That’s Entertaining

The holidays approach, when for some families, the board games come out or the bowl games come on. Inherent in the concept of a holiday is leisure time, hours to linger over a great meal, to visit with friends and family, or to rest from over-exertions. My mom enjoyed putting together those feasts, so for her, the effort of making the holiday happen for others had some enjoyable components. Or so she said…

My six siblings and I recently got into a text-thread about a relative who participated in a donkey basketball game as a fundraiser. For those who’ve never heard of it, donkey basketball is exactly what it sounds like: People riding donkeys, usually bareback, try to play basketball. I don’t care for it. A donkey is designed to carry about 100 pounds safely, and donkey basketball is often played by full grown people. To me, donkey basketball is not entertaining because I regard it as inhumane, and I am very clear that watching another’s suffering is not entertainment to me.

Then too, because the donkeys aren’t having fun, there’s an enhanced probability somebody will get kicked, stomped, bitten, or forcefully dumped. That’s funny? Not to me.

But my tastes in entertainment are way down on the non-violent, non-serious end of the continuum. I don’t often watch serious movies (North and South is about as serious as I get), feeling that life has handed me plenty of unavoidable seriousness, thank you very much. For my downtime, I want happily ever afters and the triumph of the human spirit. Mostly, I want a sort of mental solitude for my entertainment. I expect entertainment to give me a break from the hard stuff, to divert me from work, while subtly fluffing the mental compost that I need to churn to keep the work moving forward.

And my entertainment has to do that without exploiting donkeys. I’m mindful that my species thought watching lions devour defenseless political prisoners was a great day out for the spouse and kids, and that’s not a trait I want society to ever regard as acceptable again. That same society not too long ago through public hangings were entertainment. Bullfights, cockfights, even boxing… to me, it’s all so much suffering offered as a frolic a pretext for profit.

I had a hard time reading Napoleon’s biography, because I knew he ended up dying in disgrace of a lingering and miserable illness on St. Helena. This is a guy who was regarded as a monster by most of the English speaking world, and I was still wishing things could have been different for him. (Though as to that, Napoleon seemed to grasp that he’d lost his throne but ultimately delivered the death blow to European absolute monarchy, and left a democratic legal legacy despite being a nepotistic autocrat.)

What are your requirements for entertainment? Must it be social? Humorous? Athletic? Nature-oriented? Rejuvenating? Relaxing? Make you think? To three comenters, I’ll send signed copies of Forever and a Duke, which hits the shelves Tuesday (and is–I hope–quite entertaining)!

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16 comments on “That’s Entertaining

  1. 1
    BrendaU.K says:

    My father was a farmer mainly of crops when we were small.we did have a few pigs however and I learned the skills of caring for the runts of the many litters.My sister’s and I would bottle feed them ,keep them warm by the stove,we saved many but lost some.It was an early lesson in life and death for us very young girls.Our father taught us that nature was to be respected and animal welfare be a priority.He never treated animals badly and was a good example to us.I have some fantastic memories of Dad telling Dolly the cart horse off because she sped off with a cart load of potatoes that spilled to the ground.Dolly had seen one of the field workers sit down on her bucket and get her lunch out.So Dolly raced off hoping for a share of the food.Sacks of fallen potatoes left everywhere.Dad told her off,she simply licked his nose.So Grace like you I do not like entertainment of any kind that causes harm to man or beast.Maybe that’s why I am not a fan of reality tv.But that’s another story!!!.

  2. 2
    Mary T says:

    My idea of what is entertaining is so much different than what it was when I was younger. I remember reading IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote and watching the GODFATHER movies and actually enjoying them. Could not do that today. My reading is almost exclusively romance (I’m a romance junkie – I admit it), biographies and mysteries. I cannot stand to read or see anything that includes graphic violence.

    I have always enjoyed documentaries and still do – especially those that are biographical in nature. David Wolper was great and Ken Burns even greater. I love comedy – anything that makes me laugh. (Barbara Metzger for books and The Office for TV).

    Comfort food is anything pasta. Comfort reads anything Mary Balogh or Grace Burrowes.

  3. 3
    Teenie Marie says:

    I enjoy many of the things you mentioned and I even understand (and enjoy myself at times) your Mom’s enjoyment of putting together a holiday meal!

    I like (and am entertained by)a good intellectual discussion. My Hubby and I have encouraged that sort of thing with our kids during regular family meals when they were young and even (some) holiday meals. The only caveat we had when they were young was to not belittle someone else’s point of view (namely their brother’s)or be nasty about it.

    We’ve had some lively political discussions in years past during Thanksgiving or Christmas with extended family. Unfortunately, that has not been the case recently. In fact, when Son #2 gets home on Tuesday evening, I am going to announce my NO POLITICS FOR THANKSGIVING DINNER policy for this year. Our family has mostly the same views (within degrees but that’s part of the fun with our kids)but the extended family tends to be on the *other side* and quite vehement about it. We love our extended family and I think if we were to even have a whiff of politics on Thursday, would feel differently about them—and I don’t want that. So we are steering away from politics!

    Entertainment is meant to relax and refresh and perhaps stimulate so I read just before bed to also reboot my mind! And a good portion of what I read is HisRom but I found several books of fashion plates of the early 19th century (and some decorating plates as well)and enjoy reading the descriptions of the ensembles–I think I now understand what a *round gown* is!

    Looking forward to *Forever and a Duke* on Tuesday!

  4. 4
    Sarah says:

    I think my requirements are very similar to yours, I don’t find harm or fear entertaining. I know some people love horror movies etc. but I’d be hard pressed to find anything I’d want to watch less. I also have a hatred for practical jokes, since the “joke” is usually fear, humiliation, or other emotional manipulation. I don’t even enjoy slapstick because my brain doesn’t seem to be able to hold onto the fakeness and I react as if it is real.

    I love clever banter, humor that doesn’t degrade anyone, romance (of course preferring a hea), something beautiful to look at or listen to, joyful is good in any form.

  5. 5
    Bonnie says:

    It’s no secret books are my favorite entertainment. A good story with characters I like and can root for with a HEA, and I’m a happy camper. If the author engages me emotionally, even to the point of tears,(as you have done) I’m an ecstatic camper. Social situations, on the other hand, are misery to me unless I’m with people I know well.

  6. 6
    Make Kay says:

    My favorite entertainments are rejuvenating and relaxing. Usually, that means quiet or solitary pursuits, or things in nature enjoyed quietly in a small group. I do enjoy time with friends, but social time must be far outweighed by alone time.

    For the holiday, my family’s favorite entertainment is putting together puzzles with holiday music or holiday movies on in the background. And a glass of eggnog close at hand. Sheer bliss!

  7. 7
    Pam says:

    I miss board games. Alas, most of my free time is spent cleaning the house (or trying to) and in animal care. Reading is my recreation and I do it in stolen peaceful moments. For example, I read a little in the parking lot of the grocery store before I buy the groceries. While I eat lunch – times like that.

    I rarely read paperbacks because I frequently read in the dark and have hand issues. I’m looking forward to reading my preordered copy of Forever and a Duke!

    I hope you and your family have a joyous Thanksgiving holiday.

    Wanted to add that your books give me joy all year long. Thank you so much for your wonderful stories.

  8. 8
    Beth says:

    I need happy endings, but characters who aren’t saccharine or stereotypes. Part of why I read you as well as the classics like Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, Dorothy L Sayers and Georgette Heyer. Just finished the audiobook of Nine Coaches Waiting.

  9. 9
    Marianne says:

    My favourite entertainment is sitting in bed with all the time in the world and a good book. It’s also been my most miserable experience ever.

    Beyond that, I love to watch young animals discovering the world. I enjoy good music and a wide variety of it from Hendrix to Bach, especially if I can just sit and listen.

    REALLY looking forward to a new HEA!!

  10. 10
    Susan G says:

    Sometimes I like to watch a movie or a series by MYSELF. I watched season 3 of the Crown on the tv in the mornings when only Rose and I were awake. I plugged into my iPad when we had company. I like the historical aspect of the Crown and the peek into the royals life. Reading books is my other source of entertainment.

    I walk Rose in the morning and she surprises me each day. She notices everything..birds, leaves, squirrels and is happy to walk a bit with me. Greg was entertaining at class today..he remembers somethings..and others not so much. Laci entertains me daily…she’s up to something.

    I’d don’t watch the news or violent movies…no source of entertainment for me. And we don’t talk politics during the holiday meals, the Patriots, yes, politics no.

    I can wait for my copy of Forever and a Duke arrives! This is a fun series.
    Enjoy your holiday!

  11. 11
    Lynn B says:

    Reading is my favorite form of entertainment. After decades of only reading historical romances I now read a lot of romantic suspense novels interspersed with historical romances and legal thrillers.I always want an HEA. My only regular non-fiction reading is my daily posts from atlas obscura.I find the articles fascinating and highly recommend them.
    The other thing I like to do is take nature walks with my husband somewhere near water.We live near a river and walk there 7 to 8 months a year until it gets too hot.Walking along a rugged coastline has the most beneficial effects but unfortunately we do not live near one.
    I also like going to the symphony and have enjoyed our season tickets.
    Last but not least I enjoy reading your blog. I look forward to hearing what you and your readers have to say.I wonder what common thread there is among us that we all like to read romance. I have friends and family members who would never consider reading a romance.

  12. 12
    Glenda M says:

    Ironically, my husband and I had just had a discussion about how we would not be watching a movie currently out in theaters in which a dog is one of the main characters – and yes, the dog is going to die before the end of the movie. If a beloved pet is going to die, I will not watch any movie, or read the book. Too much reality is not entertainment for me – there is enough of that in real life. I read a lot, mostly romances and some cozy mysteries. When we are able to get out in nature, we do day hikes, wander around, or just hang out relaxing away from the city and suburbs. We’ll go to a variety of movies not all of them non-violent but usually the violent ones are historical movies like Midway – that are a much educational as entertaining but also disturbing because the events really did happen. I do believe that we have to remember history so we do not repeat it and use it as a real lesson. As much as I would prefer to simply be entertained by historical romances, I know there is more to history than the romances.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. 13
    Ona says:

    Oh dear. It should’ve occurred to me that the donkeys would be miserable. As someone who has always questioned the inherent and arbitrary nature of sport (and not incidentally is the most uncoordinated kid ever to get picked last for everything), there was something just so delightfully absurd and aesthetically right about donkeys on a basketball court. But not if it hurts the donkeys. As someone who has suffered way too many indignities of my own in school gymnasiums, I see I must revise my opinions.

    I am hosting for the third year running. I love it. Each year I’ve had help from sibs, mom, and/or an aunt, it must be said. It makes me sooo happy. This year will feature a wind-up toy turkey race across the cleared Thanksgiving table. Best of three. Maybe that’s the new sport I need to get behind.

  14. 14
    Alisha Grant says:

    Love a great movie or book with good dialogue, characters who grow in their own ways and a happily ever after but also with side characters that make the straightlaced character fun. Plus laugh out loud situations.

  15. 15
    Laura Rustin says:

    I like quiet. I am not sure that that counts as “social”, but it is definitely rejuvenating. I *never* turn the radio on in the car, or when I am at home.

    I do love to walk for exercise with my neighbors, and we talk the whole time.

    But silence is my friend when I am alone.

  16. 16
    bn100 says:

    something humorous