Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Happy

My sweet baby niece Olivia.

Whatever you celebrate, may your holiday be bright.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fly Away

Continental Airlines sent me a lovely gift in the mail today. It arrived in a big fancy envelope and even included luggage tags! It was a Silver Elite card that qualifies me for free upgrades, bonus mileage and other nice perks for frequent fliers who spend way to much time on their cramped, stuffy airplanes flying cross-country.

I was all over those fabulous upgrades until I read that the card-- received December 15th-- was for the year 2011 with a January 31, 2012 expiration date. So yeah! I qualified for a 2011 upgrade card but I didn't get it until 45 days prior to expiration.


I could have used those upgrades on the eight flights I made back home to Ohio this past year but alas, my card arrived with only a few weeks to actually use it.... And since Cleveland is colder than a you know what this time of year, that big fancy promo package and Silver Card they sent me is pretty much useless.

But, not wanting to give up the dream of Business Class air travel with big cushy seats, I called Continental's Elite Desk and got a guy that said....

"Um, well, hmm, ahh, wow, um... I'm pretty sure you can maybe perhaps use it longer... yeah, um... probably... huh... yeah... could you, um... maybe call back tomorrow... if you want... and maybe speak to a supervisor because... um... our office is closing for the evening."

Will I maybe, um, sorta, probably, um... call back and try to get a full year of benefits? You betcha! Cleveland to Los Angeles is close to a 5 hour flight!

But it does give me pause as to the quality of my hard-earned frequent flyer points, not to mention the IQ of their customer service people. But oh well, you get what you pay for.


And.... Have you noticed the new Google Profile Page-- The one that distorts 95% of our profile photos so we look like our picture was taken in the reflection of the crazy mirror at the carnival? That stinks, but that's not my problem....

My Blogger problem is when I click on your comment on my blog I link to this new page (the one with the crazy looking profile pic). Then, when I click on the link to your blog, about 25% of the time I'm getting this message...

Profile Not Available

The Blogger Profile you requested cannot be displayed. Many Blogger users have not yet elected to publicly share their Profile.

So unless a lot of you have suddenly gone underground, there's a problem because I'm trying to read your posts and can't leave comments. Are you having this problem too?

Hope your holidays are great so far.
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © jaddingt -

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Drum Roll Please...

And the winner of my Silver, Gold and Cash Giveaway is....

A million thanks to all who entered. I really appreciate it. Please know how meaningful it is to me that you participated and that you learned more about Attila The Mom's great company, Highland Roses Design. The ornaments designed and made by her crew are truly stunning. If you haven't checked them out yet, please do. Below are the ornaments I purchased.


In other happy giveaway news, I found out this morning that I was the lucky winner of This Stop Willoughby's giveaway presented by Novica in Association with National Geographic. I was able to purchase a beautiful shawl with my gift card. THANKS!


I type this with several paper-cuts on my hands from wrapping holiday packages for shipping to my family back home in Ohio. They will laugh out loud when the boxes arrive. I think I used nearly an entire role of packing tape to secure the boxes.

Instead of focusing on the task at hand-- positioning three, maybe four, pieces of tape per box, I was thinking about my sweet Step-Dad Dave who passed away in July.

Dave was a meticulous packer. When my mother-in-law passed away a few years ago, Baby Sister baked her famous peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for us and Dave wrapped them so carefully for FedEx that not a single cookie broke in the cross-country shipment.

Tears are rolling down my face as I think back on it. I miss my family and the holiday blues are starting to sink in.... Tis the season.

Big sigh.

Are you ready for the holidays?
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I'm blaming it on my high school boyfriend, Roy-- He had no telephone manners whatsoever. At the end of our countless conversations-- you know the high school kind with long pauses, mindless chit-chat and lengthy monologues all about him-- When I'd say it was time to wrap things up to start my homework he'd say "Okay." followed by a CLICK.

He'd just hang up.

No parting with sweet sorrow, no see you later alligator, not even a single syllable "bye". Roy would simply drop the old fashioned, big, clunky telephone receiver into the cradle with a loud clunk.

I hated that and never forgot it. I've made it a point not to be that-- what would you call it-- rude, thoughtless, annoying, whatever. I'd make sure people I was connecting with knew I was saying a proper "good-bye."

So long story short, that's why 99% of the time I sign-off on my blog comments with my initials and why I sign my name at the end of each post-- That's my "good-bye" so to speak.

But, in the era of Internet shorthand, I'm one of the very few who does it-- And since my name, like yours, announces myself loud and clear before my comment, it's a bit redundant and stating to make me feel a little foolish, like I'm taking up too much space or something.

Hmm, what's a girl-- with a longstanding habit, to do. I'm not sure yet.

But I do know there are only a few days left to enter my

You could win a gorgeous handmade ornament and a $50 Visa Gift Card!

Giveaway ends at Midnight, Pacific Time, December 10, 2011.

All you have to do is leave a comment below on THIS POST telling me if you prefer the silver or gold ornament pictured here if your win. For full contest details CLICK HERE.

Anyone, anywhere can enter, not just in the USA. So come on and join in!

The gorgeous ornaments are from Attila The Mom at Cheaper Than Therapy who heads up an awesome organization that's a privately-funded project providing individuals who live with disabilities and/or mental illness as well as the family caregiver an opportunity to step towards independence through the sale of their own art and crafts creations. Each distinctive ornament is produced by several sets of hands-- all working to create something special.

Click here for details for a 10% discount on all ornaments. I ordered several and trust me, they are stunning and very reasonably priced.

Come on, please enter the Giveaway and please check out the beautiful ornaments.
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © Andrey Zyk -

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Big What!?! and $$$ Giveaway

It took a long moment for his words to register in my brain, his thick Russian accent playing tricks on my ears, or so I thought....

"You have very big poops."

He said it several times in response to the alarmed look on my face...

"Very big poops! Not good."

Standing in my living room, I took a step back, almost in self defense, and to distance myself from the potential conversation this near stranger was attempting to have with me. Joseph had been washing my windows, inside and out, for the past ten years but we were hardly on friendly enough terms for this type of chit-chat.

Again, with one last ditch effort to help me understand he said...






...As if saying it slower and louder would make it easier for my brain to comprehend.

And then he held up his hand to show me, his thick fingers unfolding to reveal mouse poop.

Oh thank gawd!

Seriously, the first thing I thought was that now I didn't have to find a new window washer because I definitely would not hire a poop talking guy again, but alas, it was only mouse poop.


Then the words sunk in. Mouse poop!


Joseph found the "big poops", three small droppings, upstairs in my office. That meant the "mouse" was INSIDE my house-- In fact, it was on the floor next to my sewing machine.

Instantly my head hurt.

Thirty minutes later I was at Ace Hardware buying mouse traps in small, medium and large sizes to capture the pooping pest and get it the hell out of my house. Eleven traps ought to do it, don't you think? (I hope, I hope!)

But before I raced to the store, I closed my bedroom door-- Right after I scoured it high and low for any trace of mouse droppings. There were none, thank gawd, otherwise I'd have to move into a hotel until the deed was done and the mouse, which, in my imagination was growing by leaps and bounds, lived elsewhere.

So now here I sit, with legs crossed under me so there isn't the slightest possibility of our four-legged friend scurrying over my feet to get to the peanut butter filled traps. And yes, I have said several sincere prayers that the traps are indeed for a mouse and not it's much larger cousin.



Don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY to win either the gorgeous Silver or Gold Ornaments featured in this post along with a $50 Visa Gift Card!
All you have to do is leave a comment over HERE telling me which color ornament you'd like if you win. You can ALSO leave a comment below on this post for an additional chance/entry. Plus-- Lots more entry chances if you Follow and blog about the giveaway too. Full Details are HERE.

Ornaments courtesy of the awesome Attila The Mom at Cheaper Than Therapy and her posse who live with disabilities and/or mental illnesses as well as their family caregivers. All are taking a step towards independence through the sale of their own arts and crafts creations. In short-- It's an inspiring cause and well worth checking out HERE.

Any secrets to scaring away mice? I mean mouse, please god, let there only be one!
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor. com - Joanna Jenkins
photo credit: © Marek -

Monday, November 28, 2011

Itchy Dresses and $50 GIVEAWAY!

That is not me, but I guarantee you, that dress is only half as uncomfortable as mine were.

Every Christmas my Mom's dad (our sweet grandfather) and his wife (the Wicked Witch) would send my sisters and me matching dresses covered with lace and a big fluffy skirt so we looked, in our young opinion, like a bunch of Pollyanna freaks.

Every year when the UPS guy delivered the dress box from a fancy-schmancy store in Florida where they lived, it was met with a round of groans and contempt. This unpleasant annual ritual continued until I was 10 and my oldest sister was 12 years old!

Did I mention the dresses matched?!?

Hideous is the best way to describe them. To add insult to injury, the Wicked Witch managed to find dresses that itched worse than a nasty case of poison ivy.

Not to sound ungrateful, but I hated those dresses, every single one of them, but each year we dressed in our new outfits, buckled on our Mary Jane patent leather shoes and headed off to church Christmas morning. We'd scratch and itch through the entire service.

But that wasn't the end of it. Oh no.

After church, we loaded into our gigantic family station wagon and headed to my dad's folks-- the grandparents we really liked, and had a big Christmas dinner.... In our itchy dresses.

To ensure we would never have to wear those wretched dresses again, one by one, my sisters and I deliberately spilled food down the front of them. Red Jello was my food of choice as I knew it would stain and never come out. Big Sister usually "wore" the gravy, guaranteeing a huge grease spot, and once my Middle Sister caught on to our antics, she'd either flip a biscuit slathered in butter and honey, or a full glass of chocolate milk in her lap. All were guaranteed to permanently stain and land those ugly dresses in the trash after one wear.

I don't think my Mom ever caught on to our scheme since, no matter how hard we tried, my favorite Grandpa always, and I mean always, managed to dribble something on his tie with his very first bite of dinner.

Ahh, Christmas memories.....

Make a Christmas memory of your own by entering my SILVER, GOLD & CASH GIVEAWAY! You could win a gorgeous handmade ornament and a $50 Visa Gift Card!

All you have to do is leave a comment below on THIS POST telling me if you prefer the silver or gold ornament pictured here if your win. Then go to THIS POST for all the contest details and a whopping 15 more changes to win!

Anyone, anywhere can enter, not just in the USA. So come on and join in!

The gorgeous ornaments are from Attila The Mom at Cheaper Than Therapy who heads up an awesome organization that's a privately-funded project providing individuals who live with disabilities and/or mental illness as well as the family caregiver an opportunity to step towards independence through the sale of their own art and crafts creations. Each distinctive ornament is produced by several sets of hands-- all working to create something special.

More chances to win in each of my posts between now and Midnight, Pacific Time, December 10th so don't be shy-- Keep commenting/entering!

Click here for details for a 10% discount on all ornaments. I ordered several and trust me, they are stunning and very reasonably priced.

What would you do with the $50 Gift Card if you won?
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins

This memory was inspired by a photo of Mrs4444's husband all dressed up as a kid for Thanksgiving.

Photo Credit: © Magalice -

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Silver, Gold and Cash Giveaway!

If you are like me, the very idea of enduring the mobs of shoppers on Black Friday or any of the upcoming weekends before Christmas sends shivers down your spin. The thought of the credit card bill arriving at the end of December is no picnic either.

So before I turn into Scrooge and start bah-humbugging my way through the holidays, I'm getting in the spirit, with the help of Attila The Mom at Cheaper Than Therapy, and having a SILVER, GOLD AND CASH GIVEAWAY!

One lucky winner will have their choice of either a silver or gold handmade ornament from Attila's awesome posse of crafters (like the ones pictured in this post) and I'm throwing in a $50 Visa Gift Card to help take the sting out of shopping this year!

Of course if you'd like to use that Gift Card to shop online at Attila's store that would be okay too, but not necessary.

Why am I loving Attila's ornaments so much? She's the head honcho at Highland Roses Design Collaborative Craft Studio, a privately-funded project that provides individuals who live with disabilities and/or mental illnesses as well as their family caregivers an opportunity to step towards independence through the sale of their own arts and crafts creations.

It's important to note that every step of this undertaking is a collaborative effort-- from design to creation. Each distinctive ornament is produced by several sets of hands-- all working to create something special!

Here's the cool part--They accept NO grants or government funding, and are working to become self-sustaining through their own endeavors. I love that!

And in case you're wondering if these ornaments, priced $5 to $13 each, are as good as they look in the above photos, I can honestly say YOU BETCHA BABY because I did a little shopping myself and purchased eight of their gorgeous ornaments that arrived a few days ago.

The detail is amazing, the quality is far, far beyond anything I'd imagined and the colors are vibrant. I'll have a hard time giving these away as gifts!

But wait-- There's MORE..... Interested in purchasing these ornaments? Click on the "Email Shop Owner" button on the left sidebar BEFORE ordering and mention The Fifty Factor to receive 10% off your order! IMPORTANT: Please wait for an invoice that reflects your discount! (Offer ends at midnight PT, 12/10/2011.)

So here's the scoop on how to have one of these handmade pretties on your holiday tree this year along with the $50 Gift Card in your pocket...

Leave separate comments to take advantage of each entry option...

1) Leave a comment on THIS POST telling me if you'd like the silver or gold ornament for one entry.

2) Leave an additional comment on THIS POST if you're a Follower.

3) Go to Highland Roses Designs (featured at Ruby Plaza) and tell me on THIS POST which is your favorite ornament for FIVE MORE entries/comments.

4) Leave a comment on all my upcoming posts now through Midnight PT, December 10th for one additional entry per post. (One comment per additional post please.)

5) Blog about this giveaway: Leave THREE extra comments on THIS POST with the link to your post featuring the giveaway. Include the silver or gold ornament photo in your post and receive TWO extra entries! (Five total entries/comments for this step!)

6) Include an ornament photo and link to THIS POST on your sidebar through Midnight, December 10th then leave THREE extra comments on THIS POST with a link to your blog.

Got that??? Lots of comment options on THIS POST plus one extra entry per post on all my upcoming posts from now through December 10th. The point is to help spread the word about this terrific organization and their gorgeous creations so please, don't be shy about joining in and leaving multiple comments.

Everyone, everywhere is eligible to enter as long as you have a blog!

Giveaway and 10% discount ends at Midnight, Pacific Time, December 10, 2011 so swing by Highland Roses Design Collaborative Craft Studio (featured at Ruby Plaza) to shop!

I know it's a lot of commenting, but the Craft Studio is a great, great cause and $50 doesn't hurt either.

Winner will be drawn and notified December 11, 2011 and will have 48 hours to respond to my email with mailing address, or a new winner will be chosen. No affiliates please. All results are final. No hassles allowed :-)

So, are you in for the Giveaway?
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins

Friday, November 18, 2011


It was field trip day for Godson so I tagged along and hung out with his class at the Aquarium. The place was jammed packed with kids from kindergarden to high school age and the conversations were varied and-- Interesting....


Teacher #1: You should get on the "Trials" bang wagon. You can make some really great extra cash with very little effort. I've watched movies, tasted canned peaches and tested toilet paper-- Each time I made $50!

Teacher #2: What do you mean you tested toiler paper?

Teacher #1: You do not want to know the details.... *wink*wink*


Kindergarden girl: Oophs, I tooted! (she passed gas)

Teacher: That's not polite. You're supposed to say "Excuse me."

Kindergarden girl: "Excuse me, I farted."


First Grader: "Mrs. Teacher, Ryan said the "s" word!

Teacher: "Yes, I heard it. Don't be a tattle-taler."

First Grader: "He said shit and I'm just supposed to listen to that!?!?!"


Fifth Grade Boy: "Men crabs dance when they want to have sex with women crabs."

Fifth Grade Girl: "Seriously!!! Where do you come up with this stuff?"

Fifth Grade Boy: "I saw it on YouTube."

Fifth Grade Girl: "You went looking for crab sex on YouTube? Eww!"

Fifth Grade Teacher: Change the subject immediately!


A big and belated thank you to EMom from Life In the 2nd Half Century for giving me the "A Lovely Blog Award". It's much appreciated. EMom is a lovely blogger herself-- fun, creative and a Pinterest fan. Please stop by and say hello.


I'm off to Ohio next week for Thanksgiving with my family. I wish all of you in the USA a very happy Thanksgiving and to the rest of you a wonderful week. When I'm back after the holiday....

I'LL ANNOUNCE MY NEW GIVEAWAY! So stay tuned. It's a good one if I do say so myself.

Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © vic&dd -

Friday, November 11, 2011

$27,000 Jackpot!

For 41 days I was whopping $27,000 richer than I should have been!

When I balanced my checkbook online in late September, my eyes nearly popped out of my head. I saw a gigantic deposit into our joint checking account that day and it had me blinking in disbelief.

In a moment of temporary insanity, I tried to figure out why my husband would deposit that much money into our checking account rather than our savings account... The insane part is that we would have had a check that big to deposit anywhere in the first place, but it was a conversation in my head...

Me: Wow, that's a lota loot!

Insane Me: Cha-Ching!!! Mama needs a new pair of shoes.

Me: Why in the heck would Hubby put that much money in this account?

Insane Me: Hello vacation!

Me: Staring blankly at the computer screen as if to will answers out of it...


Me: Dare I actually ask Husband what's up?

Insane Me: Nope, let's just see what happens.

I did ask and Husband had nothing to do with it. He seemed unfazed by the whole thing and went back to reading the newspaper.

It was Friday evening so I decided to wait until Monday to call the bank and sort things out. Okay, true confession, I could have called the bank immediately but the inflated bank balance looked so pretty in my account.

When I checked my online statement Monday morning, the now AVAILABLE CASH was still there.

I dug deeper into my online statement and clicked on every possible link until I brought up the actual deposit slip for the $27K.

Reality smacked me in the face.

Someone-- whose handwriting looked shaky (translation: old) had completed the entire deposit slip by hand rather than using their pre-printed one with all the contact info and account number included. The writing was not great but it was fairly easy to read their full name, complete address and account number.

From what I could figure out, the bank teller mistook a "4" for a "7" in our account numbers and the deposit was credited to our account by mistake.

When I realized the deposit was the result of human error, not a computer error, I was actually a little ticked off. A hand written deposit slip should have been a red flag for the teller to double check the name, address and account number. If he or she had they would have immediately caught their mistake....

Our last name is simple-- Jenkins. Old Person's name looked something like-- Siatoslavovakisia!

So as I see it-- Old Person/Siatoslavovakisia made a deposit and a teller didn't bother to double check their work and a boat load of money landed in our account my mistake.

Okay, mistakes happen.

But no one called me about it. I called the bank! Which means the poor person who hand wrote their deposit slip was probably bouncing checks all over town while they tore their house apart looking for the original receipt from the careless teller to prove they'd made the deposit in the first place.

Can you imagine having no proof of a $27,000 deposit?!?

Then again-- Maybe that person has so much money they didn't even notice $27,000 was missing....

Ohhh, yes, I've played this story over and over in my head too.

Did I mention I called the bank and talked to a customer service person who sounded very, very far away to straighten things out? He was nice, but definitely not talking to me from anywhere in North America.

I felt so much better after I came clean and advised the unknown customer service person that the twenty-seven thousand bucks didn't belong to me. Being much poorer has it's benefits and a clear conscious is definitely one of them.

I actually slept like a baby that night knowing Mr. Siatoslavovakisia had his money back.

But did he?

Day after day, I checked my account balance to see if the money had been transferred out and every day my very inflated balance greeted me-- as if daring me to write a check.

I held on firmly to my good karma and waited for the bank to transfer the funds....

Until I told my accountant friend about the lost loot and he asked if I'd gotten a paper trail to prove the funds had actually been returned to the rightful owner.


It never dawned on me that the far away customer service person wouldn't do the absolute right thing just like I had and returned the money to the rightful owner. Never once did I think to get his name, ID number or even ask for a supervisor. No, I figured everyone was as honorable as me.

Oh yes, a conspiracy theory was unfolding in my head...

As the clocked ticked-- now a full three weeks since the deposit-- and the money tormented me in our account, I spun a thousand stories on where the money would eventually end up-- A Swiss bank account, an undercover fake account belonging to the customer service guy, or worse, in a bottomless pit of cash at the bank from people like me doing the right thing that never actually gets to the rightful owner.....

I know... I have too much time on my hands.

Exasperated, I printed out a copy of the deposit slip and mailed it to Mr. Siatoslavovakisia. I included a note with my phone number in case he needed further confirmation. (No, I did not give him my bank account number.) Ten days later, all that money was still teasing me and Mr. S. hadn't called.

Now, frankly, I was a little miffed, so I marched down to the bank in person, copy of erroneous deposit slip in hand, and talked to the Branch Manager-- which was more like a 20 year old kid pretending to be a banker. I got her name, rank and serial number and even asked for a second bank employee to witness the transfer of my account number and the name, address and probably account number of Mr. Siatoslavovakisia.

Then the Branch Manager asked me about 4,000 questions to make sure I wasn't some nutcase messing with someone else's checking account.... As if I was the problem!

Finally I left feeling confident all was right in the world and soon my bank account would go back down to it's usual pitiful balance.

But that took ten more days....


I realize this was a minor error in the grand scheme of bank tellers-- And that my major bank has a lot of "occupy" protesters hanging around lately to deal with-- And the people I spoke with dealt with me honorably, but really, FORTY-ONE days to be teased before the powers that be check and recheck that I was legit enough to GIVE BACK $27,000 that didn't actually belong to me.

Or worse, 41 days for Mr. Siatoslavovakisia to get his missing money!

Sheesh. No wonder the banking industry is in such a mess.

Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © vovan -

Thursday, November 3, 2011


These days you can spot me a mile away, that is, if you aren't blinded by my bling. I'm wearing every piece of jewelry I own-- And I'm not kidding-- 53 years worth of jewelry-- Real, fake, heirloom, junk, even a macaroni necklace Godson made in the 1st grade. Everything!

Typing is uncomfortable with two watches on each wrist and several bracelets and bangles clanking together. My fingers are loaded with multiple rings and I'm getting an itchy neck from the many necklaces I'm sporting. Earrings were a challenge but I decided to wear my best pair and the others are in a couple of pouches in my purse-- A backpack that I have strapped on. Where I go, the bling goes.

No, I'm not making a fashion statement. And no, I am not claiming to be "Mrs. Got Rocks" with an expensive collection of jewels. I have a few nice pieces but mostly I have jewelry that I love because of the people who gave it to me. So I made a calculated decision to "use it or lose it", even if that means my fashion statement is a definite "don't" you'd see in magazines.

My reasoning is simple. Our neighborhood has been hit with a string of burglaries-- 15 to be exact, since February. Two guys in hooded sweatshirts, in the middle of the day, walking casually down driveways to the backs of houses, breaking windows and grabbing laptops, cash, medications and jewelry-- thus my new fashion statement.

For the record, I hide my laptop, have little cash at home, and no one in their right mind would want to take my lupus medication- And if by mistake they do, well, all I can say is good luck with that sucker.

Let me preface this by saying we live in what is considered a "safe" neighborhood therefore the only time we EVER see a police car is on the main boulevard for their monthly "traffic ticket speed-trap day".
A cruiser actually cruising our streets is a very rare occurrence.

Until now. Cops are everywhere. Yeah!

It wouldn't surprise me if every single household in the three mile robbery radius has called our local city councilman, the police department, and the local police command station complaining, begging and pleading for more protection as a result of the unsolved robberies.

I'm guessing these phone calls are most likely from *cough*ahem*hysterical*cough* people just like me-- Women at home alone during the day-- blasting their DVD player with 101 Dalmatians and Marley & Me so would-be robbers know someone's home and seriously thinking of getting a Very. Big. Dog.

To say I'm angry and nervous about the whole situation is an understatement but I'm just this side of getting a ginormous dog for protection. I'm hopeful the thieves will be caught before I break down and get a well-trained, four-legged burglar deterrent and the dog hair that does with it.

In the meantime, I'll continue wearing all my bling and playing loud barking dog movies day and night. I figure at very least, the robbers will think I'm too crazy to deal with... At least a girl can hope.

Hope you're enjoying November!
Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © JackF -

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Comes First 2011

Dear Retailers, Television Networks, Radio Stations and major corporations:

With all due respect to the holiday, I am asking, actually I'm begging you, to please-- please, knock off the early Christmas chatter. It's only October, not even Halloween yet, but the red and green mall decorations popping up, the trees with shiny stars on top selling ornaments, the jingle bells, the random caroling over the loud speakers, and the increasing stream of commercials, all shouting Christmas, are just too much. It leaves me in a puddle of tears on the floor.

I realize I am not your problem, and I know the economy is rough, money is tight, and profits are at risk, but if you could grant this one request by holding off on "Decking the Halls", until December and remember Thanksgiving Comes First, I'd deeply appreciate it.

Thanksgiving is my great big family's very favorite holiday, one steeped in tradition and filled with meaningful heart-felt memories that we look forward to all year long. On this holiday, we come together as a family for fellowship, joyful conversation, wonderful food, and the opportunity to take time out of our busy lives to say thank you for all the things we are so blessed to have.

We look forward to this day all year long, as do countless other Americans, and it shouldn't be swept under the table, disregarded, minimized, or taken for granted just to cash in on Christmas.

But that is not why I'm asking you to hold off on your commercialized Christmas rush this year. My request actually comes from the bottom of my heart and a sincere need to protect and support my mother and family.

We are devastated over the recent passing of my sweet step-father, Dave, and this will be our first holiday without him. We need more time to heal and mend and prepare our hearts for a Thanksgiving without him leading our family in Grace at the dinner table.

Our hearts are still so very heavy and there is a layer of sadness in my family that is difficult to describe other than to say it is a sadness so deep that Thanksgiving, my step-dad's very favorite holiday, is too hard for us to imagine yet without him.

We started preparing for Thanksgiving months ago, well before Dave's passing. His famous Pretzel Jello Salad and Cranberry Jello were two dishes he planned to lovingly prepare just the way everyone likes them.

He was going to help move the furniture out of their living room so the dining room table could stretch all the way to their front bay window allowing our entire family, young and old, to all be around the same Thanksgiving table together. It's a lot of work but it was that important to Dave and he'd have gladly rolled up his sleeves and made it happen with the help of my nephews and brother.

I know Dave had been thinking about what he would say that he was most thankful for this year when it was his turn to share with the family. It's our tradition before dessert-- to always go around the table and not only thank god and our folk's for the wonderful meal but we also give thanks and verbalize something important to each of us from the past year. We'll never know what Dave was holding in his heart to share but you can be sure he is one person we are all deeply thankful for.

This Thanksgiving will be so difficult for my family, especially our Mom because very honestly, her heart has broken into a thousand pieces. It's obvious to see when the thought of life without her Beloved crosses Mom's mind. And now with so many retailers and corporations all but ignoring Thanksgiving and it's significance makes Mom and my family feel even more devastated by our loss.

We as a family are in desperate need of Thanksgiving and the opportunity to come together and remember the things we are thankful for. As we hold hands to say Grace before our meal I have no doubt tears will flow, but I pray that it is also a time to help the healing process and for us to remember not just our sweet Dave, but also the many things we have been blessed with and are thankful for this year.

So again I ask-- Please do not rush into Christmas yet-- Let Thanksgiving Come First-- for all the right reasons, and because my mom and family are not yet ready to face a holiday with one less loved one in our life.

Sincerely, Joanna Jenkins

It's time to roll the Thanksgiving Comes First boulder up the mountain of Christmas advertising that seems to inundate us earlier and earlier with each passing year. Click HERE to read Suldog's annual post then join in and help spread the word.

Get In Line

All I wanted was a small container of the Deli's sliced potato salad but it took me a full 13 minutes for my turn at the head of the line-- A line that, when I arrived, only had one, count 'em one person ahead of me.

What is it with grown men and women who think it's okay to cut ahead of people in line as if everyone else in their presence is invisible?

At first I thought I'd give the elderly gentleman who barged in and elbowed me out of the way a break because he was, well, elderly. But when I realized he was wearing tennis clothes and was perfectly fit, alert and well aware of exactly what he was doing, he had his sandwich and was gone.

When the Deli guy asked who was next, I raised my hand but another woman appeared out of nowhere. A few years older than me and dressed in her Sunday best, she looked me over as if I had the plague and simply stepped in front of me. So I pointed out to Her Majesty that she needed to "take a number" from the machine at the end of the counter. She did-- as she loudly placed her order, then returned and stood in front of me waiting for the counter guy to slice her turkey and swiss cheese.

Then, when it was almost my turn, a third guy with two wild kids in tow sashayed up and gave the "poor me, I have to babysit" look. The kids were bouncing off the ceiling and dad was clearly beat so the counter guy looked directly at Daddy Dearest and asked him for his order.

What am I-- chopped liver?!?

And so I waited and wondered if the potato salad was really worth it. I weighed my options and decided it would take more time to go somewhere else then it would to get what I needed at the Deli, but sheesh-- What is wrong with people! They know better right? Didn't we learn about not cutting in line around the same time we learned "take one and pass it on" in kindergarden?

Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © Richard Cote -

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Next Time I'll Be Sure To Ask...

Now firmly in my 50-something years, I'd like to think I've learned a thing or two-- important things-- life lesson kind of things, but at age 53, apparently I am still learning.

Countless times, literally hundreds in fact, I've flown on commercial airlines both domestic and internationally. Over the years, when given the opportunity to either sit squashed in a center seat or in an aisle seat anywhere else on the plane-- Aisles always win. I am not a fan of being squashed on airplanes.

But, the last time I flew back to Ohio to visit family, I learned a new lesson, and it's one I won't soon forget. Where that aisle seat is located should be of utmost importance when making an airplane seating decision.

Take my word for it, you never-- ever-- want an aisle seat in the back of the plane near the lavatories.

Simply put, an aisle seat in this area means you are either looking at butts or crotches throughout the entire flight as passengers wait in line to use the "facilities". And for some reason, it seems the vast majority of adult passengers all need to use the lavatory the moment the "fasten seat belt" sign is turned off making the parade of potty passengers seemingly endless.

And, if it's not an adult's body parts facing you while waiting in line, it's the angelic face of a small child with an oblivious parent. Said children are usually looking the aisle seat passenger directly in the eyes as they pick their nose and wipe it on your shirt sleeve.

But nose pickers aren't even the worst part.

People-- adults, actually-- in line for the Lav, seem to think it's perfectly okay to put their foot on your arm rest to tie their shoe, or worse, they put their foot on the arm rest of the person directly across from you thereby placing their unpleasant booty right up in your face. Given the choice, I'd prefer the nose pickers, thank you very much.

Yes, by age 53 I should have learned the "center seat always trumps an aisle seat by the bathrooms" rule. It's a lesson I won't soon forget. I just wish other passengers wouldn't forget simple common courtesies when traveling.


Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins