One of My Favorite Things

Oprah’s leaving me again. First it was the old T.V. show, now its the print edition of O. Guess I’ll be going electronic and reading it on our ol’ family I-Pad!

#oprah #susanstrasser #susanstrasserblog #amwriting

When my new O magazine comes every month, I usually recycle the old one. Then, that night after I’ve put my son to bed, or the next night maybe, I start reading it from back to front. That is, I read Oprah’s column on the last page, What I Know for Sure. Last night, she dropped a bombshell on me. This is the last print issue!

As I innocently read her column, I knew that she was building up to something. Why was she doing all this reflecting on the history of the magazine? Why the overall reflection about the life coaches, covers and philosophies? Oh my Oprah! Then, there it was. Last paragraph: “As I look forward beyond this final monthly print edition, my intention is to …” Oh my God. What? Oprah’s leaving O!

I know, I know, I’m being a little dramatic, but I am an INFJ! Oprah’s still alive. I will simply miss my monthly beautiful glossy issue of O with one of my surrogate mothers and her radiant smile and big brown beautiful face on the cover. Do you know the joy of getting mail that you actually want?

I have learned that it is okay to stand in my truth whatever my job or career is, my mental health, menopause worries, and even not worrying about the number on the inside of my clothes! But December is quite the high note. This month’s cover, is the usual and annual edition as all Decembers: Oprah’s Favorite Things. These hilarious December covers with piles, sleighs, or carloads (like this year’s) of presents flowing over it. This. Was. The. Last. One. Ever.

I read that What I Know for Sure. Then I did my usual skimming of the first 30 or 40 pages. I appraised the cool, unique vibe that only O gives me: the Behind the Scenes photos and its short commentary, the Question, Here We Go!, 2020 Visionaries: The Next Generation… Soaking in the perspective like a delicious balm to my soul. Oprah’s creative team of editors and writers is genius and original. As usual, thinking to myself, Wow, how do they come up with this unique perspectives? Or, oh, I never thought about that like that. Or the beautiful photography.

And like a girl or a partner that’s just been dumped or broken up with, it hit me with a delayed response. On page 43 they started the annual O List with the cute graphics and title: O’s Favorite Things 2020. “Here are 72 gifts I think are just great!” And there were these adorable puzzles on the first page of this section. Aspirational puzzles for children of color to see themselves as everything from chemists to astronauts. Whoa! Whaaaat? Then, a casual looking announcement to the side of the cute puzzle pictures saying that because we believe that Black lives and Black businesses- most of the items are from Black-owned or -led companies. Double whoa! Oprah did it again. See, that is what I’m talking about! There has just been an election and there’s a pandemic, but Oprah still remembers and reminds us about Black Lives Matter. And I froze.

And this is when I lost it.

Sitting there on the middle of my beloved couch after a long day, chilling with my O, knowing that I held my last new fresh copy in my hands. The last Oprah magazine Favorite Things December issue that I would ever hold. You may think its comical, but think about the little things you treasure on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. This is it for me. Did I mention that I am tactile? Yes, I know I can read next year’s on our I-pad, but…

I got up and found my husband. He held me while I cried and talked a little.

“This is the last issue!” I cried.

And like a good husband, he did not judge. He did not make his dumb jokes like sometimes when he gets the mail before me and she’s in the mail and I ask him what came today and he’ll say “O-prah!” emphasizing the O, making it an extra long O sound, teasing me.

“She left me before, and now she’s leaving me again,” I said, after wiping my face, calming down, and getting ready for bed. The last episode of the Oprah Winfrey show in 2011 made me cry, and I felt like I was saying goodbye all over again. Twice now! And each time, Oprah is so damn positive about it. It’s maddening! Her parting words on the last episode in 2011, after a 25 year run, were: “Until we meet again.”

At the end of the column this month, it says: “Onward to the next chapter!”

Where if you can’t tell, get a little stuck in the dramatic ending or farewell.

I just watched about 10 minutes of clips from around 2011 and I found a clip of Barbara Walters talking about Oprah with a colleague after she had interviewed Oprah. They discussed what makes Oprah different. “She cares, she genuinely cares,” Walters told the other newscaster.

Compassion. This woman and what she did on her talk show for 25 years and her magazine for 20 teach me so much. Like a lot of her readership, I am your typical middle class white woman who has a lot to learn about our diverse society. And Oprah teaches me to do it kindly. And to find compassion. And to start with ourselves.

And I still need those lessons. And I need them conveyed to me in a loving way. Growing up and even into my 20s, I used to look at so many hideous women’s magazines. Redbook. Glamour. Cosmopolitan. Good Housekeeping. First for Women. Woman’s World. So many disrespectful magazines marketed to women that told us that we were too fat with some skinny person on the cover, always!, but the other half of the page with a seasonal dessert and the recipe inside. Oh, and how the skinny person lost 10 lbs. Messed up. How many of us stared these down at grocery store check outs? And they are still there. Pictures objectifying men and women and their perfect or airbrushed bodies. It needs to stop.

One of my favorite features the last several years in O was a full size photograph called Live Your Best Life. They are random pictures designed to inspire, and staff of O put a quote with them. In April this year, there was one of my recent favorites. A white female professional basketball coach has a female professional brown player’s face in her hands, and they are having a moment. You can see how much the coach cares. The player is despondent and beaten. But you see her muscles. This player is not skin and bones. She is strong. And this coach is going to get her spirits up. You believe it.

This is what I will miss in my print edition. The ability to rip out a whole page and put it on my bulletin board here in my office as inspiration.

But Oprah says there will be another chapter. So I will keep an open mind and heart. Hello, more screen time. Goodbye, Oprah print magazine.

You are one of my favorite things.

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