A Thanksgiving Movie and the Need to Draw

November 27, 2008

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. Throughout the country people are traveling home or gathering with friends to celebrate a holiday that means so many things to different people. Historically it celebrates a fall feast among Pilgrims and Native Americans in 1621. For some people the holiday means enduring more of the dysfunction with which they grew up. Kodak and other companies in their advertising would like us to believe we are all making warm and happy memories. Some people in this current economy will find their circumstances tighter than usual.

Whatever your situation past or present, humor can help you to a better future. When I think of humor and Thanksgiving I think of "Home for the Holidays," a 1995 film directed by Jodie Foster. The stellar ensemble cast includes Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Robert Downey Jr., and Dylan McDermott.

In preparation for the end of the year and the barrage of holiday movies rerunning on TV, I have been preparing a list of my all-time favorite holiday movies: movies which deal with Thanksgiving or Christmas and the American myths that surround these holidays. This movie makes it onto that list. I wanted to mention it today in case you are channel flipping before dessert, or football (I hear there is football on Thanksgiving); or in case you are off to the movie rental store in search of something to brighten your spirits. This movie will remind you about the glorious mess it is to be human at any time of the year, but especially on a day when societal and cultural expectations run high (or rampant, as I like to explain it).

I would also like to encourage you to draw something today. Maybe it's some food you're prepping in the kitchen, and you happen to be taking a break. Maybe it's the dining room you've prepared for guests. Maybe it's as simple as sketching your sleeping pet or family member after the celebrations have ended, or if you're adventurous, while your gathering is in full swing. 

Along with drawing, today is a great day to listen to family stories and write them down (as they are being told) in your journal, so that you have a record of those stories, happy and sad, that make up your family history. If you can't be with the ones you love, wherever you are you can still listen and observe, and capture the flow of life; the flow of your story at that moment. (Being stuck in transit is always better if you have your journal!)

Over the years I have found that in between cooking what is arguably a vast and complicated meal which requires math skills to orchestrate the timely arrival of the dishes to the table, I have been able to paint or produce some of the best artwork I do all year. There are so many moments throughout any day off from work that you can gather up and use to create something new. It doesn't matter if you do this before everyone else wakes up, after they go to bed, or somewhere in between. There is time there to find. If you can find it on this day you can find it on any day, over and over again.

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