Saturday, December 20, 2014


A significant year? Not today. I have done 1935 posts on this blog. When I have some extra time, it is  always a pleasure to relive my last seven years of blogging. If a teacher chose to use my blog to teach universal themes to a group of students they would get it.  Themes that reoccur over and over are love for family, simplicity, hope,humor,growing up,memories, change, and love.
As I prepare to return to my childhood home tomorrow there will be subtle changes. As we have grown older the tempo of Christmas has slowed down and it is more about quality time in conversations than ripping and tearing presents. It is more about a simple meal than an elaborate feast. Fewer visitors will stop and bring goodies or raise a glass of cheer.

Tomorrow I will also see rituals that have stood the test of time at 516 W. Cameron. Brandy soaked fruitcake, Nuts and Bolts, popcorn balls, spritz, Seven Layer cookies, hot buttered rum, eggnog, elves on the kitchen shelf, angels attached to house plants, Christmas sweatshirts, traditional ornaments, and angel chimes.

This year I want to hit the pause button. I want to take it all in slowly, savoring the smells, tastes, and sounds. I want to have cherished conversations, belly laughs, and as always... the anticipation of some Christmas disaster to occur.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Smallest Things

As I said in an earlier post, a favorite part of getting reading for any holiday is the planning. This year with my mother and brother coming for Thanksgiving. I wanted it planned so we weren't in the kitchen the whole entire day. I wanted to have some energy left to enjoy our dinner.
We cooked the pumpkin ahead, then I baked the pies ahead. I arranged the flowers as ahead as I could so they didn't open up too much. On the morning of Thanksgiving the cranberry dish went into the crockpot. The squash dish was cooked ahead in the oven while it was free. As Mom did her signature dressing, brother Bill peeled the potatoes ahead. A friend said Thanksgiving is more about timing then cooking. I believe it.
Because of how all this was done, it was relaxing.  We had time between preparations and dinner to rest. After dinner everyone helped out to clean
 up so it wasn't a huge job. Thank you husband Everett.

Dessert came later, and then it was early to bed. The rest of the week-end followed a similar pattern. My hope was that Mom could enjoy herself and relax while not being at home. I hoped the same for my brother Bill. He kindly took care of the turkey bones and did what it took to make a delicious turkey soup on Saturday. I had never had it served in my house. Perfect.

Brother Bill made reference to "the smallest things" today on his blog with his Three Beautiful Things. You can find it  here.It was a bit of a coincidence that I found the following quote about the same topic this evening spoken by one of Mom's most favorite authors and favorite character in children's literature.

“Sometimes,' said Pooh, 'the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”- A.A. Milne 

I think our week-end was made up of smallest things. It turned out how I wished. Mom's parting words were, "It was one  the best Thanksgivings. Thank you so much." That took up lots of room in my heart.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving is More Than Food

 When you ask people about Thanksgiving memories, food is often mentioned. Pumpkin pie comes up every time I ask students about their holiday meal  Today on the radio I heard them talking about cornmeal dressing and green bean casserole. I have lived through many a Thanksgiving and never made either of these said dishes. There are many more though that have made our family table.
Growing up it seemed like Thanksgiving was all about football games with the men huddling and yelling  in the front room and women bustling around in the kitchen preparing food. That worked for me. I didn't watch the games and wasn't asked to help in the kitchen. That gave me many hours of album listening, solving teenage problems, and gossiping with my friend J.T.

Nowadays  the Thanksgiving holiday is more about fellowship. The food is planned ahead so there is time to enjoy the company of family. I like it when it is more relaxed and the day is filled with time to visit, share, reminisce, and enjoy like activities together.
We will cook together, drink together, and clean up together, but I don't want everyone exhausted and ready to go to bed right after dinner. I know Thanksgiving is just a date on the calendar. We can celebrate and be thankful any other time of the year. It is nice though to have this day in November to pause and be grateful.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Looking ahead to Thanksgiving this week I am reflecting on gathering together, traveling close and far,and creating memories with food and fellowship. Whether it is during a quiet moment before dinner, or when enjoying the late evening in front of the fire, or pausing while bundling up for a brisk walk I say thanks. This poem has been a favorite of mine for a long time. I think you will see why. 

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow for the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water looking out
in different directions.
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
looking up from tables we are saying thank you
in a culture up to its chin in shame
living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the back door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us like the earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is
~W. S. Merwin 

Friday, November 21, 2014

It Is All About the Planning

I am such a planner. I love to do lesson plans for school, plan vacations, and plan trips to town. I really love to plan meals when family is coming.

I find so much pleasure in diving into my old recipe boxes, scouring cookbooks, searching Pinterest, and referring to my notebooks of favorite recipes. I really love to cook for my husband, but sometimes it is nice to add some special dishes when family comes.

My mom and brother are coming for Thanksgiving. I spread out all the recipes, magazines, my computer, my recipe holders, and cookbooks a few nights ago and narrowed down the choices for Thanksgiving Day, plus the days before and after. Color me crazy, but I love to create grocery lists also.

The first shopping trip is done; Food is organized and stored. The turkey is still frozen, but will come out to thaw soon. Another trip early next week will fill the cart with fresh produce, flowers, and last minute items. We will miss our niece that still put olives on her fingers, but maybe we will need to restart the tradition. We will also miss the rest of the family that will travel to southern Idaho. We will miss the family "back east."

I love having family here at Thanksgiving, I love preparing the meal, and I really love this quote.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. "

~Melody Beattie
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