The last thing you need right now is a Thanksgrifting

If there’s one thing I’m not sweating this year, it’s inviting a bunch of grifters to my Thanksgiving table. Sure, they’re family, but they had their chance and now they’re dead to me. Not in a COVID way. In an “Uh, no, I will not pass this creamy bowl of mac and cheese because you, sir, are a manipulative nuclear reactor and this table is not an emotional bomb shelter.” 

I do not want to make light of the hundreds of thousands of lives lost during this pandemic or the suffering so many have felt and are currently feeling. The culture, at large, takes great pains to emphasize “coming together” during the holidays. If you are a person who genuinely enjoys your family, you should stop reading right here. (Also: are you accepting applications for new members??) 

If you’re still with me: This one goes out to all of the folks who turned Thanksgiving into a day for giving thanks to cutting these bitches off. 

Feeding the poor and the hungry, the friends without a place to go—I support these altruistic endeavors with the kind of enthusiasm you’d expect from the internet about Harry Styles in a dress. But feeding the emotionally needy? Count me out. My family expects the most while doing the absolute least. In years past, the weeks leading up to the fourth Thursday in November were like a hostage negotiation with an orange ghoul for the safe return of democracy—I was eyeballs deep in demands for gluten-free gravy and vegetable sides with folks who show up with a pack of turkey-themed paper napkins demanding “gimme sportsball or give me death!” and then segueing into “we need to get back to common sense.” 

And each time I would be like, “give me death then.” Which is why I cut them off. 

Listen. This life, especially right now, is too short to mess around with family who do not deserve your time. I am under no obligation to continue these relationships and neither are you—this is the year, if you’ve been wavering to hit the block, to throw up the NO VACANCY sign, and roll into your Thanksgiving with a thankful heart full of gratitude that you do not have to put up with fragile nonsense. We’ve all been through way too much this year to mess with a turkey brine full of crazy. Especially when the stakes are so high. I mean I wouldn’t risk a paper cut for this shared DNA let alone my life; c’mon now. Get in losers, we’re setting boundaries! 

Coming together, for a lot of us, is aspirational at best and a fairy tale full of lies, at worst. Does it sometimes suck to not have a full house on Thanksgiving? Sure, if you catch me when I’m spiraling in estrogen but otherwise I’m floating down the lazy river of leftovers. This mashed potato wave pool is about to get nuts once the gravy starts flowing.

Protecting myself has meant Thanksgiving is now a day I enjoy because it is mine to share with my husband and daughter. Gone are the universal and cultural traditions of watching football and eating pie. Instead, I turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade as I prepare the turkey, then I switch over to the Pauly Shore movie Son In Law—a ’90s deep cut from the formerly curly-haired bohemian MTV VJ also known as “The Wiez”—and end with cheesecake.

The Thanksgiving I sit down to is filled with lighthearted fun with people who love and like one another. I don’t need a day in November to be thankful for that, I appreciate it every day. 

But if you’re wavering on the merits of a scaled-down Thanksgiving, let me offer you the confirmation that even the slightest, the pettiest, half thought out reasons, can rock with you to limit your guest list. Let your Thanksgiving feast operate behind a velvet rope like Studio 54 (you know, before it was shut down for tax evasion or whatever. I am not googling it). 

Season your distance with the resentments you still harbor, and thank yourself for the good taste to know you have standards. Be the algorithm you need in your life and curate your Thanksgiving away from the kind of people you wish were strangers. Here are just some of the “lemme stop you right there…” things I’ve considered this Thanksgiving (ok, and the last one too): 

  • Brought me into this world without asking my opinion first
  • Had the caucacity to consider Mrs. Dash spicy
  • Filled the fridge with Pepsi like it’s not the Rudy Giuliani of cola beverages 
  • Married some guy with a long history of DUIs and three or four ex-wives who I guess is my “step-dad” now
  • Banged on my door like it was the DEA demanding a search for an unreturned vacuum 
  • Sent me some kind of emotional blackmail happy birthday message on Facebook
  • Still uses Facebook
  • One time said, “some people like cheese and some like squirrel” like this is something well adjusted, not at all a serial killer thing to say
  • Not only owns but nests an American flag bandana on their rearview mirror for all to see
  • Duct tape but make it decor 

Family can be exhausting, so take a nap this year and let your shared DNA hunt and gather on their own. And give thanks to cutting these bitches off. 

Liz Henry writes good stories and makes bad choices. Sign up for her emotionally slutty newsletter, Best Indoor Life. 


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Wishing tortures to Happy People one freshly baked microwave cake at a time

Today’s post is from guest contributor Liz Henry

Back when I was really depressed, happy people made me want to die. They did not inspire me to redirect my thoughts or look at my can of Diet Coke as half-full. The only thing happy people inspired in me were new ways I could torture them. Like, if there was a misery cake, and with each candle I was granted one Happy People Torture, I’d wish for things like: full-fat pumpkin spice lattes, every third page ripped out of Elizabeth Gilbert’s books, the Internet but only in sports references like, “It’s a wheelhouse out there!,” a ban on the color teal, cookies but make them oatmeal raisin and self-cut bangs.  

No one gets more up in their feelings than a Happy Person™ when someone else lets the sad out. I imagine being a Happy Person is a lot like walking through Ikea with all its possibilities and combinations, and an earnest belief that no space is too small to feel big. And then, well, Happy People meet the brick wall of reality doom. The Ikea stuff must be put together with only one’s wits and a wrench thingy to guide the way. 

At the very least, Ikea is the small talk of furniture—no one really wants to know that we’re all cheaply constructed but more or less functional if we share the right angle on our Instagram feeds. 

A few years back, I saw the Pixar movie “Inside Out” with my daughter. Drowning in my chair from the tears leaking out of my eyeballs, I spent 90 minutes watching an animated tween girl and her personified feelings battle over joy and sadness. Which one, the movie asks, is more important? Or, can they coexist?  Obviously, as a children’s movie, the question is answered with a sledgehammer: joy and sadness inform, compliment and rely on each other for their very existence. 

In other words, the happy stuff in life is made possible by the sad stuff and the people who force us to deny our realities suck. Let me pull in some more Disney characters because why not: Did Pooh ever tell Eeyore to smile and did Eeyore ever question Pooh’s pantsless visible belly outline? Are you kidding? The Hundred Acre Wood does not play. It’s sugar, sadness, and no pants. 

WHAT A BUNCH OF FUCKING LEGENDS. 

Now that I’m on the other side of depression—I slid down the rainbow right into a pot o’ golden french fries—I can see Happy People™ for what they are: emotional police handcuffing the rest of us with their nonsense. They’re like feelings fascists making us suffer through forced smiles and, in the before times, filling quaint main streets with Life is Good stores. 

If there is any service I can do in this world, standing out front of  a Life is Good with a poster board sign reading, “IS IT THOUGH?!” would be a contribution I’d love to make.

I want to be clear: Happy People, the ones I’m writing about, enforce toxic joy at all costs. They have a freshly baked whattabout every time you drop a status update that’s even a whiff of a real emotion that doesn’t land somewhere between “lust for life” and “walking on the sunshine.” They’re the reply guys of Twitter, but smiling women with a hundred thousand Instagram hashtags and a preferred color palette. They start team meetings by asking the not at all squirm-inducing question (and during a pandemic  no less): What’s bringing you joy?” 

If it were possible for me to die from a shriveling hard-on, “what’s bringing you joy” would certainly do it. I’d like to strike it from the record. Just like salad with the dressing mixed in and Justin Timberlake. It’s dressing on the side and Janet Jackson forever. 

I feel a special kinship with the Sads. Sadness is my factory setting—it’s always there, kicking in like an air conditioner compressor blowing cold air whenever I go and get ahead of myself with some piping hot enjoyment. “Careful, bitch,” my happiness suddenly says, “play too close to the sun and you might get burned.” My favorite people are underdogs. The best stories are the down-and-out ones. I like the thrill of redemption instead of the tyranny of having it all. Resilience isn’t smiling through pain; it’s moving on with scars. The people who know the difference are my favorite.  

So maybe the next time you’re forced indoors or your sweet tooth is throbbing for some microwave cake-in-a-mug, make sure your scissor drawer has a pack of candles. After all, you have some wishes to make. 

Liz Henry writes good stories and makes bad choices. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post and Brain, Child Magazine. Read her emotionally slutty newsletter, The Non-Squad, here [http://www.tinyletter.com/lizhenry]. 


If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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Reparations matter and are relevant (and doable) now

Today’s offering is a guest post from Kathryn Terry of Reparations Roundtable™, a group of white and white- presenting folks dedicated to the educational and direct giving aspects of reparations work (for more on her and the group, see info at the end after my usual giving/support blurb). – BGIM


I am a reparationist. A white-presenting woman who firmly believes in the redistribution of wealth and resources to Black Americans in order to address the deep harm they have suffered at the hands of white supremacy culture. At the hands of us…white people. Black Americans’ generational wealth was (is) stolen by white Americans, and the damage from that theft of resources reverberates endlessly via institutional racism and white support of it. 

I am a reparationist because I have learned over many years that it doesn’t matter if we personally didn’t participate in the actual theft of resources from Black communities. It doesn’t matter if our families were/are lower or middle class going back generations. “But my family is poor and we never owned slaves” is not an inoculation, in any way, against upholding systems of oppression that we think we benefit from (we do, unfairly). We are white, and therefore have been upholding white supremacy culture, the foundation of institutional racism, since we created it. From slavery to Jim Crow to redlining to the school-to-prison pipeline to unjust sentencing to do you get what I’m saying? Reparations are owed to Black Americans. 

This weekend, like every weekend and most days of the week, I’m raising funds for Black women and femmes and their children. I belong to a direct-giving reparations group, and every dollar we raise goes to supporting Black people in crisis. We don’t operate the way nonprofits do, generally doling out small amounts for a very narrow group of needs and/or people on a one-time basis. We provide support with critical living needs for as long as people need it. Our goal is moving people from crisis to stability. There’s never enough money, but I hope and believe we are making a difference in the lives of the Black women, femmes, and marginalized genders that come to us for assistance. 

As white people, once we open our eyes to how much damage whiteness and racism have done to Black people and communities, how can we deny that reparations are due, and that it’s long past time for them to be paid? For me it’s not possible to ignore the deep inequity created by centuries of racial oppression, so it feels inevitable and natural that I found my way to reparations work. I have always cared deeply about injustice. I have always wanted to bridge the deep divide between myself and Black people, who literally have no reason to trust anyone white after hundreds of years of oppression. Working alongside, and at the direction of, Black women organizers for the last two years in reparations work has been a privilege that I don’t take lightly. I try to be a consistent anti-racism ally and accomplice. It takes work, and a lot of that work is self-awareness and unlearning deeply ingrained racism. If you’re thinking right now “But I’m not racist”, I’ve been there. It’s our knee-jerk reaction to these conversations, and we can get past it. We are all racist and the difference is, what are we doing about it? What are we doing to change ourselves and society? What are we doing to heal the damage that our collective racism has inflicted on Black people? 

A big, impactful thing we can do is to get involved in reparations work. Seek out anti-racism and reparations groups you can join and learn with. Pay Black organizers and anti-racism activists by subscribing to support their work, whether they have a Patreon account or just feature their pay apps in their social media profiles. They deserve to be paid for the education they’re providing and the labor they’re giving to educate white people. We all deserve to be paid for our work. Budget income for reparations giving, help other people raise funds by sharing fundraisers. 

I urge people to seek out the truth about racism and the daily lived experiences of Black and brown people, get past the feelings that it will bring up in you, keep pushing yourself when you feel guilty or defensive or angry that this is what is true, and not what you believed the world to be. The point of learning is not to make us feel guilty or ashamed; it is to bring us to an awareness that Black people have been living under systems of oppression that center whiteness, that we are a part of those systems, and that we must actively work to dismantle them. Reparations through direct giving smashes the paradigm of capitalism and it’s built-in racism, putting dollars directly into the hands of Black people. 

It took many years for me to get to the point of aspiring to and working towards being actively anti-racist. It feels so much easier to allow ourselves to continue in our blindness to how racist the world around us is—our families, our friends—but we as white people are individually and collectively racist. To face that is to accept that yes, even you yourself have been racist during your life, whether you meant to be or not. Our intent doesn’t matter; the results of our action or inaction do. If we’re not actively seeking to dismantle racist systems of oppression, we are passively upholding them. Inaction in the face of great injustice is racism, too. 

There has been enough discussion about reparations. What is really needed is for us to come together and do the work of reparations and anti-racism. We do not have to wait for a law to be passed, for years of studying how and when and who reparations should be paid to; we can begin the work ourselves. Direct giving as reparations is the model for white and white-adjacent people to do the work of dismantling institutional racism, and we are always looking for other white people to join us. You can find our group, Reparations Roundtable™, on Facebook, and on Twitter @ReparationsR. 

Sincere gratitude to Shay for asking me to write this piece. I have been reading and following Shay’s anti-racism work on her website, Facebook pages, and Twitter for a few years now and I have learned so much from her. I appreciate the opportunity to engage with her community, learn, and grow together. I hope if you’re reading this that you also support Shay via her Patreon account. The education that Black women have been providing to us for as long as I can remember is worth supporting with our dollars. Her anti-racism work is not free. We shouldn’t think of it as free.  Ultimately, reparations is really about freedom. In the words of famous activist and Civil Rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” Believe it, and let’s get busy.


If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.


Today’s guest poster, Kathryn Terry, is an active member of Reparations Roundtable™, a group of white and white-presenting folks dedicated to the educational and direct giving aspects of reparations work. She is also an advocate for children and adolescents, active in public school mentoring programs for the last several years. She loves writing, singing, dancing, and building community with people who are intent on becoming anti-racist and working to dismantle institutional racism. You can find Reparations Roundtable™ and join the group on Facebook, follow on Twitter @ReparationsR, and you can support Black women and femmes directly via their Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/ReparationsRoundtable.