DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!


Nov 20 2015

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

by Camille B

turkeySo, the Thanksgiving festivities are on the way and you’re mingling about trying to be a good host, making sure that everyone is feeling welcome and comfortable–parents, siblings, in-laws, a few friends and neighbors you invited. Suddenly you look across the room and spot an unwelcome visitor, the same one who showed up at your perfectly planned holiday last year and wreaked havoc. That’s right, Mr. Stress himself, all decked out in his finest, lurking in the shadows and waiting for his cue to rain on your parade. Your heart sinks. Who on earth invited him?

Well, it just so happens he could have come in with any number of your friends or relatives–perhaps that aunt who, even though you tell her every year a bottle of wine is perfectly fine, always insists on bringing that special dish that nobody likes but everybody has to eat anyway, or maybe it’s your brother-in-law who goes around pushing everyone’s buttons–and oh, he’s here for the entire weekend. Then there’s your son. You clearly remember telling him to ask first, but he still arrives at the last minute with two of his buddies in tow–and they’re all the size of giants. You don’t want to be a scrooge, but there goes half the turkey!

Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, the Thanksgiving Holiday–a day when we come together with friends and loved ones to relax and give thanks, not just for what we have but for each other as well–can prove to be more stressful than we care to admit, testing the endurance of even the most patient folk.

And this is true not only for the host, but sometimes for guests as well–that new son or daughter-in-law, boyfriend or girlfriend, or invited co-worker. Guests can find themselves caught in the middle of Thanksgiving sagas and dramas that easily spiral out of control from simple things (like fights over the remote, a turkey leg or a wishbone) to really heated debates and brawls that stem from arguments over politics, sports teams or just the re-ignition of old family feuds.

Oh yes, Mr. Stress will show up at your Thanksgiving dinner. You can count on it. And though you may not be able to eradicate his presence altogether, you can minimize the role that he’ll play at your gathering by being prepared and always a few steps ahead.


There’s no way you can do everything yourself, so don’t even try. Brushing away people when they try to offer their assistance, while at the same time complaining at the end of the day that you had to do it all by yourself–you can’t have it both ways. Many hands make the work light, even small hands. And yes, you can enlist your guests as well.

Things don’t have to be perfect. So your cousin Rae-Rae didn’t mash the potatoes quite the way you like them, there’s no need to blow a gasket and call for everybody to get out of your kitchen. She was only trying to help. Believe me, no matter which way you offer up the potatoes–unless they’re burnt to a crisp–they will disappear right along with the rest of the meal. Take heart if it doesn’t look like it came out of Martha Stewart’s kitchen. Your family and guests will still love it and you–and appreciate your effort and hard work.

First-time hosts: Keep it simple. Now is not the time to try and impress your new mother-in-law with your non-existent culinary skills. Unless you’re a naturally great cook with event planning experience under your belt, you’ll probably make a few blunders along the way. No love loss. A lot of people still dread Thanksgiving preparations even after umpteen years of doing it. If this is just your first go at it, grab a good friend or two to help out. Your day will come when you will be able to put forth a Thanksgiving feast just like Mama used to make.

Try to be the most gracious host you can be. It’s sometimes hard I know. Maybe your aunt’s gesture was well intended, even though you had to chow down her questionable casserole made from that very secret recipe. It probably made her feel good just to be a part of things and offer up her contribution–and she may not be the only one you have to make peace with. Thanksgiving conflicts flare up like wild fires in an instant. Though you cannot be everywhere at once, you can do your best to ignore negative comments, steer conversations to otherwise neutral topics when you sense what’s coming (some people are habitual offenders), and basically douse water on any embers you see that can potentially erupt into an altercation.

Thanksgiving Dinner


Don’t come empty-handed. Even though your host insists that you bring just yourself and your appetite, it’s still a nice gesture to bring a non-food item or beverage–wine, flowers, or something that is needed as part of the event, like napkins, forks or even a gift for your host.

Let the host know ahead of time if you have any dietary issues. It can be really stressful to go through all the trouble of fixing a great feast only to realize at the last minute that someone cannot partake because they’re vegan or have specific allergies to items on the menu. Knowing ahead of time can enable your host to consider your diet in the meal planning.

Ask before you invade your host’s kitchen, and space as a whole, as this can be a good way to lose a limb or not get invited back next year. Unless you’re a really good friend of the family and you’re quite certain they’ll be okay with it, don’t go rummaging around in the refrigerator or cupboards, stand around in the kitchen obstructing foot traffic, or begin doing chores you weren’t asked to do.

Overall, I honestly believe that the almost euphoric anticipation we feel towards the Thanksgiving holiday and what it represents is too great–and the time and effort we put into making it the best day possible for our loved ones too precious–to let trivial matters come in and ruin it in mere seconds or minutes, causing us to sometimes forget why we came together in the first place. So this year when you spot Mr. Stress worming his way through your holiday celebrations, don’t grow wary, let him bring it! You’re prepared.

ArtOfTheVisitEase into your Thanksgiving season with the following selection from DCPL:

The Art of the Visit: Being the Perfect Host, Becoming the Perfect Guest by Kathy Bertone

Keep Your Cool! What You Should Know About Stress by Sandy Donovan

How to Survive Your In-Laws: Advice from Hundreds of Married Couples Who Did – Andrea Syrtash, special editor

How to Cook a Turkey: And All the Other Trimmings from the editors of Fine Cooking

Holiday Collection (DVD)

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The holidays are upon us, whether we are ready or not. As soon as Halloween ends, we start thinking of Thanksgiving and Christmas and all of the happiness these holidays bring us. However we never think about all of the problems these holidays bring. I really love Thanksgiving, because my mom makes all of the food that she does not make all year long. However getting the food is the problem. The grocery stores—all of them—are a nightmare the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. During this time of the year cheese, sugar and flour become hot items; they are even featured on the cover of the weekly ads in the grocery store. But once you have done all of your grocery shopping, including those last minute items that you always forget to buy, like eggs, you are okay, right? Wrong! Because the granddaddy of them all is on the way—Christmas. Christmas, not only does it monopolize the grocery stores, but all of the other stores as well. Traffic is horrible everywhere and there is never anywhere to park. Christmas is just a shoppers nightmare.

To help deal with the holiday stress, check out these books.


Jan 26 2011

Stretching into the new year

by Dea Anne M

Despite this post’s title, I’ve never been a maker of New Year’s resolutions, but this year I have decided to rededicate myself to a regular yoga practice. I have practiced yoga on and off for years now and I truly love it and its wonderful effects. Are you interested? Classes are great, but not always practical for many of us. Luckily, DCPL has plenty of resources to help you start, or resurrect, a home practice.

When I was first starting out, I learned from books. Here are just a few of the useful titles that you’ll find on the shelves of DCPL.

For a solid guide to basic yoga practice, check out Yoga Journal’s Yoga Basics: the essential beginner’s guide to yoga for a lifetime of health and fitness by Mara Carrico and the editors of Yoga Journal. This well-illustrated book provides instructions for the basic postures, breathing tips, and sample routines. I particularly like the photos that illustrate correct and incorrect methods of performing each posture. Yoga Journal (carried at DCPL!) is itself a great resource for anyone interested in yoga and this book would be a good complement to both formal instruction and/or home practice.

I actually own a copy of Yoga the Iyengar Way by Silva, Mira, and Shyam Mehta and consult it often as a reference. The emphasis in Iyengar style yoga is on correct alignment and often employees props such as belts and blocks and modifications of the poses to prevent injury. It’s a terrific approach to yoga for beginners and makes a great discipline as an ongoing practice or as a launching point for exploring other forms. The Mehta’s book is both thorough and precise and I highly recommend it.

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Aug 25 2008

Don’t Stress Over It!

by Nolan R

What stresses you out at work?  Deadlines?  Angry people?  Public speaking?  Being stuck in a cubicle?  Maybe it’s time to reevaluate your current job situation and see what other options might be available.

A new book, 150 Best Low-Stress Jobs, might just be your ticket to stress-free living.  Using information gathered from the U. S. Census and the Department of Labor, the book analyzes common stress-inducing factors involved with many jobs.

The book lists jobs with the least likelihood of encountering certain stressful situations, including conflict situations, angry or physically aggressive people, consequence of error, public speaking, exposure to high places, and pressure to compromise moral values.   If you decide right now isn’t the best time to change careers, the book also offers tips on dealing with stress in your current workplace.  If you need more information on careers and job hunting, check with your librarian for more recommended titles.

Oh, and where does librarian rank on the list?  Number twenty-nine overall, right between Security and Fire Alarm Systems Installers and Computer Programmers.


Dec 12 2007

“Om” for the Holidays

by Heather O

‘Tis the season for not only receiving extra pounds, but also extra stress. For years yoga has been used as a wonderful exercise for improving dexterity, stamina, balance, and weight-loss; and yoga can also help you de-stress during the busy holiday season. Modern yoga draws mainly from one branch of the different traditions; Hatha Yoga which focuses on the body and its movements. The deliberate and mindful nature of the asanas (yoga poses) with pranayama (breathing) contribute to a meditative state for many yoga practitioners. Yoga has a long history of use in Indian religions and different schools of Buddhism dating back to the Bhagavad Gita. Yoga is one of those great activities you can do as much as you’d like with it; you can follow along with a DVD or class, you could study philosophy and meditate, you can practice while pregnant then later with the baby, and you can learn as much or as little as you’d like on your own.

My favorite materials available from DCPL:

Yoga1 Yoga Body, Buddha Mind: Cyndi Lee – More than just pictures of a wide variety of postures, a modern Buddhist and yoga teacher intersperses her poses with some background on yoga, Buddhism, meditation, and breathing. An accessible work for those interested in a little more than just the postures and exercise, but also don’t want to read a lengthly religious tome.

Power Yoga Stamina (VHS) with Rodney Yee – Pretty much any Rodney Yee videorecording is good, I like the Stamina best of all. This is a video for beginner-intermediate yogis as he be too fast for those who do not already know the asanas, but its just the right length of time and difficulty to get my heart pumping and my mind engaged.

Yoga2 Total Yoga Flow Series: Water – The three-part series includes: Earth, Water, and Fire each focusing on a different level of yoga and different focus. The Water is the intermediate level with a focus on flexibility and grace. All three are interesting and useful in their own way often including some extra like a guided meditation or breathing exercise, but the menus are a challenging to navigate and the scene selection was a bit off.

Yoga Yoga : the path to holistic health: B.K.S. IyengarGiant book of poses from one of the most respected teachers in the world. The asanas are photographed from various angles and health benefits are noted along with the entry fro each posture. An essential reference, especially for those learning without the benefit of a teacher.

Yoga3 The Shambhala guide to yoga: Georg Feuerstein – Interested in history, philosophy, religion, or other yoga traditions? This book is great for people who want a good introduction to what yoga is beyond ‘downward-facing dog’.

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Dec 3 2007

More Reading, Less Shopping?

by Nolan R

The holiday season is a time when many of us are extremely busy and stressed, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by other things.  My husband says I worry too much, but I like to think of it as “planning ahead.”  There are always lots of stories on the news and in the paper about shopping safely during this time of year, but I would like to share a few links about personal and home safety, as well as product recalls and holiday safety.

Most important this holiday season?  Be aware, be safe, and take time to relax and enjoy time spent with family and friends.  The National Safety Council suggests that you “take time out for yourself. Relax, read, or enjoy your favorite hobby at your own pace.”  As a librarian, I can’t think of any better advice than that! 

Links for holiday safety tips:

Winter Holiday Health and Safety Tips from the American Red Cross

National Safety Council Holiday Season Safety

Websites to know for product safety and recalls:

www.recalls.gov  A “one stop shop” for all federal recalls as the result of six Federal agencies working together.  Look for (or report) dangerous products, including consumer products, food, medicine, motor vehicles, and cosmetics.

www.cpsc.gov Consumer safety information as well as product recalls from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Identity theft links:

Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Site

U.S. Department of Justice Site for Identity Theft and Fraud

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