Like We Used To

This post comes after a long weekend of family, food, and fun times. For the past few years, my parents journeyed to the frozen north to spend Thanksgiving with me. This year, I headed back to my old Kentucky home to celebrate Thanksgiving in my hometown or, in the words of my mother, “like we used to.”

Airport chic.

For as long as I can remember, my great-aunt (or as I called her “Granny”) Aloma hosted Thanksgiving dinner at her house. The whole family would come over to eat, play games, watch football, and cut up in a way that only family can. Since her passing, we haven’t had a Thanksgiving celebration that’s been the same. This year though, we all got together and had that down home gathering.  

My “ready to eat” face.


I think it was hard for all of us without Granny Aloma there. We had a great time though, eating traditional southern dishes and laughing for hours. Family and friends all together, bonding over food and fellowship–my heart was so full (and my belly was too). 

 

This turkey was for the post-Thanksgiving dinner.

 
We kept our tradition of seeing a movie on Thanksgiving night alive too. The five of us (my mom, stepdad, brother, stepsister, and I) saw the late showing of Mockingjay, Part 2 and even ran into a few distant cousins at the theater! We got home and went to bed for a few hours in preparation for the next day…

Coffee required for 6am shopping.

Black Friday! My mom, stepsister, and I got up around six to go shopping.  We got some awesome deals at the mall, and I purchased my very own selfie stick (at 50% off). I even found my favorite soda from middle school!

Testing out the selfie stick!

Ahhhh, tastes like sixth grade.

We had breakfast, then hit a few other stores before making our way back home. After a nap, we went out shopping again and got even more deals. Mom and I managed to mark a few people off our Christmas lists (and picked up some goodies for ourselves too of course). 

 

Shop until you’re drop dead gorgeous!

 
Saturday I made a country breakfast of sausage, biscuits, and gravy before we went to watch my brother play basketball. He made some great plays! The fact that he’s dang near 7′ tall probably doesn’t hurt–I call him my “big little brother.” ūüôā
 

Ready to rebound.

 

Later that day, we had visitors come through–cousins! Clearly cute runs in our family because these little girls are the most adorable people ever! The big sister is a cheerleader/gymnast who is smart as a whip. The little sister is the sweetest, calmest little baby; this was my first time meeting her and she stole my heart right away. 
 

Sisters!

 

To make the night even more awesome, my stepdad brought me a delicacy I’m unable to get easily in Wisconsin…White Castle! 

The deliciousness is indescribable.

 

Today consisted of a lazy morning at the house before the family took me to the airport. Hugs were given; “I love you’s” and “be careful’s” exchanged. And here I am, writing a post about my wonderful weekend on a plane. 

Bags packed…

I love my family so much. I am so thankful to have grown up with people and traditions so honest and real. I’m glad we are able to come together and support one another “like we used to” and, hopefully, how we always will. 

Mistaken Identity

A few weeks ago, some of my neighbors stopped by my house to return some mail that had been mistakenly delivered to them instead of me. ¬†I rarely get unannounced visitors, so I curiously approached the door–perhaps it was a teenager doing a fund raiser or a friend who happened to be in the neighborhood.

I opened the door, said hello.  A white man and woman stood on my stoop.  Their faces quickly went from placid to surprised.

“Are YOU…?”

“Yes, sir; this is my home. ¬†How can I help you?”

A quick explanation of the mail mishap and they were gone, leaving me with a Women’s Health magazine and feelings¬†of resignation.

This¬†interaction was, unfortunately, not a first for me. ¬†People have been surprised at my Blackness more times than I can count. ¬†Perhaps it’s the unassuming first name. ¬†Or maybe the lack of accent–my extensive public speaking background nipped that in the bud real quick.

But multiple times in my life, I’ve spoken to someone on the phone and heard a shocked, pleased, or even disappointed exclamation of “I didn’t know you were Black!” during our first in-person meeting. ¬†Or gotten a look of confusion in a doctor’s waiting room when I stand after my name is called. ¬†Each time, I roll my eyes and add the interaction to the list of acts of subtle racism thrown my way.

Why do people live with stereotypes–usually negative–of what Blackness is? ¬†Why, after meeting me in person, do people feel the need to remark on how “articulate” I am? ¬†Or how I’m “not what they expected?” ¬†Most people probably don’t even realize what they’re doing–and they definitely wouldn’t call it being racist. ¬†However, stereotypes about Black people are so deeply ingrained that most of the population doesn’t even recognize them unless they are explicitly pointed out.

Sometimes, the stereotypes have terrifying–even deadly–repercussions. ¬†A Black woman was held at gunpoint because a white neighbor thought she was breaking into her own apartment.¬†Luckily, this woman wasn’t injured or killed.

…However, this Black man wasn’t so lucky.

Neither was this Black woman.

For those who continue to mistakenly believe that we live in a post-racial society, look around you. ¬†Look at your own actions. ¬†Scrutinize your reactions to and interactions with people of color. ¬†You don’t have to wear a white hood, rep the Confederate flag, or say the n-word to be a racist. ¬†You don’t have to be a billionaire raised with the finest of things to have privilege. ¬†Remember this each time you open your front door and the person on the other side acts like you belong there.

Home

Guess what, y’all?

I’m a homeowner.

Due to my ridiculously slightly superstitious nature, I wanted to wait until things were certain before I made the big announcement. ¬†It happened so quickly–it was only a few months ago that JB and I decided to start looking at houses–but the opportunity presented itself right way and we took it. ¬†I once heard, “Good things happen slowly; great things happen all at once,” and hoped that mantra applied to the house we wanted to purchase. ¬†After numerous phone calls, scanned documents, and trips to the bank, I signed a ton of papers and received a house in return.

I’m excited, relieved, and more than a bit terrified about all this. ¬†Aside from moving to Wisconsin, this is the only “adult” decision I’ve ever really made. ¬†There’s definitely the legal aspect of it to make it scary (30 year mortgage, taxes, home emergencies that I can’t call the landlord to fix now) but the idea of having a new “home” really freaked me out. ¬†To me, “home” has always been Kentucky and the house where my mom lives.

Now I’ve got my own “home” which, in my mind, meant that my old home isn’t mine anymore. ¬†Though I haven’t lived there in years, that house on Shady Lawn was the one place I knew I could always run to. ¬†Now I’ve got something of my own to take care of, to take responsibility for. ¬†I’ve got a place to build my own family and raise my own children…a place that is 8.5 hours away from the only place I’ve ever known and the people that mean the most to me.

So I guess it’s time for me to learn a new place. ¬†My heart will always belong to Kentucky–no amount of time in the Midwest will change that–but after living in Madison for three years I can finally say that I like it enough to stay for a spell. ¬†Y’all come visit anytime. ¬†ūüôā

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