I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Thursday, November 25, 2010


Roughly a decade ago, I stopped celebrating religious holidays like Easter and Christmas. It was really difficult to reconcile the celebration of these things with my professed atheism. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is a bit more open ended. Despite it's Puritan roots, it's mostly non-sectarian. If you strip away the core supernatural element of giving thanks to an imaginary force for your good fortunes, it's still a good practice to reflect on the things you cherish in life and thank those who made it possible.

So, I'd like to thank my family, all my cousins, aunts, and uncles, and especially my siblings, Joy, Gina, and Joseph who had to put up with me while I was growing up. To my mom, I want you to know I remember the time I was having trouble with spelling in some early grade and you spent evenings with me going through long lists of words. Thank you for this and a million other kindnesses. To my father who passed away last year, thanks for working jobs you didn't especially like, working in loud, hot factories, in order to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and books on the bookshelf.

Speacking of working jobs one doesn't particularly like, I'm grateful to my present employer for the steady paycheck and such niceties as insurance. I gripe and moan about my job a lot, but I'm smart enough to know that much good comes to my life because I have work. And, my coworkers are owed a debt of gratitude for putting up with my various quirks. Thanks.

Of course, my day job is only half my work life. Writing is my true passion, and I'd like to thank all the editors who've ever bought a story from me, and also the editors who haven't, but have at least read my work in the slush pile. I'm grateful to the publisher's who've taken a chance on my novels, I'm grateful to Amazon and Barnes and Noble and to a thousand independent booksellers, and I'm grateful to the tens of thousands of readers in the US, the UK, France, and Germany who've read my books. I know I'll never meet more than a handful of you, but you are the reason I keep telling stories. It would be a sad thing for a chef to cook a meal that no one ever ate, and sadder still for a book to be written that no one ever read. Thank you for sparing me from such a fate.

And, speaking of readers, thanks to everyone who drops in here to peek at my ramblings. Special thanks go to Loren Eaton, Eric James Stone, John Brown, Drakonis, Rastranomicals, Mr. Cavin, and everyone else who sometimes pauses to engage in conversation on the topics I bring up.

From online friends, I'll jump to friends I actually see face to face, Dona, Jesse, Stephanie and everyone else I hang out with from week to week. Thanks also to the friends I see only occasionally, like James Rice and the whole Herrmann clan. To Simon and Veronica, I'm especially glad to still know you and thank you for allowing me to be at least a small part of your lives.

Next, I owe an extraordinary debt of gratitude to my fiance, Cheryl Morgan. When we met, I was in a pretty frazzled state. My life was in turmoil as I was struggling to deal with book deadlines, the demands of renovating a house, and the tricky task of figuring out the new contours of my world following Laura's death. Thank you, Cheryl, for finding me in the center of this whirlwind and helping to slowly guide me out. You've granted me a great gift of wisdom and patience and all I have to pay you back is time and love. I hope this will suffice.

Finally, from the personal to the anonymous: Since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, I want to say I'm grateful to America. I'm grateful that the people who founded this country, and the generations of people who have since helped shape and define it, have created a nation in which I'm free to think what I wish to think, say what I wish to say, and be who I wish to be. No one person has brought us to this place. The names recorded in history books are merely a few leaves on a much larger tree. America as it exists today isn't so much the creation of lawmakers and leaders as it is the work of vast millions of people who focus on making the world better for themselves and their families and don't waste a lot of time or energy on hating others. America is a great place to live because of this. Thank you all.


Mr. Cavin said...

I'm not sure I've ever had the opportunity on this holiday to say your welcome. Thanks for thinking of me.

I was thinking of you earlier today. I was thinking about how you don't celebrate Christmas (a holiday I only find true value in the commercialization of). I was thinking of this because my whole life I have totally hated Thanksgiving.

We always sort of celebrated by going to my Grandmother's house, but we did that the following Saturday most years because my mother's father didn't get no Thursday's off from his Duke Power job. So Thanksgiving Day was such a drag: no school, nothing open, and all my friends busy at family. Add to this my early state of vegetarianism--and the learning curve that seemed to throw everyone in my life--and my whole dang holiday experience just always totally bit.

(I realize there is little real similarity here to your relationship with Christmas, but that's how heads work.)

Nowadays Thanksgiving is usually the week after my wedding anniversary, meaning that it is the yearly built-in vacation time we have to send ourselves off someplace nice to celebrate that instead. Since we live so far away, it is just silly to come home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. So we come home for the latter and celebrate our wedding on the former. In this way, I've begun to kind of look forward to this long weekend a little more now than I ever used to. I usually like to find a nice Indian restaurant on Thanksgiving Day.

Anyway--I am thankful for your blog which is always entertaining, and for your friendship which is usually so. Tell Cheryl I am thankful for her, too.

And you're welcome.

Loren Eaton said...

We're thankful for your ramblings, James. They're fun.

Also, I'm thankful that no one I know tried to deep fry a turkey this year.

James Maxey said...

Cavin, as a kid I liked thanksgiving, but I wasn't excited about it the way I was Halloween, Christmas, or Easter. The original religious meanings of all those holidays have been gobbled up by the concept that these are days when children get a lot of candy. Plus, Halloween has costumes, Christmas has toys, and easter has easter egg hunts, an activity that I used to enjoy so much I wondered why it wasn't an Olympic event.

Thanksgiving does have desserts, but the emphasis is on a meal consisting of "grown up" foods like green bean cassaroles and mashed potatoes. I've really learned to appreciate Thanksgiving as the only adult-centric celebration left on the calendar. (I know that things like labor day and memorial day are built around concepts that adults can appreciate and understand, but they seem to be regarded by most people as simply day's off rather than actual holidays.)

Loren, I have relatives who fry turkeys and manage to do so without injury to self or property. However, I alway find that fried turkeys to be too dried out. The skin goes past crispy, cooked to the point that it turns to oily dust in the mouth. On the plus side, since 99% of the time it's men doing the frying, it's nice for them to take an active role in the food prep.

Mr. Cavin said...

Well, there's New Years Eve. It still seems to be primarily geared toward adults (as well as being completely secular). Hope to see you then!

As for the rest, I only really like those holidays I loved as a kid. Being honest, I'd say I'm not all that comfortable with holidays as an adult, actually. Usually they just make me anxious and stressed out. Holiday nostalgia is probably what I'm celebrating when I bother at all. That or holiday conformity.

When it comes to thanksgiving, and you sort of bear this out in your post, it seems to be less about food than about "traditional" fatty, meaty US dishes that I do not like. Most people make their casseroles with cans Campbell soup, for Pete's sake; dump their cranberry sauce still tube-shaped onto the plate. I don't eat turkey or ham, and I don't like to eat beets or, gack, pumpkin or sweet potato pies.

I do like modern, healthy world cuisine, though. I like grown-up food much better than I like desserts (and always have). So that's why I usually like to eat at a Thai or Indian restaurant on this holiday (well, that and the ethnic places are reliably open.

Anyway, happy leftovers!

Loren Eaton said...


I think I've only had a fried turkey once, and I agree with you about the skin. It was too unctuous for me.

Also, I'm rather a fan of cooking myself, even when it doesn't involve raw meat and open flame.

Darkond said...

My family smoked a turkey. The Skin was awful, and the turkey came out dry as parchment.

Thanks for being such a great writer.

Mr. Cavin said...

That sounds like a terrible turkey but a pretty good cigar.