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

1 cup real butter (oleo)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup flour, plus a little for dusting
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or lemon extract
2 unbaked 9-inch pie shells

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream oleo, sugar and egg yolks. Add flour and beat. Add buttermilk and stir well. In a separate chilled bowl: beat the egg whites with the extract. Fold stiff egg whites into the first mixture. Then add melted butter and mix well.

Dust the unbaked pie shell with a little bit of flour. Pour batter into shell, and then sprinkle a little more flour on top.

Bake at 350 degrees until the custard is set, approximately 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.

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Charm is based on Gratitude over Attitude.

Imagination is the preview of life’s coming attractions!! Imagine, Believe, Expect, Visualize, Be grateful, Trust and Allow!

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Chorus:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
Chorus

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
Chorus

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
Chorus

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The lyrics to this hymn of gratitude were written by Johnson Oatman, Jr. in 1897. It was first published in a collection of songs for children: “Songs for Young People.” The music was composed by Edwin Excell, who was born in 1851.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
~Thomas Ken

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This famous song of gratitude was written by Thomas Ken in 1674. Originally part of a longer hymn, it was set to a traditional tune attributed to Louis Bourgeois (about 1515). Today it is one of the most well-known hymns of Thanksgiving.

Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart. ~ Seneca

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

For flowers that bloom about our feet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For tender grass so fresh, so sweet,
Father we thank Thee.
For the song of bird and hum of bee,
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
For blue of stream and blue of sky,
Father, we thank Thee.
For pleasant shade of branches high,
Father we thank Thee.
For beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
For this new morning with its light,
Father, we thank Thee.
For rest and shelter of the night,
Father, we thank Thee.
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
Father in heaven , we thank Thee.

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. ~ E.P. Powell

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.
For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.
Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.

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This harvest song was written in 1844 by Henry Alford and set to music by George Elvey in 1858.

Remember God’s bounty in the year.  String the pearls of His favor.  Hide the dark parts, except so far as they are breaking out in light!  Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude!  ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

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The words to this well loved hymn of thanks were written by Robert Robinson in 1758. The melody was composed by John Wyeth in 1813.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. ~ Psalm 95:2