As I’m preparing for the upcoming Holiday’s and trying not to stress out about all the changes the house and our personal lives will endure over the next few months, I find that flexibility & organization are the key to my sanity at this time of the year. I have all of my Christmas gifts bought and mostly wrapped. Well, if you can call putting them all in Sally’s shopper bags, wrapped. I find it the easiest way for me to do our “Christmas Eve Eve Party.”

Our lives have undergone so many changes over the past few years, the kids marriages with families of their own but, I still want them all together for Christmas, preferably under my roof.  The only way to achieve this is to be flexible so we’ve created our own Holiday aka Christmas Eve Eve. It was originally met with great contention by my oldest son, but he too, has come around. Its hard to juggle the In-laws and Outlaws at the Holiday’s so less stress makes us much happier people.

It also makes me think of my mom, past Thanksgiving’s at Mom’s & Grandma Dorothy’s house(s.) I’m sure everyone remembers the story I’ve told many times, about our dinner table breaking in half on year, it almost hitting my oldest sisters, sister-in-laws 2 year old daughter that was sitting under our table. They used to use the table-leg to hold the back of a child’s dress or shirt down, that way they couldn’t move. Instant babysitter. Not to worry, they had toys or a coloring book to keep them busy. Rarely ever fussed, because they were in the same room as the grown-ups. Now they just use play pens.

I’ll drive by Grandma’s house now and again, and I have to laugh. It seems so tiny, but never did as a child. She always made room. Her house was always clean and freshly decorated for each impending Holiday. To this day, I still have no idea where she kept all of those decorations. Anyway, back to dinner. Her table was freshly set for each person to sit down, always her fine china, minimal food on the table, mostly sliced bread and butter, gravy, things like that, but the kitchen was covered. She’d (or our mom’s) would make your plate in the kitchen and then either you or she would walk it to the table.

Her house was small, but her heart was big, the dining room table was turned sideways in the room, to allow for 8 people or more comfortably, we couldn’t all eat at the same time, so she asked us to come in about an hour apart, that way when people got up, you could sit and talk while you ate & ate, no one was ever rushed. We also had no idea whom we’d be eating with. I always enjoyed eating with my Uncle Brock. He was so funny, he’d mock her as she was talking, making jokes and taking the food or dessert off our plates that he knew we weren’t going to eat(gooseberry pie – yuck), so we could get up from the table(as was the custom back then). Then he’d laugh as she fussed at him for wasting food. Later, he’d wink at us, letting us know that he was okay with taking the heat.

It was never too crowded. She always made room. Ladies sat in the kitchen, gossiping as usual. Grandpa would be in the living room watching TV, either Football or Horsing Racing aka taking a nap. Can’t remember what most of us kids did, we just filtered back and forth, watching Grandma cook and or hand-wash all of her dishes, she didn’t have a dishwasher.  This went on all day. I loved to watch her boil dumplings, she’d use a fresh chicken or turkey with its eggs still inside and they’d float to the top. She’d scoop them up and offer them to us kids as we yelled, “Gross!” But the truth is, I loved it, it was so good. Its the goofy things that you remember the most.

So as I’m trying to decide what to make or not to make this year, I try to remember its only about being together. Nothing else matters, if the gravies brown or who likes what kind of cake, every one will get fed. Spend time together and hopefully, when I’m gone they will carry on these traditions for as long as the Lord tarries. And, know that I did everything in my power to show them the same love that their Great-Grandparents showed me. That it the tradition.

So I’m going to share this years menu with you, and my mom’s recipe for Ambrosia Fruit Salad. To be honest, no one here likes it but me. I make it every year, just because my mom did; it was her favorite. Thank you Mom, for all of your inspiration and unwittingly all of the memories you’ve helped me make with my children, and grandchildren and hopefully, maybe even their grandchildren. I’ll try and keep your memory alive, as I share, all of the things that we talked about and did together while we cooked. I still think of the stories you told me about Grandma Elvie and how she decorated her deviled eggs, every time, I make them.

The “Small Things,” are truly the best memories.

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

~ appetizers ~
Meatballs
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
Relish Tray

~ beverages ~
Pop – Water – Sweet Tea
24 cans Coke

~ soup ~
Beef Barley Soup

~ main ~
Turkey & Dressing
Glazed Ham

~ sides ~
Mashed Potatoes
Turkey & Brown Gravies
Baked Beans
Sweet Potato Casserole
Green Bean Casserole
Corn Pudding
Jellied Cranberry Sauce
Deviled Eggs

~ bread/rolls ~
Dinner Rolls
Pull Apart Bread

~ desserts ~
Pumpkin Pie w/ Whip Cream
Blackberry Cobbler
Cherry Cheesecake
Chocolate & White Cupcakes
Mom’s Ambrosia Fruit Salad

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Ambrosia Fruit Salad

INGREDIENTS

2 cans or 1 lg can of fruit cocktail, well drained
1 sm can of mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup shredded coconut
8 oz tub whipped topping, thawed (save container to store leftovers or put half the dessert back in and pop into the fridge to send home with someone. Trust me, it never all gets eaten.)
*maraschino cherries, drained and halved as a garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS

In a medium size bowl , toss in the first three ingredients. Fold in the cool whip. Place a few sliced maraschino cherries on top as a garnish.
You can add pecans or walnuts if you like – I usually toss a few on top of mine, just because, but I never put them in my dessert. Some people add a few mini marshmallows if you like those in it, mom did on occasion, but not usually. The cherries were always my favorite. I’d pick them out and try to get the most. sh

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Ah! on Thanksgiving day….
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before.
What moistens the lips and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich pumpkin pie?
~John Greenleaf Whittier

For those of you that have been long time readers of this blog, I hope you remember the July 25, 2008 post on Writing With An Attitude of Gratitude. I wanted to continue that same idea for the entire month of November, since it is the month we try extra hard to remember that we are given so much and have so much to be grateful for all.

This year, I want to call it: My Many Blessings; a New Gratitude Journal.

Use this Journal to write about the things you’re grateful for. And if you can get a minute send someone a card to let them know you appreciate the little things they do for you. You’ll both get a blessing.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts
with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. ~ Psalm 100:4

I’ve had some major events happen this week; some good… some???

I felt like a funeral crasher yesterday when one of my favorite uncles when I was a young girl, and still is today, died this week and I attended his funeral, without my older sister Shirley by my side. I can honestly say, that I only knew 3 or 4 people there, it was uncomfortable to say the least.

I slid in – in my usual manner; late.  Realizing at that moment, I’d forgotten to send flowers, for the first time ever in my life. I don’t know where my head was at? But in the grand scheme of things, I guess it was par for the course. Hopefully, no one really noticed, few people there knew me anyway.

Afterward, I attended the farewell gathering, where I was hit with, yet another big bombshell… when my aunt just plainly announced to the woman seated across from her and talking about her husbands family, that the son she had cared for since he was only two years old, after the death of his mother, was not her husband’s son, but my dad’s.

I know… she nor I had a clue what to say, so I thought… just roll with it… shake it off.  So in my usual fashion, I got his name and the name of his late mother. You know the genealogist in me… I was going to get the story. Not gossip since my other aunt sat there and agreed to it all. I guess it was common knowledge. Not to me or her, but you know that dang elephant in the room.

I have to admit… I do love those sudden foot-in-mouth experiences. They tend to always get you stirred up. But somehow, way down deep, I must admit it felt deliberate. Maybe I’m wrong. But I guess, I now have yet another brother. Don’t worry, I won’t drop his name – like it was dropped on me yesterday.

I come from a long line of goings-on, so this came as no shock to me. My dad had admitted to me years ago when we lived in California that he had a son with Doris Fox, but I shook it off as just more stupidity aka a drunken confession.

I don’t really have any desire to meet or to know him, but would like to hang him off a branch of this twisted old family tree. That is all I’m going to say on the matter.

I knew my father had lived with other women when he and my mother split up and had numerous affairs. He carried on an affair with Helen for years – the old bar maid from Hello Dolly’s in Trenton. She was married at the time but I don’t think any of my dad’s friends and family were too faithful to anyone. One uncle carried on and affair with some old lush by the old Dry Cleaners for years and years and yes, she was married to. Yuck! Luckily, they never had any lasting evidence.

I’m thinking things must have been really different back then, because everyone we knew at the time had been married three or four times and still carrying on with anyone that would have them. Men and women alike.  Not sure how their marriage vows read… (they had to have been very different from mine)… all I can say is Nasty… is the word that comes to mind now. No excuse. And Tiger Woods thinks he invented it. (shaking my head and laughing here) The bible says there is nothing new under the sun but there are still things that make me crazy.  This just heads the list.

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I did get a major answer to prayer this week. I had prayed for 7 long years for a wrong to be made right and not two hours after I finished praying… it happened and all I can say is… “THANK YOU, LORD!” Now, I will continue to pray that it is made known.

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I called my brother Ralph today, I know… he was shocked too… if you know me, then you know I never dial the phone, I just wait for it to ring. So after he was over the initial shock and after assuring him that there was no emergency, we had a nice long conversation about dad and his numerous affairs. Then we started reminiscing about our childhood. He was cracking jokes about how we were related to everyone around Middletown and the surrounding areas. He told me that whenever he was sneaking around doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing, someone would have already called Mom and alerted her to the situation. He felt like there were relatives aka spies everywhere. We laughed and swapped a few more similar stories before we hung up. It was almost a very nice talk.

I had called him while I was on my way to the worst dinner I’ve had in a very long time at Lone Star in Middletown. I let Steven pick between Olive Garden & Lone Star before he drove back to college tonight and of course to ruin the evening, he chose Lone Star. It was a nightmare. I think they were trying to break the sound barrier with the noise and the volume was actually louder outside than in, if you can imagine that. So there was no escape. Babies screaming and numerous dishes breaking, I will repeat… a NIGHTMARE! I swore I will never return but I said that the last time, when it was all things considered,  were actually worse.

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My niece Teresa Ann Parsons has a birthday this week, so I’m thinking, if her mother is feeling better maybe… just maybe we will go for a Girl’s Night Out! I know that I for one… could use it.

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That’s about it for this week, I did get several genealogy requests that I will try to look up tomorrow with a heavy work week ahead, but we all know that it’s my passion in life. So until I get the time to read more books, write more posts about what really needs to be said and done, I will just wish you all a very happy work week and may God watch over and keep you all. And to my newest discovery I will just say, “Welcome to the Family!”

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world. ~ Joel Arthur Barker

And I’m getting really excited. Making lot’s of plans for the upcoming Holiday season and the kids birthday’s of course.  With some decorations, parties, tidying around the house and a new book club stating next week. I have also started dance class [hip-hop] lol I know. It’s just for exercise and to be out doing something for myself. You may have noticed the blog has been dragging lately, but I needed some down time. Too much work and too little me. Anyway, I can’t wait for the farmers to finish plowing the fields, their almost done. It makes the country scenery in front of my house so much more open and airy. Not closed off by a wall of corn. I can see for miles out my front window with the field gone.

I washed the front porch off today, got rid of all of the Halloween decorations [old spider webs] and dead rodents, gifts from my cats. Washed off all the raccoon foot prints and mulch they had tracked onto the porch. This should make it a little more welcoming for party goers. I did hang more Fall decorations out than I had originally decided, just because I wanted it to look a little cleaner for my guest this year. Now if I can get the wildlife to keep it that way, I’ll be happy.

I’m enjoying the crisp fall air, when it’s not scented with ode-a-cow. The leaves have almost all fallen off the trees, but my Willow leaves and my Bradford’s are still hanging in there. I love every minute here at the house. I treated myself to a day off – hahaha – work day here. Although I did take a brief nap just to rest for a few minutes before I finished up. There is always something to do around the house.

I’m trying to slow down and not get so stressed out about life. It’s hard when life comes at you with both barrels. Everyone knows our trailer as stolen this week and my husband wants to track the thief’s to the end of the earth and beat them down with a ball bat, or so he says every hour on the hour. He hates a thief. He wants to go back to the old days when they caught a thief they cut their arm off. I keep reminding him, it’s just a thing and things can be replaced. The little ditty he hits me with every time it’s my property that is lost or stolen. He’ll have to try to get along without it somehow.

I’ve made some BBQ ribs for dinner and I’m going to go and enjoy my evening relaxing in front of the fireplace. I truly hope you do the same and remember to thank a farmer for your dinner. He has put a lot of work into it. I for one am most appreciative.

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STOP AND WATCH A FARMER PLOWING A FIELD
To watch the corn grow or the blossoms set;
To draw hard breath over the ploughshare or spade;
To read, to think, to love, to pray
Are the things that make men happy. ~ JOHN RUSKIN

Plan to call an old friend today and ask them to _____________ [yah, whatever you just thought of right there] and say, “How’s tomorrow looking for you?” and “Okay, I’ll see you then.” You know the Girl Scouts have a little song they sing and I’ve never forgotten it: Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.

Go oft to the house of a friend, for weeds choke up the unused path. ~ RALPH WALDO EMERSON

(306th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 60 days remaining until the end of the year. Only 25 days left ’til Thanksgiving and 54 days ’til Christmas [53 ’til Christmas Eve – sh that’s when we open our gifts] and I can’t wait, I know that sounds strange with all the stresses we’re under at this time of the year, but for those of us [me] who truly remember what Thanksgiving and Christmas is all about, being thankful for the bountiful harvest the Lord has provided for us and the birth of our Lord and Savior, we’re excited.

I’m really looking forward to the upcoming holidays. It’s just such a wonderful time of the year, with decorations and lot’s of luncheons and dinner parties and the big Thanksgiving dinner. Yum…

But I wanted to remind myself [and my kids] why I’m thankful for all these things, then I saw this little quip on Facebook posted by my dear friend, Nancy Helms Penfield and thought it would be fun to do it here as well.  Every day this month until Thanksgiving, think of one thing that you are thankful for and post it as your comment.

“Today I am thankful for….

What you do speaks loudly. You have heard it said that “You are the only bible some people will ever read.” and/or “What you do speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you say.” How true!

Consider the way you talk or act. And, think before you speak. Some words are too harsh and some actions are far worse.  Things that you may believe won’t offend, DO! So remember to “agree to disagree” on opposing subjects to keep the lines of communication open. Nothing is ever written in stone, and everything is open to interpretation. Out yelling someone or arguing, doesn’t make it FACT.

I’ve also heard it said, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”… well a good thought, idea or deed may be lost when someone is consumed with ill will. No one hears a word you’ve spoken after they have been offended, please tread lightly and think before you act or speak.

If you know you’ve offended someone, be quick to apologize and know, if you don’t see eye to eye yet, if ever, you can still remain friends, all working diligently toward the same outcome.

There is no more noble occupation in the world than to assist another human being – to help someone succeed. ~ Alan Loy McGinnis