Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

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. 🙂

I Married The Easter Bunny Part III

After an awkward couple of weeks with AH, I knew something was wrong and I was hoping that whatever it was we could talk about it and fix it.  After the lunch and movie date that mostly wasn’t, someone I trusted more than just about anyone on earth called me with news that I thought at the time would kill me.

When I was a little girl, I had a friend named B.  She lived in the country and going to her house was one of my absolutely most favorite things in the world.  She was one of my closest friends until we hit puberty.  As everyone on earth knows, there is nothing worse than a girl between the ages of about eleven and fifteen or so.  Suddenly, rumors, innuendos and outright lies by third parties ruined our friendship. Then boy troubles started between us and it went even further downhill.  She basically became my nemesis and worst nightmare.  A friend who knows all about you who now hates you.  She knew the exact right place to stick the knife in and she was an expert at then twisting it so it would do the most damage.

So, a night or two before Thanksgiving, my friend called and told me he had something important to talk to me about.  He had been at a party the previous Saturday night and my frenemy B was there with none other than AH, my older handsome boyfriend.  The people at the party were way too young for AH to be hanging around with and he didn’t know any of them really.  They weren’t just at the same place and standing together, they were there TOGETHER.  On a date.  In the truck that was so broken down that afternoon that it couldn’t be driven and had to be worked on half the night preventing it’s owner from going to the movies.  The news could not have been worse.  I would’ve been hurt no matter what, but the WHO of the situation made it a thousand times more torturous.  Of all the people in the world for him to choose to cheat with, it just had to be her.  I thanked my friend, hung up the phone and proceeded to die inside by degrees.  I think now it was divine justice for the clumsy handling of my high school boyfriend breakup, but at the time, it was just the worst thing ever to happen in the world.

I was not going to act like a simpering whiney baby though.  Oh no, not me.  On Thanksgiving Day, I sqared my shoulders, but on a super cute black dress and heels and went to dinner with my parents.  After dinner they dropped me off at the AH’s house and his parents made all over me.  They had no idea.  We had a piece of cake and left the house.  We got silently into his truck and started the drive home.  He knew that I knew.  Everyone in town knew that the boy who called and told me was close to me.  B knew that he would tell me.  That’s why she took AH to the party in all likelihood.  It was time to force the issue.

AH proceeded to lie some more and drop a couple of bombshells that were actually true on me.  The first revelation was that the woman I saw driving his truck was not just a friend, but his ex-girlfriend.  She WAS however going to pick up her daughter.  HIS daughter.  He proceeded to tell me that he was going to have to leave our relationship because he was going back to his ex and their daughter.  He said it was time for him to grow up and take responsibility for his family.  The only part of that story that was true was the fact that the little girl was his.  I told him that I was kind of confused by what he was telling me because the story on the grapevine was that he was dating B.  He said it was not true.  He told me that whoever had told me that was straightup lying.  He said he only knew who B was because she came into the store where he worked every once in a while.  I told him that I could not believe what a liar he was.  I told him that the person who told me had my complete trust and that I felt like a fool for ever believing HIM.  I got out of his truck, went into my house and woke up the next morning a changed person.

I Married The Easter Bunny Part II

I didn’t talk to AH the night I saw another woman driving his truck.  It was back in the pre-cell phone days and he had to call my house or work and vice versa.  By the time I got home from hanging out with my friends, it was late and he knew better than to call my house that late.  My mother told me he’d called and what he’d said about the woman being a friend with a broken down car and I had no reason to not believe the story.  I was already getting over it and letting go of what I assumed was some form of cheating by the time I went to bed.

The next day was Saturday and I had to work again from 12-9.  My career at the time was as the information booth receptionist at the local mall.  I loved the job.  I could do my homework there, wear cute outfits and see my friends.  I rented strollers and gave directions and answered the phone.  It was totally fun and totally easy.  That afternoon, AH showed up at the mall with flowers and explained and told me he hoped I wasn’t mad at him.  Of course I wasn’t mad, I thought it was actually an example of his good nature that he would help a friend.  He came back at nine, took me to dinner and all was right with the world again.  A few days later he told me he loved me.

The next weekend, a friend of mine was having a Halloween party.  I was helping her with it and was very excited.  My mother made the AH a long Dracula cape to wear and I dressed up like a saucy witch.  We looked good and had a good time.  About eleven o’clock however, he told me he was not feeling well and thought he needed to go home and go to bed.  My lie detector was undeveloped in those days and I thought nothing of it.  He took me home, I cleaned off my make-up and went to bed.  I was happy and content.  I’d had a good time with my older handsome boyfriend and I felt good.  I called him the next day to see how he was feeling and he said not much better and told me he needed to stay home and rest.  I wanted to see him, but didn’t really mind because I had papers to write and I really needed to stay home as well.

The next few weeks were strange.  Where previously we had spent all of our spare time together, suddenly, he had to work, or help his dad or brother with something.  He had taken me out to the country to meet his grandmother a few times and suddenly he had to go do all kinds of things for her.   He suddenly had a number of job interviews at schools that took a while to get to.   I was busy with school and work and although I missed seeing him as much, we still went out once or twice a week, so I didn’t think too much about it.  The Saturday before Thanksgiving,  AH invited me to his house to have lunch with his parents and then go to a movie.  When I got there, his parents were not at home and he was working on his truck.  He said he was having trouble with it and he had the hood up and all the necessary tools laying around.  He said that he wasn’t going to have time to go to the movies, we could still do lunch, but we’d have to go out.  We went to lunch, I dropped him back off at his house and I went home.

We talked very briefly over the next couple of days.  My parents and I were going out for Thanksgiving that year.  It was just the three of us by then and holidays were kind of lonely and sad and we were trying new things.  The plan was for me to go to dinner with them and then go to the AH’s house for dessert with his family.  I was looking forward to it, but by then, even my naive self knew something was wrong.  I didn’t know what it was though.  I thought that maybe I was too young for him.  He was looking for his first post college job and I was a 19 year old kid.  He was staying with his parents until he found the job, but he had lived on his own far from home for years.  He’d had a life.  He owned stuff.  I still slept with my stuffed dog.  I was way out of my league and I truly thought that was the problem.  Hot and glamorous I may have been, but I was still just a girl.

It was the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving when an old and trusted friend called me and simultaneously broke my heart and saved me.