TIME technology

6 Unexpectedly Absorbing Games to Play on Your Phone While Ignoring Your Family This Holiday Season

Using phone
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Kidding! Don’t ignore your family. Unless your family is awful. In which case, enjoy these distractions

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

The realities of distance have long dictated that my time spent among family is somewhat limited to a couple weeks in total each year. My people of origin all live in South Florida, while I am in Boston, and although my in-laws in upstate New York are closer, they’re still far enough away, and everyone involved is so busy, that visits are special occasions and not predictable occurrences.

I miss them, enormously, all the time. Because of this, it’s actually pretty rare that I ignore anyone when we’re visiting, given that I treasure and cherish every moment with my beloved family.

But, you know, even I have my limits.

Sometimes, surrounded by people who love you, or at least people to whom you are related, you just want to put your head down and do something, anything other than listen to your cousin talk about her wedding plans for an hour, or your aunt ranting on with her offensive politics from 1953, or have to answer intrusive questions about your professional/marital/reproductive prospects. Sometimes you want to put on some headphones and just ignore everyone just for a bit. I am here for you. It’s OK.

(My husband writes about video games for a living, and when I told him about my “ignoring your family” angle, he called me a cynical jerk. That’s probably a fair assessment. But I thought it was funny.)

Monument Valley (iOS, Android)

I first saw Monument Valley at the Game Developers Conference earlier this year, and I was mesmerized. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when it received a bunch of positive attention right away, and went on to win a 2014 Apple Design Award.

Monument Valley follows Princess Ida on a journey through meticulously designed environments, in which the architecture hides puzzle solutions in optical illusions that borrow liberally from the work of M.C. Escher. In each chapter, you help Ida on her travels by pressing switches and rotating pathways and staircases to create a path for her to follow, and the solutions are elegant and often surprising.

Beautifully surreal, slow-paced, simple to learn and with a soundtrack like aural Valium, it’s an easy game to get lost in. Happily, new chapters are now available.

Device 6 (iOS)

Device 6 is similarly lauded and similarly surreal, but in some very different ways. A sort of hybrid visual novella and game, Device 6 tells the story of a woman called Anna, who wakes up in a castle on a mysterious island with no recollection of how she got there.

Device 6 dispenses with typical running/jumping game mechanics in favor of a more intuitive approach in which the text itself is the playing field. You read it as much as you play it, and the puzzles give the distinct feeling that you’re a detective collecting and analyzing clues to a much bigger mystery, rather than simply looking for the right random solution. And it is stylish as fuck, with a swingy midcentury vibe that somehow underscores how freaking creepy it can occasionally get.

Also, the sound design on Device 6 is mind-rendingly brilliant.

Sometimes You Die (iOS)

Oh, what’s that? You’re a total freakbrain nerdo who’s captivated by the more meta-level questions of What Is A Game and What Is Fun and Why Does Anything Exist Anyway? ME TOO. This is a thing you will like!

Sometimes You Die has been a bit of a surprise hit this year, given that it is actually a minimalist question with no answer, given game form. Typically, “dying” in a game is a momentary setback, but in Sometimes You Die, death is a necessary part of success, as you must litter the screen with your corpses to carve a path to follow from level to level. (Your corpses are just little black blocks so this is less gory than it might sound.)

What you wind up with is an existential query into the nature of play that also manages to be fun and surprisingly difficult to put down.

Tengami (iOS)

First off, Tengami is beautiful. Taking its design from traditional Japanese arts and crafts, you guide a character through a pop-up book world in which you flip pages and slide tabs to discover hidden passages and other secrets.

This is a contemplative puzzle-solving experience that is more style than substance, so if you’re looking for a deeply compelling narrative, you’re better off with other games on this list. But as a chill, low-thinking break from holiday madness, it certainly does the job. And not only is Tengami pretty to look at, the soundtrack is gorgeous as well.

The Last Door (iOS, Android)

Moving from really relaxing to really really really not, The Last Door is a retro-styled old school point-and-click horror game that is legitimately terrifying. I still hold a special place in my heart for 8-bit games, but even I was surprised by how frightening this game could be, given that the graphics are limited to a heap of loosely arranged pixel chunks. It really makes the point that, in the right hands, lifelike visuals aren’t necessary to sustain an atmosphere of terror.

Set in England of 1891, you play as Jeremiah Devitt, who is investigating the suicide of an old friend, and as he digs up his past, things take an otherworldly, almost Lovecraftian turn. The Last Door owes a significant debt to adventure games of the ’80s and ’90s, and it manages to feel both nostalgic and new at the same time. You explore locations looking for items and clues at your own pace, and solve puzzles to move the plot forward.

Also, The Last Door uses an episodic format, so new pieces of the story are still being made.

A Dark Room (iOS)

A Dark Room has no graphics at all. It is a game that uses only text to tell its story; even the pseudo-graphical “map” you use to explore beyond your campsite is drawn with letters and punctuation marks describing the landscape, ASCII-style. It has no sound design. In the way of traditional resource-management games, it consists of tapping things on your screen to get other things, but it evolves into a role-playing game as well before long in which you’re battling enemies and exploring spooky caves, crumbling houses and abandoned mines.

All this you get to imagine in your head, because like I said: no graphics. Add a dark, convoluted story that is somehow all the more compelling for the lack of concrete details it provides, and you’ve got a minimalist masterpiece.

It is also weirdly addictive. The first time I played A Dark Room months ago, I suddenly realized I’d been sitting on the couch for three hours amassing wood and meat for I don’t even remember what. It seemed very important at the time.

There is also a prequel, The Ensign, that has recently come to the App Store. Enjoy both, and forget your family is even in the room with you.

Lesley Kinzel is Deputy Editor at xoJane.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Family

I Can’t Get Back the Thanksgivings of My Childhood and That Is OK

Thanksgiving dinner
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I learned that food cooked with love definitely tastes better than food that isn’t

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of whipped potatoes with sautéed onions. I haven’t actually had them at a holiday meal in about two decades, but that is the dish that tugs at my heart when I think about Thanksgivings past.

Our day-to-day was tumultuous when I was a kid and we weren’t the sort of family where food brought us all together. Instead, reheated macaroni from three nights ago was often on the menu — and if it smelled or tasted a little funny, we ate it anyway. My dad would show up highly intoxicated midway through the meal and complain. Sometimes he’d make himself something to eat before passing out, but most times he didn’t. He usually had just enough energy to criticize my mother’s lack of culinary skills and my brother and I learned to just keep eating with our eyes on the television as dishes and pans banged around the kitchen.

But Thanksgiving was different — we spent it with my mother’s sister’s family. My father never came with us and I didn’t have to ask why. There was plenty of food and all of it fresh. The table was set lavishly with linens and glasses, a far cry from the paper napkins and plastic tumblers we had at home. My aunt and uncle weren’t wealthy but they were generous and loved to celebrate holidays with those they held dear. The rest of the year they were the paper napkin and plastic tumbler sort, but Thanksgiving was special and sacred and deserved cloth napkins. My mother could have never pulled off a dinner like this. It would have required weeks of work just to find the dining room table under the mountains of junk.

My uncle and I shared a bond in the kitchen. I’d stand and watch as he went from counter to stove to refrigerator and back again, simultaneously preparing various dishes. Everything was timed perfectly and he had a schedule to keep, yet he never hesitated to teach as he went so that I could maybe host the traditional Thanksgiving dinner someday. I learned the invaluable lesson that you can always add more of an ingredient and never take away, so never pour with a heavy hand. I learned that you have to be patient with food; it is art and it cannot be rushed. I learned that food cooked with love definitely tastes better than food that isn’t.

But the mashed potatoes were always my favorite part. He whipped them with the electric beater while adding the perfect ratio of cream and real butter. Just when they were at the tip of perfection, he’d add in the sautéed onions. They always came out just right and, topped with his signature pan gravy, they were heavenly. He knew I loved them and even if it’s not true, I liked to think he kept making them because I loved them and he loved me.

Thanksgiving dinners were special, a respite from daily life. They were a time to love and feel loved. I thought maybe this was what most families had year round and I was happy to catch a glimpse of it.

Life marches on though. Families change over time until we look back and everything is different.

My father left when I was ten and I no longer hoped he could clean up and make it to a holiday meal. My mother was stricken with multiple sclerosis and as she lost her mobility over the years, getting her wheelchair into her sister’s second floor apartment became unmanageable. I started spending holidays with my future husband’s family and my brother did the same with the family of his future wife. The strain of my mother’s illness from a chronic, degenerative and ultimately fatal disease was felt by all of us. Tempers flared and we backed away from one another. My grandparents died, my aunt and uncle moved away.

None of this happened all at once. Little by little, inch by inch, the distances grew. It seemed someone would always say next year, for sure, we’ll get back to the old way, all of us together. But those who left didn’t come back. And things kept changing.

I tried to recreate the big family dinner several times, looking to recapture the magic of the ones I remembered. The meals were nice with scads of relatives seated elbow to elbow at tables too small to accommodate them, laughing and eating piles of food. The feelings I had weren’t the same as the ones I had in my younger years. I couldn’t recreate it no matter what I did.

So I stopped trying. Our Thanksgiving dinners are smaller now but we still share our table with family and friends. I’m grateful when my son eats with us, despite his food aversions and flair for dramatics surrounding his pickiness. I whip the potatoes, but I don’t add the sautéed onions because no one would eat them except me and that’s just fine.

As I cook, I take a quiet minute and remember those holidays from decades ago. I can’t get them back but I can remember fondly the love and how good it felt to be together when the rest of the year wasn’t so happy. I can think about my grandfather standing on chairs trying to take candid photos of people eating. I remember my grandmother laughing so hard that she’d cry when, during the annual after-dinner board game, she’d accidentally answer an entire round of Scattergories in French instead of English. I am careful not to use a heavy hand with the cream or the butter or any other ingredient because, like memories, you can always add more.

I still cook food with love.

Even though those seated at the table aren’t the same, we’re making new memories ever year that we gather together. Expecting the magic and wonder of youth is a fool’s errand, and there’s no way to bring back those lost. Some fences are far too damaged to mend and sometimes the holidays mean acceptance that we won’t ever again be with those we’ve held dear.

There is significant pressure, I think, for Thanksgiving to be so many things. Now, I work to appreciate it for what it is — and also for what it isn’t, for what it could have been but might never be. I’m happy with what we have, even if it’s not what I ever expected.

Michelle Longo is a writer living in New Jersey.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Family

7 Thanksgiving Mishaps That Will Make Your Turkey Time Look Good

Even Mayor Bloomberg doesn't have the best Thanksgiving luck

While Thanksgiving is often touted as a bright, warm time full of family, food, and friendship, not everyone has an Instagram-perfect holiday. To give you that extra bit of Turkey Day ego boost (or schadenfreude), here are 7 Thanksgiving mishaps that we think rank up there as some of the all-time biggest turkeys:

The Bloomberg Family Had a Crappy Thanksgiving — Literally
Georgiana Bloomberg, daughter of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, explained her family’s less-than-ideal Thanksgiving, at the Humane Society’s gala Friday. Bloomberg recounted her first Thanksgiving with her 10-year-old adopted Chihuahua, at the New York City Animal Care & Control center. “For Thanksgiving, she got to come to Gracie Mansion,” NYMag reports Bloomberg said. “And she proceeded to have explosive diarrhea all over the front hall of Gracie Mansion. And we always joke it was her way of thanking the city for deeming her unadoptable.”

Thief Takes Turkey
A Connecticut man was on his way to a friend’s house on Thanksgiving 2013, turkey and stuffing in-hand, when he got held up at gunpoint, a local Fox affiliate reported. Not only did the thief take Jimmy Mulligan’s wallet, but he took the turkey and fixings to boot. After police officers learned that the 911 call was not, in fact, a joke, they felt so bad that they bought Mulligan two Thanksgiving dinners from Boston Market.

Turkey Takes Down Thief
In 2008, a North Carolina carjacker was served his Thanksgiving turkey early. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, bystanders witnessed a man trying to steal a woman’s keys outside of a grocery store. When he started attacking his resistant victim, onlookers decided to take action and started hitting the thief over the head with a frozen Thanksgiving turkey. WRAL News reported that police later arrested the carjacker.

That’s a Big Carving Knife
Police told NJ.com that a Montclair man was arrested after threatening a group of people, who had “excluded” him from their Thanksgiving festivities, with a machete. He was arrested and no one was injured.

Speaking of Utensils…
Thanksgiving dinner conversations can get heated, but a Maryland woman might have taken the pie in 2012 when an argument ended by her stabbing her half-brother with a serving fork. He was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and she was arrested for first-degree assault.

Catching Fire
Of course, one of the most common holiday disasters is house fires. According to the American Red Cross, cooking-related infernos occur twice as often on Thanksgiving than on any other day.

Deep Fried Disaster
On that note, here’s someone who almost lit himself on fire when he tried to deep fry his Thanksgiving Day turkey:

Bon appetite!

TIME celebrities

Angelina Jolie Says She Still Needs to ‘Get This Wife Thing Down’

In an interview on the "Today" show

The notoriously private Angelina Jolie is finally opening up about her marriage to Brad Pitt.

In an interview with Tom Brokaw on Tuesday’s Today show, Jolie revealed that her relationship with Pitt has changed since they said “I do.”

Though they had already been together for nearly a decade prior to tying the knot on Aug. 23, she admitted that “recommitting after 10 years of being together” provided an added level of “security and comfort.”

“We were fortunate enough to be in that unusual situation where we got married with our children and they were part of the ceremony and they wrote some of the vows,” Jolie said.

That’s not all – as PEOPLE previously reported, her six children also had a hand in designing her Atelier Versace gown! Maddox, 13, and Pax, 10, walked their mother down the aisle, and Zahara, 9, and Vivienne, 6, acted as flower girls. Shiloh, 8, and Knox, 6, were ring bearers.

“[Our wedding day] was all of us agreeing to be together and to just commit to this life together,” Jolie continued. “Not because we had to or because anything was missing in our lives, but because we were absolutely sure we felt that much of a family. … It was really lovely. It was a lovely day.”

And apparently, even Oscar-winning actresses and UN special ambassadors have their moments of insecurity.

“I think we have more moments where I’m like, ‘I’m gonna be a better wife. I’m gonna be a better cook.’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, honey, know what you’re good at. Know what you’re not,’ ” she said, laughing. ” ‘No, no, I’m gonna get this wife thing down!’ But he knows my limitations and where I’m a good wife and good mom.”

Not long after their wedding, the couple began filming By the Sea, a romantic drama set in the 1970s about a troubled marriage.

“It felt like the appropriate thing to do on our honeymoon,” she joked.

Jolie, who wrote and directed the movie, admitted that while it’s not necessarily difficult to direct your spouse, “I had moments with the actor and I’m sure he had many moments with the director.”

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME Parenting

Raising a Deaf Child Makes the World Sound Different

baby ear
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When I found out my son couldn’t hear, I figured out that I wasn’t really listening, either

Just before my youngest son Alex turned two, we discovered that he had significant hearing loss that was likely to get worse. A few weeks later, I found myself in the gym at the school my two older boys attended. I was there for the regular Friday morning assembly. I’d been in that gym dozens of times for such events—dutifully clapping and cheering, chatting with other parents, and then moving on with my day.

On this morning, my routine was upended. The noise of the kids filing in echoed through the bleachers; the PA system squealed once or twice. When quiet kids took the microphone it was hard to hear them. All of that was normal, yet I hadn’t really noticed it before. Now, I was hearing the world differently, imagining it through the ears—and the hearing aids—of Alex, who might someday be a student here. Having a deaf child, I realized, was going to teach me to listen.

Once I started listening, I started to learn. Research came naturally—I am a journalist—and became my coping mechanism. Through books, conferences, and conversations with as many experts as possible, I began to understand the power of sound—how the speech of parents and caregivers and teachers shapes a child’s spoken language; and then, how a child’s own spoken language—the rhythm and the rate of it—helps that child learn to read. I also saw and heard more clearly the troublesome effects of sound’s alter ego, noise—the unwanted, unlovely cacophony of our industrial world, or the magnified, amplified effect of too many people talking, or music that’s too loud or intrusive.

What struck me most was that sound doesn’t matter any less for hearing children like my older boys. From the minute a child is born, every experience that child has is being etched into his or her brain. Sound, or its absence, is part of that experience. Neurons make connections with each other, or don’t; the auditory system develops or doesn’t, based on experience. Sound is essential for anyone learning to speak and to listen—and that includes every hearing child, as well as every deaf and hard of hearing child using hearing aids or cochlear implants, which send sound signals directly to the auditory nerve.

Before we figured out that Alex couldn’t hear, he was using every visual cue available—smiles and frowns, waving hands, pointing fingers—in order to make sense of his world. For a time, he compensated well enough to fool us into thinking he could hear, but he couldn’t keep up once his peers started talking.

Both the quantity and the quality of the words children hear in their first years affect language development. Over time, as kids have more experience listening, the auditory processing in their brains speeds up and becomes more efficient. The repetition, rhythm, and rhyme in nursery rhymes, poetry, music and even Dr. Seuss help children learn language by getting them to listen for patterns. That listening practice then forges the neural networks necessary for reading because an ability to make sense of what you hear and break speech into syllables and phonemes is the foundation of reading. How a child reacts to sound—meaning how efficiently his or her brain processes it—on the first day of kindergarten correlates to how many words per minute that child will read in fourth grade. It turns out that problems with processing sound are at the heart of the majority of reading problems. On the other hand, children who read well have built strong brain circuits connecting hearing, vision, and language.

It’s important to note that if a deaf child is going to grow up using sign language, he does not need sound in order to develop that language because his world is visual. Sign language, if it’s a first language, gets laid down in the brain in the same areas as spoken language does in those who learn to speak. Reading, however, is another question. Native signers must learn to read in what to them is a second language, and deaf students have historically struggled with reading in numbers far greater than their hearing peers.

When Alex did eventually attend school with his brothers, he was using a hearing aid in one ear and a cochlear implant in the other. It turned out that small strategies designed to improve the classroom environment for him benefitted everyone. After we taught Alex to politely ask his friends to speak up or repeat themselves, circle time was suddenly full of children using their manners to do the same because no one else could hear the shy kids who mostly whispered. None of the children in his first grade classroom heard the math assignment because the air conditioner sounded like a standing mixer. Swapping out the old equipment helped 20 kids, not one. Ditto for adding carpeting and curtains, and covering the metal legs of chairs. According to the Acoustical Society of America, noise levels in many classrooms are loud enough that those with normal hearing can hear only 75 percent of words read from a list.

Something else happened, too. Alex’s needs subtly shifted some of the group dynamics, encouraging a new level of attention. Hearing people don’t have to look at someone who’s talking to take in what they say, but deaf people do. Although Alex’s hearing equipment does allow him to hear without looking, he still benefits from visual cues, and in his classes we applied a lesson from American Sign Language about the need for eye contact. The lovely thing about looking at someone when that person is speaking is that instead of just appearing to pay attention, you probably actually are.

Paying attention matters on a deeper level. Children’s ability to pay attention matures over time just as their language does. And like language, selective attention—the kind kids need in the classroom—is affected by experience. Practice and you get better at it. Neuroscientists have shown that when children pay attention they learn. Focusing on something specific—one voice over another or your book instead of your friend—results in a bigger response in the brain measured in electrical activity even in children as young as three. That bigger response helps build networks between neurons and trains the brain to learn.

Alex is now in sixth grade at that same school. I can’t change the acoustics of the cafeteria, but in the classroom, we still begin every school year reminding his teachers to stop and listen. We encourage them to amplify sound by, for instance, remembering to face students instead of the board and to damp down noise by consistently keeping hallway doors shut and the like.

At home, the boys used to do homework at the kitchen table while I cooked dinner and occasionally stepped in to quiz them or offer suggestions, often without leaving whatever was simmering on the stove. I no longer do it that way. I turn off the radio and hush my older sons then I sit next to Alex (or whichever boy needs help) and give him my full attention. He learns the material better, and I learn more about him. I wish I had never done it any other way.

Lydia Denworth is the author of I Can Hear You Whisper: An Intimate Journey through the Science of Sound and Language. She is a blogger for Psychology Today and contributes to Scientific American Mind, Parents, and many other publications.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Family

How To Acknowlege Native Americans this Thanksgiving

Burke/Triolo Productions—Getty Images

Thanksgiving, you might vaguely remember from elementary school, celebrates a feast shared by the Wampanoag tribe and European settlers the tribe had saved from starvation. It turned out, of course, that the presence of Europeans was tragic for the Native Americans who had welcomed them.
With such a troubled history, how can we talk with our kids about Thanksgiving in a way that recognizes both sides of the tradition? Here are some tips from Dr. Randy Woodley, a Keetoowah Cherokee descendent, Director of Intercultural and Indigenous Studies at George Fox University, and author of Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision.
For young kids, “It’s important to understand that the ‘first Thanksgiving’ was not really the first,” Woodley says. “Native Americans were celebrating Thanksgiving feasts for thousands of years prior to the European arrival. And those celebrations took place many times throughout the year.”
Middle school aged kids can understand their role in the occasion a bit more clearly. “Native Americans were the hosts of Thanksgiving,” says Woodley. “It’s part of our values, to welcome people.” Thanksgiving is still a celebration of hospitality. But Woodley also believes it’s a good time to think about what kind of guests we want to be, either at a feast, or as visitors to a new country.
By high school, the lens can be widened. “Feasts, and the hospitality of the Native Americans, can serve as a lesson for inter-cultural hospitality in America,” says Woodley. To him, it’s a natural time “to encourage reconciliation between your family and those who share a different history.” What does it mean to be a host, to extend yourself? This also might be the time to talk about how many Native Americans do not celebrate the holiday because of the painful history that followed. “Eventually the story did not end well for the Native Americans,” Woodley says. “We are still waiting for justice and reconciliation to take place. Perhaps over another feast in the future.”

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TIME Culture

Thanksgiving: Grandma and the Baby Would Forget—But Mom and I Would Remember

turkey
Getty Images

During this get-together of four generations speaking three languages, we all take turns playing caretaker and taken-care-of

I think back to the first Thanksgiving I spent with my infant daughter three years ago, which was also the last one I spent with my grandmother. The multigenerational gathering at my childhood home in Alhambra, mixing Chinese, Vietnamese, and American traditions, is not only etched in my memory, it’s immortalized in a digital photograph.

In the photo, my mom is holding my nearly four-month-old daughter in her arms, while my arms rest by my 84-year-old grandma, whom we all called Popo (the Chinese word for grandmother).

The entire family doesn’t get together like this often — but Thanksgiving is a holiday when 20 or more relatives cram into my mom’s modest townhouse to eat, drink, laugh — and annoy each other. For an evening, our lives touch and intertwine, and like an infinity mirror, we can see the past and future stretched out around us. In our lives, we have alternated between the roles of caretaker and taken-care-of, sometimes a bit of both.

A few months before that Thanksgiving, Popo had moved to an assisted living facility in San Gabriel. She had deteriorating kidneys and Alzheimer’s. When she was in better health, she had cooked a full Thanksgiving dinner that included slow-roasted, soy sauce-basted turkey, and hearty fish maw with shark fin soup.

Once, I pointed out that perhaps we ought to forgo the shark fin because of cruel commercial harvesting practices, and that the low heat she used to cook the turkey might not comply with modern health codes. But Popo was going to cook her turkey as she saw fit. In Vietnam, she had supported a husband and six kids by running her own stall at the market selling fabrics, and she had escaped communist Vietnam with her family by paying in gold bars for their exit as boat people.

But that Thanksgiving, Popo was no longer feeding us. Instead, my uncle tried his hand at the soy sauce-basted turkey; my mom made turkey curry with lemongrass and bay leaf.

As we sat down at the table, Popo had already eaten. She was on a liquid diet, fed directly into her stomach via a feeding tube. When Popo did manage a few spoonfuls of food, mom gently wiped her lips and cheeks.

This was something Mom did all the time. Mom was retired, but she always woke early, cooked meals for her sister and herself, and was off to Popo’s assisted living facility before 9 a.m. She washed Popo’s face in the morning, combed her hair to cover the bald patch, and rallied aides to help Popo to the bathroom so she could avoid sitting in excrement. Mom knew a mountain of dignity could be granted with a wipe of a napkin, comfort given with socks that she continually put back on Popo’s feet.

At Thanksgiving dinner, my daughter Hazel looked around her at all the new faces. She stared at the food we put it in our mouths. At the moment, she was relying on me for her milk and gaining critical pounds.

As Hazel drank, milk drops flowed down her cheeks and settled into the folds of her double chin. I grabbed a burp cloth and wiped her lips and cheeks.

Someone else was taking care of my baby while I worked during the day, and I fretted. I worried that she was sitting in excrement. That she wasn’t being adequately stimulated. I wondered if her blankets were kicked off, whether her socks had stayed on.

On that Thanksgiving evening, though, there was no assisted living, no daycare. Just time and those growing into life sharing an evening with those growing out of it. By the next day, Popo would have forgotten and so would have Hazel. But Mom and I would remember that moment, as would the camera.

Kim Luu is an environmental sustainability professional and lives in Alhambra, California, with her husband and two kids. She wrote this for Thinking L.A., a project of UCLA and Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

Ferguson’s Emotional Aftermath

Vanessa DeLuca
Vanessa DeLuca Courtesy of Essence

Vanessa DeLuca is the Editor in Chief of ESSENCE.

As a Black mother, it frightens me that I have come to expect this verdict, writes the editor of ESSENCE

I am tired of sighing. And crying. And “why oh why-ing” to anyone who will listen.

We know why this decision in Ferguson happened. The hurt is so deep, and the pain has gone on for so long.

And so we mothers of Black sons wake up to another injustice hangover, our heads heavy with the weight of absorbing too many messages that tell us, SHOW us, daily, that our loved ones have no worth in the eyes of those who are supposed to protect us. We understand the pain. We understand the anger. But we know that violence only reinforces what many already believe about us.

As a Black mother, it frightens me that I have come to expect this verdict. Because it means that I have allowed myself to give up the ability to feel hope when unarmed young Black men are murdered by police officers.

But like you, I will not allow this hurt to destroy me. And I will not allow it to erase the hope I still see in my son’s eyes.

Oppression is fueled by helplessness. We can’t stay in that space. None of us can afford to hibernate there.

So I will try to summon up the energy to fight back in ways that matter. Because yesterday I was able to sit across the table from my son, over lunch, and spend some time bonding. And this next fight has to be for the mothers who can no longer say that.

I hope you will join with me in fighting for legislation to protect our children’s rights.

This article originally appeared on Essence.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Family

7 Thanksgiving Horror Movies

thankskilling
Amazon

The family that watches bloody, terrifying, turkey-centric flicks together, is the family that stays together

This article originally appeared on Food & Wine.

Thanksgiving is a time for family. It’s a time for food. And it’s a time for terror. Or, at least, it will be from this year on because we found the top seven best horror films to watch during Thanksgiving. After all, the family that watches bloody, terrifying, turkey-centric flicks together, is the family that stays together.

Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County

This found-footage style movie tells the harrowing tale of a family who are attacked and (spoiler alert) abducted by aliens during Thanksgiving dinner.

Blood Rage

After being framed for murder by his evil twin brother, Terry, Todd is committed to an asylum. Then, one Thanksgiving, Todd escapes to exact revenge on his brother. But Terry has other ideas—ideas full of blood and rage. Expect decapitations, fork violence and multiple adult situations.

Thankskilling

The DVD cover boasts, “Boobs in the first second,” so you know it’s going to be good. But it’s actually even better because the boobs aren’t just any boobs, they’re pilgrim boobs. In the first scene a topless pilgrim is killed by a talking, tomahawk-toting monster turkey. Things just get crazier and more disturbing from there.

Thankskilling 3

The sequel to Thankskilling, this meta movie follows Turkie, the villainous turkey from the first film, as he searches for the last copy of Thankskilling 2. Also, there are puppets.

Blood Freak

Reefer Madness meets Dracula meets Butterball. This is the story of a man seduced by pot and experimented on by science who is transformed into a turkey-headed creature with a thirst for blood—a blood freak, if you will.

Thanksgiving

Eli Roth’s fake trailer contribution to Grindhouse, the 2007 double feature from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, may be short but it packs a lot of gore. It’s about a man whose childhood sweetheart, a turkey, was killed by his father. Now he stalks and decapitates horny teens, dressed as a pilgrim. Roth has confirmed that a full-length version of the movie is in the works.

Home Sweet Home

An escaped psychopath crashes a friendsgiving on a California ranch. Skulls are crushed, women are stabbed with broken wine bottles and, since this film was made in 1981, a KISS fan is killed with an electric guitar.

More from Food & Wine:

TIME Family

Old Spice’s Clingy Mom Will Make You Cringe

One small ad, one giant eye roll.

Old Spice sure has a low opinion of poor old mom.

In their new ad, mom has nothing to live for her, but her little baby boy. So when Junior starts hosing himself down in Old Spice-scented masculinity and becomes a man—which, of course, means dating attractive young women—in that straight-out-of-Sophocles way, mom just can’t handle it. She starts weeping and wailing her so-called “Momsong” like a Greek chorus in mom jeans and growing extra-long arms to cling to her precious baby boy.

“Where’s my little boy, I miss him so/Who’s this man living in our home?/My special guy has turned into a man,” she sings, before collapsing on the carpet in a heap of tear-swollen misery. That’s when good old dad comes rolling in on his riding lawnmower, as stereotypical suburban dads are wont to do, singing his ode to the joy that his son isn’t living in a van down by the river and is instead getting some action under the hash-marked tagline “#SmellcomeToManhood.” Hey ad: Gross.

The ad is actually a follow-up to another spot for Old Spice’s line of lady-luring body spray for young men. The first ad, titled “MomSong”, is more of the same, because apparently clingy mothers, wailing over the fact that their sons are developing at an age-appropriate rate, is never not funny. In “MomSong” the beleaguered mothers become creepy stalkers following their sons on dates while sniffing (literally) their former babies who now “smell like a man.” (Note to future self: Please refrain from sniffing grown son.)

It’s unfortunate that Old Spice and Weiden + Kennedy, the agency hired to make the ad, which features music and lyrics by Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame, felt the need to peddle in stereotypes that would have been outdated even in the Mad Men era. (It’s also unfortunate that they think people want to “smell manhood.”)

While it’s clear that it’s all meant as one big joke, the whole ad is just a giant eye roll. While it’s clear that moms are not the target demographic for scented body spray with manly names like Bearglove and Lionpride, moms still have to live in a world where mothers are treated like nothing more than overbearing, emotionally unstable, clingy women, instead of, say, human beings wondering why their teenaged son spent his allowance on a male perfume called “Lionpride.” You can do better Old Spice.

Hopefully their own mothers will have a little talk with them over the Thanksgiving dinner table.

[H/T AdWeek.]

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