Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Archive for the tag “Thanksgiving”

Thanksgiving Week


The anticipation of Thanksgiving is more exciting to me than Christmas.

I love all the planning and preparation that goes into a day that is solely focused on family, friends, and food.

A day to be openly grateful, even though I am that way the rest of the year too. But it’s a great reminder to take the time to remember gratitude and blessings. I’ve been particularly negative with a few aspects of life lately and I’m making the conscious effort to combat that negativity with kindness and positive vibes. It’s not easy, but the alternative is making me miserable ( and yes, I’m being vague on purpose).

I’m looking forward to making our family stuffing on Wednesday night, a recipe passed down from my grandmother, and until last year, made almost every year by my grandmother, aunt, and myself. Even though I do it solo with Q’s help, it still makes me feel connected to my family in important ways.

In my own soapbox moment, I think it is completely ridiculous that some stores are open on Thanksgiving. Massachusetts, with its Puritan beginnings, has some strict “blue laws” about holidays and retail (liquor too), so no stores can be open until midnight of Black Friday. The idea of getting more deals on a holiday that is supposed to be about taking time to reflect and give thanks makes me feel yucky and shake my finger in shame at even my favorite retailers. I will never shop on  Thanksgiving.

I have to work on the day after Thanksgiving ( it’s one of the most quiet and productive days of the year), but even in the past when I haven’t, I’ve never really taken part in the Black Friday early morning shopping festivities. It’s just not worth it for me, plus I like sleeping in late!


Be Thankful

This year’s Thanksgiving is bittersweet as it’s the first without Dad, but also because this was the last holiday we had with him before he passed away so unexpectedly last December. With the one year anniversary coming up in a few weeks, there have been more sad days than happy ones, but if there is one thing his death and this year have taught me is this: be thankful for each day. 

Divorce taught me a lot about who I am and what to be thankful for in life, but the death of a close loved one blew that out of the water. I am filled with gratitude for living every single day, for every person in my life, and for the love that surrounds me on a daily basis. I live a blessed life and as difficult as things may be sometimes without Dad, I know how lucky I was to have him in my life, and even more so to have him watching over me now.

So whatever your Thanksgiving Day plans are– take a moment to think about gratitude and what you  are blessed with in life. Tell the people you care about that you love them and truly be thankful for every day you have with them in this life.

All the best to you and yours and a Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday Musings

Today my brain can only think in random spurts and bullet points.

  • I think there should be some law that requires employers to give their workers a ‘weather’ day off. In the event of a bad weather day where you don’t want to get out of bed OR a gorgeous, sunny picture-perfect day, you could just call in without any questions asked. I totally would have used it this morning when the rain was putting me to sleep in the amazing comfort of my feather duvet, prompting me to hit snooze 5 times.
  • Thanksgiving is a week and a half away, but it doesn’t quite feel like it yet. Sure, I’ve made the lists of who is bringing what with Mom, ordered the bread for the family stuffing, and written my various to-do items in the planner. Maybe it’s because part of our family won’t be with us, or maybe it’s just the bittersweet feeling of another holiday with Dad, especially since Thanksgiving was the last holiday we had with him and has always been a big deal with us ( we like food!)
  • After all the huge house and closet cleanouts of the past year, we’re not really doing Christmas presents this year. While exciting to think about not stressing for the holidays, it’s also a bit weird. I once again adopted a family to shop for, so I’m looking forward to that again.
  • I’m so over raking leaves. After spending last weekend doing raking, we didn’t do any this weekend because there is still a significant amount of leaves on our trees, so we figured we wait. I fear that may have been an oversight on our part, since I’m pretty sure that means all of next weekend will be spent raking. Love the privacy of so many trees, major dislike on the raking.
  • I’ve fallen into a very bad habit lately of saving articles, recipes, etc. to read on facebook and my blog reader, but never actually getting around to reading them. Or even worse, doing a quick read and deciding to further save them for when I’m ready to read them. Which I know is probably never going to happen. The same thing with all the articles and random things in the folder ‘action items’ I made in my email inbox. I think if all that junk is still there by the end of the year, I should trash and start fresh.
  • About to hit my 50 read books goal of the year! Woo! Though in full disclosure, at least half were audio books and probably a good dozen or so were books read for work projects.

The Holiday Season

It’s been quiet around here I know. The holiday season is part of it, the other is an oddly busy for this time of year work schedule.

Hectic work days aside, I’ve been trying hard to enjoy and savor the holiday season. Thanksgiving was amazing for a million reasons, but mostly because it was relaxing and filled with fun, love, and lots of gratitude. I had to work the day after, but on the Saturday after, my man and I slept late and spent the day being lazy in sweats, watching many episodes of Parks and Rec ( our new TV obsession), eating leftovers, and going to a second feast (clamboil) at my parents which was low key and relaxing too.

At my house we’re embracing the holiday season in full force. The house is decorated (only inside, though there is a wreath on the front door) and I spent last Saturday afternoon watching The Nutcracker on Netflix and doing Christmas cards, though there are still a bunch left to do. My Christmas shopping is almost done, though this year I get a bit of a pass because my brother and his girlfriend are spending the holidays with her family in Minnesota, so I won’t be exchanging gifts with them until New Year’s Day, giving me a bit more time ( and less pressure) to get their shopping done.

And now for a public service announcement haha.

Starting last year, I’ve tried to make an effort in the holiday season to make contributions to places that help out those in need. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I contributed to food drives in a few places and made a basket for a family through the local child and family services organization. Too-small coats have gone to a coat drive at the bank and for Christmas I adopted a family with a one year old little girl to buy some gifts for. I don’t mention this to pat myself on the back, but more because for me, it has made a difference in how I celebrate the holidays. If it wasn’t for my incredible support network, I very well could have been in a bad situation when I was going through my separation and divorce. I’m incredibly thankful and blessed for all that I have, and for years have felt I wasn’t making enough of a contribution back. It’s not huge, but it’s meaningful to me- I hope in the future I’ll be able to make a bigger difference in some other way. I know many people can’t afford to buy anymore gifts for people and are watching budgets, but there are so many little ways to help out during the holidays, whether it’s throwing spare change in the Salvation Army bucket or saying yes to the $1 contribution at the register. My dad made a great point about food drives. This time of year a lot of grocery stores have buy one, get one sales. You can buy one for yourself and then donate the other to the food drive. It’s a small way to pay forward the good fortune that you have in your life.


Thanksgiving 2013

I’ve learned practicing gratitude is a daily practice that keeps me grounded and reminds me of what is important, but with my favorite holiday just 2 days away, I wanted to take a moment to call out some of the things I am especially grateful for this year.

2013 has been my year- I feel like I’ve finally settled into my self and the life I actually have, as opposed to thinking about what I don’t or the mistakes of the past. That’s a great feeling. Maybe it’s from turning 30 and feeling like I can leave so  much of the unsettling part of my 20s behind, or maybe it’s just because I finally get that I don’t have to know all the answers or have a 5 year plan. Whatever it is, I am most grateful this year for the calming grace that I have earned.

I’m grateful for my health- even though I may weigh more than I’d like and make a few more creaks when I get out of bed than I did a few years ago, I’ve never felt better.

I’m eternally and always grateful for my family and my friends, but as life happens around me, they become even more important. I’d be lost without them all.

The past few months as I’ve tried figuring out what’s next for me in life, I’ve realized that I work with some really remarkable people. Even when the day-to-day at work becomes annoying and stressful, the people at my workplace and the various folks I work with on a number of different projects at work are pretty awesome. They are smart, fun, and teach me so much every day ( even if it sometimes is just random youtube finds!)

This time 2 years ago, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to keep my house. In the middle of a separation and a money situation from hell, I was sure I would end up bankrupt and living back with my parents. I’m grateful that I was able to keep my house, learn how to budget and make sacrifices financially. As much as home ownership can be a pain in the arse sometimes, I’m grateful for the roof over my head and that I will only leave the house when it’s on my own terms, not someone else’s.

I haven’t spoken much about it on the blog because I’ve wanted to keep aspects and people in real life a bit separate from the entire interwebs, but I’m most grateful this year for finding love. The man in my life has been with me only for 8 months, but it’s the most right feeling I’ve ever had with another person- something I never thought I’d find. I finally understand all those silly love songs and my level of cheesiness and romance sometimes even makes me want to roll my eyes at myself.

Wishing you and yours a most wonderful Thanksgiving holiday filled with only the best!



Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but for me, it’s about more than the food. For me, Christmas sometimes has a frenzied pace with the buying and trying to visit a lot of friends and family in two days. Thanksgiving has always felt so much more laid back without any pressure, even though I always push myself to make something new and different to bring to the table. Added to the fact that the entire day is about taking time to enjoy and savor- food, family, gratitude, and hands down it becomes the best thing of the year.

The other reason I love Thanksgiving is the traditions. Something about this holiday more than others makes me feel so connected to my family and loved ones in ways that the others don’t even come close to. The making of the Portuguese stuffing is a long held day before Thanksgiving ritual which I’ve taken part in since I was in high school. Many years it has been just me grandmother and I doing it together, others my aunt from California will join us for three generations making our famous Costa recipe. This year it will be just my aunt and I making it together since my grandma has been under the weather, but the tradition still remains.

As I’ve gotten older, some traditions like going to the high school football game have been pushed aside and others have come into the fold ( my family- immediate & extended- always play some raucous games of Cranium after the dinner). When I was growing up my grandparents were in charge of the Thanksgiving feast, but many years ago, my mom took over the duties and I became her sous chef. In the years when I lived at home, we would wake up early to prep the turkey with the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in the background. My dad would make cinnamon rolls. Even though I’ve since moved into my own house, I still go over in the morning in my pajamas to help get everything ready for the big meal. I can’t imagine not being there with them to help with all the preparations.

This year I began my own new tradition of trying to find ways to give back. A year ago my marriage had ended and I was living on my own in a house I was not sure I could afford with a meager budget. Had it not been for my amazing support network of family and friends who helped in all the ways possible, I very easily could have been a person who needed assistance from strangers. While I haven’t hit the lottery, my financial situation is much healthier this year and I am so incredibly thankful for that. It’s such a small thing to do to buy $30 more in groceries to make a Thanksgiving care package for a family so they have the kind of holiday I love and always had growing up.

Regardless of whether you have a big family shindig or something small, I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with gratitude & love. 


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