Monday Dare (& Giveaway!): Happy Shanksgiving

Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. Click on the link to see the complete list of Monday Dares or to learn more about its origin.

This week: Trust my first instinct

This is actually the second Monday Dare I am writing today. I finished the first, read it over, and then scrapped it. Something didn’t seem right to me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I decided to take a break and browse the Honeybaked Ham website to clear my head. I made a list of all the delectables I intend to buy one day when I’m rich and successful. My plan is to refer to the page from time to time when I feel extremely discouraged or lazy. Hopefully, the promise of the HoneySweet Chutney Duo will propel me to work hard and stay focused. Losers don’t deserve the $43 Malibu Marvel featuring an irresistible assortment of tropical fruit, toffee, and almonds, I will tell myself. Be a Winner. 

Perhaps it was the promise of katrillion dollar hams in my future, but my razor sharp focus came back. I understand now why the first Dare didn’t work.

I challenged myself to reach out to the family members I no longer speak to and make amends. It seemed like something a Real Adult would do- someone with a bigger heart who has the capacity to forgive and recognize that family is forever.

The holidays are always a weird time for me. I see my friends grinning and bearing it, spending time with people they dislike, making small talk and generally being tolerant while secretly thinking of ways to slash some motherfucking tires with a shard from a broken eggnog glass.

I just can’t. I refuse.

For years, I have felt a tremendous amount of guilt for our small family get-togethers. Then, of course, the guilt is temporarily replaced by relief and happiness as I enjoy those precious days with the people I love- eating shitloads of food not purchased from Honeybaked Ham, feigning surprise as I unwrap gifts I forced them to buy me, and decorating our fake Christmas tree with fancy ornaments I got at Pottery Barn one year when I was actin’ a fool and feeling flush. Then, the guilt again.

This morning, when I made the commitment to bridge the gaps in our family by being the first to reach out, an ugly dread settled over me, but I ignored it. I convinced myself that I was just being childish and immature. But, no matter how hard you work to make your head believe something, matters of the heart can only be resolved by the heart.

I allowed myself to remember all the reasons why I no longer consider these people my “real family.” These bits and pieces aren’t something I ever allow myself to dwell on for too long, but I gave myself a pass to root around in my past today.

I tried to trick myself into doing something I didn’t want to do. Something that would not have been good for me. All for the sake of being a Real Adult, whatever that means. Fuck that shit. There are some doors that need to stay closed. There are some people who don’t deserve a place in our lives. It would be a waste to spend any more time or thought feeling guilty. I’d rather give that space to my real family instead.

Happy Thanksgiving.

P.S. I fucking love presents. Maybe you do too. To celebrate this holiday season, I will be doing a giveaway each week until the end of the year. Get connected on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page, on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress), and on Twitter (@ElizabethJLiu) for giveaway updates, (t)hug life thoughts, pictures, and other random shit.


I ADORE Mariella Bowman’s MySkipper dolls. Cal is the lucky owner of several of her creations, most recently an Anne of Green Gables doll that Mariella custom designed for Cal’s birthday. When I opened a surprise package from MySkipper last week to find a Tupac doll, complete with a gold chain and “THUG LIFE” tattooed on its stomach, I laughed until I cried. She totally got it right and gave my day such a boost. I’ll be posting a picture of Tupac on Instagram later today.

MySkipper is giving away one doll to a lucky reader. YOUR CHOICE from any pictured above. Mariella’s Etsy shop is regularly updated with new dolls, but she is also currently taking custom orders until the end of November.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below with your favorite holiday tradition. Only comments left on THIS post will count. I’ll announce a winner next Monday.

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  • Kristin Frane

    You are hilarious and brutally honest. Love it! Happy Thanksgiving!!

  • Sarah Wallace

    My favorite holiday tradition? Coming up with a safe word with my baby daddy to use when we’re ready to go. Kevin Hart/ Four Christmas style. Pineapples!!

  • Stefanie

    I don’t really have a favorite holiday tradition to share but I do want to tell you that I totally feel you on the some doors need to remain closed. I’ve been doing that guilt dance in my head lately too. Maybe I should make amends? Maybe I’ll feel terrible when they’re gone if I didn’t get some closure, or make it right, or is there a chance I could just “deal” like some of my friends? But each time I think it out, I just can’t get to how it would be healthy for me or my actual “in my life” family. So I don’t. And so it will go for another year. This being year 6 with no contact.

  • ColdBlooded

    “There are some doors that need to stay closed. ” I couldn’t have summed it up any better. People forget that family is a privilege, not a right.

    My favorite holiday tradition is picking out a charity to donate to in honor of those that I consider family. Donations to charity make the best gifts.

  • Sarah Clark

    My favorite holiday tradition is locking the door and turning all the lights out when the relatives I don’t like come knocking….just kidding we don’t turn the lights off. Lol seriously, we just ignore them umtil they leave…ahh the joys of the holidays :)

  • Caitlin Kraeski Pooler

    Always just spend the holidays with the hubby, kids, and my parents. We don’t associate with my in-laws, and no other family around. Small and drama-free, much better that way.

  • Jamie Capps

    My favorite holiday tradition is bundling up the family along with friends to go see Christmas lights. Every year, same people, same Starbucks on the way, same damn Christmas lights in the same neighborhood. I’m pretty sure the kids could all care less and cannot wait until all of us parents are old enough to put in a home but it’s a tradition – and we are making memories damn it!

  • Angelica Rubio Antunez

    My holiday tradition is making cookies and cakes with the kids and watching Christmas movies on t.v.;)

  • Tim Spano

    Getting elbow deep in a bird. And stuffing a turkey.

  • FearlessFibro

    One of my favorite traditions is Black Friday shopping. I love the mess, the carnal attacks, the quest for the most amazing 40% off shit I don’t need. Each year, I go out with a friend, in order to acquire stuff for my staff for our end-of-year party. This year, her 300lb hubs is our Designated Driver, and Designated Human Plow. I CAN’T WAIT!

  • Sooz K Allen

    My favorite holiday tradition was when my dad would push the “record/play” button on our old silver and black cassette recorder and my brother and sisters and I would sing our made up holiday “plays”. Then we would all dress up…like, really dressed up, and make our rounds to visit all of the other Asian wife/American husband families. It’s not a tradition I’ve carried on with my family because my husband is a Scrooge. I should divorce him…

  • Diane Gillette

    I don’t get to do this every year, but when I can make it back to Kansas to spend time with my mom and her family, we always do a gift swap where all the gifts have to be handmade. I have a lot of treasures from this tradition.

  • stacey rittel

    Lmao, I love it! My favorite holiday tradition is Christmas day, when Mommy doesn’t cook, I turn off my phone, and we make ourselves sick on every holiday appetizer we can think of instead of real food while we sit around the house in our new christmas pj’s and play together.

  • Rachel B

    Hmm. I don’t really have a holiday tradition… other than forcing my vegetarianism on my family. Of course, I’ve been a vegetarian for five years and it hasn’t worked yet. We only have a small get-together, my parents and my siblings. We don’t always get along but we attempt to twice a year.

  • Kathy W.

    I seriously live for the moment when my daughter or my husband looks at me and says the magic words.,, “You have just ruined Thanksgiving.” I just have to work a little harder at it now that I don’t drink anymore.

  • Rebecca Lash

    My favorite tradition is on the Friday after thanksgiving, putting all of the decorations up with my family. Once we’re done, turning off all the lights and looking at the tree and lights.

  • SunnyC

    WILD TURKEY WEDNESDAY! That is my favorite Thanksgiving tradition. My dad was an avid Wild Turkey drinker and I would toast a few with him (now I just pour a little out in rememberance) and my brother before heading downtown to the bars. I meet up with old friends in town for the holiday that I haven’t seen since last year and get shit-faced on Turkey shots. Eventually I find my way home to get up and trudge through the 2 dinners at different family members houses and try to get my daughter to talk quietly. I’m not sure this sounds like fun to some people but I’ve been partaking for 15 years now. It is always a really good time.

  • mishela renee

    My favorite tradition starts innocently enough with my mom and I baking sweet potato pies. I usually just stay a safe distance because I’m a terrible baker but still the time together is nice. That’s followed by everyone partaking in holiday punch (spiked with my dear uncle’s moonshine of course) then forming a soul train line and dancing to various old school hits. After that comes the inevitable family feud (generally centered around a card game of sorts) which is quickly resolved with more tasty food and booze. It really is the most wonderful time of the year :)

  • Sherry Schaeffer

    My family is so dysfunctional… but every year we get together for some Christmas eve pizza… add the alcohol and it usually progresses into a Jerry springer episode!! Ahhh trailer park behavior in the rich ghetto… love it!

  • Camryn S

    Each year my family likes to purchase a new ornament to add to our beautiful tree that reminds us of our newest trip or vacation this year! Last year it was a Caribbean Santa after we took a trip to Anguilla! And the year before that it was an Angel because we visited America’s first church! Me and my family always find it exciting hanging each item, and remembering what fun we had as a family this year!

  • Carly Moorehead

    My favorite tradition is Christmas eve. We do a prime rib dinner at our house, and it is just awesome to see the presents under the tree and listen to Christmas music, and then off to Christmas eve service. I think I like Christmas even better than Christmas day because all the anticipation of the presents is still there.

  • Vero

    Haven’t really had enough drama-free holidays to have established a solid tradition. Guess my tradition is waiting for it to be over.
    Have a good one everybody.

  • Are You Kidding Me?

    I have such a hard time with this sort of thing – my husband wants nothing to do with his family’s holiday celebrations, and my family is too far away. We stay at home, and it’s nice to have no pressure. But I feel like my daughter is missing out on family traditions. It’s tough.

  • Me!

    Now that I have my own kids, the hubs and I have said screw everyone else. We both spent out childhoods going back and forth between our divorced parents. Now we are at home on Christmas. Period. You don’t like it, sorry about your luck. My children will have the fucking leave it to beaver childhood if it kills me and/or pisses off every single family member.

  • Jennielynn

    My favorite holiday tradition is getting drunk with my mother, while we put away leftovers and trade insults. It’s weird, but it just doesn’t feel like the holidays until we’re both gonna be hungover as hell.

  • Jacquie

    Our family tradition was always to spend holidays with my dads side of the family, every year was the same drama, the adults argueing because somoones kid isn’t playing nice again. After enduring that for several years we finally moved away…like three states away…our new tradition is to just spend the holidays alone just us 6 and drink coke in fancy wine cups and laugh at the random shit my daddy and baby brother say :)

  • daddy in a strange land

    Not living in the same city as either my parents or my in-laws, but being only 2-3 hours from them both, means a lot of shuttling back and forth and not a lot of time to create our own traditions in our house with our kids. That just makes it more important to try. And we do.

  • Ace OfDiamonds

    Favorite holiday tradition and the only way I know its a family holiday is when the first person curses out a blood relative and someone threatens to kick someone’s ass. Something about having a little violence at the Shanksgiving dinner table gets me all fired up for some serious commercial violence on Black Friday.

  • Elizabeth Barnes

    I’m guessing I won’t be winning again any time soon, but my favorite holiday traditions are: the Macy’s parade at Thanksgiving, listening to Christmas carols on the drive home from Thanksgiving (it’s not Christmas until you see Santa in the Macy’s parade), and going to church on Christmas eve with my Grandma, just the 2 of us. I’m one of those people who genuinely loves the holidays, can you tell?

  • Melanie Kershaw

    I am in Australia and our Christmases are hot. My favourite tradition is staying up late the night before Christmas assembling all sorts of fuck off, outdoorsy gifts (like trampolines, swing sets etc) until 4am so the kids can promptly play on them at 7am when they get up screaming for stimulation. This is the EXACT replica of my childhood Christmases, when we’d get up and be in our swimmers in a back yard pool before breakfast on Christmas day. xox

  • NextInLine

    This will be my third Thanksgiving with just my nuclear five (three boys and hubby) — no friends or relatives. It’s freaking awesome. We still do a 20 pound turkey and all the fixings, but we don’t gove a shit when the bird is done. We watch the football. we drink earlier than usual. Nobody fights. When my little dudes go to bed, the it’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles. “THOSE AREN’T PILLLLLLLOWS!” “You’re fucked.” Ha. Thanksgiving rock once you take it back to its purest form. Food, wine, gratitude, little people, great movies, second dinner and more wine. Sigh. Bliss.

  • Carolyn Hampton

    Those dolls are amazing! My favorite holiday tradition is making gingerbread with the redhead. And the fact that we get two trees: one big one for the living room, and a smaller one for the redhead in her playroom. We get new ornaments for her tree every year so she is building up her own collection.

  • Jasmine Robertson

    I love Thanksgiving, the food, the being grateful for what you have ect. I don’t enjoy the awkwardness of making small talk with family you only see once a year (with good reason).

  • Jeanne

    Fuck the fuckers is right! And I love those dolls!

  • Angela Ryan

    Hmmm … favorite holiday tradition is hard. My family isn’t big into traditions. But, for a few years we use to do karoake every Christmas eve once we children were all adults. My mom and I were singing Dusty Springfield and my sister had never heard of her. My mom said to my sister, “Oh, that’s right you listen to that skanky rap shit. Here, let me sing some of that.” Then she walked around grabbing her ass, singing, “I’m the shithole. I’m the shithole.” Apparently, that’s what all rap lyrics consist of in my mother’s mind. Tupac has a song like that, right? :) Thanks for the laughs, as always!

  • Mary Kay Byers Wilburn

    I Totally agree with you!! This is my favorite time of year and I love having my family around me. Christmas Eve we celebrate with my husband’s family and Christmas Day is at my home. Cookies, turkey, ham, the tree, PRESENTS – OH the excitement!!

  • Alison

    Family. Tricky. Like navigating a river full of snappy crocodiles. I stay away from the drama. Yeah, fuck the fuckers.

  • Candice Franklin

    Ok… I am going to be honest here. While I love the idea of giving thanks once a year, I find gratitude in something everyday, so it’s a little overrated to me. Christmas, I love… but let me tell you the issue I have with these holidays. Being married with children I am forced by my family of ALL sides to go where they want us to go. Usually being pulled in two separate directions at the same time. Which is fucking impossible. (especially since the 2 separate families are 4 hours apart)

    However, they don’t give a rat’s…. So, we bust ass every year to get to where everyone wants us to be. If I could drink wine and slam a few pills while doing said actions I would be fine, but there’s only one problem. I am sober, so I have to do it sober. Fuck that.

    So my favorite holiday is Valentines. Because I get to spend it with my husband. And no one fights to have us at their house, because they are spending the time alone as well. Boo-yah! Hallmark holidays make my life complete.

    P.s. Sorry for the rant

    P.P.S.I totally need your shirt for Thanksgiving this year. Because I gave in. Again. We are making the trip(s) to make everyone happy.

    P.P.P.S. I may have worked out some anxiety here. I feel better.

  • chick_in

    I love cooking with my dad and brother during the holidays…we trash the kitchen, create fabulous meals for the whole fam, and then my hubs and uncles clean it all up.

  • Mharvi

    My favorite holiday tradition is eating pumpkin pie with my daughter late at night after everyone has left. The house is quiet, the drama and chaos are finally behind us and we can actually have that pristine moment of true family bliss. At that moment I can finally exhale. In fact it is the only thing that carries me through the stress.

  • Kiki Santamaria

    My favorite holiday tradition is baking goodies and watching my family stuff themselves silly with them. That I can create someone’s guilty pleasure is somehow very gratifying for me. By the way, I said “fuck it “, to playing nice with my rude relatives this year as well.

  • theblahblahblahger

    SO SO TRUE! Toxic can be healthily eliminated from our lives…and we and the people we truly love are all the better for it!

  • Jennifer Folmar

    I like baking, so I bake myself stupid and give the goodies away. There’s a huge outdoor light display about an hour away from where I live, and it always rocks, so we drive out to see it. My dad grew a massive Santa beard, so he’s turned it into a small business by donning the red suit and making visits to parties and family celebrations. My nieces and nephews are very smug about the fact that their Papa is a Santa. lol :D

  • Roxie

    Every year the whole family gathers at my nanans. We eat, we watch footbal and we secretly laugh at how screwed up nanan gets on boxed wine. Its been going on for the past 30 yrs.

  • Beth Guivens

    I have tie. My favorite holiday tradition goes between a) a big family blowout. There is always one in my family on christmas eve or day and the holiday just doesn’t feel complete with out it or b) … wait that is it. Just one thing. Truly if it doesn’t happen I feel like the universe is out of whack and donkeys may start falling from the sky or something.

  • Mama Jenkins

    My mother-in-law, may she R.I.P., inadvertently started a tradition with her children years ago, and I was lucky enough to marry into the family, that I now, can share in the love. My MiL would make grocery lists from 5 different stores, according to what was on sale where, and send us off in search of her requests. If we came home with something that was the wrong size, wrong flavor, or, sometimes, she just didn’t like the way an item looked, she would bitch at us, cuss us out, and send us back to the store to find the “right shit she asked for!!!” I sure do miss her…..

  • Nicole Cordeiro

    My favorite holiday tradition is sitting around cutting out ads for all the Black Friday sales. This is how we tell each other what we want for Christmas!

    LUV the 2pac doll! West side till we die! Haha

  • heidi

    my favorite holiday tradition is eating yams with marshmallows. the only time of the year i do!

  • Sean Kelly

    My favorite holiday traditions are paying respect to my fallen friends and comrades on Memorial Day with a shot of everclear, and giving a shout out to my brothers and sisters in uniform on Veteran’s Day.

  • Laura

    My (new) favorite holiday tradition is to spend an hour or two (or three) getting dressed up and doing make-up with my daughter who is almost 3. Being a mom is new to me, so I enjoy making new traditions. This, of course, involves some drinks for me.

  • hollinator hoyos

    My favorite is putting up the tree the day after turkey day!

  • cindy

    I am totally with you. Blood isn’t always thicker than water. There are some people in my life who will always be my family and we have no blood relation whatsoever. I think sometimes you have to just let people go… and maybe they’ll enter your life at a later point or maybe not… but either way, I know for certain that you can’t force a relationship when the other person is not in that same ready state..

    • Cindy

      I think I might have to retract my statement. Found out that my aunt passed and though our families had our differences I remembered so many different memories spent with her that it made me sad I didn’t call her once while she was sick. A little olive branch might have gone a long way and for that, I think I will reach out to some once close but now distanced family… Sure we won’t be best friends but I think it’s ok to keep things at a distance and cordial I don’t want to grieve and regret a broken relationship after the fact…

  • Becky

    My favorite tradition was always when mom would forget the marshmallow covered yams were in the oven and would notice when black smoke was pouring out of the oven. Never failed.

  • Erin

    My favorite tradition is filling an Advent calendar for my daughter with tiny toys and treats through December. She’s already asking when we can put the calendar up this year! She is six, and loves dolls!

  • Cassandra Stanke

    Preach it! Some people just don’t deserve a place in your life – family or not.

    As for my favorite holiday tradition… watching Bad Santa, Elf and Christmas Vacation while eating an unhealthy amount of Christmas cookies :) Truth.

  • Angela

    Over the last several years, a lot of old family traditions have been fading, so this year my roommate and I decided to start some new ones. We’re in our late twenties and it’s about damn time we started our own. So far we’ve only settled on making DIY ornaments. I personally like to throw a Christmas party for all of my starving artist cohorts who are adrift in LA…And going to church on Christmas Eve is important to me as well. (Sorry, I know you only asked for one tradition…)

  • Melissa Colman

    My favorite Christmas tradition is attending Christmas Eve church services with out entire family-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and all. We may take up more than a few pews in our small church but its a gathering I’ve always appreciated.

  • Raven Cyphier

    When September rolls around my “hoilday depression” begins. For the past 8 years I have worked for a gaming company and they never close, ever. All the employees in my department have to bid for holidays and everyone ends up working at least 2. The most fucked up thing about the whole thing is the one non Christian in our midst demands and I mean DEMANDS to have Christmas off every year, and she almost always gets it. She’s a cunt. This year I am working Thanksgiving (thankfully only until 3) and Christmas from 12-8. Sucks. FYI I am a hairstylist I am not a nurse or in any career where someone’s life depends on my being there. Every year I say a little prayer that the next year I will have a job somewhere else. This year we are having turkey with my husbands family. Great food, drama free, and great company. I thank God for small mercies things could always be worse I will be around people I both love and like.
    P.S. I really need that shirt!!!

  • Susan

    This year, we’re doing Jewish Christmas: a matinee and Chinese food. Best way to go.

  • Eveivynnej Tolentino Briones

    My favorite holiday season traditions are singing Christmas carols and giving exchange gifts

  • Angela Kaiser

    My favorite holiday tradition is the day after Christmas, when we sit in our pj’s, eat leftovers and watch old movies. This happens after we blaze through the house, taking down all the decorations.

  • Laura

    After the majority of family goes home, my sister and her daughter and I, watch Babe (yes, the talking pig), get drunk and act like idiots, singing with the damn mice. That’s some serious fucking bonding, and it amuses their husbands.

  • Serena Bonita Wesson

    I’m half Mexican. We always celebrated Christmas Eve (never Christmas) with my Mexican side of the family. My favorite tradition? My aunt Diane brings tamales every year. Mmmmmm tamales *homer drool*.

  • Elicia

    My fave thing is being with my dysfunctional family, I mean we are the fun in dysfunctional. Much medication and lots of laughs. Nothing like knowing mom has the grill fired up on Christmas eve (no matter what the weather is like) and we all eat our wieght in steak. To hell with turkey, bring on the filet, ribeye and sirloin!

  • Misty

    Ok, first of all……if you were to happen to pick me, I would like you to give my doll to Cal. I don’t have daughters, and to be honest, dolls freak me out a bit.

    I totally hear you about family and “real family.” My “real family” are a bunch of dicks, and I don’t feel bad at all avoiding them. It is much healthier. Sometimes being an adult means making the hard but healthiest choices for you. Don’t you feel guilty for a minute, girl. I feel you.

    The hubs and my first date was on Thanksgiving. We went to a movie. For years after, we would always always go to the movies on Thanksgiving night. And then we had kids… we come home, collapse in a food coma and try to stay up past THEIR bedtimes. Good times.

    • Misty

      Oh yeah, and when are you giving away that shirt? Because THAT I need!!

  • lin

    I find it interesting that today, of all days, is the first time I have visited your blog. You and I are soooo on the same page on this topic–and I have been for many, many years. “Life is short” people say–Yeah, to waste them spending time with those that make you feel like crap. Friends or family–if you don’t like being with them, ditch ’em, I say. I’d rather be in a room with a few people that love me rather than a ballroom of haters. What good does that do, right?

    My motto is “Let’s party on the outside of the tent” I’m not wasting one second more of this life on those who don’t matter to me. And let us not have guilt about it.

  • Heather

    I love baking, doing advent calendar surprises for my shorties, and Elf on the Shelf! So fun!


    my family doesn’t have too many traditions but I’m planning on starting elf on a shelf this year with my kids :)

  • Michelle

    Our Christmas tradition is to put up out tree on my dads Birthday, Dec 17. His family did it when he was a little boy so we continued on.

  • The Virgin Rose

    I love Christmas and decorating the tree with my loved ones is always fun with a glass of wine! :) These dolls are gorgeous!! Happy holidays! x