Counting my blessings

Give Thanks

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving!

A feast day. A day of thankfulness. This year we’ll be trekking over to my parents’ house — an entire 20-minute drive away, God help us — with Spencer’s trademark crock-pot ham and the green bean casserole I’ll be whipping up in the morning. And by “whipping,” I mean blending together to bake with one eye open as soon as I’ve had my coffee. With the parade blaring behind me.

I’m also bringing some of the Southern Maryland stuffed ham I stuffed with friends on Saturday morning, then baked for seven hours (!) on Sunday and finally sliced last night. Lots of work . . . and lots of ham. We already consumed some for dinner last night and will be indulging again at lunch today, so — all ham, all the time.

I’m okay with it.

Tomorrow is our first married holiday. I can’t believe we’ve been married less than three weeks. Seriously — the wedding was not even three weeks ago. To be honest, it feels much longer . . . perhaps because the weather changed so abruptly right after, casting us into sudden winter. The golden leaves are long gone. I looked forward to autumn for so long, the season we’d be married, and then . . . fall was over.

It’s so dreary outside. But nice and toasty inside.

As we draw closer to the end of a lovely but completely life-changing year, I’m incredibly thankful for my family. It was a tough year rife with health issues for many loved ones, but I will always be grateful we could all celebrate two wedding days together this year. In addition to my nuclear family, I’m very grateful to have married into a wonderful group of people who have welcomed me with open arms! (Literally. The Johnsons pulled me onto the floor for “We Are Family” at the wedding.)

More than ever, I realize how incredibly blessed Spencer and I are to have such wonderful friends — people who helped us, guided us, inspired us and just genuinely were there on the journey to our wedding day and beyond. I made new friendships this year and strengthened old ones, and I fully understand now that no one is an island. We wouldn’t want to be.

I’m endlessly thankful for the opportunity to do what I love each day: scribble words. Small ones, big ones. True ones.

My new relationship with food is also something for which I’m incredibly grateful — and I’m proud to have finally started taking my health seriously in 2013. I’m closing this year so much happier than I started it, and I can’t believe how much I’ve changed . . . physically and mentally. I could never go back.

As always, I could my blessings and not my “troubles.”

Sending you all warmth and love this Thanksgiving! Get out there and celebrate. Preferably with pumpkin pie . . . or cupcakes.

Cupcakes work, too.

Stuffed ham


Pumpkin pie

A late love letter to Buffalo


When my fiance first told me he was from New York, the bright lights of Manhattan danced across my vision. Broadway! Cheesecake! The subway! Publishing houses!

And then Spence added an important geographical term: Western. As in, Western New York — outside of Buffalo. And then I heard “Buffalo” and thought $678A2y8!@%&#@!!!, really??? because, many moons ago, I’d fallen in desperate first love with a man from Buffalo who left the D.C. area to return to Western New York. Which meant we were over.

I was devastated for, oh . . . I don’t know: three years? Give or take? Maybe more?

That’s a really long time. An embarrassingly long time.

And a really long time to obsess about Buffalo.

And then one sunny early spring day in 2010, I met my future husband . . . someone new, interesting, exciting, handsome! Someone with whom I immediately felt at ease. And I was myself: the real self. It felt different from the first day we met for coffee, when we covered all sorts of ground. Jobs, college, family, hopes and dreams . . . and, of course, our hometowns. Where we were from.

And that’s when he said the fateful words. That’s when I heard Buffalo once again.

The name alone made my heart pound. I’m sure my face must have registered my surprise, but Spence couldn’t have known. But of all the places! Of all the states! Buffalo again? I have to hear about Buffalo?

. . . I’m not sure if I believe in destiny. Some days I do, some days I don’t. I believe in a higher power and that things happen for a reason, but the idea of a cosmic game plan doesn’t always jive with me.

But after a big heartbreak and years of drifting along, thinking and re-thinking and wondering, I don’t believe it’s any coincidence that my future husband hails from Western New York.

Spence has redeemed the state of New York for me. In fact, he’s allowed me to reclaim it.

We’ve gone north to visit his wonderful family many times since that spring, and I used to think about how I’d decided I despised the place without ever giving it a fair shake. The allure of home to my ex-boyfriend was too strong to resist, and I was jealous of Buffalo as though she’d been his mistress. Irrational though it may be, I came to believe Buffalo had taken someone from me.

And then I met Spencer. And all that disappeared.

I changed my mind.

Though Buffalo “took” someone from me years ago, I just had to wait. Had to be patient. Had to trust that something right — someone right — would come along.

And he did.

And we fell in love.

And we’re getting married.

And we’re building a life together, layer by beautiful layer.

Buffalo gave me someone, too.

Thoughts this Thanksgiving week

Excuse my unexpected absence, friends — I managed to catch some weirdo stomach virus that knocked me flat for a few days. At first I thought, great — super sick and stuck on the couch, but at least I can get some awesome reading done! I’m behind! I have, like, 200 books in my bookcase — and just looking at those piles is starting to make me anxious!

Then I realized I was too sick to move, let alone focus on anything on a page. I wanted ginger ale, a cold washcloth, a quiet room and . . . that’s about it, really. So Roland Merullo’s Lunch With Buddha, no matter how lovely, would have to wait.

But the sickness has passed. I’m back on my feet. Spencer’s parents have arrived, kicking off our week of festivities, and I’m preparing to feast with family, Black Friday shop and drag out the Christmas boxes next weekend. (Well, all right — let’s be fair: my dad or Eric will drag out the boxes. But, you know.) It’s hard to believe we’ll segue straight from Thanksgiving to Christmas, but that’s the natural way of things. And since I’m crazy behind on my holiday shopping this year, that will be my next order of business.

I don’t know about you, but my Facebook feed has been flooded with friends’ “today I’m thankful for . . .” posts this month. While I haven’t participated publicly, I have been thinking about gratitude. When life feels stressful and I’m trying to hold my head above water, I remember how lucky I am to have been born in my country, my family and my world. I’m thankful for my amazing boyfriend; my job; my creative outlets. I’m thankful for this blog. I’m thankful for all of you. And I’m really just . . . thankful to be here.

In a year that has personally proven tomorrow is guaranteed to no one, I’m grateful for life. That’s cheesy, but it’s true.

This week? I will be making Spanish green beans, corn casserole and cupcakes. I will be addressing my Christmas cards on Thanksgiving morning, as is my tradition, and watching the parade with my sister. I will spend time with visiting relatives, who I’m so excited to see, and celebrate an “early” Christmas with my boyfriend’s lovely family. We will be decorating, eating and talking. Favorite movies will be watched. Hot chocolate will be consumed. I will be merry.

I’m thankful. And happy. And here.

And hey, after last weekend? I’m just thankful I don’t have to expect to spend Thanksgiving isolated in a darkened room, sick and angst-filled and without even a book to comfort me.

Some serious gratitude right there.

A giveway for a milestone week

It’s been a big week here at write meg! In addition to getting a makeover (complete with new layout, header and color scheme — but not sense of humor), my post on food drives was featured on‘s Freshly Pressed on Dec. 2-3. Welcome to everyone who clicked through that way, and to new subscribers! (And old ones. “Make new friends, but keep the old . . .”)

And, you know, I also happened to read 200,000 visits on Dec. 2. No big deal.

I promised I’d be doing something special in honor of that milestone, and I’m a woman of my word. We’re wrapping up the reading year and, to date, I’ve read 80 books. I’ll be doing a huge wrap-up post in coming weeks but already have my top choice for favorite read of the year. There was some fierce competition, yes, but one book stands out above all others for me: Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s Life After Yes.

This novel — Rowley’s debut — hit me like no other novel in 2010. It’s one of those books that found me at just the right time in my life, and it was like an arrow to the heart.

I won’t say much more about it now — a post is in the works. But you can read a summary and my full review from June right here.

And in honor of write meg!’s milestone week, I’d love to give a new copy to you! It’s a book with universal appeal that had me laughing, crying and seriously thinking about life. It’s not to be missed. And I don’t want you to miss it.

One copy of Life After Yes is up for grabs internationally to anywhere The Book Depository ships! See the list of countries and make sure yours is on it, then head over to this form to enter.

Comments on this post are welcomed and appreciated, but will not count as entries. One additional entry each may be earned by sharing a link to the contest via Twitter, Facebook, a blog post, etc.

The giveaway will run until 12 p.m. EST on Friday, Dec. 10, and the winner will be selected via and emailed by yours truly. I’ll share the results here and on Twitter, too.

Thank you to everyone who has visited, commented, emailed and/or passed along my link — this week and every week prior. I’m honored and proud of the space I’ve carved out for myself here, and can’t wait to share 2011 with all of you.

Update on Dec. 11: Congratulations to Jessica, my randomly-selected winner! Jess, I’ve emailed you.