Family · Food · Holiday

Thanksgiving Reflections

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving!  Family and friends gather to visit and give thanks, at least in my family.  This year I am going solo.  After changing jobs and moving, the usual family Thanksgiving seemed out of reach this year.

Growing up Thanksgiving was originally a trip to Charleston where my Grandmother cooked for twenty plus.  Turkey, ham, oysters, green bean casserole, rice and gravy,  dressing, squash, ambrosia, and apple pie were on the table.  I recall being taught how to polish silver and set the table as my contribution and wash the dishes after dinner.

Somewhere along the line we moved to Thanksgiving at my Mother’s.  We always attended a Moravian Love Feast on Wednesday night.  This was a community event with members of the church neighborhood participating.  The President’s proclamation was always read, coffee and a bun served, and there is one memorable sermon that I will always recall.  My Dad and I left the service under my Mother’s critical eye – as if we were both two.  The sermon used the refrain “over the river and through the woods”, unfortunately in my and my Dad’s opinion we went over the river one time too many.  Back home it was preparation for the big dinner the next day. Silver was polished, the table set, the turkey prepped.  The menu was similar to that in Charleston, after all my Mom learned from her Mom.  Ice box rolls and broccoli casserole were added at some point as an homage to my Dad’s side of the family and a coconut cream cake made an appearance.  Baked apples became part of the main course.  The family was slightly smaller and Mom served twelve to fifteen rather than twenty plus.

Then Thanksgiving came to my house.  Tradition is tradition. I’ve cooked for five and for twelve.  I have fried turkey and baked it in a bag.   The menu varies based on the number eating but is the one I learned from my Grandmother.   The silver is now handed down to me as is the china.  While I don’t have a Love Feast in my town, there is a community service that is reminiscent of those I attended growing up.

What I will always cherish is my family, gathered together for a few days.  The main dinner was delicious and fun.  Mom and Grandmom  were amazing cooks; but the turkey sandwich that followed our 2PM meal was as good, if not better, as it was with family.  It was at these gatherings that I learned about my Mom’s escapades growing up and how to cook.   I remain thankful for the many holidays with family who are now scattered near and far.

Happy Thanksgiving!  May your holiday be shared with those that love you.

Family · Holiday

Mother’s Day

 

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I’ve been thinking about Mother’s Day a lot over the past few days.  I’ve always enjoyed a close relationship with my Mom.  She is fantastic.  She’s also not doing so well theses days.  On some days she knows me and other days, well, I try not to focus on those visits.  As I’ve been contemplating this Mother’s Day, I’ve reflected on all the gifts she’s bestowed on me.

Education, a keen sense of right and wrong, confidence in her own voice, the ability to love deeply, cherish family and friends, and a deep and abiding faith are those gifts.  I am also aware of those things that I hold special about her that she would wave away.  Her ability to laugh and enjoy the moment.  Her sense of fashion. When I look at pictures of her I see a beautiful and accomplished woman.  In today’s Me too environment, I am struck by the rich life she gave me by surrounding me with strong, independent women. Women who navigated the challenges of their time with panache.  These women passed along stories of successes and failure with chins held high and occasionally a few tears but always a sense of self.  While equality should be the standard in the work place, much work remains to be done.  This is something all women should remember.  Pay it forward and have the courage to reject that which should be rejected.

From my Mom and these women I’ve had the courage to try and fail, pick myself up and try again.  So tonight I raise a glass of wine and toast my Mom, Godmother, Grandmothers, Cousins, mentors, and friends and say thank you!  Thank you for bestowing upon me the ability to reach for the stars and pick myself up when my reach is not long enough.

To Mom!

Family · Travel

The Masters

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To any golf enthusiast The Masters or Augusta National is an event not to miss.  There is something magical about the place.  The sport of people watching is second only to the main attraction of golf.  I’ve been fortunate to score badges for several years and confess to loving the four days, rain or shine.

Masters etiquette is placed at a premium.  You arrive early in the morning, hopefully to warm but not too hot weather and an absence of rain. Parking is provided for thousands and you make your way through security.  Might I suggest that the guys in Georgia can give the guys at LaGuardia a lesson or two.   You are greeted as a valued guest with a Welcome to the Masters and Have a great day.  This is not simply a pro forma greeting but they mean it and you will.

Cameras and all digital devices are prohibited with the penalty being permanent loss of badges.  If only there were more places that had such a strict rule about digital devices!  Can I tell you how wonderful it is to be away from the attention demanding device?  I am always a bit sad about the absence of a camera.  The place is spectacular; not a flower petal or blade of grass out-of-place.  They are even known to move fully grown trees around – I mean the 100 foot kind.  Better yet, they provide everything you will need from banks of phones to make calls and carefully designed and placed seating for a day of watching the best of the best.

In a day and time where one can spend a fortune for a coke and bag of popcorn at the movies, The Masters is easy on the pocketbook. The best pimento cheese or egg salad sandwich you will ever eat will cost you all of $1.50 and a sausage or chicken biscuit for breakfast is similarly priced.

Packing for a visit is key.  It can be cool suggesting pants and it can be hot suggesting a golf style skirt.  You will want a pullover and sunglasses. I recommend a small bag for a bit of cash and the absolute minimum of essentials like lip gloss or a bit of sunscreen and eye drops.  The size of bags is restricted so it is time to embrace the minimalist approach.

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Go, chat, make some new friends and simply enjoy a beautiful place.

Family · Holiday · Home · Travel

Happy New Year!

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I love the period between Christmas and New Years.  Christmas is festive and full of family and friends, food, gifts, visits, and parties.  It is ending the year on a high note of fun and festivities and yes, endings.  When I think of the New Year, I think of new beginnings, everything clean and white and sparkling with the potential for wonderful new adventures and excitement.

In addition to seeing family and friends, I enjoy the time between Christmas and the New Year as a time to clean.  This past week, I cleaned out closets, organized and visited with friends.  We reflected on the year and made plans for the new one extending that sense of anticipation of Christmas to the potential for new things in a new year.

I’m not much for resolutions but I love to dream and plan.  The new year is like an open promise with only potential.  So for the new year, I’m working on new dreams and making plans to see those dreams become a reality.

  • Travel – Where to visit this year?  I’m thinking of the Mediterranean and Scotland.  Beaches and mountains sound balanced.  I love visiting new places and experiencing new cultures. There is nothing better than being jolted out of your comfort zone by learning something new and what better way to expand your view than travel?
  • Career – I’m looking forward to wrapping up existing projects and unleashing my creative juices on new ones.
  • Romance – I’m ready for my lost knight in shinning armor to tap into his internal GPS and find his way to me.  I’d be happy to meet him half way.  Maybe my GPS needs a tune up?
  • Friends and family – I’m looking forward to spending time with those close to me.  Sharing and creating new memories.
  • Fun – I am dreaming of a new year filled with fun.  New people, new projects, lunches, dinners, decorating, shopping, museums – well you get the picture.
  • Creativity – I have a creataive gene that needs to be exercised.  Photographs, drawing, this blog, cooking, decorating and fashion are all things that I dabble in.  I’m not certain what my new outlet for creative expression will be this year.  I’d love to take a drawing or art history class.  Hum, something to consider.
  • Exercise – Walking, hiking, Pilates, yoga, barre – okay this one sounds more like a resolution so perhaps one resolution for the new year?IMG_0044

If I have one resolution for the new year, it is to embrace your dreams!

Happy New Year!

 

 

entertaining · Family · Holiday

Merry Christmas!

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Christmas is a big deal for my family.  We celebrate on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Christmas Eve begins with a dinner followed by church and then an evening snack.  We move from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day watching mass from the Vatican even though we’re not Catholic.  Dinner would vary based on who was there from pasta to turkey and all the trimmings.  The midnight snack was always the same, cheese straws, sausage balls and cookies.  A plate of cookies was always left for Santa with a glass of cold milk and carrots for the reindeer.

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Christmas morning was always an early celebration.  A fire in the fireplace, juice, and coffee while we opened presents  and stockings and then a huge breakfast.  Breakfast was always a breakfast casserole and sugar cake.  If you’ve never had sugar cake you are missing a treat.  I love to tell everyone it is mashed potatoes as it has a potato base.  It is truly a treat.

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Christmas day was always spent with family and friends dropping by the house for a cup of eggnog.  My Dad was the nog maker.  He would begin on Christmas Eve “cooking” the egg yolks in a bourbon and brandy bath overnight.  Cheese straws also made by Dad, fruitcake cookies, Chinese chews and sands (cookies) made by Mom would accompany the egg nog as we visited with our guests.

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The day would end with a delicious dinner of beef tenderloin, potatoes, asparagus and applesauce raisin cake for dessert.

 

I have my own version of holiday traditions now but I’ve kept many of those I grew up with. I make the cheese straws and eggnog now and we’re having beef Wellington on Christmas Eve rather than for Christmas dinner.  No cookies this year but the cake is made! The DVD of White Christmas is ready to watch and I’ll be up late for church.  Christmas Day will be filled with visits with friends and my box of sugar cake arrived, after all what would Christmas morning be without sugar cake.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Decorating · Family · Gift Giving · Holiday

Christmas Traditions and my obsession with lists.

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I love Christmas.  I always have.  There is the sense of anticipation, the arrival of family, feasting on good food, and, of course, Santa!  This weekend I started decorating for the season and making lists.  List, plural, there as in a gift list, a stocking list, a card list, a grocery list for the makings of cookies and cheese straws.  LOL standing for lots of lists is how I make it through the season.  If it is not on a list, it’s not bought or done.  I confess, I don’t know how my Mom ever did it.

There are traditions that I love to repeat every year and one of them is sugar cake.  This is a delicacy from Old Salem or Dewey’s Bakery that is a bread only made with mashed potatoes, sugar and spices that was always part of Christmas morning.  Christmas morning was always delayed first until it reached 6 am and was appropriate to wake everyone in the house, then for the fire to be started in the fireplace, and, finally, for my Dad to make eggnog and coffee for the adults to enjoy while we opened presents and Santa.  This was a compromise for my Dad’s side of the family as Mom’s side celebrated Christmas (or the opening of presents) following midnight mass on Christmas Eve with wine, cheese and sausage balls.  My mother beautifully melded the two customs with the sausage balls and cheese straws following Christmas Eve services and the opening of presents with sugar cake and eggnog on Christmas morning. Mom was excellent at melding the favorite things of both sides of the family so everyone had what they wanted.  She would have been a wonderful diplomat!

The Christmas stocking is another list venture.  Each member of the household has their own sock to be hung by the fire.  This includes the quadrupeds.  If you saw my sock list you would laugh, sudoku and puzzle books, candy and fruit, dog treats and toys, gadgets to amuse, batteries for those receiving presents requiring batteries and anything amusing I might discover along the way.  I confess, socks are often my favorite part of Christmas.  One of my favorite childhood memories is my Grandfather pulling out the longest stocking I’d ever seen for “Santa” to fill.

So many wonderful memories and so many lists.