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Light a candle and laugh like idiots this holiday season

Today, my family and I had our Thanksgiving dinner. We had turkey, yams, cranberry sauce, stuffing and all the other trimmings.

It is, of course, one week early. Since my sons and I work retail, we all are scheduled to work not only Thanksgiving Day, but the dreaded Black Friday also. We were really depressed. What to do? What to do?

I have heard various rumors from customers saying that retail employees are signing petitions against working those two days or threatening an outright walkout because they want to spend the holiday with their families. 

Then I remembered a family back home in Franklin Park. They had a boy who was a soldier during the Vietnam conflict. He had a leave in summer, and they were pretty sure he wouldn’t be home for the holidays. So, they put up the tree and decorated the house and bought presents and had their Christmas – in July. 

I know that the solution my family and I came up with for Thanksgiving may not fit everyone’s families. I just bring it up as an alternative to other, more drastic solutions – like losing your job. 

Purses are still strained and many haven’t recovered from the Great Recession. So you don’t have a turkey or stuffing. So Aunt Myrtle can’t come and bring her famous green bean casserole. Make it yourself and if it fails, laugh about it. If it is good, celebrate it. Or skip it entirely this year and make something else. Have hot dogs and beans, or frozen pizza. 

The point is to not let the situation get you down. I am not preaching from high on a pulpit here. My family and I are not independently wealthy. I don’t work just because it’s a jolly hobby and I like standing 30 hours a week.

We don’t know people like Donald Trump and David Koch. And truth be known, we even may have spent a little more on Thanksgiving than we should have. We will have some leftovers to cover us and, after that, thank God for the Cary Grove Food Pantry. 

I am determined to work through the hard times, and every now and then I see a glimmer of the good. It isn’t the glimmer of gold, but of family. 

Somehow we will get through this. My mom loved to say that. She would try to think of creative ways to get through bad situations. Like when the power went out and scared the bejabbers out of her three little kids, all under the age of 8. She got candles and ice cream out and declared we were going to have a candle-lit ice cream social. We sang songs, we told jokes and giggled like idiots for three hours until the lights came back on.

Here’s hoping you can light candles and laugh like an idiot until the lights come back on in your life. I wish all of you the best Thanksgiving you’ve ever had this year. 

• Jo Anne Minerly and her husband have been Cary residents for about 28 years. In 2009 and 2010, she wrote a series of guest columns for the Northwest Herald detailing her family’s struggles with unemployment in McHenry County.

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