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Today, an original poem for Poetry Friday. As I mentioned yesterday, this poem is a villanelle. For an explanation of the form (and a template if you are so inclined), you can check out yesterday's post.

I wrote this poem because Liz Scanlon roped me into it over a month ago, along with the rest of us who wrote sonnets together last year. The challenge was not simply to write any villanelle, but to use the words thanksgiving and friends in the first and third lines. I wrote mine during the ramp-up to Thanksgiving, and I couldn't help overhearing various and sundry people (some strangers, some friends) kvetch about how much they didn't want to go to their in-laws again, or how they hated a particular relative who always ____________(fill in the blank – examples include: drinks too much, starts a fight, shows up late, doesn't help cook and/or clean-up, tries to help cook and/or clean-up but gets in the way, and more).

This is what I came up with, and for some reason, it came out in the voice of a 13-year old boy. Who can say why?

A Family Thanksgiving
by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

Thanksgiving is "the day that never ends":
At least that's what my parents always say.
I wish that I could spend the day with friends.

My mom, freaked-out cook that she is, expends
Her energy by panicking all day.
Thanksgiving is a day that never ends.

My stupid cousin's here. He always bends
My arm behind my back; he claims it's "play".
I wish that I could spend my day with friends.

My dad fights with his father, which offends
My grandmother, who hollers in dismay.
Thanksgiving is a day that never ends.

There's so much food, the table nearly bends.
My brother elbows me out of his way.
I wish that I could spend my day with friends.

Before dessert, the pumpkin pie upends,
My favorite part of this dumb holiday.
Thanksgiving is a day that never ends
I wish that I could spend my day with friends.

You can find the other villanelles here:

Tanita Davis
Sara Lewis Holmes
Andromeda Jazmon
Laura Purdie Salas
Liz Garton Scanlon
Tricia Stohr-Hunt

Kiva - loans that change lives

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( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 4th, 2009 04:03 am (UTC)
Wow! You turned a difficult challenge into a fun poem.
Dec. 4th, 2009 04:45 am (UTC)
I'm willing to try another villanelle now, too - which is a good thing.
Dec. 4th, 2009 08:19 am (UTC)
I like this more and more every time I read it. It also makes me grateful that we never had huge family Thanksgivings!
Dec. 4th, 2009 01:02 pm (UTC)
I've been to some contentious holiday celebrations, whether Thanksgiving or Christmas, over the years, but not usually with my own family, so I'm pleased to say this is not based on personal experience.
Dec. 4th, 2009 11:24 am (UTC)
I wish that I could spend my day with friends....
I wish you could, too. I'd like to be on the guest list!

I'm thankful however for your sharing this great piece of work.

As I've said before, you write in pictures and I'm quite enjoying this humorous—but oh so true—parody of Norman Rockwell's "Thanksgiving" that's dancing through my head right now!
Dec. 4th, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
Re: I wish that I could spend my day with friends....
Thanks for the kind words. I was channeling a combo of petulant teen and dysfunctional family holidays, I suppose.
I suppose.... - slatts - Dec. 4th, 2009 01:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 4th, 2009 12:21 pm (UTC)
Kelly -- you must admit that when it comes to poetry challenges you're quite easy to rope! And it's a good thing, too, because otherwise WHO would explain the forms with as much clarity and WHO would write lines like:

My dad fights with his father, which offends
My grandmother, who hollers in dismay.
Thanksgiving is a day that never ends.

You up-ended the pie here, Kelly, and I'm grateful!
Dec. 4th, 2009 01:05 pm (UTC)
I did indeed upend the pie. Thank heavens it was only fictional! I'd hate to lose an actual pumpkin pie like that!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 4th, 2009 01:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks Laura! *off to visit you and the others*
Dec. 4th, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC)
*Wild applause*
Dec. 4th, 2009 02:03 pm (UTC)
*Elvis voice* Thank you. Thankyouverymuch.
(no subject) - elfstar18 - Dec. 4th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 4th, 2009 01:58 pm (UTC)
Boy, does this sentiment hit close to home for me.

I love the tone of this. So much humor, so much attitude.

And I love how each one of your villanelles is so wildly different. Soooo glad you all did this again.


Dec. 4th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
I am also quite glad - it's lovely working toward a common goal with other like-minded individuals. It's what makes things like the CYBILS and interviews and Guys Lit Wire and the Blog Blast Tours so rewarding. But I have to say that working in tandem on a private creative project like this in conjunction with a group of like-minded individuals feels rewarding on a somewhat deeper level!
Dec. 4th, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)
I loved the poem and I have definitely been to those celebrations, which is why I now host a Friday Tday dinner party for my friends. They come over and we cook together, drink a lot of wine and have a great meal. I vote yes on the for friends part :)
Dec. 4th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Laughs
Good plan. And hey! That's Marley & Marley from A Muppet Christmas Carol - love that. A Christmas Carol is one of my all-time favorite books.
Re: Laughs - wyckedgood - Dec. 4th, 2009 07:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Laughs - kellyrfineman - Dec. 4th, 2009 08:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 4th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC)
Aww - poor kid! The part about the pumpkin pie made me snicker. =)
Dec. 4th, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC)
About the pie: I intended it to mean that he loved the pumpkin pie, and was deprived of it, but I realized at least half of the readers think that the pie going over was what he enjoyed.

I DO remember being a sullen teen at a few holiday gatherings, although I usually snapped out of it quickly.
(no subject) - p_sunshine - Dec. 4th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 4th, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
Tanita Says :)
I love this one; I remember the first Christmas I opted out and stayed with friends. It was ...miserable. I found better friends the next year. ;)
Dec. 4th, 2009 05:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Tanita Says :)
Sorry to hear about poor young Tanita. I hope this year finds you with the best of friends.
Dec. 4th, 2009 07:26 pm (UTC)
This is exactly the way I felt about T-day when I was young. I hated everything on the menu and felt stifled & strangled by the family closeness. Your poem captures it perfectly. What a relief to be out of that and looking at it from a happy position!! You've made me grateful all over again.

Thank you so much for your explanation of the form and your inspiration. I am so happy to be in this group!!
Dec. 4th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad about the group as well - and I quite simply cannot believe how quickly your villanelle came into being!
Dec. 4th, 2009 11:51 pm (UTC)
First, I loved your post explaining the ins and outs of villanelles, although I read it with my heart in my throat, thinking: what if I discover I've botched the rhyme scheme; what'll I do, what'll I doooo? Luckily, Tricia's handy form kept me straight!

Second, every time I read your poem, I think how perfectly you capture a teen's viewpoint. Like you jumped inside a teen's head and took notes!

As for up-ending pies, that's why you always make three or four... :)
Dec. 5th, 2009 05:39 am (UTC)
My inner teen can remember not wanting to attend family events, but the rest is fiction.

And of course you didn't botch anything, silly. You know yours is my favorite of the villanelles from the group!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 8th, 2009 03:18 am (UTC)
Thanks for your kind words!
Dec. 5th, 2009 01:51 pm (UTC)
*thunderous applause* Such fun and truth and great voice! Save the pie, save the pie!!

P.S. I love knowing that "R" stands for Ramsdell!! Hee. :)

Edited at 2009-12-05 01:52 pm (UTC)
Dec. 8th, 2009 03:19 am (UTC)
Or does it? My middle name is Rae, after all. (But yes, it works either way!)

Thanks for the applause and compliment!
Dec. 5th, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
Fun, Fun!
Well, maybe the narrator's Thanksgiving wasn't fun, but it was fun to hear him crab on about it! And then the pie upends adding insult to injury! Poor kid. I bet when he's old enough he'll either go to a restaurant with friends, or order in for pizza on Thanksgiving.

Thanks for yesterday's post explaining the form and giving your version of a "worksheet." I'm inspired to try one!
Dec. 8th, 2009 03:19 am (UTC)
Re: Fun, Fun!
He's not real, but it's lovely that he sounded real enough to you to think ahead to his future!
( 34 comments — Leave a comment )

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