Saturday, November 20, 2021

THANKSGIVING WITHOUT TURKEY by Sarah J. McNeal

 


I may have told this family story, but it bears repeating.

When I was about 9 years old and deep into holiday traditions and clinging to the magic of believing in Santa Claus even though the evidence disproved it, I looked forward to the traditional turkey dinner for Thanksgiving. As far as I was concerned, you could have whatever you wanted for Christmas like that delicious Christmas ham roasted all day in the over with pineapple held in place with whole cloves, and a juicy cherry in the middle of each pineapple circle or even a Christmas goose, I didn’t care. But Thanksgiving dinner was a whole other matter; it was a turkey and stuffing or it just wasn’t Thanksgiving. Just throw down your napkin and call it over and done if there was no turkey.

Well, Pop, who had a love for roast beef which we had every Sunday, decided this particular Thanksgiving that roast beef would be on our table instead of turkey. No stuffing, no cranberry sauce (we always forgot it anyway, but that’s not the point), no candied yams, just the same ol’ Sunday dinner of a Yankee pot roast of beef, potatoes, and carrots. Phooey! What a terrible idea. Thanksgiving was ruined as far as I was concerned. I didn’t care if the Pilgrims would have loved roast beef as Pop tried to convince me, I was ready to leave home.

I hung my head in shame at school when the kids talked about their Thanksgiving turkey and all those delicious fixin’s. They would be appalled if they knew my family was having a Thanksgiving roast beef. See? The words don’t even flow together the way Thanksgiving turkey does.

I was furious and sad at the same time. Even going to the Thanksgiving parade uptown could not cheer me up. I sat in misery through the entire Thanksgiving dinner and made sure my disappointment was known. I’m pretty sure I made everybody’s holiday dismal.

We never had roast beef at Thanksgiving again. The thing is, all these years later with some wisdom and life experiences we come to have with age, I think about that turkeyless Thanksgiving. There are many people in this world that didn’t have turkey, not even a chicken on their table to celebrate Thanksgiving. The whole idea of Thanksgiving is to give thanks and gratitude for whatever we have. As so many kids, I was self-involved and lacked insight into the feelings and situations in other people’s lives. There were probably kids in my school who weren’t having turkey because they couldn’t afford a turkey. All I cared about then was what I thought I would be missing without a grain of gratitude or thankfulness. I know better now. Lesson learned.  

Saturday, October 16, 2021

My First Halloween by Sarah J. McNeal #TheWildingsSeries

 



I'm on the left, my sister, Mary is on the right. 

 

I was 4 years old and we were living in the small, rural village of Luthersburg, Pennsylvania in 1951. Life was very different then. Everybody knew everybody, and as much as gossip was a big entertainment, people were kind to one another and were generous to their neighbors. They also liked to celebrate everything. If a leaf fell from the tree, it was cause for celebration. So, Halloween was a big deal and, naturally, the town had a carnival for the kids.

 

Mom, who made all our clothes back then, also made our costumes for the Halloween carnival. She made a clown costume for me with big puffy balls down the front and poke-a-dot material with plenty of rickrack trim. It wasn’t the kind of clown from “It”, but more like Bozo the clown with a happy face. I was so excited about the costume and the carnival. I was pretty enthusiastic about the prospects of candy treats, too.

 

Remember these peanut butter taffy kisses you always got?

I had a great time at the carnival. I don’t remember much of what I did there, but suffice it to say, I was in kid heaven when we got home. I wanted to hurry up and get inside so I could see what treats were in my bag. In my enthusiasm to get out of the car, I forgot to wait for Pop to bring it to a stop. Keep in mind, in those days there were no seatbelts or special child seats to impede my exit from the car. I flung the door open and immediately feel to the ground. Pop brought the car to a screeching halt and ran back to me hollering, “Are you hurt?” He told me later he thought he had run over me with the car. I was completely fine, just a little scuffed up from the gravel in the driveway. Mom came running as Pop scooped me up and we all ran inside the house to see if any damage was done. I was fine, but there was a big lecture delivered by Pop about not leaping from a moving car. Of course, most of this was lost on me, a kid who was just eager to get to her Halloween treats. I’ll never forget that first Halloween memory, however, and the excitement I felt about the quirky holiday.

 

The picture I added is the only one I have of my sister and me when we lived in Pennsylvania. The next year we moved to North Carolina. I wore the clown costume one more time to go trick-or-treating with my sister and the neighborhood kids—no parental supervision and we made it out alive.



 

What do you remember about your first Halloween? Were you allowed to eat all your treats as you wanted, or did your parents dole out the treats to you in some reasonable manner? What was your first costume?

 

 

My only Halloween story from #TheWildingsSeries



Sarah J. McNeal

Author of Heartwarming Stories

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon Author's Page

Fantasy and Dreams (sarahmcneal.blogspot.com)

Instagram


Monday, October 11, 2021

Indigenous Peoples Day by Sarah J. McNeal #TheWildingsSeries

 

October 11, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day

 


Today we honor the Indigenous Peoples, the first humans to enter this country and to whom we show our respect for their vigilance and courage in protecting the natural resources of this land. They remind us how to be humanitarians and they teach us how to care for the living beings both in the wilds and in our homes.



Through their dances they heal and teach about what was and what should be. They have endured many trials, and yet, they have persevered. In spite of everything, they have remained friends to all people and contributed to our mutual history.

Long before the rest of us came from our different countries and cultures, the Indigenous People were here looking after things, acting as stewards of the wild things and the wild places. Because of their devotion, we still have many of those wild places and wild beings to treasure from one generation to the next.

And so, on this day as well as every other day, I thank the Indigenous People for their stewardship, dedication, and courage. THANK YOU!


Until next time, all good things to your corner of the universe...


Sarah J. McNeal

Author of Heartwarming Stories

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon Author's Page

Fantasy and Dreams (sarahmcneal.blogspot.com)

Instagram


Wednesday, September 08, 2021

I LOVE AMERICA by Sarah J. McNeal #TheWildingsSeries

 


I love America. I’m not talking about the government, politics, laws, or Wall Street; I’m talking about the uniqueness of this country in which people from all over the world come together and share their cultures, ideals, and beliefs with others to become “Americans”. I love that we live on a land with such great expanse and diversity, both geographically and culturally. We are cradled between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and rest above the Gulf of Mexico. We have friendly neighbors to the north and the south and we share a common love of freedom.

We may squabble amongst ourselves as most families do, but no matter what happens, no matter how dark or bright our days or history, we will find our way and we will do it together.

 

Sarah J. McNeal

Author of Heartwarming Stories

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon Author's Page

Fantasy and Dreams (sarahmcneal.blogspot.com)

Instagram

Sunday, August 15, 2021

SEARCHING FOR PEACE by Sarah J. McNeal #TheWildingsSeries



There was supposed to be a big meteorite shower a few nights ago. We used to call them shooting stars, but they’re actually meteorites. They’re still beautiful all the same. Anyway, it should be a wonderful sight to behold what with the lightning bugs lighting up the backyard and the shooting stars above. I could certainly use some uplifting lights and happy thoughts.

I’ve been watching too much news lately—too much Covid dangers, Fire and Flood disasters, Climate change heating up the planet, and politicians finding fault with everything. Kinda feel like this lighthouse out in some rough seas.



I tried getting my mind off all this bad news by watching a series on Netflix. Well, that might not have been a good plan because I chose “Chicago Med” which is all about emergency medicine and critical care. It is, in fact, the most realistic medical show I’ve ever seen. I usually avoid medical shows because they made me feel I was at work all day. This particular series just brought back all the intense feelings I had when I worked critical care and replayed them in my head like flashbacks that were sad or angry or helpless. It was like picking at a scab until I made it bleed.



So, my new plan is to be quiet, go out on my deck when the sun goes down (slathered in mosquito repellent), and just enjoy watching nature and listening to the cicadas sing with my dog by my side.

How are y’all doin’ out there? Are you okay? What is your best coping mechanism for dealing with stress? 



If you or a loved one has had difficulty coping with the turmoil of today’s events and the pandemic, or have been having difficulty with emotional distress or depression, you may want to call the following for the help you need:

Healing Direction Therapy, PLLC

Tracey L. Beaty, LCMHC (Therapist)

980-272-8058

Or email her at healingdirection@yahoo.com


Until Next Time...

Sunday, August 01, 2021

NOTHING SAYS SUMMER LIKE AUGUST by Sarah J. McNea l#TheWildingsSeries

 



 

I’ve heard it said that August is like the Sunday of summer. Sunday is that last day before you go back to the work grind on Monday or the last day of freedom before school. It’s the end of sleeping in, wearing pajamas all day, laying in the hammock with a cool drink, sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch and waving to your neighbors when they walk by, and the end of spontaneous trips to the beach or the mountains.

 


Every month has its own particular weather, for August that means it HOT! It also means hurricanes, forest fires, and draught—or here where I live, thunder storms on the daily. Still, we love August.

 

August is when our efforts in the garden pay off. Fruits and vegetables are ripening faster than we can harvest them. I remember how all the gardeners at work would bring in their excess fruits and vegetables and we’d all exchange our abundance for someone else’s who grew something we didn’t have. By the way, my 3 apples came in on my apple tree, but before they were fully ripened, the birds and squirrels feasted on them. I’m okay with that though.





 

August is the month when we try to get that last refreshing swim in the pool or take a trip to the beach and swim in the ocean and eat seafood until we burst. I have a fondness for the Breezeway Seafood Restaurant at Topsail Beach, but I also love the Calabash at Myrtle Beach. Of course, the one seafood you can’t eat in August is oysters…you can only eat them in the months with an “R”, so September will get them back on the menu (provided you like oysters.) Some of us prefer the cooler climate of the mountains and the shady trails and waterfalls. Blowing Rock is mostly my autumn favorite, but it’s great in the heat of summer, too.

 


What is your favorite thing to do in August? Are you a beach person, or are the cooler climes in the mountains more your thing? Do you like to laze around doing nothing or just looking for a place in the shade?  




Sarah J. McNeal

Author of Heartwarming Stories

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon Author's Page

Fantasy and Dreams (sarahmcneal.blogspot.com)



Tuesday, July 27, 2021

HOT SUMMER DAYS by Sarah J. McNeal

 

Left to Right: Matthew (nephew), Mary (sister), Ron (Mary's Husband), Pop, Mom, Me 


 We did not have air conditioning in our house when I was growing up. After some years, Pop got a window air conditioner in the bedroom for Mom because she had heart failure and hard a hard time breathing. We were lucky to live in an old house, part of which was made of logs and later, updated with white wooden siding. We had numerous trees, mostly oaks and elms that shaded the house and helped keep it cool. But even with all those advantages, hot humid summers could become overwhelming. Many nights when the humidity was high, I would wake up to damp sheets from the damp air. There were times when the air was so still and the temperature was so high, thunder storms were a welcome relief because of the wind associated with them.

We kept the windows wide open all over the house. In those days we didn’t worry about break-ins because they just weren’t a thing. Only once, when no one was home did we experience a break-in, but it was kind of a sad thing. A neighbor across the field was suspected of the break-in and the only thing missing was canned goods from the pantry. Pop must have felt compassion for the neighbor because he didn’t report it to the police and didn’t seem to feel anyone was in danger from this person. We did, however, start locking the doors when no one was home after that.

Pop, Mary, Me. Mom: out in the side yard by the screened-in porch

The heat drove us outside for meals and family gatherings. We often went down to the edge of the orchard under the shelter of trees to catch a breeze and some comfort. We spent a lot of time hanging out in the screened-in porch in the evenings and had meals in the side yard during the day. I never felt deprived because we didn’t have air conditioning. Even today looking back at those days I feel a kind of happiness in the way we used to adjust our lives to the heat of summer. We had great conversations and somehow food tasted better outside. We weren’t closeted inside the house staring at a TV or confined under a roof instead of out in the fresh air with clouds and stars overhead. I look back on those days with fondness and joy.

 

Did you grow up with air conditioning? How did you beat the heat of summer when you were growing up? Do you miss those days or are you glad you don’t have to deal hot and humid days in summer? What is your favorite thing about summer these days?





THE WILDINGS: A FAMILY SAGA (BOXED SET) only 99 cents

Prairie Rose Publications

BY SARAH MCNEAL

Buy Link: THE WILDINGS

THE WILDINGS is a wonderful collection of western romance stories that follow the Wilding family through generations of love and loss, joy and sorrow, and wins and losses in life. Get lost in this exciting boxed set of full-length books and novellas that trace the adventures of the descendants of the Wilding family. From the lawless old west days of the early 1900’s in ruthless Hazard, Wyoming, through the generations forward, the action, romance, and suspense is nonstop.

Follow the saga of the Wilding family from the early days that begin with a haunted house, a trunk, and a date with destiny in Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride. Can Joe and Lola’s unlikely romance last? Next, the dangers of World War 1 in For Love of Banjo, and a Prohibition-era kidnapping with Fly Away Heart will have you on the edge of your seat. Hollow Heart is a post WWII short story with a surprise twist, and The Beast of Hazard will touch you with its romance between a veterinarian and a beautiful circus performer facing danger. In Unexpected Blessings, a couple overcomes a seemingly insurmountable problem, and in Home For the Heart, a determined young woman must find a way into a confirmed bachelor’s heart. A conversation at a wedding spoils everything in It’s Only Make Believe, and in I Dream of You, a recurring dream, a kiss, and deadly secrets could unlock not only love but a very dangerous outcome for everyone. Three Christmas novellas, A Husband for Christmas, When Love Comes Knocking, and A Christmas Visitor are also included to round out the series and bring it to a very satisfying conclusion.

 

This wonderful collection will keep you entertained with richly-woven stories filled with real-life excitement, danger, and love from the heart of romance author Sarah J. McNeal. THE WILDINGS will enthrall you and keep you turning pages as you follow the multi-faceted characters and the stories of their lives! Don’t miss it!

 


Until Next Time...


Sarah J. McNeal

Author of Heartwarming Stories

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon Author's Page

Fantasy and Dreams (sarahmcneal.blogspot.com)