The Ghost of Thanksgiving


When Nate still had brown hair and wore glasses, and I had a 24 inch waist and the courage to go sleeveless.

When Nate still had brown hair and wore glasses, and I had a 24 inch waist and the courage to go sleeveless.

 The holiday season is here again. I don’t know who originally set the dates for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, but I do wish he or she had spread them out a little. In the stores, the paper turkey centerpieces set across the aisle from rows of lighted artificial Christmas trees. Several stores have their plastic 2015 champagne flutes stacked neatly in a bed of confetti. Thus, it gets harder every year to give each holiday its individual significance. After considerable time spent pondering this commercial symbiosis of holidays, I conjured up a way to separate them evocative of Scrooge’s three Ghosts.

New Years represents the futureIt’s time to make the list of resolutions, knowing most will fall by the wayside by spring thaw. Still, we plan, we hope, we resolve, we look forward to a new year as a reboot of our dreams and desires.

Christmas time represents the present. However you celebrate the season—Christmas, Hanukkah, or other—this is the time we rejoice in the company of family and friends, wish glad tidings to all, and open our hearts and wallets to those we love, and hopefully, to those in need.

Thanksgiving represents the past. Why? Because this is the holiday we look back over the past year and give thanks for both the strength to get through the tribulations that came into our lives, as well as the many blessings.

This Thanksgiving, I can look back on trials like my father’s death and my brother’s battle with cancer, as well as the blessings. Our children are grown (too soon) into educated, loving, responsible adults, and Nathan has retired and is home for good. We celebrated our 31st anniversary in Oct. and I’m still wondering how the years went by so fast. And I’m happy to say my aging BFF and therapist, Jasmine, is still here snoring away right beside my chair. 

Thanks for stopping by and y’all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.      Jasmine (ready for therapy work) 001

Deborah Epperson
Deborah Epperson
Breaking TWIG

Breaking TWIG

Giving back — group power


SinCWe’re talking this month about giving back, as a way to express our gratitude for the richness of our lives. I am thankful that I have found my passion, the thing I was meant to do—write—and the tremendous support I’ve gotten from my family and friends, of course, but also from complete strangers: readers, booksellers, bloggers, people who share my books with their friends and say “read this—you’ll love it.”

And some of the strongest support has come from other writers. If you chat with any group of writers, you’ll hear them say, with absolute conviction, that writers are some of the most helpful and supportive people they’ve ever known. For the twenty years that I’ve been writing, that has been true. Writing is a solo activity, and most writers are happier, healthier people because we spend much of our time with people who only exist because we made them up. But group support is essential. As I wrote in my essay, “Connecting: Group Power, for the Writer Alone in Her Room,” published in Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey, by Sisters in Crime (Henery Press), “every opportunity and accomplishment I’ve had as a writer started with something I learned from a group.”

And so this month, I’ve joined the Board of Sisters in Crime, an international organization dedicated to promoting women in crime fiction, as vice president/president elect. It will be a tremendous opportunity to learn, to share, and to give back to this wonderful world of storytellers.

Unexpected Gratitude

Karen Wills
Gratitude comes in various ways. I’ve long made it a late night ritual to give thanks for whatever good things the day, even a difficult one, has brought. That usually involves searching thoughtfully through the day’s experiences and contacts.
But sometimes gratitude sneaks up and seizes my heart with astounding force. It can come from nature – as when I saw my first moonbow (like a rainbow only of moonlight) in the dark winter sky above the Bering Strait in Alaska. I was trudging and climbing over snowdrifts on the way to teach school that morning when another teacher pointed the white arc out to me. I felt touched, privileged, and grateful.
Recently, I’ve seen artists’creations that stunned me in the same way. The National Gallery of Art Museum in Washington, D.C. is a true treasure. Two works exhibited there triggered my gratitude reflex during my visit. One was The Little Dancer, a sculpture by Degas. His depiction of a fourteen year old street girl hoping to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet captures determination, vulnerability, and hop so perfectly that I felt tearful as a gazed up at her.
Later that day I revisited my favorite Rembrandt portrait, An Old Lady with a Book. Her intelligent, reflective face actually did bring tears the first time she caught me unaware.
Every place, every age of human life, holds reasons for gratitude. I live in readiness for the next moment when I will be swept up by a moment that raises me into that happy, helpless state of feeling thankful.

Prologue – Serita’s Shelf Life

I can’t cry.

You see, I put down my lovely Fritz today. Hip dysplasia. What should have been the saddest day of my life, next to the time I killed Marv, only rendered me numb. I left the vet’s office hollowed, took the day off work, and prepared to bawl my eyes out with a comforting cup of tea. But the damned medications have blunted my grief. Any emotion, really.

The absence of tears for my longtime companion compels me to go off my medications. Again. The time is right, and I am ripe to escape this solitary confinement of my soul.

I’m manic-depressive, or what they now call bipolar. I call it On/Off Disorder because untreated, I either soar a hundred miles per hour or hide under the covers. On/Off. I’m exhilarated by those ramping moods, requiring neither sleep nor food. But medications snuff out my power and plunge me into slow motion. I wait in vain to feel something, emotionally adrift. That doesn’t keep my On/Off thoughts from thriving in the fun house between my ears. Lately I’m suffocated by their lack of expression.

Expression. You should know that it got me in trouble before, hence the vile medications.

I will control the expression this time. I’m better now. I’m fifty-five, for godssakes. Past the night sweats and hormones. Employed. Stable. Out of the public eye. I can control the On/Off cycling. I’m sure of it.

Tomorrow I’ll wake up and take half a pill, and the next day and the next for a week, and then I’ll quit for good. It will be different this time. Really.

I look forward to speaking from my heart. Meds have robbed me of the words, but my coworkers don’t have a clue because I give good verbal with our patients. Normally I’d hate to meet and greet the patients, but no one asks about my life when their worries include an HIV diagnosis. Personal stakes are low for me, so I listen, a mirror, gesturing with long creamy arms, jangling bracelets at each creased wrist (because real women accessorize), and my words flow from the surface of my thick tongue. None pass through my heart or gut.

I avoided the dreaded HIV diagnosis myself, no thanks to a sex fiend husband in the wild 1980s and my own acting out during the ’90s. Of course, being On/Off only fanned the flames back then. So when medication first dampened my urges, it came as a gift because sex has not been kind to Serita O’Toole Palermo Ennis Walker. Now? Libid-NO best describes this vague, sterile sense about my once-lush body. I gained sixty-five goddam pounds—a lot even for my six-foot frame—after they found the correct chemical cocktail to blunt my brain. It wasn’t worth it. The men in my life are either old or gay, and that isn’t enough for Serita anymore. I’m lonely and worry I’ll always be alone. I want a companion, sex. I want to participate in life, to cry and laugh and splash in the emotional stream that only flows for me without medications.

It will be different this time. Really.