Well, at least I got to save Christmas. Let me explain. Many years ago, one of the assorted sons-in-law in our family nobly carried a bowl of gravy to the table while we were all sitting down to Christmas dinner. He probably didn’t do this so much to be helpful as he did to hurry up chow time. Even so, my mother gushed about it as if he had single-handedly achieved world peace. As the rest of us had been laboring in the kitchen for hours — only to hear of one guy being lauded for gravy-conveyance — we burst out laughing. “Thank goodness Earl saved Christmas!” we joked.
FARGO -- By the time you read this, my godchild will be married. My beloved Kari — the little girl I nicknamed “Flower” because of her sunny disposition — will officially be a wife. How did this happen? I now understand the disbelief that parents must feel when they see the baby they once snuggled walking down the aisle. Flower has always occupied an unusually large space in my heart, partly because my role as godmother was the closest I’ve come to actual motherhood. I used to call her “Tammy 2.0” because we seemed so alike.
“You are so talented.” “You are so creative.” “You’re such a good writer.” I often heard those phrases while growing up, and always considered myself so fortunate to hear them. I knew of kids whose parents and teachers never said a kind or encouraging word to them, and I witnessed their struggle throughout life. I was surrounded by encouraging adults who believed children were like flowers: If you showered them with love, praise and positive vibes, they would flourish and grow.
FARGO — On my very first day of first grade, I excitedly followed my other classmates out the door when the teacher hollered “recess!” Imagine my disappointment when I learned “recess” meant going outside to play dodgeball rather than entering a room where we would eat a giant pile of peanut butter cups.
The minute I saw the TV, I knew we were in trouble. My mother has upgraded almost every television in her large bed-and-breakfast with modern flat-screens, save this one bedroom. The room — located in the back of the house, decorated with oil paintings of pheasants and outfitted with extra-long twin beds — is a favorite of hunters during pheasant season. It is probably the most no-frills room in her B&B, and the men who stay there don't mind a bit.
At first blush, I was a bit suspicious of her. She seemed so young and tan in her white summer dress, so sharp and confident, so talented with her office decorated as creatively and tastefully as you'd expect from an HGTV decorator.
FARGO — I'll never forget the day. In many ways, it was a day like many others. Blue sky. The sounds and smells of lawn-mowing in the distance. That slight crispness to the air that suggests cooler days are coming. But one thing set this day apart. It was the day that I received a truly odd object in the mail. It didn't come from a politician. It wasn't emblazoned with phrases like: "Closeout Sale!" Or: "Grand Opening!" Or: "Final notice!" Or: "We want you back!"
So my friend's son is studying for his driver's test. It's quite a process, which seems to involve written tests, fees, waiting periods and various driver's education classes. Like everything else, it seems a lot more complicated than it used to be. I am almost positive that I was able to get my driver's license — which means I was fully qualified to take the family brontosaurus for a spin — by age 14.
Oh, how I'd forgotten. It's been years since my nieces and nephew were toddlers. But I'd somehow forgotten what it was like to be around a human being who is somewhere between 24 and 36 months of age. Oh sure, I've witnessed the occasional meltdown in the middle of Target. I know a few adults who act like 3-year-olds and — trust me — it's not nearly as tolerable as when the misbehavior comes from a cherub with huge, blue eyes, chubby toddler cheeks and the disarming ability to switch from sociopathic grifter to "Gertie from E.T." in a nanosecond.
After a lifetime of battling what to eat in order to triumph over the scale, I've realized that I've been asking the wrong question. Maybe the reaI question is when to eat. It's true. One of the latest trends in dieting seems to be "intermittent fasting," a method of alternating mini-fasting periods with regular food intake as a way to lose fat and build muscle. Along the way, intermittent-fasting proponents claim this eating style can do everything from enhance cellular repair and increase brain function to control insulin levels and burn belly fat.