CAN WE GO “HOME” AGAIN?

THE WALTONS: HOMECOMING – a 60 Second Movie Review

WARNING: REVIEW CONTAINS PISS ANT SPOILER

When the CW announced recently that the beloved TV series, The Waltons would be receiving a reboot on their network, old people throughout the world rejoiced, and every young person went, “Huh?”

Never mind that. So, after trumpeting the news of this Christmas miracle, I feel obligated to providing my thoughts on the movie special that aired on December 28 on the CW Network – a holiday special featuring a family forced to deal with everyday life in the era following the 1929 stock-market crash and the hard times that followed.

SECOND WARNING…

Never watch a movie reboot with two sisters who remember every detail of the original adaptation and can’t get past the fact that every adaptation comes with new edits and dialogue. I understand their passion for tradition, but we are not the CW Network’s desired demographic. While I am sad that Mary Ellen no longer calls Elizabeth a piss ant (seriously, this is the best line in the original, and the mother’s reaction is priceless), I can only hope that this reboot brings a new crop of quotes to today’s younger generation. As a viewer who visited with the original Walton kids weekly, I have to say I was charmed by the new cast, with familiar faces filling the iconic roles (Hang on while I Google John Boy in Waltons Reboot. Oh yeah, 17-year-old Kevin from This is Us).

My only criticism is the needless Hallmark touch added to a show that attempts to depict life in an era that was darker and dirtier than what is shown in this sterilized version. But I am thankful and appreciate to be revisiting with this family on Walton’s Mountain. I cannot fathom this wholesome TV series surviving on a network full of shows overflowing with angst and superheroes, but something tells me that’s what they said the first time around.     

Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Moxie Magazine. Her novel, Chasing North Star is available wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor

Is Thanksgiving Canceled?

The note below recently followed students home in their backpacks from an elementary school…

Dear Parent / Caregiver,

In respect to all of our students, please note that we will no longer be celebrating the holidays of Halloween and Valentine’s Day at school. Thank you for keeping your child’s Halloween costume at home.  

In recognition of the individual cultures and lifestyles of their students, many schools are rethinking how and if they should be acknowledging holidays and events that were a given in the era of their student’s parents and caregivers. Gone, are the days of children parading through the hallways in Batman and witches’ costumes. And to help alleviate children from feeling excluded, mailboxes made from decorating shoeboxes to hold Valentine’s Day cards are now a distant memory.    

It’s the next step in what is sometimes unjustly being labeled as Cancel Culture. It wasn’t that long ago when schools acknowledged that Christopher Columbus didn’t really discover America, since the country was already inhabited by Indigenous People wrongly labeled by white Europeans as Indians.

Which brings us to the topic of Thanksgiving. What was once a day to celebrate the coming-together of Pilgrims and Indians, is now a holiday in question, as we learn and recognize that this story is for the most part fictitious, overriding the truth in what was more likely the hostile arrival of people invading the land of Native Americans.

But acknowledging that Thanksgiving is currently a flawed holiday should not stop us from celebrating a day centered around “putting down our weapons” and gathering around the kitchen table for great food and conversation. We need to absolutely recognize and celebrate the true first inhabitants of our country and we should welcome the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Unlike with Christmas, another holiday that embraces family gatherings, Thanksgiving comes without the commercial trappings of artificial Christmas trees and the need to power-shop on Amazon for the latest tech gadgets and toys.

After all, Halloween is just a silly holiday that has morphed from children going door-to-door in search of Snickers bars to grownups throwing elaborate costume parties and front lawns lit up like Christmas. And Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a faux holiday powered by Hallmark, florists, and department stores, encouraging us to buy jewelry and grossly overpriced roses. Perhaps, it’s time we take a step forward and take Thanksgiving in its literal context. A time for Thanks.

Thanksgiving is a holiday that can and should survive the Cancel Culture movement. As schoolbooks are rewritten to tell the true story of Indigenous People, let us celebrate our true first inhabitants of America. And let Thanksgiving continue to be a time when we gather with our family – without the wrapped gifts and without inflatable reindeer on the front lawn. Just turkey legs, stuffing, and love. And football.

Now, if we can just get rid of Black Friday…

Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Moxie Magazine. Her novel, Chasing North Star is available at Kazoo Books, This is a Bookstore, and online wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor

WHEN THE STARS GO DARK –When Nonfiction takes a creative turn

Some of the best stories are found within the pages of real-life events. Categorized as Historical Fiction, many authors have found a fascinating niche of delving into true stories from the perspective of a secondary character or using a true story to inspire a fictional tale. It’s an intriguing twist and makes for an exceptional story. One example of Historical Fiction is AMERICAN WIFE, a novel by Curtis Sittenfeld, and loosely based on the life of Laura Bush. Packed with intrigue and familiar characters, AMERICAN WIFE reveals the fascinating backstory on our former first lady’s life, and well worth the read  

Another novel that borrowed from a real-life event and news headlines, is WHEN THE STARS GO DARK, From Paula McLain, the author of THE PARIS WIFE (Yet another intriguing historical fiction novel, based on the first wife of Ernest Hemmingway). WHEN THE STARS GO DARK focuses on Anna, a homicide detective working on several cases involving missing girls. While this literary thriller is fiction, it includes a side-story borrowed from a real-life tragic event, in the kidnapping of Polly Klaas, a girl held at knifepoint and kidnapped in 1993.

WHEN THE STARS GO DARK is a true page-turner and a thought-provoking who-done-it that fires on all cylinders.

Heidi McCrary is a writer and author of Chasing North Star. Keep up with her at https://heidimccrary.net/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor

All my Life Skills, I Learned at McDonalds

“Seriously?” I said, looking at the disheveled pickles and condiments sliding off the cold hamburger hiding beneath the smashed bun. I envisioned the creator looking out the drive-thru window under the golden arches, saying to herself, Oh, it’s her. I hate her. Wait ‘til she gets this! It wasn’t the first time I received a less-than-stellar product from a fast-food establishment, but it was the first time, this seemed… deliberate.

Like many teenagers from an era before dating apps and TikTok, my fist job was at the local McDonald’s—a job that thankfully got me through the teenage years and college. While my career took me down a path that drifted away from building Big Macs and deep-sea breaded fillets, if I lined up all the jobs I have held in life, the one that taught me all necessary life skills was…

McDonald’s.

Here are the top 5 life skills I learned, working at a fast-food restaurant…

5)           Respect your boss – Just as you’re taught to respect your elders, the same goes for the person who hired or manages you. Truth is, if you’re not clicking with your boss, it’s time to find a new job. And it’s OK to know when it’s not working. We spend too much time at our jobs to not like the people we work with.

4)           Don’t be an a**hole­­­­ – While this sounds simple, it’s probably the hardest rule to follow on a daily basis, and easy to forget when faced with someone who is testing our nerves. Take the highroad, even when that someone is being a jerk. We don’t know what kind of day they’ve had or what they’re dealing with in their own lives. Acting like an a**hole is the one thing we don’t need to pay forward. Just, don’t.

3)           Enjoy the Big Mac special sauce – Life is what we make it. While we have no control with what is thrown at us, we can control our reaction and attitude. Have you ever encountered that cashier who genuinely seems to love her job? Her job and boss may be spectacular, but it’s more likely that she simply approaches her job with a smile and a fresh attitude each day. There is good in every job, we just need to see it and embrace it.

2)           Show up. This should go without saying, but you’ll be ten miles ahead of the other guy if you just show up for everything in life­­—physically and mentally. That includes returning messages in a timely manner and staying off your damn phone when you should be working. Yeah, I said that.  

1)           Build better burgers – Take pride in whatever you do. It doesn’t matter if you’re creating, teaching, or providing a service. If you take pride in what you do in the workplace, it tends to carry over in everything else in life. And will benefit you in endless ways.

And to the person who served me that flat deranged hamburger, I can only say that I hope your day got better. I know mine did 🙂    

Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Moxie Magazine. Her novel, Chasing North Star is available at Kazoo Books, This is a Bookstore, and online wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor