Tag Archives: holidays

Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanksgiving was kind of weird for me this year. My Mom died in June of 2013 after eight years of illness, leaving me a fully grown orphan, and this year is the first string of holidays that will be carried out normally without either of my parents. Halloween didn’t bother me even though we always did a lot at Halloween, Thanksgiving on the other hand…

Macy's Parade
Macy’s Parade

Last year, my daughter’s marching band participated in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC. Having never been to NYC, my husband, son and I went along as followers. It was a band trip, and she was mostly with the band, and we didn’t get to see her hardly at all, so it simultaneously sucked and was wonderful. We loved NYC and plan to go back next summer for a few days WITH my daughter so we can take her to the Public Library (which she will love) and so she can take US to the top of the Empire State Building after dark. Anyway, last Thanksgiving didn’t tickle my grieving because we were not home. We were gone the entire week and when we got home we were so tired we mostly slept. I don’t even remember putting up the Christmas tree last year, but we clearly did it, because I DO remember it being up on Christmas Day.

NYC Public Library.  That's my idea of heaven right there...
NYC Public Library. That’s my idea of heaven right there…

THIS year, we didn’t go to NYC. We didn’t go anywhere. The only one of my kid’s grandparents that is left is my mother-in-law. She came over for dinner and we played games after dinner. We had a good time. But it was a quiet holiday. It was a little sad, and a little lonely. All of our friends have families of their own to go to, and despite my best efforts, I can never find any strays to invite over.

I usually have a very “Thanksgiving-y” looking table. I love to decorate things. If I had as much money as they do, I could give Martha Stewart or Sandra Lee a run for their money with my “table scapes.” As it is, I do pretty well, but I just couldn’t bring myself to bring out the fall colors. This year, I used my mom’s ivy adorned china, and my grandmother’s silver. Then I went around the house and gathered up a bunch of stuff that reminded me of fall and Thanksgiving and the journey that was taken across the pond in a search for freedom and did my table with all new stuff. Ok, the china pilgrims are always out, but none of the other stuff is. I decided to change things up. Shake up at least the appearance of our celebration. The after dinner game was new too. Usually, we have a wii bowling tournament. I really didn’t want to do it this year because all it does is remind me of people who are no longer here, both friends and family. Plus, my mother-in-law has been going to wii bowling at the Senior Center for the last year and a half or so and would’ve kicked all of our behinds 😉

Part of this year's tablescape.
Part of this year’s tablescape.

I know that these light on people holidays are just a phase of our lives. Someday our kids will get married and have kids of their own, and we’ll have next gen family and in-law family to get together with. I know that as time passes, friends will need a place to go, and I’ll keep looking for strays. I KNOW this is just a temporary condition, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I know that after you lose someone, it takes about three years to begin to recover, so we have another year and a half and the loss of my Mom will get easier, but for now, knowing all that doesn’t really help.

Another view of the table.
Another view of the table.

I am thankful though that we had fun. My food was amazing if I say so myself. We laughed a lot playing the game after dinner and we got a nice drive in when we took my MIL home. It was a beautiful holiday and I’m grateful for everyone that was there. I’m also grateful for the ones who weren’t because they left me with enough good memories to make me miss them. That’s cool, right?

Have a great night, and be the light for someone whenever you get the chance. 🙂

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Recipes: Spiced Cranberry Sauce

I don’t like cranberries. They need enough sugar to choke a horse to make them edible in my view, and the jellied stuff that my mother loved and that my daughter loves… just no. A few years ago, I decided to research recipes for something better, and I came up with my Spiced Cranberry Sauce, which I actually like. I only make it once a year, so clearly, it’s not chocolate or anything, but in my picky view, these are the bomb.

Here's what you need.
Here’s what you need.

1-12 oz bag of cranberries
1/2 cup honey
2-3 T firmly packed brown sugar, or to taste
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1/4 t. nutmeg, or more if you like it
3/4 cup water

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Put the cranberries in a colander, and root through them. They sometimes have little stems attached, and there are often rotting ones that need to be picked out. Rinse them well too, just like any fruit or veg.

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Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring it to a boil, lower the temperature to simmer, put a lid on it and simmer away until the berries pop and the sauce thickens. This usually takes between 15-20 minutes, but keep an eye on it. Stir often and don’t let it burn.

My grandma's pressed glass bowl.
My grandma’s pressed glass bowl.

Once it cools, pick the cloves out, but you can leave the cinnamon sticks in there for a little garnish. I like to put it in a crystal bowl, or a pretty glass one, like this oldie that belonged to my grandma, because the color is so beautiful. Stick a spoon in it and you’re done!

Top view when it was still pretty warm.  It'll thicken up more as it cools.
Top view when it was still pretty warm. It’ll thicken up more as it cools.

In case you are wondering about the honey I use, here’s a picture of it.

We get it in Gatlinburg.
We get it in Gatlinburg.

And a short explanation of why it’s so dark.

I haven't tried the honey drink recipe on here, but it sounds good.
I haven’t tried the honey drink recipe on here, but it sounds good.

So there’s my recipe. It’s really simple, and it’s good. I hope you give it a try.
I hope all of you out there have a wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. If Uncle Joe gets drunk, or Aunt Sally is crazy, don’t let it get under your skin. One of these days they’ll all be gone and only when it’s too late, will you find the humor and family lore in it all. Here’s to full hearts and full bellies. Be good and careful and kind to one another. 🙂

The Joys of Christmas Break

Winter
Well, it’s been a year since I last posted on my blog. In that intervening time, my mother lost her battle with dementia, I found out that the depression she suffered from for as long as I knew her was actually much, much more and I am finally starting to recover from the eight years of handling everything.

In the interests of my recovery from the severe stress I was under, I’ve started doing yoga, and I’m taking time off from substitute teaching. I just don’t think I can handle too many needy people right now and if you know anything about school kids, they can be pretty needy.

Even though I am not teaching right now, doesn’t mean that I don’t need and love Christmas break. Or winter break. Or holiday break, or whatever you want to call it. We call it Christmas break and it works for us. Unfortunately, we don’t get a full two weeks, but the week and a half that we ARE getting is beautiful. I’ve been sleeping about twelve hours a night, I’ve seen three movies so far, and I got another pile of books to add to my to-be-read stack that I am convinced will someday fall over on me and crush me to death.

I am becoming even more live and let live than I was before and I am beginning to feel my muscles relax. I am keeping tabs on the events of the world because I don’t like to be taken by surprise, but I’m trying really hard to block out a lot of the buzz. I’m binge watching House of Cards on Netflix and catching up on movies like The Conjuring and Dark Shadows. I think I might add a category on here for reviews of books and movies and such, since I think that would be fun for me to do, and maybe fun for you all to read.

Gonna keep it fairly short today since I’m just getting my groove back, so you all have a wonderful, safe New Year and be kind to one another.

2012 Bring It ON!!

It’s New Year’s Eve, a time of reflection on the past while looking toward the future.  2011 was an interesting year to say the least.  The country is not faring too well, the world gets scarier by the day and now, every minute of every day is filled with election crap.  I’m already sick of it and we have eleven more months of it.  My city has had over six feet of rain this year which comes on the heels of several years of drought.  Fortunately, the rain came steadily over the year instead of all at once, or I’d be writing this from a boat.  It is warm so far this winter.  “They” predicted a double La Nina which supposedly meant 35 plus inches of snow for us this winter, so far we’ve had something like 2/10 of an inch.  We’ll see.

On the home front, things have been less controversial than the rest of the world.  My husband and I are working hard every day.  My daughter survived color guard camp, marching band camp, and marching band season.  Going to all the band events was fun for all of us and we miss it.  My son had his tonsils out and is now an A/B student and very seldom sick.  Removing chronically strep infected tonsils will tend to do that for a person.  We got a new cat.  We kept all of our friends and have not lost any more family.  We got to travel to California to visit my husband’s grandmother and we went to Disneyland while we were there.  I got to see my sister-in-law for the first time in about thirty years and began mending relationships gone wrong.  It’s been a good year.

My dreams for 2012 are simple.  I wish everyone to remain healthy.  I wish for us to be able to continue doing jobs that we enjoy.  I wish for my children to continue on the paths they are on, they are doing a good job of growing up.  I wish to have more time to read and write and work on art projects, in fact, I think that’s my resolution this year.  I wish safety and security and good health for everyone that I love.  I wish for my country to survive and thrive.  I wish for all the bad guys in the world to mind their own business at least and to go away for good at ideal best.  I wish we’d drill for oil so we can tell some of the same bad guys alluded to above to go suck it.  I wish for my husband or myself to win the lottery.  One of the super big ones.  I wish for world peace, not a world in pieces.

Tonight while we all celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another, think about those you’ve lost, lessons you’ve learned and hopes you have for the future and remember to keep moving forward.

Happy New Year friends 🙂