Alice Herz-Sommer has lived through things you can't imagine. Here's what keeps her more passionate about life than most 20-somethings I know.
It’s that time of year again, the holiday season is when we get the pleasure of spending way more time than we’re used to with our families. For those of us who’ve moved away from our immediate families, the holidays are a great time to reacquaint ourselves with old traditions and to realize that some of them may be a little strange.
Every family seems to have its own brand of weirdness. In fact, I wouldn’t trust anyone who says that their family is completely normal.
On November 18, “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon gave everyone a reason to celebrate their unique families by asking them to share their favorite stories under #MyFamilyIsWeird. The responses were everything from odd holiday traditions to family members that may have a screw (or two!) loose.
Here are 17 of the funniest responses.
At Thanksgiving, my family sings “Rock The Boat” every single time we pass the gravy boat from one person to the next. #MyFamilyIsWeird— PDB435 (@pdb435) November 23, 2021
Could this be because someone spilled the gravy boat years ago and no one wants to eat dry turkey or potatoes again?
When I was just starting high school my older brother rode the bus with me, he bent over to pay and get off the bus when he split his shorts down the middle, no underwear on for everyone to see, he turned to me and said, I get to wear the underwear tomorrow...#MyFamilyIsWeird— Ian (@TheLast_Ian) November 18, 2021
Now, that's some quick wit.
Every Thanksgiving, my family hides a sweet potato in the house. Whoever finds it first gets $20 and a six-pack of Miller High Life. #myfamilyisweird— Renee Jordan (@ReneeJordan78) November 22, 2021
Do they have to drink the entire six-pack of the "Champagne of Beers" that day, or can they take the leftover bottles home? Also, thinking about starting this tradition with my family. Who fronts the $20?
My grandmother lost her dentures once and we spent 4 hours searching the house for them before she remembered that she had put them in her bra. #MyFamilyIsWeird— Erin (@etes_97) November 18, 2021
Let's hope that grandma found the dentures herself.
I see no problem with this as long as there is enough whipped cream to go around.
My friend’s family has a massive group text, and then a bunch of smaller group texts to gossip about what happens in the big group text. #MyFamilyIsWeird— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) November 18, 2021
Nothing good ever came out of a family group text.
My family had one of those silver aluminum Christmas trees when I was growing up. One year our TV antenna on the roof blew off in a storm so my dad rigged the tree up instead. We actually got better reception. So we had a Christmas tree on our roof all year long. #MyFamilyIsWeird— DeeDee SMITH 🌊 #GetVaccinated (@DeeDee_SmithTN) November 25, 2021
That works better than any coathanger or bunny ears that people used back in the day to improve their TV reception. Now, can the Christmas tree pick up HBO?
My mom will always watch a new series by starting with the final episode, and then pretend like she knew the plot the whole time. #MyFamilyIsWeird— Elise//209 days (@elise_millsssss) November 18, 2021
I wonder how long it took for the family to figure out that she was cheating? Does she also read the last chapter of a mystery novel first?
My parents come from a country where it was the culture to not smile in photos, and thought the same applied here. So I have many childhood photos from happy occasions like birthdays, where we are all staring blankly into the camera like the Village of the Damned #MyFamilyisWeird pic.twitter.com/2egtQCMJWl— Dumb Jokes Only (@DumbJokesOnly) November 18, 2021
That has to be freaky, especially if they are taking photos with members of the family that were born in the U.S. and some are smiling and others are not.
My mom once hung AND filled an extra stocking from the fireplace… for my boyfriend. I was single at the time. She said it was for if I happened to get one in the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas. Way to rub it in, mom. #myfamilyisweird— EmmyAnn (@EmmyAnn412) November 18, 2021
Wow. Imagine how annoying her mother gets after she gets a boyfriend and then immediately starts asking for kids and hanging little stockings up by the fireplace.
That's freaky, he looks like the Headless Horseman or Jack Pumpkinhead from "Return to Oz."
When I was younger my mom would always try to set me up with my college professor dad’s physics students. I finally said no, they wear plaid pants! Then my grandmother said “it’s not what they look like in their pants, it’s how they look without them” 😳😖 #myfamilyisweird— Steel Cowgirl (@Steelcowgirl) November 18, 2021
Eww. Grandma, that's gross. Get your mind out of the gutter.
My Dad, when I was little, found a wild pine tree to use as a Christmas tree, but when he brought it in, it was too big. So to fix it he cut off the TOP. 😳 Wish I could find the picture of it. We laugh about it every Christmas. 😂 #MyFamilyIsWeird— Donna 🇺🇸 (@dddonnnaaa) November 23, 2021
That had to be a seriously stumpy-looking tree. How in the world did he put a star on top?
My brother decided to come out during family thanksgiving dinner. Right after the blessing - literally after the “amens” - he screamed “I’M GAY!” My mother calmly said “we know” and started cutting her turkey. #myfamilyisweird— Eleanor Semeraro (@eleanordowling) November 18, 2021
Sometimes, the entire family knows. They're just waiting for you to say it.
I had to teach my dad how to use an iPhone when they first came out. I explained to him that he had to slide to unlock the screen. Rather than sliding his finger across the screen, he stood up from the couch and started sliding his feet in the living room. #MyFamilyIsWeird— Joey Jweinat (@CosmicJoey415) November 18, 2021
"Slide, baby, slide! Slide, baby, slide!" – "Tootsie Roll" by 69 Boyz.
my great aunt collects vintage dolls.. each year she strips them & repaints them to resemble each of her siblings. She then burns them in a bonfire and sends us Christmas cards with the before and after photos of the burnt dolls.. #myfamilyisweird pic.twitter.com/DW9ksbtlcu— LUCΛ GUΛDΛGNEGRO ☻ (@LucaGuadagnegro) November 18, 2021
Oh no. Voodoo aunt needs to stop. That is totally not in the Christmas spirit.
My mom found these fall decorations that we all proudly display in our homes. Every year we send texts/post messages saying “The Corncob Cowboy rides again!”— Mirrrrrr (@MirmeeV) November 25, 2021
Many jokes ensue. #myfamilyisweird @FallonTonight @jimmyfallon #dickjokes pic.twitter.com/ouqaUd0t5V
Does anyone else think this is creepy? This is like a white elephant gift that will never go away.
This article originally appeared on 4.10.20 via The Conversation
Fifty years ago, when Paul McCartney announced he had left the Beatles, the news dashed the hopes of millions of fans, while fueling false reunion rumors that persisted well into the new decade.
In a press release on April 10, 1970 for his first solo album, "McCartney," he leaked his intention to leave. In doing so, he shocked his three bandmates.
The Beatles had symbolized the great communal spirit of the era. How could they possibly come apart?
Few at the time were aware of the underlying fissures. The power struggles in the group had been mounting at least since their manager, Brian Epstein, died in August of 1967.
Was McCartney's "announcement" official? His album appeared on April 17, and its press packet included a mock interview. In it, McCartney is asked, "Are you planning a new album or single with the Beatles?"
His response? "No."
via The Daily Mirror
But he didn't say whether the separation might prove permanent. The Daily Mirror nonetheless framed its headline conclusively: "Paul Quits the Beatles."
The others worried this could hurt sales and sent Ringo as a peacemaker to McCartney's London home to talk him down from releasing his solo album ahead of the band's "Let It Be" album and film, which were slated to come out in May. Without any press present, McCartney shouted Ringo off his front stoop.
Lennon, who had been active outside the band for months, felt particularly betrayed.
The previous September, soon after the band released "Abbey Road," he had asked his bandmates for a "divorce." But the others convinced him not to go public to prevent disrupting some delicate contract negotiations.
Still, Lennon's departure seemed imminent: He had played the Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Festival with his Plastic Ono Band in September 1969, and on Feb. 11, 1970, he performed a new solo track, "Instant Karma," on the popular British TV show "Top of the Pops." Yoko Ono sat behind him, knitting while blindfolded by a sanitary napkin.
In fact, Lennon behaved more and more like a solo artist, until McCartney countered with his own eponymous album. He wanted Apple to release this solo debut alongside the group's new album, "Let It Be," to dramatize the split.
By beating Lennon to the announcement, McCartney controlled the story and its timing, and undercut the other three's interest in keeping it under wraps as new product hit stores.
Ray Connolly, a reporter at the Daily Mail, knew Lennon well enough to ring him up for comment. When I interviewed Connolly in 2008, he told me about their conversation.
Lennon was dumbfounded and enraged by the news. He had let Connolly in on his secret about leaving the band at his Montreal Bed-In in December 1969, but asked him to keep it quiet. Now he lambasted Connolly for not leaking it sooner.
"Why didn't you write it when I told you in Canada at Christmas!" he exclaimed to Connolly, who reminded him that the conversation had been off the record. "You're the f–king journalist, Connolly, not me," snorted Lennon.
"We were all hurt [McCartney] didn't tell us what he was going to do," Lennon later told Rolling Stone. "Jesus Christ! He gets all the credit for it! I was a fool not to do what Paul did, which was use it to sell a record…"
This public fracas had been bubbling under the band's cheery surface for years. Timing and sales concealed deeper arguments about creative control and the return to live touring.
In January 1969, the group had started a roots project tentatively titled "Get Back." It was supposed to be a back-to-the-basics recording without the artifice of studio trickery. But the whole venture was shelved as a new recording, "Abbey Road," took shape.
When "Get Back" was eventually revived, Lennon – behind McCartney's back – brought in American producer Phil Spector, best known for girl group hits like "Be My Baby," to salvage the project. But this album was supposed to be band only – not embroidered with added strings and voices – and McCartney fumed when Spector added a female choir to his song "The Long and Winding Road."
"Get Back" – which was renamed "Let it Be" – nonetheless moved forward. Spector mixed the album, and a cut of the feature film was readied for summer.
McCartney's announcement and release of his solo album effectively short-circuited the plan. By announcing the breakup, he launched his solo career in advance of "Let It Be," and nobody knew how it might disrupt the official Beatles' project.
Throughout the remainder of 1970, fans watched in disbelief as the "Let It Be" movie portrayed the hallowed Beatles circling musical doldrums, bickering about arrangements and killing time running through oldies. The film finished with an ironic triumph – the famous live set on the roof of their Apple headquarters during which the band played "Get Back," "Don't Let Me Down" and a joyous "One After 909."
The Beatles - Don't Let Me Down www.youtube.com
The album, released on May 8, performed well and spawned two hit singles – the title track and "The Long and Winding Road" – but the group never recorded together again.
Their fans hoped against hope that four solo Beatles might someday find their way back to the thrills that had enchanted audiences for seven years. These rumors seemed most promising when McCartney joined Lennon for a Los Angeles recording session in 1974 with Stevie Wonder. But while they all played on one another's solo efforts, the four never played a session together again.
At the beginning of 1970, autumn's "Come Together"/"Something" single from "Abbey Road" still floated in the Billboard top 20; the "Let It Be" album and film helped extend fervor beyond what the papers reported. For a long time, the myth of the band endured on radio playlists and across several greatest hits compilations, but when John Lennon sang "The dream is over…" at the end of his own 1970 solo debut, "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band," few grasped the lyrics' implacable truth.
Fans and critics chased every sliver of hope for the "next" Beatles, but few came close to recreating the band's magic. There were prospects – first bands like Three Dog Night, the Flaming Groovies, Big Star and the Raspberries; later, Cheap Trick, the Romantics and the Knack – but these groups only aimed at the same heights the Beatles had conquered, and none sported the range, songwriting ability or ineffable chemistry of the Liverpool quartet.
We've been living in the world without Beatles ever since.
Tim Riley is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director for Journalism, Emerson College
When your final child leaves the house for good, it's like a whole new world has opened up. The decades raising babies and children are full, rich, exciting and loud. Your house is filled with laughter and sibling bickering, school projects and kid collections, never-ending laundry and food purchased in bulk. Life is big during those years. It takes up space physically, mentally and emotionally.
Then come the empty nest years, when you find yourself swimming in a house full of unused rooms and piles of memories. Suddenly you don't need all that space anymore, and you have to figure out what to do with those rooms and those piles and those memories.
For one couple, the process of downsizing brought about a reflection on their family life, their relationship with their kids and their stuff. Jimmy Dunne shared that reflection on Facebook in a viral post that's resonating with many people who are at or near this stage in life.
"My wife Catherine and I recently moved.
I realized I had something I never knew I had.
Thirty-four years ago, I carried my wife in my arms over the threshold in our home. Thirty-four years ago. From newlywed days, to witnessing our babies go from little girls to young adults. So many great memories in every inch of every room of our home.
I didn’t think I was ready to ‘downsize.’ What an awful word. I liked walking through our girl’s bedrooms and still seeing their stuff on the walls and on the shelves. I liked our backyard. I liked imagining our kids coming down the steps every Christmas morning.
We put it on the market, it sold in a couple days, and suddenly agreements thicker than my leg were instructing me to clear everything I ever had and knew – out.
Every night I found myself saying goodbye to our backyard, to our garden of roses that Catherine would till and trim, to the sidewalk where the girls drove their Barbie cars and learned to ride their bikes, to our front lawn where we hosted tons of talent shows with all the kids on the block – and the red swing on the front porch.
We found a condo in town and started lining up our ducks of what we were keeping, and what we were tossing. We vowed, if we’re going to do this, we weren’t putting anything in storage.
I literally threw out half my stuff. Half. Half of the furniture. Half of my clothes, books. And the big one… way more than half the boxes in the attic.
The attic was more than an attic. It held our stories. Every thing in every box, every framed picture was a story. After we gave away almost all of the living room furniture, we split the room in half and brought down everything of the girls from the attic and from their rooms. We invited the girls over, handed them a cocktail and said, “There’s good news and bad news. We’ve saved all this stuff; your outfits, drawings, dolls, skates -- for you. It’s now yours. The bad news, whatever’s not gone by Friday at 10 in the morning, it’s getting chucked in that giant green dumpster in front of the house.”
The girls thought we were Mr. and Mrs. Satan. But they went through it, and that Friday, most of it went out the front door and right in the dumpster.
I filled the entire dining room with boxes of all my old stuff. Grade school stories and pictures, report cards, birthday cards, trophies, you name it. Boxes of old plaques and diplomas and just stuff and stuff and stuff like that. How could I throw any of this out? I may as well have been throwing me in the dumpster!
But this little jerk on my shoulder kept asking -- what are your kids going to do with all this a week after you're six feet under? They’re gonna chuck it all out!
Here’s the crazy thing. The more I threw stuff in there, the easier it got. And I started to kind of like throwing it up and over in that thing. I started to feel lighter. Better.
And we moved in a half-the-size condo – and the oddest thing happened.
It became our home.
A picture here and there on the wall, Catherine’s favorite pieces of furniture, all her knickknacks in the bathroom. We blinked, and it looked and felt just like us.
And then I found that thing I never knew I had.
I had enough.
The wild thing was that having less – actually opened the door to so much more. More in my personal life. More in my career. More in everything.
All I have to do is look in the eyes of my two girls -- and they take me back, every time, to the most beautiful, colorful, emotional scrapbook I could ever dream of having.
All I have to do is hold my wife’s hand, and it hypnotizes me back to kissing her for the first time, falling in love with everything she did, seeing her in that hospital room holding our first baby for the first time.
It sure seems there is so much more to see, and feel, and be – if I have the courage, if I have the will to shape a life that’s just…
People have shared Dunne's post more than 24,000 times and it's easy to see why. He's speaking a truth we probably all know deep down on some level. Things don't make a life. Things don't make relationships. They don't even make memories, though we tend to hold onto them as if they do. We may associate places and things with memories, but we don't need the places and things for our memories to live on.
Kudos to Dunne and his wife for looking ahead to what their children would have to go through after they pass if they didn't go through it now themselves. And kudos to them for truly embracing the freedom that comes with having raised your children to adulthood. The empty nest years can be whatever you choose to make of them, and this couple has figured out a key to making the most of theirs.
The empty nest years that follow are whatever you make of them.