Our political differences didn’t matter in the days after 9/11. We were unified as a country, we were one. I hope on this 9/11 young people can learn from those who remember that terrible day how we came together.
Sometimes I think I’m naive to hope that we can return to one United States, but this picture of my husband and me as newlyweds in NYC with the Twin Towers in the background reminds me to not give up hoping.
This is a picture of two people who couldn’t be more different (except that we share a birthday). Most glaring is that we have different religions and different political beliefs, but we have been happily married for 21 years and those differences have made for some great conversations over the years, but they don’t define us.
If I could choose for us to be the same on those fundamental differences I wouldn’t, because being different gives me a perspective I wouldn’t have otherwise.
So if we can get along, why can’t people who don’t share toothpaste?
As I watch other parents sending their teenagers off to college, I remember the agonizing lump in my throat when we were doing the same one year ago. I wish I knew then what I know now.
As we prepared to drive the 600-plus miles to take our oldest child to school, I wondered who thought this was such a good idea? My husband was the culprit, luring our son to a Utah Jazz game in February 2020 to show our son how fun it would be to live in Salt Lake City. With alternating annoyance at my husband and that darn lump that threatened to escape into sobs at any moment, I found strength the morning we left when I saw my son saying goodbye to his siblings and our dog.
I fought the urge to turn the car around — there was no way I was going to leave him in another state, let alone a big city — during that long drive. At the thought of him living on our couch his whole life, I realized my sadness stemmed from thinking that this chapter, my favorite chapter so far as a family of six, was over. “Eighteen years sure went fast,” I said to my husband when my son ran into a rest stop.
“It didn’t go that fast,” he deadpanned.
We have gotten so polarized as a nation over politics that not even the Tokyo Olympics could unify Americans. After years of ratcheting up our defenses, the games themselves were often politicized. With a global, once-in-a-century pandemic, we can’t stay entrenched in our fighting corners, though. There is too much work to be done.
How can we make strides? There are grumblings that we need someone non-political, someone who Americans largely trust, to help us navigate the latest national split concerning COVID-19 vaccines. Specifically, how we can get more people vaccinated?
We need someone with the trust-factor Oprah had during her 25-year syndicated show run. Americans from all ages and backgrounds flocked to get Oprah’s Book Club picks and “favorite things,” but we trusted her with more serious matters too. There was no arm-twisting when she offered advice; there was no forcing of anything because people trusted her.
It’s too bad, but not surprising, then that the pandemic has become political. The closest we have is that most leaders agree that the COVID-19 vaccine is curbing deaths and serious illness, but that is where the consensus ends. What’s at stake is whether there should be vaccine mandates or leave it up to people to decide for themselves whether or not to get the vaccine.
If we could find a unifying messenger, more people would get vaccinated. The person we need for the job is Dolly Parton.
As a parent I never thought I would see the day that children would plead to go to school, but since many other things about the past 12 months have been like the Twilight Zone this has been part of our new reality as well. Most kids want, and need, the live school experience instead of the virtual one, for everything traditional school is — the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly of it. However, there is an alarming number of kids who aren’t pleading anymore; they have been out of school so long that they want to stay sheltered at home and this should worry us all.
I will preface this with saying we are incredibly fortunate to live in a school district who has done, and continues to do, the right thing by our students. But...we are the lucky few....
Prolonged school closures in our communities are taking their toll. As a pediatrician on the frontlines, this is what we are seeing: unprecedented number of teen eating disorders, anxiety, depression, ER visits related to suicide ideation or attempts.
Who are you? No, really, who are you? This question lies at the heart of Derek DelGaudio’s one-man theatrical show, In & Of Itself, which was met with such success (DelGaudio performed it in front of live audiences more than 500 times) that it was made into a movie, now streaming on Hulu.
In & Of Itself begins with unknowing audience members choosing from an array of cards that all start with “I AM…” I am an accountant, I am a healer, I am a son, and so on.
One of my favorite things to do is talk about books, so I was thrilled to talk with author Jan Sikes about her newest creation, the first book in her "White Rune" series, Ghostly Interference. It starts with a chance encounter and the story that unravels is hard to put down. So grab a snack, settle in, and enjoy where our conversation goes.
Connect with Jan Sikes
Sometimes reality is more interesting than fiction, as shown in the newly released film Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Based on the 2016 memoir by author J.D. Vance, the story chronicles Vance’s coming of age in Middletown, Ohio, struggling against abuse, poverty and a drug addicted mother.
We’ve seen the same conflict in stories before – a main character against society—but never in this setting. At every turn Vance is failed by the very government institutions that are supposed to be
safeguards, from education and healthcare to Child Protective Services. Though coarse, the hillbilly culture to which Vance belongs is what he and his community can depend on, stepping up for one another, like in how they honor their dead.
Since the pandemic began, more families have been searching for more connection opportunities and for many this has meant board games, cards, dice games and more. One highlight of my Thanksgiving was playing a game after dinner that everyone enjoyed, from my 12, 14, 16, and 18 year-olds, to my 73 year-old father.
We didn’t need the official “Left, Right, Center” set to play a variation on the game. Three dice and three quarters per person were all we needed.
1. Start with three quarters per person (you can substitute with just about anything - Halloween candy, dollar bills, poker chips that can be turned in for a prize, etc). You need at least three people to play, and the more the merrier. We played with seven people.
2. Decide who goes first and then take turns clockwise.
3. First player rolls three dice. If a “4” is rolled, pass a quarter to the left, a “5,” pass a quarter to the person on your right, a “6,” put a quarter in the middle, or in the prize pot. If you don’t roll a 4, 5, or 6 you keep your money. If you roll a single “4” for example, you pass one quarter to your left and keep your other quarters.
4. With three quarters in your possession you may roll three times. One quarter= one dice roll. If you don’t have any quarters left, you skip your turn but you’re still in the game because you might still get quarters from the people to your right and/ or left.
5. The game ends when the last person with a single quarter wins the whole center pot.
I won the first round and said, “I’ll throw the money back in if you want to play again.”
Everyone wanted to keep playing! That, to me, was a success!
In the past I’ve written about other family games that are also fun for any age. One that stands out is the card game “Kings in the Corner.” Even young who can count and can place cards in a red, black, red, black pattern can play this. This game spreads across the table so you’ll need space.
What family games have been a win-win for kids and adults in your household?