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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Writing Prompt 11.27.10: Thanksgiving Weekend Writing Prompt

By Marilyn Friedman

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope that you are having a fun, food filled weekend. Once you recover from eating your turkey or tofurky leftovers, don't forget to sign up for a writing class at Writing Pad. Call 323-333-2954 or email They're filling up fast! Here's what on the menu for Dec./early January:
Writing Prompt:
Make a list of 5 things that come to mind when I say the word, "Thanksgiving." You could write about things that you are thankful for, the foods that you ate or prepared for Thanksgiving, family gathering mishaps, etc. Pick one of the items off of your list, add a sensory detail to it (smell, taste, sound, touch, sight), and write for 10 minutes. Then post the results in the comments of this blog for the chance to win a free class (and for free likes and remembers)!

A few things on my list are the swiss chard and sage stuffing that took me five hours to make, cranberry persimmon sauce, and the one Thanksgiving that my father-in-law forced everyone to get H1N1 shots in the living room before we ate dinner. So I'll write about one or more of those things. What are you going to write about?

Comment on this blog! What comes to mind when I say the word, "Thanksgiving?" Post your 10 minute write in the comments, and you could win a free class!


Young Lee said...

This was my first Thanksgiving holiday as a 30-year old single female. I turned 30 in October, and believe it or not, it's the first birthday that I actually felt something stir inside. It may be some sort of mental manipulation of the two digit drug. Some say, I may have found a shoe that fits. For whatever reason it is, I feel a sense of calm, determination, and a lot of gratitude. Did I mention I'm single? I suppose I am thankful for this now, but it didn't feel this way then. The end of a 5 year relationship is a hard chapter to finish when you're about to turn the big 3-0.
I'm supposed to talk about one sensory, smell, taste, sound, touch, or sight... but I'm going to talk about a sixth sense. The emotion.
The focus inward. The energy I now have for myself. All the baggage that I've made myself carry for someone else has been lifted off of me. I've been given a second chance to start a new life, my life, a more beautiful, fulfilling, challenging, and satisfying life that I have always painted secretly in my mind. I now have time to execute my long-lost guilty pleasures, and learn a few things while I'm at it. It's a feeling of freedom with no rules. No checking in, no permissions, and no more exceptions. I don't have to feel guilty to want more for myself.
If you're a writer, I imagine it's that sense of completion you feel when you finish writing a chapter in your long novel. A small feeling of relief and the ever deserving break needed to start a new one. I've been given that break to stretch, grow, and focus inward. I desire to finish the book well.
This is my thanks, for being single and 30.

Writing Pad said...

Last Thanksgiving, my father-in-law insisted that everyone get H1N1 shots right before we ate our dinner. He’s a doctor. He can often be spotted sewing up bloody flaps of skin on the dining room table with his suture kit. He likes to take people on dangerous bike rides and death defying hiking trips, entice them injure themselves, and then give them stitches later in his house.

That year, Richard lined all of us up in the living room and injected us with the H1N1 vaccine. First me, then my husband Jeff, then my sister-in-law, Julianne. The shot hurt. I gripped the back of the white sofa as I felt the sharp, prickly sensation of the needle going into my arm. “Ow! I don’t like shots,” I whined.

“Oh, Marilyn, it’s nothing,” Richard said. “It’s over now. Just took a second. Who’s next?”

After the shot assembly line, we sat down to a table full of delicious side dishes and a perfectly browned turkey. That day, I had spent 2 hours chopping the ingredients for an elaborate rustic stuffing. I had chopped swiss chard, fresh sage, oregano, thyme, Italian parsely, celery, and garlic. My mother-in-law had found the recipe in the Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appetit. “I can handle it,” I said, knowing that it would probably take me longer to make the stuffing than anyone else on the planet.

I am a slow cook. My cut vegetables come out perfect, exact, in accordance with the accountant side of my personality, but I take forever. When I pulled the stuffing out of the oven, I knew that it would be fantastic. The perfume of swiss chard stir fried in garlic, the breadcrumbs simmering in stock and fresh herbs was divine. The only problem was: the men in the family had abandoned my mother-in-law, Toby, and I to go on a long bike ride. We still had four other side dishes to make in addition to an apple pie, and it was already three o’clock. The panic set in. My heart started to pound, and I fritted about the kitchen in spastic fits.

Richard, my husband, and my brother-in-law bolted through the door. “I thought that you said that you were going to be back in an hour,” I yelled. “You were gone for 4 hours! We need help! Here, peel these potatoes! Now!” I thrust the bag of potatoes in my husband’s hands.

Somehow, all of the side dishes and the apple pie were finished before 6 p.m., I even had time to take a shower, and now we were sitting down to enjoy the bounty. But as I spooned the bounty of side dish delicacies onto my porcelain plate: the 5 hour stuffing, the cranberry persimmon sauce, the sweet potatoes with crumbly brown sugar and walnuts, the green beans with dried cherry sherry vinaigrette, the velvety gravy, I started to feel sick. A flood of snot pooled in the back of my throat. A throbbing pressure assaulted the back of my head, like an elf was squeezing my cranium in between two bricks. Was I getting sick? Was this a reaction to the stress of being glued to family members with no personal space for four days straight? Was it that damn H1N1 shot?

All weekend long, I had intense sinus headaches, a sore throat, and a stuffy nose. The sinus headaches were the worst after I got into a political argument with my brother-in-law and when a family friend who always disrespects me stopped over to brag about his latest trip to China. “I need to lie down,” I said. And so I left the living room to go to my husband’s childhood room.


Writing Pad said...

Hi, Young Lee!

I love what you wrote! It is very inspiring and moving. I love the two digit drug, the line,
" Did I mention I'm single?" and the lines, "I now have time to execute my long-lost guilty pleasures, and learn a few things while I'm at it. It's a feeling of freedom with no rules. No checking in, no permissions, and no more exceptions. I don't have to feel guilty to want more for myself."

Thanks for posting!


A. said...

Track practice always made me feel especially thankful. Especially at the end. Today I relished the feeling of of the cold breeze wiping the sweat from my arms as I walked back to the locker room. My time was improving, and I saw the goal of breaking the high school girl's 200 meter dash record in my sights. Another thing I was thankful for: my best friend is also on the team and we can sit together on bus rides and at track team dinners. Everyone else on the team was boring. I could imagine every single one of them at an Ivy League college in a few years, spending most of their time studying in their rooms, working out religiously and maybe chatting with mom and dad back home on their computers. These were not the sort of people who broke out of anyone's expectations. Mom wanted me in that same box with the other determined, independent, accomplished track stars, but I wanted something different. I imagined myself on stake outs with my partner. Sitting in a car until my butt was numb and waiting until I could unleash my speed and power in the apprehension of a criminal. That was my idea of the best possible next step my life could take.