know it’s delicious.

      1. Wrench Turner*

        I screwed it up – after you boil them there are fibers you’re supposed to take out. You can still eat them but it’s just tough/stringy. It’s going to be tasty but not the texture I hoped.
        Win some / lose some.

  8. Lissa*

    Does anyone know a good website or starting point for what someone should do with money they save that would work for Canadians/Non-Americans? I tried to look up information but got really overwhelmed.

    Here’s my deal; I worked barely above crappy food-service/minimum wage jobs all through my 20s, and pretty much lived paycheque to paycheque. A couple of years ago I lucked into something that pays more than that (I’m contract and have been slowly but steadily increasing what I make as I take on more work/get a higher wage.) I am about 2 weeks away from paying off all my debt from the previous decade/various things. I won’t get into my whole history here because it would be way too long but the short version is for the first time in my life I’m going to have money left over. My job, being contract, doesn’t have retirement-fund matching or anything like that. I have no dependents.

    Am I too late to save for a not terrible retirement? I’m in my early 30s. What else should I do? Mutual funds through my bank? How do I even buy stocks? Would that ever be a good idea? I seriously have no idea, and websites give really conflicting advice/might be US specific. I don’t want to get ripped off with fees, though I know I’ll have to pay something to someone. What’s an index fund?

    I know what I’m asking could be really huge and it might be silly to post it here but you guys seem to know your stuff, and I figured might be able to help with at least a starting point/website etc because seriously, just Googling for information on this stresses me out with all the different information, and I come from one of those families that never talked about money, and pretty much learned nothing about it growing up. I’m actually pretty good at saving/keeping expenses low though I don’t have much to show for it other than being able to say I lived relatively OK on very little for a long time.

    Thank you all for any recommendations, and sorry for the babble!

    1. the_scientist*

      Congrats on paying off your debt!! Isn’t it such a fantastic feeling?

      I paid off the last of my student loans last year and started a WealthSimple TFSA account. WealthSimple is a “robo-investor”, which trades in ETFs. They are riskier than mutual funds, but typically have lower fees and greater returns. The nice thing about the robo-investor model is that it’s really great for an investment noob like myself. I filled out a questionnaire on my risk tolerance and they created a portfolio for me. The algorithm automatically rebalances your portfolio and automatically buys, sells, and re-invests dividends for you. They have a great app that allows you to monitor the status of your investments and you can set up auto-deposits etc. I think WealthSimple advertises 3-5% in annual returns, but I could be wrong.

      I know a lot of people don’t like this model because they like to be super hands-on with their stocks, but I know very little about the stock market. This has been a great way for me to dip my toe in and learn while growing my savings.

    2. Ange*

      I found the Motley Fool website useful for that kind of thing. They also have a book. It’s been a while since I used them but the forums used to be pretty good also. I used the UK site, I don’t know if thry have a Canadian one.

    3. Chriama*

      If you’re Canadian, check out reddit/r/personalfinancecanada and the website canadiancouchpotato. Basically, open a TFSA/RRSP (which one depends on whether you expect your tax rate to increase or decrease in the future, and you should eventually max out both). If you want to manage things yourself check out TD’s e-series funds or buy ETFs through an online brokerage like Questrade. If you want someone else to handle the rebalancing then check out a robo-advisor like WealthSimple. It’s surprisingly easy to do this stuff yourself.

    4. Snowglobe*

      Congratulations! My advice – after paying off your debt and before investing in stocks, you should put funds into a liquid savings account. Generally, about 2-3 months of your salary should be in savings, where you can get to it in an emergency. Once you’ve built up your emergency fund, then you can start putting money into longer term investments. If you are planning on saving for retirement you should really look into whether there are specific types of investments that can give you tax breaks where you live, rather than just a general investment account. I don’t know the tax laws where you live, but if you can invest money pre-tax, or invest in a tax-deferred account, will make a huge difference in the overall yield. I’d recommend speaking with an investment professional where you live. If you keep your accounts at a large mutli-national bank, they almost certainly will have investment advisors that can assist you.

      1. Natalie*

        One note on tax-deferred or not – to some extent it depends on what you think your salary will to, long term. If you are anticipating that you will be in a lower tax bracket at retirement than you are now, then tax deferred is definitely the way to go. But if you are early in your career and expect your earnings to increase, it might be wiser to pay the taxes now when you are in a lower bracket.

    5. plain_jane*


      An index fund is like a mutual fund, except it has a lower fee because there isn’t anyone saying “oh I think this company will do the best, nope, this one”. Instead, they just say “the whole marker is actually going to go up, so we’ll just copy the “TSX” or “S&P”, and not waste your money trying to be really smart”. (which turns out to be smart, because most mutual funds can’t beat the market over 10 years after you take their fees into account). ETFs are another type of index fund that you could buy in the stock market instead of through your bank.

      If you want to go through a bank, the TD e-series is the best from a fees perspective, but it will force you to jump through hoops to get it set up, and the branch people aren’t allowed to really help you. Tangerine is the easiest and has great phone support.

      TFSA will give you the most flexibility. RRSP is great if you are in the 43% marginal tax rate now. You can put ETFs or index funds into either type of account. is a great place to start has a bunch of Canadians who are friendly.

      You are totally and officially Not Too Late.

    6. Crazy Canuck*

      I hesitate to give advice, as I’m usually far better at being a bad example. I have recently dragged myself (mostly) out of debt after an ugly divorce, so here’s my advice.

      First, don’t make your savings “the leftover money.” Pay your savings like you pay all your other bills, up front. However, I would divide any left-over money into two piles. One for short-term savings and one for long term. I’d put more into short-term at first, then switch to putting more in long-term as time goes on. Having recently gotten into a place where I actually have a few months salary in savings, I can’t recommend it highly enough. There is no freedom like knowing that you could tell your boss to stuff it without worrying about how you’ll pay rent this month. Having a cash cushion also makes a lot of other tricky situations easier, and I would make this my first priority.

      Long term, you want to think RRSPs first. Due to the tax savings you get by contributing to a RRSP (in Canada), I would recommend setting one up as your first step for long term savings. If you’re in your 30’s, you should have a fairly high deduction limit built up over the years. (They roll over from year to year, and the base is 18% of your annual income) My second priority would be to max out an RRSP to your deduction limit, which will also reduce the taxes you pay.

      Last, but not least, don’t believe anything you read on the internet. When it comes to money advice, I’m super skeptical about anything I read online. Financial planning is tricksy business, varies a lot by location, and it is one of those areas like law where paying for expert advice is well worth it. I believe you need a financial planner to setup an RRSP anyhow, so I’d recommend looking around for someone that you like. Don’t worry about the amount you are saving being too small. Also, don’t worry about offending someone if you and them don’t click. It’s your money, you are allowed to be protective of it, and any financial adviser worth his salt will understand that.

      1. KarenT*

        I believe you need a financial planner to setup an RRSP

        Nope, you can set one up yourself online with most banks. I had one with CIBC but recently transferred to Tangerine. All online, no financial planners involved. I totally agree with you that RRSPs are great because you get the tax credit, you can use it as part of the Home Buyers plan should you need to, and it’s money that you sort of can’t touch, which is great for retirement savings.

      1. KarenT*

        Yes! Seconding. And is a good resources as well, although not all of their content is about starting out.

      2. Sherry*

        Yes! Your local library probably has all of her books, including Never Too Late, which has a lot of great retirement savings info for people of all ages and wealth brackets.

    7. Bidding Adieu*

      Check out — he is from Canada, living intone US now. Very practical about how to prep for retirement, very early retirement. He (and a great forum / Facebook group) offer much info bout all aspects of saving and investing.

      1. Caro* Garth tells you exactly what the ideal portfolio makeup should be and is both informative and hilarious.

    8. BRR*

      Sorry this doesn’t directly answer your question but the first thing I would do is build a healthy emergency fund. People suggest anywhere from three months to a year of expenses. I’m not sure how investments and retirement works in Canada but I wouldn’t pick individual stocks.

    9. Natalie*

      Unless you’re actually retired, it’s never to late to save for retirement. If you’re debts are paid off and you can meet your monthly/yearly obligations, the worst that happens is you have more money for trips or charity or your heirs!

      I concur that you should start with emergency cash savings. I also like to think about annual or every-some-years expenses – high dollar car repairs, a trip, furniture, house down payment, a new car – and put money aside for those as well. Being able to just pay for a $1000 car repair without blinking is an amazing feeling after years of that feeling world-ending.

    10. DodoBird*

      As a librarian, can I recommend a book?? And as personal finance tip, check it out from your local library for free:

      Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties and Thirties by Beth Kobliner.

      Also: if you’re American, you can start by getting a Roth IRA. You can only invest $5,500, but when you withdraw, it’s tax free.

    11. Lissa*

      Thank you all so much for the awesome advice and links! Don’t have time to answer individual people ATM so will say a general one :) I should have some time on the weekend to look through all of it, but it looks way simpler to have some concrete suggestions rather than ones with a ton of words I don’t know, get intimidated and run away…

    12. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      I learned about money from reading blogs starting about 12? 14? years ago so they’re always my first recommendation. Jessica Moorhouse is a Canadian friend who still blogs about money, as does Save Spend Splurge on occasion. You can go back into Cait Flanders’s site for some of her money blogging, too.

      I find blogs that are informative and talk money stories as opposed to just purely money tips (which do have their place!) were the best way for me to get my feet wet in personal finance.

    13. Gaia*

      Congrats on paying off your debts! That is such a huge thing and you should be so proud.

      And you are not at all too late to save for a not terrible retirement. In fact, you’ll be ahead of many! I can’t offer any advice as I only know resources for Americans but you could perhaps take an appointment with a personal banker at your local branch to get some ideas. Most major banks would be able to offer advice.

  9. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I posted over the weekend about our house issues (landlord called last week and said he wants to sell), and things are starting to get much more complicated. He gave me a price that I think is way high, bordering on outrageous, especially for a FSBO (and he got it from a realtor, which… if you want to do a FSBO, why work with a realtor?). I’m also starting to get really pissed off about the whole situation, since in looking back on some correspondence, they pushed us to sign a 2-year lease two months before our initial term was up, now they want to sell? It hasn’t even been 6 months. We’re interested in buying, which would be SO convenient for him if he really wants out of this house, yet he gives me a crazy number. I never thought he was very bright, and now I question his motives.

    All of this had me thinking I need representation, so I reached out to someone I know who is a real estate paralegal. He’s looking over our lease and has offered (with an attorney in his practice) to provide guidance and advice for no charge until we go into contract– which makes me so thankful there are mensches out there. From what I understand, in general in this state, the landlord is entitled to sell at any point. However, our lease doesn’t have any provision for sale at all, so I have to find out what our rights are and what our expectations should be. The crazy thing is that if he had given me a price that was more reasonable, I probably would have made an offer immediately. Sigh.

    In good news, I found out something great about my upcoming new job, but I will wait until Friday to share it. :)

    1. Joe X*

      IANAL, but my understanding is the new owner has to honor your lease unless there is a provision that allows for it to be terminated when the property is sold. You said there is no sale provision in your lease, so the new owner will be bound by the lease.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        One would think that’s the case, but generally in my state, a landlord can sell and ask us to vacate (according to what some lawyer friends say). It sounds basically like we could fight it, but if we went to court he would win, irrespective of what the lease says– we live in a state that heavily favors property owners. Getting more details on it and a professional opinion.

        I kind of want to say, “We’ll let you out of the lease if you sell it to us for $X,” but that sounds like blackmail. Or is it just bargaining? Hmm.

        1. Office Manager*

          Yeah, if you’re in a state that heavily favors property owners, you’re in a tough spot. I don’t know if he’ll come down in price, since it sounds like he’s being unreasonable… here it’s pretty common, in your situation, to get concessions from the landlord in exchange for you not fighting the lease termination — some free rent or a cash payment, for example. I’m a renter and I feel your pain. I have a solid lease, but the reality is my landlord could sell this house out from under me if he wanted to.

        2. Florida*

          Anytime someone comes to look at the house, you can casually tell the customer (and their realtor): This house would make a great investment. I have a lease that goes until 2018. I love living here, so if it works out with you, I might even renew the lease. It’s hard to find long-term tenants, so you are lucky.
          This just lets them know that you have a lease and are not interested in leaving.

        3. Mephyle*

          It sounds like bargaining to me. That’s what bargaining is, after all; you name a price and see whether the seller accepts. (You can judge whether to start with your absolute maximum or start a little lower and ‘reluctantly’ raise it to $X to show ‘compromise’). You do have to be prepared that he may not accept.

    2. Jerry Vandesic*

      If your lease has no provisions for a sale then the lease should carry over to the new owner. Your two year lease should be good for the full two years. If that’s the case, any new owner will likely be comfortable being a landlord (otherwise they would probably not buy), so you should be OK staying if you want. But if you do want to leave now, you can probably negotiate an exit with your current landlord to let you out, and possibly pay you something.

    3. Master Bean Counter*

      Sounds like your landlord is trying to sell it as an income property. Which means the new owners will likely be looking to keep you on as tenants.
      But consult a lawyer and see if you can break the lease if you buy a house. If so go house shopping and get a backup plan.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I don’t even think he’s thought about selling it as an income property. I seriously doubt it’s even crossed his mind that selling it as an income property puts restrictions on the buyers he can sell to. He told me he needs money to buy a new house, and I doubt he’s thought really hard about what this means since he has tenants– established and good ones, for that matter.

        We don’t want to move– we want to buy the house. We’re kind of restricted here, because my partner is a doctoral student with about 3 years left. We don’t know where we’ll end up when he’s done. So we don’t want to buy just any house (honestly, I hadn’t planned on buying at all for a while, since I have too much debt for my taste and I’ve been unemployed for 4 months!)– this house would be a great investment for us, since we could potentially attract tenants who are in similar circumstances to ours (we’re close to a college campus but on a very quiet residential street, in walking distance to a lot of things). It would be too risky to buy something else in our price range, since those houses are further away and not quite as desirable for renters.

        Our neighborhood is a very cool mish-mash of houses; we live in an old bungalow that was renovated. The house next door (which is on the market and can’t seem to sell) is a newly constructed 3-story house that’s listed for a whole lot of money. The house on the other side is a bungalow like ours that’s in terrible shape. A house across the street was torn down, and in its place is a rather pretty high-end Craftsman house.

        I’m not shocked that our landlord would try to get as much money as he could for this house– that’s his prerogative, and it’s a great area with rising prices. What bothers me is that he says one day that he would like us to have first crack at it, presumably because that would make things easy and quick for him, but then he turns around and high-balls us. He also thinks that his renovations make this house much more amazing than it is– his renovations were great, and they were a big attraction for us as renters, but they don’t change the fact that there is still plenty of work this house could take. And that there’s a housing project less than a block away, and a lot of people get turned off by that. I want to make him an offer that’s fair, I just think we have very different ideas of what that is.

        1. Jessi*

          A quick reminder to have it all checked over for any issues before you buy! Would totally suck to sink money into a house then realise you need to spend thousands re-roofing or fixing the structure!

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Oh, for sure! And I’m willing to make the fixes the house needs. I’m also willing to live in it for a few years before making those repairs, which is why I’m a more attractive buyer than he thinks. At least, I am in MY opinion. :)

    4. Snowglobe*

      If you need a mortgage to purchase the property, the lender will require an appraisal, and will not lend the full amount if the appraisal comes in low. Therefore, you could make a purchase offer, “subject to” financing or “subject to” an appraisal (ordered by the lender) for $x. If the appraisal comes in below the stated price, then you could either cancel the contract, or negotiate to a lower price. This is assuming that if the appraisal confirms the seller’s price, you would be ok purchasing at that price.

    5. copy run start*

      The problem with FSBO is that very often the owner thinks they can get a higher price AND save on Realtor fees by selling that way. Sometimes this indicates the person is unable to sell at true market value, or doesn’t believe their house is worth what the market will bear. If you were in a position where you absolutely could not move (shot credit, no money to come up with the deposit on an apartment), he might be able to name his price and get you to pay it. But if he’s going to play that game, be prepared to walk away. You might be stuck in the lease until it sells, but if he’s trying FSBO it might take a long time to sell because it won’t be on the MLS or getting advertised well in most cases.

      Also he can name any price he wants, but if you plan on getting a mortgage and the house doesn’t appraise to your agreed selling price, it’s moot. Unless he gave you the name of the Realtor who did the appraisal and you can speak and confirm with that person the appraised value, WALK. (Do NOT even DREAM of doing a land-contract!)

      If he wasn’t trying to sell it, would you have approached him about purchasing it? If not, I would not even entertain purchasing the home. It’s not a decision you should make because you feel pressured by an opportunity.

      1. Seal*

        Agreed. My sister-in-law is a realtor and my brother a mortgage underwriter and they’re constantly complaining about how people don’t understand what a house is worth on the open market and why. Five years ago they helped fix up my now-late aunt’s house to sell; my SIL was the realtor and did not take a commission. My cousins were outraged by the amount of money it cost to get the house in condition to sell and by the price my SIL set. They refused to take into account that my aunt had lived in that place for almost 50 years, that everything needed paint, that the 70s-era carpets needed to be pulled and the hardwood floors underneath cleaned up, that the kitchen needed work, etc. My brother spend a couple of months fixing that place up almost single-handedly, saving thousands of dollars that would have gone to a contractor. Ultimately, the place sold ONE DAY after it went on the market, for the full asking price. Since my aunt owned the place outright she made a huge profit, even after taking into account the money that went into fixing the place up. That shut my cousins up for awhile.

        1. the gold digger*

          My husband’s brother (The Jerk Ted) did nothing to help prepare Sly’s house for sale after Sly and Doris died last year, but he had plenty of opinions. Ted was annoyed at Primo for signing a contract with a realtor paying six percent.

          “Six percenters,” announced Ted, who has never sold a house and has no idea that a good realtor is worth her weight in gold, “get laughed out of the room.”

          1. Not So NewReader*

            When family member announced he could have gotten more money for the parent’s house, I said, “Then you should have taken charge of that project.” Instant change of subject. People are experts UNLESS they are faced with doing real work. They usually comment the most when they are in the least danger of having to do any real work themselves.

    6. BRR*

      Ugh that stinks. Can you counter and maybe show comps or something for how you arrived at a fair price? or since you already live there do you know what needs to be fixed and somehow utilize that?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thinking about it! I’m also starting to think about other options. Even looking at a price I think is fair for this house, we could get more house for less money somewhere else– but there are caveats to that too.

        His realtor ran comps, but it sounds like she based those comps just on number of beds and baths. She didn’t take into account layout, number of rooms, and location. Also, he wants almost $200k over the county assessment, which… no.

  10. Windchime*

    I am so thankful this Thanksgiving. I made it through a really rough summer and I think I’ve come through to the other side. My kids are all happy and healthy and I’ll get to see them this afternoon. My parents are also happy and healthy and are coming in on the train from the other side of the mountains. My sister is also my best friend (what could be better than that?).

    And I’m sitting here on my couch, listening to the rain and drinking a cup of hot, sweet tea before I get busy making my salad and the stuffing. It’s a good day.

    1. Blossom*

      What a beautiful update, Windchime! This passing reader is very glad to hear that things are going so well.

  11. Perpetua*

    Also, please share your couple-with-no-kids Christmas time traditions! We get this question often here, but I just love hearing about the little worlds and habits people create with their loved ones (and ideas are always welcome, of course).

    1. Felicia*

      Don’t celebrate Christmas, but we create a Hanukkah house every year – like a gingerbread house, but Hanukkah themed.

    2. Dorth Vader*

      My husband has to work 2/3 years so I usually play video games and stay in bed late. After work one of our friends usually comes over and we watch Top Gear (Grand Tour now I guess) and get Chinese food. If my husband is off we play board games and watch movies. It’s super low-key and great!

    3. Christy*

      We see my family on Christmas Day, since hers is on the other coast. One new tradition is going to my friend’s mom’s house on Christmas Eve. His mom is the best.

    4. Jen RO*

      We put up the tree together, then wait for the cats’ reaction. (This probably look ordinary, but my boyfriend thought Christmas tree and decorations were stupid until a few years ago.)

      We also try to cover the cats in tinsel. Cats make everything 100% better!

    5. Elkay*

      Christmas day just the two of us, champagne and pastries in the morning, a walk as long as it’s not raining too hard, French press coffee and cookies, full dinner plus dessert then a movie after the meal is cleared up.

    6. Natalie*

      We decorate the tree together, by which I mean my husband trims it to a good tree shape, and then retires to the couch to serve as DJ and bartender. I do all of the ornaments and I don’t have to compromise or get my own beers.

    7. Franzia Spritzer*

      On the night of Christmas Eve, we gather together with friends after family events to drink and unwind, share some of our weird gifts with each other and revel in the magic that is family in the safe company of friends. As I’ve been away at school, I’ve missed this tradition the most.

      We don’t do Christmas trees, instead we decorate a ladder, it’s totally dorky but I love it. Although, the sparkle goth in me loves that Target has a black light up tree this year, I want it, I want it very badly.

        1. Franzia Spritzer*

          Just lights, no hanging ornaments, a hat or some other non-breakable thinger for a “tree” topper (we have cats). Oddly it works.

      1. T3k*

        I saw that tree as well at Target and would have gotten it in a heartbeat if I had my own place. *sigh* I’ll just have to deal with the little black one I got a few years ago for now I suppose. Still trying to find mini green lights to put on it (with all the different mini trees, you’d think someone would have thought green lights would be nice on a white or black tree).

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Years ago I found a light weight, narrow ladder that is about five feet tall. The ladder leans against the tree and The Bumble stands on a rung near the top. BJs had the cutest set of Rudolf ornaments for $15 one year and the darn set just jumped into my shopping cart, so I had to pay for it.

    8. Coco*

      Near us there’s drive-thru light show on a race track. You basically just drive around the track and look at the animatronic lights as you pass by. We also decorate cookies.

    9. Trix*

      My husband and I don’t have a ton of traditions yet, but our most consistent one is that on Christmas Eve, I make cinnamon rolls with bacon.

      First year, I cooked the bacon, chopped it up, and sprinkled it on top. Second year, I rolled the bacon up with the cinnamon rolls, which didn’t get the bacon as crispy as I would have liked.

      Not sure about this year. I think the whole rolling it up thing has potential, but maybe cook it more first? Not have them line up exactly so some of the bacon sticks out on top and gets a little more crispy?

    10. Trix*

      Oh, and it’s not necessarily just Christmas, and not exactly a tradition, but something that’s definitely happened several times. I sometimes have to work on holidays, but would always be off early/mid afternoon. But my husband works in a restaurant and they’re nearly always open.

      So I’ll go in and hang out at the bar. The bartenders are always delightful and keep my wine glass full. I get to watch my handsome husband run around, and he gets the occasional quick kiss when he stops by. I make buddies with his work friends, and the sous-chef always sends me out something delicious that usually isn’t even on the menu, just something he was messing around with. If he’s gotta work, it’s a pretty good situation.

      That’s what I’ll be doing today, before going to a friend’s for the evening. This will be the second Thanksgiving I’ve done this, and I’ve been there the past two New Year’s Eves, and at least one Christmas Eve.

    11. CA Admin*

      Computer games, drinking, a special dinner, and movies! We spend the day doing what every kid/teenager dreams that being an adult is like and it’s kind of magical.

    12. Girasol*

      Real fragrant tree. Lights all over the house (we light the inside because we’re so far out that no one would see if we lit the outside). Homemade danish for breakfast, made the day before and baked in the morning so it’s hot. Fancy dinner for two. Decorations that are special from past Christmases together and that we inherit from our own families.

  12. new aunt*

    I am home for a visit (home = smaller city a few hours drive from the bigger city that I live in) and I got to meet my nephew for the first time. He turned 8 weeks old today. He was supposed to be born 3 days before Christmas but he was born at the end of September when my sister was only 28 weeks pregnant. He’s still in the hospital and they think it will be another month before he comes home.

    I just can’t get over how small and helpless he is. The staff at the hospital say he is getting stronger every day but he is so tiny compared to every other baby I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t get home before this to see him but I did see pictures of him with objects beside him to show his size but it didn’t register until I saw him. Between my family and my brother-in-law’s family we have divided up shifts to take care of my sister and my brother-in-law and make sure someone is always at the hospital with them or with them if they go home. All of us are hoping he will be able to come home for Christmas.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Bringing him home in time for Christmas would be one of the best gifts for everyone. Good vibes going out to that little guy. Let us know how he’s doing.

    2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Preemies are just the absolute tiniest. I’m glad they see him making progress, and hope he gets to come home for Christmas. A friend with a now-thriving preemie baby celebrates both the actual birth date and the expected birth date just as a reminder of how lucky they are to have come through that safely and in good health.

    3. cinammoncookie*

      Mine showed up 8 weeks early. So tiny they had to roll down the waist of the preemie diapers. sounds like your family is very supportive and caring. If size is the only issue, they could send him home as soon as he hits 4 +lbs. we were told best method for growing a preemie is a dark quiet room, with baby lying on chest skintoskin. Good gift for sil, soft wraps or button shirts. Also lots and lots of hand lotion, because you wash/scrub your hands a millions times a day and hospital soap is tough.

  13. Myrin*

    (This is not directed at the very first comment and its sub-comments, they just totally happen to speak of something I’ve thought to mention anyway.)

    I’m one of those people who absolutely loves snow and winter and cold and I’m always so sad when everyone is all “BAH, I hate this!”. I mean, I get that many feel that way but I just can’t help but think “Do you have to so viciously bash something that I find absolutely beautiful and nice?” whenever people speak in a kind of “collective mode”, like everyone must absolutely feel the same thing (I’m looking at you, radio moderators!). Not surprisingly, I absolutely despise summer and heat which most people can’t stop talking longingly about and, again, like everyone can’t help but feel the same.

    I’m obviously not saying anyone must feel like I do or has to censor themselves but it does make me grumpy (especially since it also takes away an important small talk foundation or makes it very awkward).

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t like super-hot weather either, but I think people do get tired of winter when it’s cold and dark and they can’t go outside for weeks on end. At least in summer, I can walk, etc. even if it’s hot. Also, no ice storms (which suck). But I agree–a nice blanket of snow with the sun shining on it is REALLY pretty.

    2. Office Manager*

      I live in the US mid-Atlantic, so I’m used to people complaining about the hot/humid summer, as well as the icy/slushy winter. I think for most people it’s more about… the inconvenience? Like digging your car out, the commute, etc. I personally love the summer here, and it’s fine that most people hate it. I love to sit on the front porch and drink lemonade and bask in the heat like a lizard.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I kind of enjoy bursting bubbles, so I’ll usually just act innocently surprised and say “Oh, actually, I love this weather, when I can go for a long walk in a sweater and not sweat, and smell the fireplaces going”, or “You know, I actually prefer it cooler, because when it’s in the 70s (F) I’ll start sweating if I’m taking a brisk walk”.

    4. Crazy Canuck*

      I’m trying to imagine small talk in Canada without bitching about the snow, and it’s difficult. One can only talk about hockey so much you know.

    5. Chriama*

      I’m the opposite, and get really irritated at people who love snow. It makes everything cold and wet, and it makes driving really dangerous. So while it might be nice to look at, I’m loving our dry November. When people complain about how it hasn’t snowed yet I get pretty upset because it’s a major inconvenience and an outright safety hazard.
      Anyway, different strokes for different folks.

      1. Lady Kelvin*

        I feel the same as you about cold weather. If it never went below 70 degrees F I would be happy. But I’m a really cold person, I start wearing under armour when it’s 60 out and I am basically cold from October until may. Never be warm and comfortable is really hard for me. I also wear log pants and sleeves when in A/C. I also have SAD so I’m additionally miserable all winter.

        1. Not Karen*

          If it never went above 70 degrees F, I would be happy.

          In terms of ideal weather, my current top 3 contenders are the UK, Iceland, and Sweden (southern, probably not northern Sweden).

        2. T3k*

          Same. I’m a very cold natured person and can tell when the temperature drops below 75F and I get mad if someone jacks up the AC as soon as it reaches 70 (and I live in an area that can typically feel like 100 during the summer thanks to humidity). I also don’t like the snow/ice because it makes driving around here difficult, I miss out on getting paid (because I’m hourly so I lose a day if not a week’s pay when I can’t get in), and it takes me far longer to get up and going in the morning. Not to mention if the air is too cold, I can’t exercise because it gives me painful earaches. Oh, and no matter how many layers I put on, I’m always cold! I don’t hate those who prefer colder temperatures, but I do hate it when they say “it’s easier to put on clothes than take off!” No it isn’t.

          1. the gold digger*

            Cold weather lovers, you may have it. I give it to you!


            1. does not have to be shoveled
            2. does not require special tires
            3. does not require special shoes
            4. does not require an entire suite of coats

            1. cinammoncookie*

              But hot-
              1. Causes strong smells
              2. Can cause sunburn
              3. Requires special clothing, or less of
              4. Shaving
              5. Makes it Hard to sleep

      2. Al Lo*

        I give myself one weather mode to complain about. Even if I <feel too hot, I will almost never talk out loud about being too hot, because I’ve established myself as the winter-hater, summer-lover. Even when we were in China last summer and it was much more hot and humid than I was used to, I didn’t talk about it much at all, except on the positives. I try to keep my bah-humbug winter comments to myself, but I give myself permission to be more vocal about it.

        I live in Canada, and get really, really annoyed when the country lives up to its stereotypes. Whenever Canada (or Calgary) is on the world stage (Olympics, or a news story about unseasonal cold, or whatever) or I run into people visiting here, I get really, really irritated if the weather is less than beautiful. Sort of like scolding a child. “I know you can behave better than this! Quit acting up with company around!” I get embarrassed on behalf of my country if the weather misbehaves.

    6. Red*

      I’m in Buffalo NY, and yeah, all we do is moan about the weather, but i think secretly most of us love it. I mean, who can complain about getting drunk and making snow angels because there’s literally nothing else to do? I just look for common ground when talking about weather. Like, the vast majority of people hate shoveling out their cars and are embarrassed by the things humidity does to their hair, and we can usually all see the joy in a snowy Christmas morning and a summer barbecue. So I just focus on those generally agreed upon things and let people enjoy their odd and misplaced hatred of cold weather.

    7. The Expendable Redshirt*

      *looks at Myrin with suspicion* So. You’re one of THEM…..

      Sorry Myrin! In all seriousness, apologies for the winter bashing. Though I genuinely appreciate the snow and prettiness, the cold really is hard on me. Perhaps I am more sensitive to cold than the average human, but I tend to feel chilled from October to April. It isn’t any fun, even with strategies like Very Warm Clothing and a Magic Bag. Plus, I live in Canada where complaining about the snow is a national hobby. And then there’s the Seasonal Affective Disorder (now treated) that kicks in around October. Combine all that together, and that is one rather grumpy human. Periodically, I mourn that my ancestors did not migrate to Australia.

      As one who endures winter I will say this. Snow is pretty. Very very pretty. It sparkles, and I will try to appreciate your white granularness.

      1. FDCA in Canada*

        This is me. I am chilly more or less all the time. Sometimes I get chilly in the height of summer. I wear sweaters year-round. I live somewhere it snows–and snows BIG–six months out of the year, and the prettiness doesn’t always make up for the shoveling and shoveling and shoveling and sloppy, dangerous roads and ice dams on the roof and slipping in the sloppy parking lot and needing to strategize any trips longer than the 20 minutes into town and so on and so on and so forth.

        I don’t know what we would talk about here other than weather. It’s honestly like 80% of the small talk we have at work.

      2. Al Lo*

        Every year, when it gets to -30, I end up exclaiming, “Who stopped here?!?!” Must have been summer when they made camp. :)

      3. the gold digger*

        I tend to feel chilled from October to April.

        1. I had to bring a space heater to work my first week. In August.
        2. I discovered that my personal brand at work is “That Lady Who Always Wears Her Winter Coat Indoors.”

        I am cold. all. the. time. And I hate it.

    8. Cristina in England*

      Yeah, people like to complain about pretty much anything. I love the snow! I love dry, really cold days and hot dry days. Too bad the UK specialises in the soggy middle.

    9. Talvi*

      I feel you. I looooove winter (also looooooove fall), and I utterly loathe summer and hot weather in general. Just let me enjoy one of my favourite seasons!

    10. Cath in Canada*

      I hear ya! I love rain (yes, I live in the right place for that) and get tired of hearing people bitch about it all the time. Yes, it can get a bit much at this time of year when it can rain for days on end, but some people bitch about a day or two of rain in the summer, after weeks of hot weather and poor air quality. It’s fresh drinking water falling from the sky – it’s not actually a problem!

    11. Franzia Spritzer*

      I like snow too. I’m from Seattle where it realistically only snows a few times a year in the city, and when it does it shuts the city down, and THAT’S my favorite part. I love going out in the street for long walks with no cars, and the quiet. I’m also a snow sport lover, snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, a good tube run is great, snow is an essential part of my love of life. I love the PNW summers too, not entirely too hot, not too humid, it still cools off at night (depending on elevation), not entirely too buggy, activities aren’t restricted by how gross it is. I live in the deep south now, summers here are my version of hell.

      I lived in Alaska for a few years as well, I loved winter so much, there was a sense of good natured adventure built right into daily life. Sure I had to plug in an engine block heater, clear the car and dig out but it didn’t bother me at all, I think if I had to parallel park, or defend a parking spot in the snow I’d start to be annoyed by it, but as it was that was never the case.

      My spouse, who is from northern Ohio can’t see past the inconveniences of snow and refused to live anywhere where there is regular accumulation… . I think their judgement is clouded by the fact that their family didn’t have a car and had to walk everywhere regardless of weather, so it was never fun. Where for me nearly all the fun and joys in life were dependent on snow.

      However, Alaskan or Cascadian mountain cold are nothing compared to West Virginia mountain cold, holy crap! I went on a winter camping trip in the mountains of WV last year, I thought I was prepared with all of my alpine gear. I was wrong. I’ve never been that cold in all my life. If that’s the same kind of cold as northern Ohio, I can see my spouses point.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      I guess it depends on the life experience. It’s not beautiful to me at 3 am when I have to start shoveling to get to work on time at 8 am. It grows more ugly each day that I go through the process. However, on days off I noticed the snow is kind of pretty.

      The complainers are not angry with you, nor are they deliberately trying to make your day worse in any manner. Snow storms create hardships for people. I remember one year my father had 5 feet of snow in his driveway and no money to pay for plowing. Fortunately he had bought up about six weeks worth of food/firewood so it was not scary. Yet. A large town plow bailed him out. If the plow guy did not do that out of the goodness of his heart my father would have been house bound for the rest of the winter.

      I guess I would just go one person at a time and try to say they are not having an easy go of it for a reason. But you don’t have to be miserable with them or for them.

    13. c'est la vie*

      My friend loves loves loves snow and I absolutely hate it. It’s kind of a running joke with us, but I admit I do get annoyed when she starts saying, “We need snow!” because she has a job where she can work from home, and it’s no big deal for her to miss work. I have to go to work, and I hate driving in the snow. So I kinda feel like she’s wishing bad stuff on me.

    14. Jules*

      I have learned a new phrase recently, ‘Don’t yuck my yumms’. We were at work talking about Thanksgiving and when someone disagreed, another tossed in the phrase, “Don’t yuck my yumms’. I thought it was a neat phrase.

    15. Amadeo*

      I don’t mind the winter, I don’t mind the cold, and to be frank, heavily falling snow is beautiful both to look at and so is the heavy, muffled silence broken only by the hissing of the flakes. I could sit by the fireplace all wrapped up with tea and a book while it gets on with it.

      I only have issues when I have to go somewhere and it’s doing that mess!

  14. Master Bean Counter*

    I just pulled cherry and cream cheese turnovers out of the oven. Anybody else baking anything special for today?

    1. the gold digger*

      Tiramisu for dessert. Baked the apple pie from the church fundraiser yesterday.

      Beef tenderloin stuffed with blue cheese. Bacon wrapped, cream cheese stuffed jalapenos. Spinach with pine nuts and garlic.


      I love this day.

      (And no drunken in laws!)

        1. the gold digger*

          Just don’t let an engineer near when you are putting together the tiramisu. They get very concerned if you cannot have a completely symmetrical ladyfingers structure.

    2. Office Manager*

      Got up early and made a coffee cake from scratch for the kiddos…. is there any better smell in the world? Then when that came out, the pulled pork went in the oven. It smells darn good right now.

    3. NJ Anon*

      Didn’t bake but made cranbury jam! Cranberries, granny smith apple, sugar and walnuts. It’s in the fridge now, chillin and jellin!

    4. Lore*

      Gramercy Tavern’s gingerbread bundt cake has become my go to holiday dessert. My SO does not have much of a sweet tooth but this is spicy and savory enough that he loves it. I tweak the recipe a little but it’s delicious all the ways!

      1. Overeducated*

        I love that recipe. I said to my husband recently that I couldn’t wait for pumpkin dessert season to pass because after Thanksgiving it’s gingerbread cake season. Need to take a week off from rich/sweet foods, but soon….

    5. Coco*

      Oh wow, I would love to have one of those. In fact, that sounds so good I might just try it for Christmas.
      I’m making a special pecan pie for my family member who’s doing the low-carb thing. I did an almond crust, and then instead of brown sugar, I melted a bunch of sugar-free caramels. It worked really well!

  15. NicoleK*

    So I have a car with leather seats. Anything that I set on the seat goes flying off when I make sudden stops. This is the first car I own with leather seats so I didn’t anticipate this. I’ve started using the seatbelt to belt in my purse. Suggestions?

    1. Aurion*

      Do you use those steering wheel locks (The Club, etc.)? I have one and I use it to barricade my purse/groceries/etc. when I put them on the passenger seat.

    2. Office Manager*

      They make these things called headrest hooks (I think), they’re sold on Amazon and other places. You hook it to the headrest post and then it has a couple of hooks. You can turn it so it hangs off the front or the back. I use it for my purse straps, and you can use them for the grocery sack handles.

    3. Snork Maiden*

      My purse goes inside a larger tote (sometimes a big plastic square bucket container thing) that sits behind the driver’s seat – this is what my mom does. It’s nice because her car tote holds her bag but also has other things she needs on trips into town such as a spare pair of socks/underwear, water bottle, gloves, shopping bags, cosmetics for mid-day refresh, that sort of things that you may need but don’t necessarily want to carry in your purse while doing errands. (It’s also not uncommon to be storm stayed here in winter.) Our extended family has multiple cars so we don’t keep personal items in the dash or console, and this means all we have to do is grab the car tote and we have all our stuff out of the vehicle.

    4. OhBehave*

      Try using a Silpat silicone baking sheet. It’s not very slick. Or find a carpet sample that’s a bit nubby. If these don’t work you may need to put your things on the floor.

  16. Elizabeth West*

    Yesterday was so gloomy and dark and cold and drizzly. Today, I’m going to get off the sofa and take a walk. I won’t be able to this weekend due to travel. It’s somewhat foggy now, but it’s supposed to burn off. I’m trying to work out how to keep doing it when it’s colder; I can’t afford to go to the gym.

    Today, I will finish cleaning (I got most of it done, so I didn’t have to do it when I get back). All I have left is the kitchen and the floors. I couldn’t even see to do anything yesterday so I didn’t. I’ve got pinto beans in the crock pot (with onion, garlic, parsley–that’s the only herb I had–and pancetta) and will have those with cornbread and a sweet potato later.

    This week my dad turns 80 and all he wants is a picture of the family. So tomorrow, I go over to Mum’s and we’ll take a photo and eat on Saturday. I’m staying in a nearby hotel (Mum’s paying) because nephew and family will be staying with Mum. She has decreed that we will NOT be talking about politics or elections for the whole weekend. I hope people stick to that, but if they don’t, at least I can escape.

    Hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving and those who don’t observe it have a great weekend!

    1. Rebecca*

      We have the cold, grey, cloudy and grumpies here in PA :) I just spent 2 hours or so trying to tidy up the kitchen, get rid of stuff, clean, etc. and I swear it doesn’t look much better than when I started! At least the cupboards are organized.

      I’m going to head outside for a walk in a bit, hoping to finish “The Bonesetter’s Daughter” and maybe start a new audiobook.

      You mentioned walking when it’s colder – the key is layers. I like CuddlDuds, not expensive and available at Walmart, both the thin and fleece layers, gloves, balaclava, a parka – and wool socks. I have a really old heavy down parka that I wear when it gets excessively cold, like zero F.

      I hope you have a nice trip and visit with your parents and family!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I need to find a balaclava. It might be difficult to do it if we get a lot of snow; they don’t plow the side streets and footing would be tricky.

        Also, I messed up my beans–I put too many in the crock pot and when I got back from my walk, they were practically frying. Yipes! I took them out and put them in a pot with more water. Now they are soft and good. The corn muffins are in the oven and I will pop a sweet potato in the microwave soon. :)

        1. the gold digger*

          Elizabeth, what about working out to online videos? I have been running outside as much as I can while the weather is still good, but I won’t run in the snow and ice – a friend fell and broke her elbow and shoulder doing that.

          I really like the workouts on When I am traveling for work, I just open one on my computer and work out in my hotel room.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I have a Pilates DVD I need to dig out—it helps my back. And I have this Bollywood dance DVD I bought but never watched. It’s supposed to be quite a workout. I should give it a go.

            Yes, you’re quite right–I don’t want to walk in snow and ice. Too dangerous, and they don’t plow our side streets here.

    2. SeekingBetter*

      The sun didn’t really come out yesterday where I live. I’m glad to hear that you’re visiting your family for Thanksgiving and having a good time cleaning!

      As for keeping warm outside during cold weather, I like to gear up with a big scarf, gloves, double socks, cap that goes over my ears, etc. I went for a quick run yesterday and even though it wasn’t that cold, the wind chill made it hell. Anyway, I put back in the calories last night during dinner ^0^ Happy belated Thanksgiving!

  17. Poly Problems week*

    Had a huge fight with one of my SO’s earlier this week and am still dealing with the fallout. I’d realized I’d been getting ridiculously possessive of this person, which really doesn’t mesh well with the solo polyamory style relationship we both have been espousing wanting. I’d started treating/thinking of him as almost a primary style which is just.. not cool. He’s been withdrawing dramatically and it makes me want to get more clingy and possessive which makes him withdraw more and it’s basically just been a bad cycle.

    Like, at least we’ve realized this, but we both have stuff to work on, and I don’t really know how to tell him he needs to flag stuff better for me without it coming across as more demanding of him. And we still have to have a whole talk about how this relates to sexual stuff with us too, which is another giant elephant.

    sigh. I normally find polyamory so rewarding, but this week it’s just been hell.

    1. Trix*

      I have no specific advice for you, but something that I’ve been living the last few months is the importance of realizing stuff. Putting it into conscious thought is so unbelievably necessary, and it’s definitely the first step for me to improving things.

      I never really realized it (which, well, duh), but my natural inclination is to ignore problems. If I don’t look at it, it’s not real, right? But acknowledging an issue (and then actually talking about it and following through on action) really makes things a lot better.

      I hope everything works out for you.

    2. Jessi*

      If you can’t talk to each other your relationship is really going to struggle along. Sorry to be the barer of bad/ unhelpful news.

      Can you not say ‘hey. I’ve just realised that I’ve been doing x/ behaviour x and I didn’t mean to/ am sorry / now i’ve realised am trying hard to get a lid on it. Its not fair to you and I am working on it. It would be helpful to me if you could say ‘blue banana’ when you see me do x so I can check myself. Is this something you would be willing to do?’

  18. Q*

    Not a work question, but a work comment as in that I am at work today and not exactly pleased about it. I got into banking for the days off! Ok, not really but it does suck that I work in the banking industry and I never get holidays off. The joys of being an American working in global markets, I suppose.

  19. sssssssss*

    If a classmate of your child’s won’t stop troublesome behaviour, after being asked repeatedly nicely by your child to stop and instead shakes his fist in her face and declares “MAKE me stop…” and then when she doesn’t rise to this challenge, “You don’t have the guts to make me stop!” is this bullying?

    1. LCL*

      Depends on the behavior. Cracking his knuckles, belching, all the annoying stuff that kids do, if he’s not touching her I would’n’t consider it bullying. Poking at her, pulling her hair, shoving her, taking her papers, etc, in other words being aggressive toward her is what is now called bullying. Whatever you call that, she is within her rights to do something about it.

      1. LCL*

        TL:DR bad behavior directed at her is bullying. General obnoxiousness and rowdiness isn’t necessarily bullying, if he isn’t targeting her.

        1. chickabiddy*

          I do agree that general unpleasantness is not targeted bullying, but I think threatening violence (“shaking a fist”) certainly rises to that level.

      2. Bullied*

        Gotta disagree. I was bullied as a child without ever being touched. Kids saying deliberately hurtful things, threatening even if the physical threat is not followed up on, all that kind of stuff is definitely bullying.

        There are definitely different degrees of bullying that are worse than others (I know I’m lucky the bullying never escalated to physical violence) but it’s still bullying all the same.

    2. evilintraining*

      Your child is definitely being bullied. It’s time to speak with the teacher and the parents. And don’t accept the excuse that “he probably has a crush on her.” Even if so, it’s unacceptable behavior.

    3. neverjaunty*

      I would be less concerned about what the label is and more about the fact that this is threatening and unacceptable behavior that needs to have the adults come down on this kid like a ton of bricks.

      1. LCL*

        I’m sorry, but I can’t leave this question alone. OP was deliberately vague, for understandable reasons of privacy. I’m not condemning OP at all, I just can’t get a handle on what the troublesome behavior is. The fact that OP was concerned enough to call it bullying tells me there probably is something going on, but I can’t see the bullying yet.
        Maybe it is my school history of being harassed. And sometimes I would answer with fists, or other violence. I was seriously looking for a gun in junior high school, and I had every intent of shooting a select few if they harassed me again. I did tell people To eff off, or just try and make me, when they would ask why are you so ugly, or suggest I go off and die. So maybe daughter is being harassed, and maybe she isn’t, but I don’t consider the example given as bullying yet. We need a bit more context.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Not clear on what the initial behavior was but that almost seems beside the point now.

      If someone asks you to stop doing x the proper response is not “make me” nor is it, “you don’t have the guts”.

      She does not have to “make him” nor does she have to have “guts”. Words should stand alone as enough. Some kids just don’t operate this way. I swung a fist once. I did not miss. However justified I might have been, I felt horrible about it and never did it again. It felt like I had done the very thing I detested.

      I suspect this is the way the kid is spoken to at home or by others around him. The person I swung at did not have a good setting.

      If he is hurting her that should be reported right away. I think that because she has asked him to stop and he is basically asking her to beat him up, I think that can be reported, too. Dunno if anyone will do anything. If you know the parent maybe you can talk to the parent. That worked for me when a boy was hitting me every day. My father knew his father.

    5. Rob Lowe can't read*

      This teacher says yes, by the soft definition – what I mean by that is that if I went to the Dean of Students, I would call this bullying, but depending on your school district’s policy on bullying, they might not ultimately define it as such. (We have to use extremely specific categories for behavior referrals – this sounds like it would be categorized as “threatening physical safety,” which would likely trigger a disciplinary hearing and a suspension of 1-3 days where I work.)

      Please reach out to your child’s teacher or school about this.

    6. Jules*

      We have a script at home, first tell him, then remind him and if it doesn’t stop, speak to your teacher. If all fails, come home and tell us parents so we can have a conversation and help you though this.

      This was brought about when my Kindergartner was harassed on playground at school. I get that teachers wants kids to problem solve, but they need to step up to the plate when that doesn’t work and if they will/can not, we as parents will set up. After learning more about the kids harassing my daughter, I realized that they were not doing well in class and so since she was #1, she was it for them. We worked though that and soon after, they moved on. Can’t annoy a kid who just don’t care.

  20. HannahS*

    Has anyone done a long-term rental through Airbnb? I’ve been looking for apartments, and found a guy who’s renting his condo through them (he’s moved to another country for a short while).

    The way it works is this: he sends the key and contract to Airbnb. I send 1st month’s rent to Airbnb, which they hold while they send me the key/contract and I decide whether to keep the apartment. If I do, they send the money to the guy. If I don’t, I return the key/contract to them and get my money back.

    I can’t tell if this is legit. This will be my first apartment handling contracts on my own, and I don’t know what to think about it.

    1. self employed*

      Never done it, but make sure you read and understand the contract. Maybe have a lawyer friend look it over? It sounds good, in that you can see the place and get out if it’s not a good place.

    2. Natalie*

      How are you sending the money to Airbnb? Are you 100% sure it’s going to them, and are the rules about how/when the money is returned spelled out on their site?

      The reason I ask is that this sounds an awful lot like a common apartment scam.

      1. HannahS*

        I know, right? And I’m skittish, because just last week I was talking with someone and it turned out to be a total scam. I think I want to call Airbnb and see what they say.

        1. Natalie*

          I did find a section of their page called “sublets”, so if find this apartment on that page and go directly through the Airbnb’s website it should be fine. But if he’s directing you somewhere else and claiming that’s Airbnb, I’d walk away.

    3. Sunflower*

      Does Airbnb have a specific info page on this? I know long term rentals on there are fairly common so they should have specific guidelines about it.

      Whatever you do, do NOT send any money through anything other than Airbnb- that is a clear sign of a scam.

    4. Mela*

      This does not sound legit. It sounds like you’re booking a month-long stay through Airbnb, just to get the keys and contract so you can look at the property and then if you keep it, you’ll pay the second month directly to him? And if you pass, you’ll spend 0 nights in the apartment, and then get a refund? Even if that’s what he did, Airbnb has non-refundable fees, so you’d be paying those….

      Why can’t you just view it before deciding? Or book it for a week if you can’t get to a new city before moving?

  21. Sunflower*

    I’m 28 and my mom still buys me a lot of Christmas presents- I would say she probably spend between $1000-$2000 on them. While I’m super grateful, I’m also at the point in my life where with most things I want, I just go out and buy it myself. I’m also really trying to par down on possessions.

    All I really want to do is travel and my travel fund is where I’m putting all of my discretionary income as opposed to buying things. All I really want for Christmas is $$ for flights, airbnb’s/accomodations. But my mom is the type who really likes buying for people and no way she is going to want to give me gift cards/cash. She will also be highly annoyed if I tell her I don’t want ‘things’ and will buy them for me anyway even if I tell her I don’t need them.

    So what should I ask for for Christmas? I don’t have any set travel dates so I can’t ask for her to outright buy the flights for me. I’m thinking a new suitcase and maybe packing cubes (Sidenote- does anyone use these and do they work?) but any other creative ideas?

    1. Jen RO*

      A nice pair of active noise cancelling earbuds? My boyfriend bought his especially for travel, and he is thrilled – he gets on the plane, turns them on, and the world (plane/AC noise, kids, people eating) disappears. He has misophonia so this makes travel much more pleasant for him.

      1. JaneB*

        What about a solar charger and connectors for your gadgets – tell her it’ll help you call home/post pictures on facebook more etc.?

      2. Not Myself Today*

        LOVE those – they are hugely helpful.

        I do use packing cubes (mine are Eagle Creek). I have different colors so I can color code things a bit. My favorite piece is a clean/dirty half cube (it’s split in the middle so you can move pieces from one side to the other and it takes up the same space, but keeps them separated). I also get an enormous amount of use out of Sacs – I even have an XS Sac that I use to move stuff between purses (it holds comb, lipstick, pen, card case, etc.).

        Luggage is also a great idea – the good stuff is expensive! I have a Briggs & Riley rolling bag that I recommend, but it is now just slightly too large to go normally into some overhead bins (there measurements – at least at the time – did not include wheels or handle).

        My current favorite is Red Oxx (all softsided). I have had my Air Boss for 8 years now and it looks like new – although their warranty is fantastic if I ever had a problem. I just bought a new Mini Boss which is a more useful size for me – I’m a big fan of carry-on only travel. Their stuff comes in a dozen colors – some of which are really bright and easy to find – and they just re-opened their custom shop. I bought a XS Aviator bag customized to my specifications for around $100 (total) and I love it. Part of my customization included a slight size tweak that will qualify it as a personal item on any carrier world wide.

        But you asked for other creative ideas, so I’ll pass along a few of my other favorite travel items. I have a great Anker power port that doesn’t require a converter and powers 4 USB cables in a very compact configuration. I also have very short and light charger cables (under 8″ each) to cut down on weight while traveling (for some items, I also have converter tips that will let me charger different items with only a micro cable). There are a lot of great organizer cases to keep your electronics together.

        I still have an electronic translator I received some years ago, and continue to use it (although there are apps for that now – but I’m not always where I can easily connect).

        An annual subscription to a travel evacuation service (I have Global Rescue) or international medical might be an idea.

        International converters, money belts, inflatable pillows, compact travel blankets, a security purse (they make them with cabling in the straps that can’t be easily cut in a slash-grab-and-run), or good travel luggage locks might work.

        Also a towel. ;-)

        1. Not Myself Today*

          Ooh – I forgot one of my favorites, which is a travel tray. Mine is bright yellow (Red Oxx sunflower) and the corners snap together to make a great place to put stuff on the nightstand in the hotel so you don’t lose it (phone, keys, sunglasses, etc.).

    2. LizB*

      Choose whichever of the following you would actually use: neck pillow for the plane, power outlet converters, one of those elastic band grids that can organize anything (I’ll post a link in a reply comment), stylish but ultra comfy walking shoes, stylish but secure purse, high-quality backpacking backpack, guidebooks, Rosetta Stone for learning new languages, a travel journal for organizing plans and making notes while on the trip, TSA pre-check or Global Entry, GoPro or other camera equipment.

        1. lemonjelly*

          Oh man, thanks so much for this idea and link! This is a great gift for a few people on my list this year (and for me too), and they’re doing 30% off on their entire site through Monday so that made it easy to pull the trigger.

    3. Sparkly Librarian*

      Good gifts for travelers on top of what you’ve mentioned: portable chargers, charging cords with multiple types of connector, waterproof camera, personalized luggage tags, passport renewal, TSA Pre, travel wallet, toiletries kit with the TSA-approved containers for liquids and gels, medications like Airborne and Immodium, some of those spacesaving garments that go with everything and can be layered or sometimes are convertible.

    4. self employed*

      LOVE packing cubes! Eagle Creek brand. Do you need a new suitcase? I might still float the idea of a flight gift card in addition to the gifts… What about something specific activities, like people do for honeymoons? Then it’s less abstract than a gift card.

    5. Cam*

      Can you ask for some of the practical stuff that normally you would buy for yourself? That why you can add more money to your travel fund. Bags of your favorite coffee, new socks and undies, cookware upgrade, alcohol, favorite snacks, new sheets or towels?

      1. HannahS*

        Oh, I think that’s a really good idea! It also fits in with the whole paring down on possessions. Like, get rid of all your old sheets and replace with one really nice set that you’ll enjoy.

    6. Natalie*

      Not sure if this would fly in your family or for you personally, but could you ask for things that are easy to return? If you could return for cash you’d obviously have cash for your travel fund, and if store credit it could free up some cash in your budget.

    7. Coraggio*

      What about asking for a voucher for an experience in a country you’ll be travelling to? Tour/fancy restaurant/one night of luxury/adventure activity etc.

    8. Cristina in England*

      Do we have the same mom?? I have been trying to channel her gift giving energy for years, unsuccessfully. I started doing the same, just kind of accepting that she wasn’t going to stop so asking for things that actually wouldn’t create more problems than they solve. I now ask for things I wouldn’t buy for myself because they’re too much of a luxury item, like an expensive concealer instead of a drug store brand (YSL touche éclat to be specific!).

      High end suitcases are a great investment if you travel a lot. Good luck!

      1. Cristina in England*

        Ugh, I meant I had been trying to reduce her gift giving but gave up and decided to channel it. Too much pie.

      2. Cristina in England*

        The other thing I ask for is fancy food items, like really nice chocolates or something like that, so that I will eventually finish it and it won’t take up room on a shelf.

    9. Stellaaaaa*

      This might be a silly question, but do airlines sell gift cards or credits? tbh I’d ask her to upgrade my next flight to first class, just so I could experience that at least once.

      Is there any skincare that you like? Perfume? It’s still “stuff” but you eventually use it up and toss the bottles.

    10. The Expendable Redshirt*

      Gifts from your favourite charity?

      I’m thinking of “Buy a Cow” or “Stock a Medical Clinic” type of situation from World Vision. Or ask her to symbolically adopt/sponsor an animal in your name at the local Humane Society. It’s still a material item that has been purchased and exists in the world.

      I am a minimalist who won’t keep random material items around for no purpose. Asking for non physical symbolic gifts is a strategy that I use. Cuts down on clutter, and genuinely creates warm fuzzy feelings in my heart.

      1. KR*

        For my aunt I usually donate to a charity or sponser something in her name. I also like to find small gifts that benefit other people – there’s this great company that you can buy hats and gloves and accessories from that goes to women in developing countries, teaches them how to knit hats and pays them for it. Sure I’m giving her a 15-20 dollar knit hat but most of the profits went to a woman in India who’s supporting her family knitting these (and hand sewed her name in the inside). Just an idea

        1. The Expendable Redshirt*

          Ooooo yes. Asking for Fair Trade items (such as from Ten Thousand Villages) is a great idea. That may work with her “I like to buy physical gifts for people” habit. The item usually has a back story that people can feel good about.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I do a lot of shifting with my budget.
      So I am thinking can you project what you might need for the upcoming year and have her pick that up? Then the money you save on those items you could put in your travel account.

      In other words, let her buy whatever she is going to buy and you rearrange your budget accordingly.

      Someone gave me some lovely ceiling lights for my house. The money I saved on ceiling fixtures went toward a different repair somewhere else in the house. I often shift things around like that.

    12. Sami*

      Packing cubes- YES! My sister gave me a set for Christmas last year even though I don’t often travel. I didn’t even need them until April and OMG- they’re genius. I’ll never not pack and travel without them.
      It was a simple set of four that she got from Amazon or eBags.

      Also another unique gift is one of those suitcase handle thingies- personalized.

    13. Clever Name*

      I’m 37 and can afford the stuff that I want, in general, and my mom also loves buying a lot of stuff for me. It’s really awkward. I’m feeling pretty glad that I mentioned that we could use 2 more place settings of our wedding China. My mom seemed really excited when I mentioned this.

    14. TIFG*

      Can you get her to focus on a particular trip even if there are no definitive dates yet? I’m similar; my big passion that needs funding is attending geeky conventions. My dad, who is terrible at picking gifts for me, never seemed to understand that that’s what I’d really appreciate gifted to me.

      So, with the help of my mother (they’re divorced but on really good terms), for my last birthday we gave him a list of all the cons I wanted to attend in the next year. He picked one that he would pay for my hotel and con ticket. I’d already bought my ticket so he reimbursed me for that, and got me a real nice hotel when the host hotels went on sale a month later.

      And I made sure he knew how much I enjoyed it. I sent him pictures every day, and wrote him a long email after about it was one of the best cons I ever attended and it never would have happened without his help. I don’t think my dad truly understood how much these trips meant to me until I shared all my gratitude with him for me wonderful trip. So I’m hoping this will get him onboard to continuing to help me with those costs in the future. If you can get your mother involved with funding one trip, and shower her with praise for making it happen, maybe it will turn her around for future trips.

      Just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone in feeling this way but if I was able to turn my stubborn dad around, perhaps you can too! Good luck :)

    15. Mela*

      What about asking her to fund a trip for the two of you to take together? The gift of spending time together?

      If she really needs something physical, packing cubes are 100% required for me. I don’t know what I would do without them now that I have them. Do you hike, or another activity that has gear at Patagonia or REI she can get you? Upgrade your gear? A super light-weight polycarbonate 26″ spinner with 4 wheels go for $300-400 and are amazing. Seconding Pre-Check or Global Entry, Ex-Officio underwear, RFID protective gear. How about a nice camera? They have compact mirrorless ones nowadays if you’re just using it for travel photography

  22. Audiophile*

    Anyone else look forward to one thing as part of the Thanksgiving meal, only to have someone change the recipe?

    For me, it’s Mac and Cheese. For years my mom made it using her own recipe, and my sister stuck to that recipe for a while and then one year decided to experiment and use breadcrumbs. I am not a fan of breadcrumbs on my Mac and Cheese.

    I swear now that my sister knows I don’t like it this way, she purposely cooks it with breadcrumbs. I’m in the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” camp.

    1. copy run start*

      I used to loathe Thanksgiving with relatives when my mom didn’t make the mac and cheese. No one did breadcrumbs (blegh!), but we’d get this poor mac and cheese that was baked to the point of forming a crust of burnt noodles and cheese on top. And because I loved mac and cheese I’d get the first scoops full of the burnt crust from loving relatives. And then have to choke it all down.

      My grandma managed to combine that with clumps of cheese. Like there are noodles, and then big cold globs of cheese. I have no idea how it’s done, and I’ve never seen anyone else manage it. But it is revolting.

      1. LCL*

        Ha. My mom’s mac and cheese always had big globs of cheese. The the way you do this is to be a lazy ass cook, and skip the whole step of making a white/bechamel type sauce, just dump in the cheese and tomato sauce and bake it. The first time I had boxed mac and cheese at a friend’s house I lost my mind over how good it could be.

          1. LCL*

            Yes tomato sauce, I’m not exaggerating, my mom really was and is that bad of a cook. Of course there werent any online resources available in her day, some recipes would have helped.

          2. Panda Bandit*

            I’d consider that an improvement! I don’t like mac and cheese but do like adding tomatoes to things.

          3. Mephyle*

            There are some nice casseroles that include macaroni, tomatoes, and cheese as ingredients, but in my heart I don’t believe in calling something mac and cheese if it includes tomatoes. It is a casserole that is not mac and cheese.

        1. copy run start*


          I am scandalized by this tomato sauce. Is there no milk, just cheese and tomatoes??

          I like to refer to boxed mac and cheese “crap’n cheese.” This in no way diminishes my love for it though!

    2. lawsuited*

      I’m in the “if you want something done your way, do it yourself” camp. If you want breadcrumb-less mac and cheese, tell your sister you’ll bring it next year.

      1. Audiophile*

        Lol that’s not allowed. Very little help is allowed, if any, at all. You can bring brownies, cupcakes, and that’s it.

        1. Audiophile*

          I love bacon, probably more than most people. I’ll take a BLT or grilled cheese with bacon any day.
          But there’s only been one time I had it in mac and cheese that it didn’t taste truly awful. A coworker made it and my spotty memory is telling me it was evenly proportioned throughout in pretty thick slabs.

          My sister’s concoction mostly had the bacon on top, with the clumped breadcrumbs. It didn’t even look like mac and cheese. My mother then let it slip that she had made the way I like it and had only asked my sister to add the cheese.

    3. Nancy B*

      Ugh! I had to scold my radio the other day when the host was talking about interesting twists on traditional Thanksgiving favorites. No creativity with traditional foods, I say.

  23. nep*

    Enjoying a day off and some alone time. I never get alone time during the work week (helping care for a relative’s child in the hours I’m not at work); I take advantage of days like this to catch up on reading, playing my instruments, organising, cleaning. The holidays tend to be that for me anymore, and I dig it.
    Enjoy, all.

    1. Chaordic One*

      You know, when you’re in the right frame of mind, a day off and quiet time alone is just what a person needs.

      Not to be all Debbie Downer, but I find holidays with lots of relatives to often be trying and stressful and really not that enjoyable.

      1. nep*

        I very much enjoy solitude and quiet time; given that I get rather little of it these days, I’m always ready for it.
        I don’t ‘do’ holidays. To each his/her own; I just don’t feel the least bit inclined to partake. It’s precious time and I’m glad I’m in a situation that lets me spend it as I wish.

  24. mousemom*

    Over the weekend, I posted on the open thread asking for advice on how to deal with an estranged relative and whether to attend a Thanksgiving dinner where she would also be in attendance. Thanks to all of you who commented; I appreciated the insights.

    I had decided to go and make the best of the situation, especially so I could see some relatives whom I haven’t seen in several years. However, I woke up this morning with sore throat and fever, so here I am at home. Nothing like having decisions taken out of your hands, right?

    Anyway, happy Thanksgiving to all, and happy almost-weekend to our Canadian friends!

  25. Nella*

    So I decided to put up a humming bird feeder this year. I bought one if those cheap but glass ones from Walmart and went away feeding the birds. After the red batch feed was done in started making some myself. And then I decided to research a bit more about it and found out once you start feeding the you can’t just stop in the winter.

    So now I need to know if there are any heated humming gird feeders out there. I ready do not want to do a DIY thing. I can’t find much online about it. Do people do that sort of thing. We really don’t get much freezing but we do get lots of rain so it’s much coolder feeling then just plain old freeze.

    1. KarenK*

      We feed the hummingbirds in the summer, but in my region(southern Maine), they show up in late spring and take off some time in late August, early September. We usually keep the feeder out until the end of September for the stragglers migrating. We don’t keep the feeder up all winter, as they’ve all gone south.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Check the migration habits of the birds. Here, they go away for the winter. While other birds can benefit from heated bird baths, the humming birds are no where in sight. So we don’t try to use humming bird feeders in the winter.

      1. Nella*

        The ones by my house are still here. I have seen them at my feeder maybe a dozen times this week. They have even gone out in the rain, so I am guessing they are staying for the winter.

    3. Natalie*

      This is just a funny unrelated bird feeder story: we have a bunch of seed feeders, and yesterday my husband heard a bunch of thunks on the window. All of the birds were flying away as fast as they could. The culprit turned out to be a red-tailed hawk that apparently thought the bird feeders were a bird-feeder.

  26. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Y’all, I have apparently become one of those people who protests vociferously when a family member tries to change the traditional family Thanksgiving menu. My mom and I have been squabbling all week about her insistence that mashed potatoes aren’t an integral part of the menu (they are), and she has been attempting to make all sorts of other menu innovations that seem like an Attack On Thanksgiving to me (including hinting heavily that no one should be eating carbs because she’s not eating many carbs).

    I had no idea I had such strong feelings about tradition but I appear to have lost my mind over this and am prepared to go to the mattresses.

    1. edj3*

      I overheard a conversation in the airport on Sunday-a mother and her two adult daughters in a fairly civil argument about Christmas, Christmas traditions and the proper way Things Must Be Done. Sounds like what you and your mom are doing w/ Thanksgiving.

      Good luck, my money’s on you and the mashed potatoes.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*


      This sounds like when my mother wanted to make latkes with PAM instead of oil. They were GRAY. Your diet does not mean I suffer, lady.

    3. KarenT*

      I feel you. The year my mother decided to make some sort of lime cranberry sauce instead of traditional cranberry sauce, all hell broke loose. While the sauce was actually delicious, it’s never been seen or spoken of since.

      1. Drew*

        OMG that sounds fantastic. I love regular cranberry sauce but I am accepting of variations and I’ve had a couple of cranberry-orange-nut sauces that were BOMB — lime-cranberry sounds like a really bright version that I’d love to try.

        I’m so sorry that the first attempt was met with such resistance that your mom never tried again.

    4. Rahera*

      :)))) a similar conversation takes place in my house (in NZ) roughly twice every year, in about October and then in November, when my mother claims she is not going to make the Christmas pudding this year. It’s reached the stage where I just say ‘well I’LL make it then.’ :D I’d be quite willing to follow through on this declaration of intent but somehow the pudding turns up. And then the next traditional conversation takes place, ie about how much brandy is going in the brandy butter :D.

    5. Persephone Mulberry*

      You want War on Thanksgiving? Try this on for size.

      We traditionally host my in-laws but due to unexpected health issues we handed off hosting to my MIL this year…and she announced that for efficiency’s sake she was going to roast the turkey on Wednesday and reheat it today.

      I bit my tongue but I can’t even.

        1. OhBehave*

          I’ve done this and it works wonderfully. Carve the turkey and reheat in a crock pot and you will never know the difference.

    6. lawsuited*

      Yep, from time to time my mum tries to do this, often to include a trendy side dish she’s seen in a food and drink magazine. .

      Mum: So, I’m thinking I won’t make mashed potatoes this year.
      Me: Okay, no problem, I’ll make them.
      Mum: No, I’m saying I don’t think we need mashed potatoes at all this year.
      Me: Okay, no problem, I’ll make them.
      Mum: Not everyone eats mashed potatoes and we always have left overs!
      Me: Okay, no problem, I’ll make them.

      1. Natalie*

        Who doesn’t like leftover mashed potatoes anyway? They are so versatile! Fry like hash browns for breakfast, use as the top of a shepherd’s pie, make into baked potato soup, I’m sure there are more…

        1. MsChandandlerBong*

          I hate leftover mashed potatoes. They just taste off to me. I don’t even like mashed potatoes that have sat in the pot for half an hour; if they’re not hot and fresh out of the serving bowl, I don’t like them!

          1. Natalie*

            They’re weird if you reheat them as just mashed potatoes. Try nakedness potato soup if you haven’t: heat the leftover mashed potatoes with chicken or veg broth until soup consistency. Top with bacon, cheese, chives, etc.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This would be my strategy right here, it’s sort of deafness combined with stubbornness.

        I’d show up with the potatoes then the REAL problem bubbles to the surface. The real problem is that if there are potatoes on the table your mother is afraid she will eat them, Alison. That is the core issue, I would bet on it.

    7. Sparkly Librarian*

      Back when I was still in high school, my mom tried to shake things up with a breakfast casserole on Christmas morning. It included (I think) hash browns (yum! but not with other stuff) and sausage meat (ick), and was bound together with beaten egg (sorry, don’t eat that). And that was a complete meal, so it was that or nothing. Maybe some fruit on the side. I was so hungry by the time we were done with presents. And such a teenager. And I CRIED at the breakfast table.

      So that led to a new tradition: my sister and I make Christmas brunch. Usually it’s some form of fried potatoes ‘n’ onions, bacon, eggs (they eat them scrambled; I don’t have any), and bagels with cream cheese and lox. Fruit or fruit juice, coffee for those who partake. We are all much happier. And if my mom is dying to have blintzes, she pulls a couple from the Costco box in the freezer and we make those for her.

    8. Red*

      I am the same way! I’m a vegetarian and only eat the sides, so don’t mess with the sides! I’ll even bring them myself if need be, but mashed potatoes and stuffing will be there. That’s not even negotiable.

    9. Natalie*

      I grew up with a lot of families so I don’t have one particular Thanksgiving menu in my mind, but no mashed potatoes? What kind of nonsense is that?

    10. Cath in Canada*

      As an immigrant, what I really love about (Canadian) Thanksgiving is that I have no family traditions to compare things to. At Christmas I sometimes feel a little sad and far from home if my in-laws do something very different to what my own family do, but Thanksgiving? Blank slate, bring it on, I don’t even need turkey.

    11. Cristina in England*

      Agreed, mashed potatoes or it isn’t Thanksgiving!

      Is “going to the mattresses” a Thanksgiving variation of “going to the mat”? As in, “I meant to go to the mat for this but I ate too much pie and so I went to the mattresses instead”? ;-)

      1. Rebecca*

        I suspect it might have been a nod to the Godfather movies. “going to the mattresses” was the gangster’s way of setting up to fight another gangster family. I seem to remember this scene in one of the movies…a bunch of them would put mattresses in a room to sleep on.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        “Going to the mattresses” is from The Godfather, and it means preparing for all-out war. Which is what I’ll do if anyone tries to take the mashed potatoes out of my Thanksgiving. Also, I’ll burn the building down (Office Space).

        1. EmmaLou*

          and I recognized it from “You’ve Got Mail.” (and therefore, The Godfather). The burning question though… did you get your mashed potatoes?! They are a must-have at our house. Turkey, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, mom’s cranberry salad. Other things may come and go but those are Tradition and Required.

    12. neverjaunty*

      Are you my long-lost fourth child? Because my kids are exactly like this, even about food THEY DO NOT LIKE. And they’re grown-ass adults.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Well, maybe she’s tired of the same thing all the time, especially if she does most of the cooking.

      I got super tired of the traditional turkey dinner at TG and Christmas right after it–plus I don’t like turkey that much. I’ve been begging my mum for YEARS to change it. Last time we did Christmas (my family alternates), my mum made roast for the Christmas Eve dinner and ham for the Christmas Day dinner. I was ecstatic and went waaay overboard praising the dinner, especially the ham one, which had like only two traditional foods. OMG it was so good, really.

      Maybe you guys could make a new tradition. Have a few of the old things and try some new things every year?

    14. Franzia Spritzer*

      My mother is a diet fad follower, she’s always twiddled the holiday meal menus to make them more “healthful”, now every single thing has cranberries sprinkled in, there are no carbs or sugar, gluten (she does not have a gluten intolerance), salt, dairy or animal (she is not vegan). Fortunately I’m a million miles away and can’t make it home for the holidays, so I’m off the hook for making an alternate meal every one else will enjoy.

      My spouse and I have our annual chili cook-off on Thanksgiving as a way to have fun and eschew all of the family weirdness that surrounds the territory of traditional foods. I actually really love big traditional meals, but it’s just the two of us and it doesn’t make sense for us to spend days cooking and baking, so chili it is.

    15. Rebecca*

      My mom is the food police, personified. We’re having our meal tomorrow. I am going over early to help get things ready and to make the filling, cole slaw, and make sure she doesn’t take the skin off the turkey. I’m also going to make the gravy. If left to her own devices, Mom would use fat free chicken broth to make the filling (instead of butter), the cole slaw would be made with fake mayo and skimmed milk, and the gravy would be watery fatless flavorless light tan liquid with no salt or pepper. She also uses some sort of margarine that I swear is made from plastic.

      OK, I get wanting to eat healthy. BUT this is one meal per year. It should taste good! I’m bringing along real butter, as well as extra salt and pepper because the fancy salt and pepper shakers she insists on using dispense a few grains of salt, max, and gets clogged.

      And don’t get me started on the fake cookies. Once she made “chocolate chip cookies”, except she substituted carob chips for chocolate chips, prune paste for much of the butter, and then used that plastic stuff for the rest, whole wheat flour, no salt, and egg whites. They were the worst psuedo cookies I ever ate. Ugh.

      I love my mother, I truly do, but I refuse to eat horrible nasty food all under the guise of “being healthy”. What is the point?

      1. Aurion*

        I know someone who is actually very talented at making healthy food substitutions. She made a chocolate mousse pie that was delicious, except it was made from–I shit you not–tofu. Yeah, I’ve no idea either.

        But frankly, I just go with eating the original stuff very rarely and not worry about healthy substitutions.

        1. EmmaLou*

          It’s definitely in the making. We had a tofu pie at a friends’ and she kept saying, “You can’t even tell, can you?” and, yes, we could. It was not good at all. We like tofu, mind you. This was not a happy pie.

      2. OhBehave*

        My MIL is the same way. We all got together yesterday for family birthdays and to celebrate Thanksgiving. My MIL made spinach dip. I LOVE spinach dip. My SIL and I took a bite and grimaced. “What’s wrong with the dip?”, she says. “I think she used fat free everything.” We warned those who spooned it onto their plates. Needless to say she had a lot of dip left!

        She’s also been known to buy reduced fat Oreo’s. SERIOUSLY? I’ll eat a cardboard box before we eat those.

    16. Jen*

      My grandfather always used to make the turkey dinners for Thanksgiving and Christmas. So so yummy. He was pretty famous (locally) for his turkey dinners. (In addition to the holidays, he would regularly make turkey dinners throughout the year as part of his work in the community.)

      Near the end of his life, he started changing up the recipe. Adding new ingredients and flavours that really didn’t work. It was actually one of the first ways we realised he was suffering from dementia. :(

    17. bon-bons for all!*

      One year, a friend of mine accepted an invitation to Thanksgiving. It wasn’t until everyone was at the table and food started coming out of the kitchen that the host said, “We’re doing an Atkins Thanksgiving, hope no one minds!” Absolutely no carbs- potatoes, biscuits, mac and cheese- just lots and lots of turkey with some greens. My friend said everyone was shell shocked and a bit traumatized.

    18. ginger ale for all*

      I went to my brother’s for Thanksgiving and there was no mashed potatoes. I was mollified by the fact that his mother in law made my favorite family recipe of bourbon sweet potato casserole.

    19. Sled dog mama*

      Yeah, my mom suggested that she might not have time to make her signature biscuits this year. Fortunately she was reasonable when I reminded her of the near riot last time she wanted to change the menu.

    20. Manderley*

      I love your mom! I, too, would like to reduce the card load at holidays (or at lease increase the non carby options) and only my mom (a diabetic) is on my side. The traditional menu is sacred to the rest of the family.

      1. Manderley*

        Also, we never have mashed potatoes, just sweet. Not sure I get having two types of potato at the same meal.

    21. OhBehave*

      AAM, this is hilarious! We have had the very same issues.

      YES, we are having green bean casserole.
      YES, we are using the recipe on the can of green beans, not some artsy-fartsy homemade mushroom soup and fresh beans.

      What a small world we all live in when we unite under a common revolution!

  27. Elle*

    I would like to share that I am excited to be playing the piano again! My kids don’t need me as much anymore (they’re 17 and 20), so I’m jumping into this next stage of life with both feet! I haven’t played since I was 16, which is about 30 years ago, so I was a little afraid of how I would do, but I was pleasantly surprised. I had forgotten how utterly happy I feel when I play.

    1. Rahera*

      Fantastic! It’s wonderful to learn an instrunent, and taking an instrument up again is really wonderful. :)

  28. KarenT*

    AAM knitters! Anyone have an online pattern for a baby blanket? Pattern needs to be easy, and hopefully fast. My best friend is pregnant, so I want to knit her a blanket but I’ve procrastinated so am hoping to churn one out quick!

    1. Mephyle*

      Have you joined Ravelry? The number of patterns at that website is nearly infinite and you can search using keywords (like “baby, blanket, free, fast”).

    2. Ihmmy*

      seconding the suggestion for ravelry, also if you crochet that tends to make a blanket faster than knitting does (for me anyway!). Worst case, get some pretty variegated yarn and make a simple knit purl style rectangle and put a pretty border on it.

    3. Cristina in England*

      Thirding Ravelry. Also, search for one with bigger needles and thicker yarn, and it will go much faster! In the pattern search you can specify this.

    4. ljs_lj*

      Knitty is also a good resource – I’ve made two baby blankets in recent years and one was a pattern from knitty. The instructions are generally well-written and there are lots of pictures to see the patterns done in different colors, etc.

    5. MegKnits*

      Ravelry is awesome but can be a little intimidating if you haven’t used it much. Here are a few suggestions

      I knit this up fairly quickly and looked super cute.

      Also knit this one. It is quite narrow, but pretty cute. I did it in a black/white combo which was differend

      Haven’t tried this one, but I have it bookmarked in my library

      Hope this helps!

    6. E*

      I’m particular to the Baby Love Diagonal Baby Blanket pattern on Ravelry. I’ve made it a few times, it’s easy and for a beginner level knitter like me. Since it’s a basic pattern, I didn’t get lost if I had to stop mid-row, but it looks so fancy being done on the diagonal.

  29. Soupspoon McGee*

    Oh f&#$ my foot! The update: I have a Jones fracture of my left foot. It’s a break along the fifth metatarsal (the long bone that connects the pinky toe to the ankle bits). It was a stress fracture, but I kept walking on it because the x-ray didn’t show a fracture. Then I stepped on laundry and heard a pop. I’m in a cast and using crutches and a knee scooter, which I learned about from Alison’s foot adventures (so thanks!).

    Any tips on using crutches? The videos make it look so easy, but my armpits are bruised, and I’ve discovered new muscles in my back and shoulders.

    1. rubyrose*

      Expert here – I’ve been crutches for a total of 3 years.

      First off, if you are resting your armpits on the crutches and/or they are touching your armpits, they need to be shortened. When walking your armpits should not be touching the crutches, let alone putting weight on them. All of your weight should be on your arms, not the pits.

      It is probably too late for this, but the crutches they normally give you are not as good as the forearm crutches. Those are the ones where the arm cuff hits your arm somewhere between your wrist and your elbow. Forearm crutches are easier to maneuver. They are also more expensive than the regular ones, but they prevent wrist strain. If you are going to be on them for a while, see if you can get the forearms.

      Sooner or later your hands may become raw or painful. Put some padding on the handles. Wearing bike gloves also helps.

      Some of what I did was to plan what needed to be where, so I was not constantly up and down on them. Put two liter bottles of water beside your bed and places you sit in the living room. I found that wearing a messenger bag around my waist helped me transfer items from one place to another in fewer trips.

      The back and shoulder muscles – they will toughen up over time. Be sure you us any pain or inflammatory relief aids you have.

      1. Soupspoon McGee*

        Thanks! I bruised up on the first day, leaning on one crutch while I was standing/hopping to do something.

        How on earth do you carry things? I have a messenger bag for non-messy things, but I tried and failed to make a sandwich and coffee. I just guzzled it black at the counter because it was too hard to carry almond milk back and forth or carry the cup.

        1. Schmitt (in Germany)*

          Aw, Soupspoon. You don’t. I nearly cried the first time I was able to use one crutch and awkwardly hop with my coffee into the living room. I did put food in a plastic tub to transport between rooms, but coffee’s pretty awkward.

          That said, I stuck a whole lot of stuff in the waistband of my pants during those months.

        2. rubyrose*

          As to liquids – put them in whatever airtight bottle or thermos that you have and put that in the messenger bag.

          Food – time to invest in some Tupperware/Rubbermaid containers with lids. Check out Sistema (can be found on Amazon) – they have some wonderful pieces where the lid can be vented while in the microwave but then closed afterward for transport. Putting these in the messenger bag and transporting may be tricky, depending on the shape of the container, but can be done for short distances. Some of these pieces are airtight, while others are close but not 100%. Using the messenger bag for this does require some cautious experimentation. You will find that some containers are more easily transported. Just make sure that bag is hanging in front of you, so it can swing away from your body when you are putting your crutches in front of you.

          You may want to have two messenger bags (one messy, one not), but I bet if you experiment enough one will suffice. You will also want to take this to work. That is how I retrieved items from the printer and got them back to my desk, got mail from my box to my apartment, transported books, did my shopping. Yes, I felt strange at the store putting my items in it, taking it to the checkout, and having the clerk remove them only to put them back in. But it worked.

          As to your regular purse (assuming you are a woman) – only carry the bare minimum you need, put those items in a small shoulder bag that hopefully fits into the messenger.

          Oh yes – if you have any qualms about using the electric scooters in stores, get over it. They are one way to save your body and you need to do that. You might also want to look at grocery delivery services.

        3. JMegan*

          Travel coffee mugs. The Starbucks ones in particular are amazing – expensive, but they actually are leakproof enough that you can put them in a backpack or whatever you’re carrying, and they don’t spill. I mean, you may want to test it over your sink with water first, but they do work!

          Sorry to hear about the crutches, that sounds like both a literal and metaphorical pain.

          1. JMegan*

            Oh! And the large Ziploc bags are a lifesaver. I have little kids, so I use those for carrying and storing all kinds of things!

        4. Elizabeth West*

          Can you get a basket for the front of the scooter? A medical supply rental might have one, or you can maybe fasten a bike basket on it with cable ties. That should let you carry non-messy things. If you have a table in your kitchen with a chair, I’d make my food and sit there and eat it. Or get people to carry stuff for you if there is someone around.

          Cups with tops, too. Like travel cups.

          1. Windchime*

            I was on a knee scooter for 6 weeks when I had surgery on my ankle a couple of years ago. My scooter had a basket on the front. Actually, because I live in a two-level house, I had two knee scooters. One downstairs and one upstairs. I would crawl up the stairs with a backpack. Good times!

            I think I could do a cup of tea with the knee scooter, but if I was using crutches I would do a travel mug. I only used crutches infrequently because it was just so awkward. I watched lots of videos about using crutches but honestly I never could get the knack of it.

            1. Soupspoon McGee*

              I’m thinking of getting a second knee scooter so I have one for work and one for home. I’m crawling up stairs and scooting back down on my butt. I can carry things (awkwardly) with the scooter, but not with crutches.

              Incidentally, the dog is afraid of the scooter and the crutches, but the cat is oblivious and tries to hop on for a ride.

      2. Searching*

        One of my kids used forearm crutches too after several surgeries, and we used pipe insulation to pad the handles. Really cheap at the hardware store and has a pre-glued edge.

        Also, if you live in a snowy/icy area, get some ice spikes to attach to the tips of your crutches (“Ice Grip Cane/Crutch Attachment “). They flip up when you don’t need them. Not too expensive at Amazon – just realize that they are packaged as singles and not as pairs (don’t ask me how I know).

    2. Franzia Spritzer*

      I am here to reaffirm the majesty that is the lidded travel cup and using sealable containers for getting around with foodstuffs, and I used a backpack (It’s what I had) to move things around. I spent a lot of time scooting around my place on my butt pushing or pulling tubs of stuff around.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      omg. I am so sorry. Just in general for anyone reading, something pops like that and the pain does not settle down, please get it checked. I have heard a vertebrae pop (in another person’s back, not mine) and, yep, it was broken. What caught my attention is that it is not always a big pop, it can be a small noise not even on a par with knuckle cracking sounds.

      OP, I am glad you got this checked out, but I am sorry it’s worked into such a huge thing and just in time for the holidays. That sucks, I hope the pain goes down and you get more comfortable with the crutches soon.

      1. Mimmy*

        Ohhhh that can’t be good! During our bubbleball game this morning, my sister said she heard something pop in her neck – she’s been dealing with a torn disk for some time. I hope she gets it checked out when she goes back home (we’re all at another sister’s house until Saturday).

    1. Elizabeth West*

      DOING IT :) I went to Walmart yesterday and told the cashier I was not coming back in tomorrow and she looked at me like 0_0 and said, “THANK YOU.”

      Not going to any store today. Or tomorrow, for that matter.

    2. Cristina in England*

      Going into shops tomorrow (I assume you meant Black Friday?) sounds like a nightmare to me, but I am looking for a new vacuum cleaner so I am happy that the BF sales have caught on over here (especially online).

      1. AshK434*

        Not the OP but she could’ve meant Thursday (though I’ve never heard the phrase Black Thursday before). Most stores in the US start their Black Friday sales on Thursday evening.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I always celebrate Buy Nothing Day; we usually just sit around the house chatting with family anyway, or go for a walk if we’re uncomfortably stuffed. But I may venture out Saturday to try to take advantage of some sale prices, but on small price reductions on big-ticket items that we were going to buy soon anyway, not on door-buster items with huge price reductions and a very limited number on offer.

    4. Melody Pond*

      Yay! And I successfully made it through the day without going to any stores, anywhere! (it’s close enough to the end of the day, and I’m now home and in jammies, so I’m going to call it mission accomplished)

  30. A.C. Stefano*

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

    I got a contract from the publisher! I haven’t signed it yet, I asked a lawyer friend to look over it just to be sure. But, yeah, I think I’m getting published. O.O

  31. Riverosprite*

    Husband and I don’t do Thanksgiving but are delighting in having the day off together. Last night, we decided we would get some work done around the house. Instead, we are marathoning the first season of Sleepy Hollow. Priorities.

    Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating. Happy day to those who don’t. And if you are participating in NatNoWriMo….good luck in the final stretch!

  32. Cristina in England*

    Americans abroad, what did you do today?

    Last year I was pregnant and in a hotel on Thanksgiving because we had builders in, so we went out to a Wetherspoons for Thanksgiving lunch and they already had their Christmas menu on so we had a full Christmas dinner, which is nearly the same as a Thanksgiving dinner.

    This year we planned to do the same but unfortunately our local pub won’t have their Christmas menu on until December so I had a steak pie instead, whoops. But I did have mashed potatoes! (See upthread) We could have walked to a Wetherspoons instead of our local but it was freezing and we didn’t want to spend the extra forty minutes outside.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Good on you, giving money to your local instead of the chain. :) I wish I were there instead of here. *sigh* My cousin in Ireland keeps posting beautiful pics and I NEED to make it over to see her next visit. I haven’t seen her in 30 years!

      Missing People retweeted a tweet about a fundraising Christmas concert at St. James Piccadilly in London, and I was happy to see that. I went to a tag sale at that church last spring–it’s right down the street from Fortnum & Mason! London is so huge that I get really excited when I know where something is. :)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Me too! I’ve never been to Ireland. My mum is going to London next month to visit her sister (my auntie) and I’m really jealous. Winter is the only time I haven’t been. I WANT TO GOOOOOOOOO

  33. neverjaunty*

    If I had to pick a day for my oven to lose its freaking mind, it would not have been today :(

    Luckily I made the pie first. I can always microwave turkey, but you can’t mess with pie.

    1. T3k*

      Ah, Murphy’s law, always striking around the holidays. We had a similar incident last xmas (and the one before that) where the oven just randomly decided to not warm up. First time, ended up having to cook the dish in a neighbor’s house, second time it thankfully started working after I turned it off, let it rest, then start up again. Otherwise, would have ran to the neighbor again xD

    2. Searching*

      Oh that brings back memories of the first Thanksgiving in our new house! We also had to finish off the turkey in the microwave. Luckily it was not a full bird.

  34. Drew*

    Thankful for this community today and every day. I didn’t think I needed it when I started reading but the underlying principles have come in so handy in some of the challenges of my job. There’s also some value in knowing that when I’m frustrated, it could be so much worse; no one has asked me to donate my liver so far this year, after all.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Amen on all points.

      Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories and your perspectives. My life is richer.

      And thank you, Alison for your endless patience and efforts.

  35. Calcifer*

    Anyone with Lyme’s Disease? I was just diagnosed last week after being bit 5 years ago. I’m 29 years old and body feels like it’s aged another 40. How do y’all get through the day?

    1. Cristina in England*

      I haven’t had Lyme Disease myself but just found out a good friend had it and so I feel for you, especially if you have had it for five years! It took him a year to get diagnosed and he is from Connecticut, where it got its name (it is named after the town of Lyme, Connecticut). Contrary to what some say, it is treatable, permanently! He said he felt much better after two weeks on antibiotics, so if you got prescribed last week, hopefully you only have a new more days before you feel a difference. Good luck and speedy recovery!

    2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      All my sympathies. It took a dear friend about twenty years to get diagnosed and that only happened because she and I were brainstorming around the time I read more background on how Lyme is treated, and she took it to her bewildered doctors. It’s been so long that it’s seriously affected her health so her days are incredibly hard :( I hope yours hasn’t progressed as far as hers (organs are affected and so on) and can be prevented from going that route.

      As a chronic pain sufferer which can have some similar symptoms (feeling like I was 80 in my 20s from how creaky and swollen my joints were all the time), part of the coping was learning to ignore the “minor” aches and keep in motion. Literally and metaphorically. As long as I was moving along with my day and life, keeping busy meant my body got the exercise it needed and kept my mind from dwelling on the pain and exhaustion. Get as much good nutritious food in you as is comfortable and make sure you have good support around you for the really hard days when you can’t leave the bed or brush your teeth.

  36. Mimmy*

    My family and I played something today called Bubbleball Soccer. You put on an inflatable clear plastic ball. It straps on like a backpack and you have handles to hold onto while running. It’s fun but very tiring. I got knocked down a few times and bruised my knees YET AGAIN! Also, I think my bubble was bit too big because my straps kept falling. Starting to feel achy – and we have Thanksgiving dinner in a couple hours. We all had a blast but I’m sure we’re all going to be unable to move in the morning.

    My sisters got video and pictures — can’t wait to see those.

  37. katamia*

    Anyone have any suggestions for French-language movies, TV shows, or webseries? I have a hard time sitting and watching things in general (ADHD) and usually tend to prefer very campy/loud movies and TV shows (think Xena and Bollywood), which is…not how one would describe most French movies. I’m trying to relearn French (formerly fluent, extremely rusty now) and cultural materials are really one of the best ways to learn/practice, but I can’t find anything I can sit through. I’m also really not a mystery fan, so I can’t do Maigret or a similar series.

    1. Franzia Spritzer*

      Celine & Julie Go Boating, is pretty great, it’s a 1974 Jacques Rivette film, it’s totally absurd and fantastic; and available to watch on youtube.

      The National Film Board of Canada has a youtube channel, their French language sister, ONF has it’s own channel and there is LOTS of great stuff there.

    2. Weekday Warrior*

      You could try movies with Pierre Richard. Broad slapstick humour. I remember ‘Le Jouet’ as very funny – remade in English as ‘The Toy’.

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      The Dreamers is one of my favorite movies. It’s Bertolucci; not for the faint of heart. It’s half in in English, half in French with subtitles.

    4. Sorgatani*

      I really enjoyed the movie “The Intouchables” – it’s a comedy that is loosely based on a true story.
      I’m having trouble describing it, but it left me with a warm fuzzy feeling. I was laughing with the characters, not at them.

      I also enjoyed the Les Miserables miniseries with Gerard Depardieu, but it does not sound like what you’re looking for.

    5. Hattie McDoogal*

      I have a soft spot for the movie”Wasabi”, a silly police comedy with Jean Reno, and in high school my friends and I were pretty fond of “Les Boys”, which is a Quebecois comedy about a hockey team.

      How do you feel about documentaries? “Jodorowsky’s Dune” and “Man on Wire” both had large portions in French (and I managed, for both of them, to only find versions without subtitles, so that was a fun test of my rusty French (and German, and Spanish…)).

      1. katamia*


        Unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of documentaries, either–my focus issues make them difficult, so I’d usually rather just read a nonfiction book.

    6. Maya Elena*

      Recent-ish movies (recent is broadly defined)

      -Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis – a comedy basically untranslatable to English
      -On connait la chanson – Plot is okay, but there are a LOT of much-beloved French songs intertwined into the dialogue
      -Camping-dumb comedy. If Trailer Park Boys is your thing, this is more for you…

      -Pierre Richard comedies, e.g. Le Jouet.
      -La cage aux folles – the original of which the American “Bird Cage” is a remake (I like the remake way more though)

    7. E, F and G*

      I’m not sure how useful this will be but I spent a few years in love with a french talkshow from Quebec. I have no idea what it was called but I kept stumbling across it on what I think was Friday nights.

      All I can remember now is that it had a section where the guests seemed to play pictionary. I liked it because the language level was fairly simple, the conversations were more real then what many television shows had (and so many of the television shows were englished dubbed. I don’t love those,) and there was a lot of variation in what was happened each show. So maybe see what different talk shows are out there.

      And yes, it is a stupid funny movie and fairly old now but Le diner de cons makes me laugh.

  38. Not Karen*

    Ideas for a small, neutral gift under $5? A group of friends and I are doing a gift exchange for Christmas. No food, as many of them have allergies and/or dietary preferences. I thought I’d scout here before the numerous kitschy shops in town.

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      I’m a huge fan of the Bath & Body Works candles in “Leaves.” It’s a really autumnal scent that’s a bit different. You can get the mini ones for $4.50.

      It’s not kitschy or even cool but it’s an easy thing to give.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          Have you tried Wine Cellar? It’s my latest discovery. Ruby berries, oak woods, and musky spice. Autumnal!!! Total sleeper hit!!!

    2. rubyrose*

      I know you said no food…. but what about a really nice seasoning like a gourmet salt you would find at Penzeys or the Savory Spice Shop?

    3. LadyKelvin*

      I usually get a copy of Charlie Brown’s Christmas for grab-bags. And some playdough, because why not. Its such a classic and most people don’t own a copy. We have almost every Charlie Brown holiday video and I make us watch them each holiday.

    4. Natalie*

      I’m not 100% sure what neutral means in this context, but if Christmas themed isn’t an issue I got a funny Christmas puffy sticker thing at Patina for an internet Secret Santa.

      Refrigerator magnets are usually under $5.

      Notecards, if y’all are the type to write thank you notes and what not.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      kitchen gadget?
      pocket calendar
      pocket calculator
      tiny potted plant?

      If the group has a shared joke, maybe something that references that joke. (only if you know it will go over well, if unsure then skip this one)

      You could go to a place like Tractor Supply and look for a winter time gift such as an ice scraper for the car or gloves. Some times you can catch a neat seasonal (meaning wintery or summery etc) decorative item there or a modest price.

    6. Maya Elena*

      Search “credit card knife”. Maybe get a nickel from the person who gets the gift, since knives as gifts are frowned upon in superstition. But it’s a nice and (IMO) unisex gift that may actually be useful and, if I may say so, is a bit bad-ass. Or look for a credit card multi-tool, if you don’t like knives.

  39. rubyrose*

    Shout out to Pennalynn Lott – my Bee Bar order showed up yesterday and I just opened it. I love it! Got the two different sizes of Bee Bar, two lip glosses, and the Bee Butter. Thanks for the recommendation.

  40. KR*

    I just got married last week and people won’t stop talking to me about it. My partner also surprised me with a diamond and I’m grateful that he did but I’m also not used to wearing jewelry and it sticks way up from my finger so it’ll take some getting used to. Everyone always wants to see the ring and badgers me for photos and I’m just not up for telling everyone about it. I didn’t invite anyone to my wedding for a reason: because I wanted to have it be a private moment between my partner and I. I’m still the same person and I’m sick of it being all people ask me about. Mostly I just want everyone to back off.

      1. HannahS*

        It doesn’t sound like a humblebrag to me. I’m sure it’ll die down soon, KR, especially since you’re probably not gushing about the details.

        1. KR*

          Thats so comforting. And no its not a humblebrag, it’s really anxiety inducing. I can see how it might seem like one though.

    1. Sorgatani*

      Maybe if you make your answer bland enough, they’ll stop asking. You could also immediately change the subject. Etiquette Hell calls that “bean-dipping” – as in, ‘how about that bean dip?’

      Sounds like your ring is a high setting like mine. I like to joke that the fella got it for me so he wouldn’t have to share the Pringles. It’s beautiful, but even after a few years, it still catches on pockets.

      I wish you both all the best.

      1. KR*

        That’s my current plan. My brother kept asking me about it during the family get together today and I just kept repeating “Can we talk about this another time?” And “I don’t want to talk about this right now.”. My plan is to rinse and repeat until people stop asking.

    2. Natalie*

      You really don’t have to gush about it or share photos or whatever. I didn’t want to talk about my wedding a ton, just because I found it boring. I had one anecdote I used on everyone – “Oh, yes, it was nice. Suuuuper hot, though! [My husband] discarded his jacket the second the photos were done. Anyway, how are things with you?” In my experience, a short, friendly response ended the topic faster than refusing to engage in the topic at all. No one pressed for more stories.

      If you really, really don’t want to share any anecdotes, I’ve heard a ton of people say some variation on “it went so fast/it was all a blur/it’s over before you know it”. I think a polite “it was nice” plus one of those versions of “I have nothing to add” could work for you.

      As far as photos, if you want a white lie photos usually take a long time. My photographer was fast (family friend) and it still took 4 weeks.

      1. Natalie*

        Since you mentioned above it’s anxiety inducing, that’s probably why this feels really hard and invasive. Totally understandable. This sounds cheesy af, but practice a couple of polite+detail+subject change responses with someone. Seriously, it helps so much.

      2. KR*

        Oooh I like this idea about the photos. My nana was borderline pouting because I didn’t have photos with me and I told her I would get her pictures when I could but I didn’t have them right now and I didn’t want to talk about it. I have all the pictures on a disc, I’m just busy and don’t want to get them printed right now.
        I’ve been trying to go with “Oh it wasn’t anything special. It was quick and private. ” when people ask about it. I should probably just find one low pressure anecdote and stick to that one.

        1. Natalie*

          It might also help to change the subject rather than explicitly saying you don’t want to talk about it. People sometimes hear “I don’t want to talk about it” as it being a big deal or there being some kind of drama. It’s obnoxious, but it’s just how some folks are. The “bean-dipping” concept above is good. You just ask about a different thing or comment on something else.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Getting married is a huge step in life and probably they are trying to share it with you. In other words they would tell you ALL ABOUT THEIR wedding.

      I only had a church service because my husband said we would suffer indefinitely if we did not. So I said things like “It’s a private moment for me.” and “I am not big on large celebrations.” I felt bad about some people who I was very close with so I would add, “The introvert in me does not think the hoopla is fun.” That seems to resonate with people who really knew me.

    4. Nicole*

      I stopped wearing my engagement ring because it rotating and catching on things was just too annoying. Now I just wear my wedding band and even then I take that off unless I’m leaving the house because I find wearing jewelry uncomfortable.

      1. KR*

        I think I’ll probably stop wearing mine a lot once the newlywedness wears off. I like my wedding band a lot better since me and him picked it out together

  41. Nk*

    Rant: My grandmother died two weeks ago. She did not liked me (I was told so by her and by other relatives). I fully paid for her funeral because relatives she liked did not want to. I’m angry because I did not get to spend my money on people I like (my kids). End of rant.

    1. Drew*

      Jedi hugs, Nk. If it is any comfort (probably not), you now know for damn sure what kind of people your relatives are — they wouldn’t even chip in for the funeral of a grandmother who loved and liked them. Keep that in mind when they make demands on you in the future.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh boy, you nailed that one on the head, Drew.

        Small consolation but many times it is the one who is liked the least who becomes the family workhorse. Everyone dumps on that one person.

        OP, while I could almost cry because I know what that upset is, I also know that you will be rewarded later on. Call it karma or whatever. And right,you did not do it for karma, I understand. The times in life we take the high road does come back around and treat us well. And no, payback does not come from the people who “owe” us, it comes from other random good people out there in the world.

        Hug your kids. Cry it out or do some rounds with a punching bag, because it IS unfair. And then inside yourself, quietly know that it takes a big person to do what you did.

          1. OhBehave*

            Please take steps to protect yourself in the future from such lovely relatives. They may just expect you to do the same for them!
            Also, so very nice that they told you she didn’t like you (sarcasm). So sorry for the hurt she caused you while alive, but you did right by ending the hatred and giving her a proper burial.

  42. Van Helsing Job Hunter*

    I am disappointed the bakery near my office hasn’t started selling christmas desserts. STEP UP YOUR GAME, DUDES. I want my log cakes NOW.

  43. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    What are some TG traditions that you particularly love?

    My family’s tradition, which I’m upholding even though I’m not with family, is to welcome the Christmas season after the meal & cleanup with a full listen of Handel’s Messiah. Between New Year’s and Thanksgiving evening, we don’t listen to it, and then it comes into rotation specifically to welcome the season.

  44. self employed*

    Any suggestions for gifts for someone new to basic hiking? More like trail walking, really! :)

    1. Wandering not lost*

      Wool socks! since good ones are pricey (vs. just regular socks anyway), it’s a nice treat AND they last forever.

    2. Natalie*

      A good insulated water bottle.

      Pocket knife.

      Nice hiking socks.

      Fancy trail snacks.

      If they observe birds or plant life or whatever, one of those recording notebooks

    3. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      Depending on how much you want to spend: a pair of Merino wool hiking socks (they last forever and your feet will thank you), Kahtoola microspikes (if they live in an area with snow and want to hike in the winter), some sort of backpack/hydration bladder combo, Camelbak being one of the most common. My husband has some inexpensive $30 one from Amazon and it’s lasted forever, a portable cell phone charger if their hikes will be long….

      If they’re brand new to it though, I’d stick with the hiking socks and maybe the hydration bladder. It’s so much easier than carrying a water bottle.

    4. NewDoc*

      If in the US, the American Hiking Association puts out a great series of books, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of [X City]. Even though you can look up trails online, my husband and I have really enjoyed exploring new areas of our city with this book.

  45. Sorgatani*

    I had my last physiotherapy appointment for my wrist on Monday!
    The physiotherapist is happy with my progress – he was worried at first that I might need a hand therapist, but then he tested it out, and took back that suggestion. Testing it out involved placing a hand over mine and figuring out how much I could move it despite that pressure.
    I don’t have full range of motion, but I do have way more than I did a few weeks ago. Physiotherapist said that I’ll probably have aches for a few more months, but not to worry unless the pain register is more than 5.
    The muscles in my forearm are pretty tense, so I’m thinking of using Deep Heat and/or massage oils.
    My new exercises, in addition to the ones I was already doing, involves bending my hand/wrist back and forth as far as it can go.
    Yesterday I walked into the op-shop I volunteer at so that I could update the shop coordinator. My certificate runs until the end of this year, so I will return next year. Only on Thursday afternoons to begin with, as Tuesday now has 4 all day staff. She invited me to the Christmas party as well – apparently I saved her a phone call.
    It’ll be nice to catch up :)

  46. Punkin*

    Has anyone (USA ) watched “This Is Us” (on NBC)? Reaction? I love that it is about imperfect people that love each other in spite of imperfections and quarrels.

    The only other network TV that I watch is The Blacklist – but I have not had time for a single episode this season. Maybe this weekend.

    1. 14 years*

      I haven’t seen the last two episodes but otherwise I like it. I was already a fan of a bunch of the actors and the ones I didn’t know are great. I’m fascinated to see why Kevin and Randall are strained (maybe it’s been explained but I haven’t seen it yet). I’m guessing it’s an intelligence thing because Kevin never thought he was smart and Randall was a genius?

    2. The IT Manager*

      Love it! I was at a friendsgiving today and three of us were very enthusiastic. I haven’t heard anything negative.

  47. Gene*

    Took me a while to be able to write this without ending up in moderation due language.

    Two weeks ago I had to help a friend move. Not that unusual, but this was one of those “pack everything I own and get it out of the house in one day” things.

    The friend who has the cancer relapse had finished her chemo and stem cell transplant and finally started producing enough immune cells so she could go home. Her SO told her, “I’m breaking up with you and you can’t come home.” Luckily, her mom lives a town over, so she has a place to go that can accommodate her and their 3 year old.

    He wouldn’t let her come pack in a reasonable manner, so a bunch of us got together and got her stuff packed and moved to her mom’s and a storage unit in one day. Of course he had to be there to “make sure she didn’t take his stuff”. Hardest part was not accidentally dropping something heavy on him from the loft.

    They have worked out a parenting plan, she has the boy today, but did gets him on Christmas. If someone hits him with a car, I may need an alibi.

    1. House of Gourds*

      What a heartless bastards. I hope karma works its magic and his own next SO dumps at his most vulnerable time too

    2. Chaordic One*

      Of course he had to be there to “make sure she didn’t take his stuff”. Hardest part was not accidentally dropping something heavy on him from the loft.

      I keep imagining the (satisfying) ending from “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” where poor Charlotte takes revenge on her evil cousin, Mirium.

      However, instead it sounds like you’ve carried yourself with restraint and grace. Well done!

    3. Drew*

      That’s terrible and I’m so sorry for your friend. OTOH, sounds like she might be well rid of the [moderated language would go here].

    4. Rahera*

      I’m very, very sorry to hear this. Thank goodness for you and your other friends who were there to get your friend’s stuff and help her move. Your post is impressively and admirably restrained. I am literally shaking my head and boggling at the screen.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      What a glass bowl.

      Thank goodness you and others were there for her. He will have to live with the fact that he made a major jerk out of himself in front of all of you. All you guys can attest to his behavior. What a role model for the kid (NOT).

    6. ginger ale for all*

      One of my new catch phrases is “When they go low, you go high”. You did exactly that. Best wishes for your friend and her child, she is lucky to know you.

    7. Observer*

      That’s just unspeakable. What a thing to do.

      I feel bad for the kid – he’s growing up with a parent who is TOTALLY not to be depended on. Not even for basic decency, never mind having his back.

    8. Dangerfield*

      What a strange coincidence that your friend’s dickhole ex got hit with a car the day you spent with me in a place conveniently lacking CCTV cameras.

    9. Sophie Winston*

      All I can think to say is better than Newt, who dumped his first wife when she was still in the hospital.

      Mean people suck.

  48. Question*

    I feel like this might be a depressing topic for Thanksgiving, but… how long does it take to completely get over a traumatic experience like being raped? It happened 7 years ago, around this time of year. I don’t often think about it except to check online to see if he’s in jail from time to time… and this time of year, I have nightmares all the way through Christmas. Does this ever go away?

    Sorry to be a downer on Thanksgiving :/

    1. HannahS*

      I’m really sorry! What a terrible thing. I know that some people certainly recover completely from trauma, but it isn’t something that time alone will necessarily take of. Around where I live, there is a support group and help-line for people who’ve been sexually assaulted–is there something like that available where you live? I can’t speak from experience, but I do think that a month of recurring nightmares suggests that you should be talking with a counsellor that specializes in working with survivors of sexual assault, if you’re not already. I hope you have good people in your life today!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You’re not being a downer, you’re actually being quite brave.

      It takes courage to face our monsters. If counseling is not doable right now, can you start keeping a journal, especially of the dreams because that is what is the most current thing.

      While I have not have this experience, I have had trouble with recurring nightmares. One way out that worked for me was to talk about them with others. I am suggesting journaling because you might not want to or be ready to talk to someone.

      My wise friend used to say sometimes we have to tell ourselves, “It is over now. It is not happening anymore.” That sounds so simplistic I am hesitant to suggest it, but do watch how you talk to yourself. Tell yourself kind and gentle things, pretend you are consoling a friend if that helps.

    3. Trix*

      I’ve had less horrific things happen to me that have stuck for longer.

      Not to say you can’t make it past this. Just to say, you’re not strange or unusual for feeling something terrible for a long time.

      I hope you’re okay, or will be okay. You deserve that. Lots of pleasant kitten filled thoughts headed your way.

    4. Gene*

      The best advice I got when I was widowed at 39 was, “You don’t get over it, you get through it.”

      If you aren’t involved with a support group or a professional counselor, you really to be. Quite possibly both.

      It’s been over 20 years, and I still have bad days.

      Take care of yourself, first.

    5. Office Plant*

      I second, “You don’t get over it. You get through it.” But I think it’s different for everyone, so there is no piece of wisdom or advice that works for all survivors.

      Take care of yourself and do what you need to do. Reaching out to other people who’ve been through similar things can be helpful. So can creative projects, or anything that gives you an outlet to process things. Focus on whatever makes you feel better, and keep going.

    6. ..Kat..*

      Please contact RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network). www dot rainn dot org. 800-656-HOPE. This is an excellent resource for anyone who is trying to cope with these issues.

      Good luck and virtual hugs to you.

  49. Lady Blerd*

    I am so sad, I haven’t been able to access AAM at work all week. We have an old browser but also they turn the taps on low on only certain websites or certain types of websites, especially blogs. I miss the convos.

  50. MsChandandlerBong*

    Video game enthusiasts:

    I’m looking for recommendations for new games. The problem is that I only like a specific type of video game: platformers where you jump around and collect gems/coins/objects. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is my favorite game. I love all the platform-style Mario games (do not like Paper Mario, Mario Party, etc.). Any recommendations? I have a Wii, a Wii U, and a Steam account for my PC (with a USB Xbox controller).

    1. Sorgatani*

      Have you tried Yoshi’s Woolly World? It is a Wii U game.
      For the most part, it’s a collect-the-items platformer.

    2. katamia*

      You might like Braid, although it’s a bit more than just a platformer where you collect objects. There’s also Crystal Caves, which I was surprised to find is actually on Steam.

    3. Jillociraptor*

      Have you tried any of the LEGO games? We played through LEGO Harry Potter (1-4 and 5-7) and I found it really fun!

      1. MsChandandlerBong*

        I LOVE Lego Batman. I was obsessed with it for a while. Then I got Lego Batman 2, and I hated it. I bought a bunch of Lego games in a sale a while back, so I actually have Lego Harry Potter 1-4 and 5-7, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Lego Jurassic World, Lego Batman 3, The Lego Movie game, Lego Hobbit, and Lego Lord of the Rings (I think I got them three for $10, which is really good considering they are about $25 or $30 each). Maybe I will try one of those.

    4. Temperance*

      I typically prefer platformers as well, but I’m a hardcore fan of Civ 5. Also, Chip’s Challenge and the follow up are both available on Steam. :)

  51. periwinkle*

    Sous vide update: My pre-ordered Joule arrived and brought magic into our lives. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration but we just had the most incredibly moist and flavorful turkey breast for our Thanksgiving dinner. I used the recipe from Serious Eats (because Kenji is all-knowing) – turkey breast into the pot with the Joule, turkey skin flattened between sheet pans and roasted into crisp crunchy goodness. If you’re thinking about picking up an immersion device this weekend, several stores (including Target and Best Buy) are offering the Bluetooth version of the Anova device for $99.

    And now, pie.

  52. The Other Dawn*

    Any suggestions for a mattress topper or something that will help make my bed more comfy? I really need relief from lower back pain.

    At work I’m a desk dweller. I try to get up often but I have to be at my desk to do my job. A workout during the week but also sit around a lot in the evenings. Weekends are actually pretty good because I’m usually out and about running errands most of the time or shopping.

    But bedtime sucks. I’d love to go to bed early and read longer than I do, but that sets me up for a night of tossing and turning because my lower back hurts. I’d love to be able to lounge around in bed sometimes, but if I’m in bed for much longer than 10 minutes or so after waking up, my back starts hurting. Totally sucks because I’d love to actually sleep in sometimes or just snuggle with my husband. (Actually he’s a snuggler; I want my space.) Buying a new bed isn’t possible right now so I’m hoping someone has ideas for alternatives.

    I wish there was actually a problem with my back that surgery or something would fix, but there isn’t. I just need to move. A lot. But I can’t be moving 24/7. It’s so frustrating.

    1. BRR*

      I had a memory foam topper from target which was a relief from the awful, hard a spot a rock mattress we had but didn’t really help my back (two herniated discs in my lower back for reference). Not the best advice but getting a new mattress helped a me so much. We got a purple mattress and it came with a seat cushion. That cushion seems to help me since my chair at work is awful. Would a seat cushion help?

    2. Dan*

      You need to figure out what you actually need. Is your bed too soft or too hard? Mine’s getting soft, and I found that wedging a bunch of pillows under my upper body does wonders.

    3. Observer*

      A good chair helps. And, really consider a new mattress – sometimes it’s the only thing that really works.

    4. fposte*

      Umpteenthing that a new mattress may be the only thing to solve this, and also that it’s worth figuring out just what you need. So I’d at least start mattress-testing now; you can take your time.

      If it’s that it’s too soft, it’s pretty difficult make it firm by laying stuff on it. Memory foam can give a little more support, but it’s not cheap, especially the good stuff. You could explore that by buying a cheap layer for $20 (that’s what it is at my local Big Lots, anyway) and seeing how you feel about that.

    1. ginger ale for all*

      Best – the boyfriend has upped his kisses now that we have gotten to know each other better. We talked about what we liked and my goodness, what a difference. He was good before but now, WOW!

      Worst – I left Thanksgiving early and without much warning and didn’t say goodbye to everyone. It was rude in retrospect to leave that way before dessert but I don’t drink and the drinking from others was getting out of hand. I’m tired of the drinking drama that ensues when that happens.

    2. copy run start*

      Best: My new graphics card arrived last night so I have gamed all. day. long. and I feel great about the progress I have made. Thanksgiving has been peaceful (as long as you are not in my game) and I have no family around, so no family drama!

      Worst: I have to roll my turkey-bloated body into work tomorrow and pretend I am not thinking of mounds of leftover mashed potatoes.

    3. Al Lo*

      BEST: New Gilmore Girls! I binged at 1 AM and watched all 4 episodes straight through until 7:30. Took today off work. Still haven’t really slept. except for a 2-hour nap.

  53. Dan*

    Ok, this was just funny…

    Got together with the fam for t-day dinner. My SIL, who was hosting, invited a gay couple, one of whom is a relative of hers. My mom is so old school conservative, it’s ridiculous. My brother warned her up front to keep her mouth shut about gay people.

    On the way home, my dad says, “yeah, that was nice. Wonderful company.” My mom says, “yes, except for the gay couple.” Mind you, they were as pleasant as could be and did nothing offensive at all. I said something to her about what adults do are their own business, whether she likes it or not.

    I love you mom, but some opinions are just better off kept to yourself.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You gotta laugh, otherwise you’ll cry. Gee, Mom. Way to be open-minded.

      I was invited to a friend’s home. She is a heterosexual (presumably!) woman with a husband and daughter. The gay people far outnumbered the straight. I live in a blue pocket of a red state, and the openness in that room was such a joy. Mom’s missing out.

    2. TGIF*

      My sister brought a friend from college who couldn’t make it back home to his family because of airfare costs. I didn’t even know he was gay until he and my sister were giggling over the texts he was sending to a guy he liked. I don’t think our extended family knew which was good because they would have made a scene that probably would have involved me finally giving my uncle a piece of my mind despite all of my dad’s insistence for me and my siblings to be civil to his [self-censoring] of a brother.

    3. Temperance*

      Some people are sadly close-minded.

      One of my older cousins is gay, and has always made it a point to bring whoever he is dating to family events and introduce his partner. It doesn’t have an impact on my bigoted family members, who are a bunch of hicks, but I’ve never, ever blinked an eye at anyone for dating a same-sex partner.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        My aunt is a lesbian and has always brought her partner to family gatherings, because we also “take on strays” on holidays (what my brother’s friend called it) I was an adult before I realized she was my aunt’s partner and by then it was so normal I just didn’t care.

    4. nep*

      ‘Yes, except for the gay people.’
      Sad. More sad for people who would think this way, really, as they are so closed-minded and missing out on so much.

  54. katamia*

    I really like solving puzzles, but I’m tired of (or, in one case, totally stuck on) a lot of my usual puzzle sources and was hoping people here might have some suggestions, either for websites or video games or even books. I’m not very computery (i.e., if you give me a puzzle that involves finding information in, I dunno, the source code of an image or whatever it’s called, I won’t know where to look) but am otherwise open to math, language, research, or other kinds of puzzles.

    1. katamia*

      To get things started, I’m tossing out Scarecrow’s Field ( ). Some of the puzzles are pretty outdated now, but I really enjoy how you never quite know what you’re going to get and how many of them can be solved multiple ways.

    2. ginger ale for all*

      If you like jigsaw puzzles, go to eBay and look up the terms vintage Springbok. Their puzzles from the late 1960’s to the early 1970’s are wonderful. Some to look for – the Op art ones and the prismagic ones. You will need to wear sunglasses to solve the prismagic ones. The vintage ones make you dream of them bringing a select few out of retirement, especially the Jackson Pollock one.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Back at Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd., different departments would leave puzzle pieces on top of the file cabinets and we’d put them together in odd moments when we passed by. The Creative Department had the Jackson Pollock one and it was especially challenging and fun!

        1. ginger ale for all*

          From how that is priced on eBay, you are lucky to have worked it. It’s usually the highest priced one there whenever someone lists one.

    3. ginger ale for all*

      I forgot about the metal pull apart puzzles that you see on people’s desks. If you go to Amazon and type in metal puzzles, you will see some made by Bepuzzled. They are fun to solve. Plus they are around ten dollars each in case you have to get something for a white elephant gift exchange.

  55. printrovert*

    I saw this video that two guys put together to show off their Thanksgiving leftover creations. Sharing below in case anyone needs inspiration, though I realize readers are probably looking forward to the weekend thread now. Or shopping. Or still in a food-induced coma.

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