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Topping off Thanksgiving Traditions: Turkey with Cranberry Sauce

By Sabrina Völz

ThanksgivingThanks­giv­ing is a day for spend­ing time with fam­i­ly and friends as well as shar­ing culi­nary delights, such as turkey, dress­ing (a Mid-West­ern word for stuff­ing), mashed pota­toes, sweet pota­toes, corn, rel­ish trays, sal­ads, cran­ber­ry sauce, and pie for dessert. I still have nos­tal­gic feel­ings for the days when Thanks­giv­ing was about the only hol­i­day that hadn’t been ruined by commercialization.

I like the hol­i­day and cher­ish child­hood mem­o­ries. In my fam­i­ly, there was nev­er talk of the Pil­grims or any nation­al Thanks­giv­ing folk­lore, as it was more or less cel­e­brat­ed as a reli­gious hol­i­day, as a day to give thanks for all of life’s many bless­ings. After eat­ing a Thanks­giv­ing feast, the major­i­ty of the fam­i­ly on my mother’s side played 500 (a card game) lit­er­al­ly for hours, while oth­ers watched foot­ball games and Thanks­giv­ing parades. But each fam­i­ly who cel­e­brates Thanks­giv­ing will have their own traditions.

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Look Homeward, Amish Son: Ira Wagler’s Journey between Amish and “English” Worlds

By Maryann Henck

GUAWhat is it like to grow up in an Old Order Amish com­mu­ni­ty? Can the allure of tra­di­tion and a sense of belong­ing to such a com­mu­ni­ty over­ride the long­ing for free­dom and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to expe­ri­ence the great wide world? This unre­lent­ing push and pull between secure Amish com­mu­ni­ty life and the tempt­ing siren song of the out­side world have shaped ex-Amish author and blog­ger, Ira Wagler. In his best-sell­ing mem­oir, Grow­ing Up Amish, the author offers his read­ers an hon­est, bit­ter­sweet, and mov­ing account of how he left the Amish, only to return and even­tu­al­ly leave for good.

As one of the guest speak­ers at the Plain Peo­ple Con­fer­ence, Ira Wagler gave a heart­felt talk as well as read excerpts from his mem­oir about com­ing of age and his first love, Sarah Miller. But why don’t you lis­ten for yourself?

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Winnetou Rides Again

By Drew Hayden Taylor

Picture 1
Drew at the Karl May Fes­ti­val in Bad Segeberg

After a dozen trips or more to Deutsch­land, I can offi­cial­ly say I con­sid­er Ger­many to be my home away from home. Each vis­it reunites me with old friends, and if I’m lucky, I get the oppor­tu­ni­ty to make new ones. I’ve grown fond of the land and the peo­ple. Upon reflec­tion, I think I have quite prob­a­bly seen more of Ger­many and its cities than most of its cit­i­zens. I lost track after the thir­ti­eth town. Or was it the for­ti­eth. … Hard to say. After this many trips, it’s all a blur of schnitzel and white asparagus.
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AWP: In Love with Words, at a Loss for Words

By Daria Radler


Writ­ers are a spe­cial breed. Con­stant­ly shift­ing through their per­cep­tion of the envi­ron­ment with detailed atten­tion, they store and ana­lyze any piece of infor­ma­tion on the end­less shelves of their flour­ish­ing mind. Every­thing is of val­ue. The way the grumpy barista was hold­ing the pen as he scrib­bled their name on their cup of take-away cof­fee; the momen­tary silence before a daugh­ter answered her moth­er, assur­ing her that she would be home in time for din­ner; the way he brushed her cheeks ever so slight­ly, trac­ing the out­line of her cheek­bone with the tip of his thumb as they sat on the park bench next to each oth­er, their eyes drink­ing in each oth­ers’ presence.

Writ­ers are like magi­cians. They turn to the world for inspi­ra­tion to cre­ate a uni­verse of their own, using a hand­ful of words to lat­er engage their read­ers. They feed the pages of a satir­i­cal play, a lost romance, or a spec­tac­u­lar crime. I’ve always found writ­ers fascinating.

When I came to Amer­i­ca as an exchange stu­dent in the spring of 2015, I was burn­ing with curios­i­ty but rather shy of expec­ta­tions. Lit­tle did I know that the U.S. would be my lit­er­ary haven.  Read more »

A New National Holiday – A Riddle

By Maria Moss

By all rights, I should be a nation­al hol­i­day in the Unit­ed States.

I am not as polit­i­cal­ly incor­rect as Colum­bus Day which Native Amer­i­cans are not real­ly crazy about (who can blame them?);

I’m not as solemn as Vet­er­ans Day, which is more a day of remem­brance for those who served in the wars than a day of celebration;

I’m not as gen­er­al as Pres­i­dents’ Day that was orig­i­nal­ly sup­posed to only com­mem­o­rate George Washington’s birth­day but now has become the gener­ic hol­i­day for all U.S. presidents;

and I’m cer­tain­ly not as cru­el to the unsus­pect­ing turkey as Thanks­giv­ing Day is (although the tons of food that are con­sumed on my spe­cial day are cer­tain­ly not veg­e­tar­i­an either).

Despite all of these dis­cour­ag­ing facts, I feel hope­ful since the peo­ple who like and endorse me will soon be in the major­i­ty – at least in Cal­i­for­nia. And we all know what hap­pens once it has hap­pened in Cal­i­for­nia, right?

Curi­ous? Read more.

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From Ronald to Donald: The Inaugural Speeches of Reagan and Trump

By Jan Gudlowski

By Ronald Rea­gan pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, 1980

“Make Amer­i­ca Great Again.” Again. Despite what the media cov­er­age lead us to fear, the world did not end with the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump as the 45th Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States. No can­di­date in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign was as omnipresent in the pub­lic per­cep­tion as Trump. It has been said that the speech Trump gave on Jan­u­ary 20 did not fore­shad­ow a good pres­i­den­cy; it was aggres­sive, sim­ple, and pop­ulist. But is that real­ly some­thing new?

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