Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing

Fulfilling Your Dreams

Rules For Life – Enjoy it

by Ken La Salle

Welcome back to my continuing series of Rules For Life.journey in art

This month, my goal is to help you enjoy those moments of your life that may not be so great. Obviously, we may not enjoy those moments that are terrible, unendurable, and downright rotten, but far too often we let the not so terrific ruin our good time, too.

Case in point, my Thanksgiving this year.

I’m something of an American purist when it comes to Thanksgiving. I like plenty of food, plenty of dessert, and plenty of leftovers. I like to be someplace homey, surrounded by loved ones, and I don’t want to do too much work. (I express my patriotism through extreme laziness.)

But that was not what my Thanksgiving held for me this year. Somehow, I found myself on a freeway, out in the Californian desert (which is becoming far too redundant), driving to an Indian Casino where my wife and I were meeting her parents at a buffet. And, before you feel the need to write a letter and tell me just how unfortunately ironic it is to head to an Indian Casino on Thanksgiving, please rest assured… I know.

And the Christmas ornaments everywhere didn’t help any, either.

Nor did all of the tribe members wishing me a “Happy Thanksgiving.” It was downright bizarre.

We all sat down together at our buffet table before giving the kind of group shrug that acknowledged what was next as we headed for the buffet line. First up: Italian food. And I grabbed a slice of pizza. The line was so long that I decided I might as well eat while I waited. That piece of pizza last until I hit the more traditional Thanksgiving cuisine: some brussels sprouts, cornbread stuffing, cranberry-ish sauce (perhaps), roast beef – I decided not to quibble.

Mind you, the food was ice cold by the time we returned to our table, and cigarette smoke kept wafting in from the casino. (Somehow, casinos remain the last bastion of the chain smoker.) I’d been coughing since we arrived, which I had been attributing to all the smoke.

Thanksgiving Dinner at a casino buffet lasted about as long as you might guess – not long – and we soon found our way out amongst the machines rigged to steal your money, i.e. the gambling area. You see, my in-laws are hardcore gamblers. They don’t kid around. The most I’ve ever spent gambling was probably close to a hundred bucks. For them, that’s just getting warmed up.

Vicky and I wandered the casino. She won a couple hundred bucks but that wasn’t enough for her; she wanted me to gamble, too. Normally, I’d prefer a roulette table but, instead, I was foolish enough to sit at a machine I didn’t understand and, within moments, I lost twenty dollars, which was enough for me. Besides, the smoke was getting to be too much.

We returned to watch Vicky’s mom throw hundreds of dollars into the unforgiving maw of a slot machine and, while she won here and there, I can’t believe she broke even.

And this is where my story comes full circle because, despite all of that, we somehow had a really good time. I didn’t realize it until long after we’d returned home. I smelled of smoke. I was coughing relentlessly, which turned into a bad head cold the next day. The food wasn’t great and Vicky’s parents had lost money.

Happiness, you see, is a choice.

A few days earlier, Vicky and I had lost our dog, Suki, who passed away just short of her 15th birthday. Suki meant a lot to us and I would have preferred to spend Thanksgiving with her there – and certainly not in a casino. But you live life as it comes and it’s just more fun when you chose to be happy.

About the Author

Author and Playwright, Ken La Salle grew up in Santa Ana, California and has remained in the surrounding area his entire life. He was raised with strong, blue-collar roots, which have given him a progressive and environmentalist view. As a result, you’ll find many of his stories touching those areas both geographically and philosophically. His plays have been seen in theaters across the country and you can find a growing number of books available online. Find out more about Ken on his website at

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One thought on “Rules For Life – Enjoy it”

  1. Michael Musumali says:

    It’s time to help people walk the talk…we need more of how to do things than just giving them the ideal..

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