Bookworm: Transforming Thanksgiving and the workplace

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“Thanksgiving: The True Story”

by Penny Colman

The size of a basketball hoop. Big as a tire. Or…larger than a bike rim. No, wait — the size of a small planet. That’s how big your plate will be this Thanksgiving because just thinking of all that food makes you really hungry.

Ever since Halloween ended, you’ve been learning about Thanksgiving in school. Maybe you spent time in art class drawing pictures of pilgrim men with silver-buckled hats, women with white aprons and Indian guests with feathers in their hair.

What would you say if you found out that might all be wrong? Read more in the new book “Thanksgiving: The True Story” by Penny Colman.

For many years, schools have taught that the pilgrims landed the Mayflower on Plymouth Rock and had a feast to celebrate. They invited Massasoit and his people, and they served turkey and corn, pumpkin pie and bread. And it all happened in 1621, right?

Certain people in Texas say no. Some in Florida and Virginia don’t believe it either. Some historians claim that “official” Thanksgiving feasts were celebrated elsewhere, long before pilgrims even thought about sailing across the ocean. Pilgrims, by the way, wore brightly colored clothing and probably never had buckles on their hats.

Believe it or not, the United States didn’t have an “official” Thanksgiving until Sarah Josepha Hale made it a personal mission to give us one. Hale firmly believed that Americans needed to unite on a holiday of gratitude. Over many years, she wrote hundreds of letters to influential government officials in support of a nationwide Day of Thanks.

Finally, on Oct. 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving Day. Almost 80 years later, Franklin Delano Roosevelt changed the date to the fourth Thursday, after pressure from store owners.

So what will you and your family do on Thanksgiving? For most of us, it’s not Turkey Day without the turkey, but “traditional” dishes vary from family to family. You might watch football after feasting, but cheering for your team is a tradition that’s less than 60 years old. And you might be surprised to know that very early celebrations were quiet and serious with no games and no socializing. Some people even tried to pass laws making it illegal to have fun on Thanksgiving!

Does your little turkey love Thanksgiving? If so, this book will be a big hit at your feast this year.

Using personal and historical accounts, interviews and newspaper articles from the past, author Penny Colman shows kids how Thanksgiving has evolved into the cherished holiday we know today. She explains how myths, mistruths and traditions got their starts and she uncovers little-known facts that children will love to repeat at the kids table. Best of all, Colman doesn’t “talk down” to her readers, which teachers, parents and kids will appreciate.

If your 9- to 16-year-old loves learning about holidays, cultural traditions, or might just want to read something appropriate for the season, look for this book. “Thanksgiving: The True Story” is a book they’ll gobble up.

“The Comeback”

by Emma Gilbey Keller

These days, your CEO wears diapers.

The executive office smells like talcum. You know, because you’re summoned there round the clock on a moments notice.

Your board room contains a bouncy chair at the head of a conference table crusted with dried cereal. Your power suit is stained with spit-up and the only paperwork you know is of the towel variety, but you think you’ve got the World’s Best Job.

That’s because you’ve stepped off the job track to be a mom. Someday, though, you’ll have your career back. There’s time.

You hope.

In the new book “The Comeback” by Emma Gilbey Keller, you’ll read about mothers who quit their careers to raise families, then found new, more fulfilling employment years later.

When she was 20-something, Emma Gilbey Keller says she immersed herself in her journalism career to the point where she had no social life. Then she met her husband, fell in love, sold her cottage and moved to the city less than a month before the birth of her first child.

She was glad she had the opportunity to stay home with her girls. Keller’s husband had a good job, and she says she kept in touch with journalism via his stories and visits to his newspaper office. But when her younger daughter mentioned that daddy goes to work and mommy goes to the gym, Keller knew it was time to return to a career.

In this book, Keller tells the stories of seven different women who stepped out of their careers to raise their children: their challenges, their surprises, and how they handled their returns to work.

Judith Feder of Manhattan stayed home to become her young twins’ best advocate after they were born prematurely. Now teens, the twins are enormously proud of their mother, a sentiment that makes her cry.

After a near-deadly confrontation with a criminal, Lauren Jacobson fled with her children to London while her husband stayed behind in South Africa. Jacobson held the family together, while wondering if she could do the same to a career. Amazingly, Jacobson had a comeback — and then quit!

And lest you think that a “comeback” is only for women whose husbands make lots of money, read on. One woman went back to medical school after her divorce at age 48.

While the stories in “The Comeback” are inspirational and will undoubtedly encourage any mom who longs for a 9-to-5, the real worth of this book is in author Emma Gilbey Keller’s asides.

“If you want to stay at home and take care of (your kids) full-time,” she says, “then do it. It doesn’t mean you will never get another job. It’s a finite stage.

“There is nothing wrong with serial comebacks. If you can do it once, you can do it twice or more.”

If you’re CEO doesn’t COO any more and you’re ready to go back to work, read this book. “The Comeback” will give you the oomph you need to get out of the playroom and back to the meeting room.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

© 2008 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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