~ beverages ~
Coffee – Sweet Tea
Pop – Water

~ soup ~
Chili

~ main ~
Pork loin
Smoked Sausage in Sauerkraut
Hot Dogs

~ sides ~
Mashed Potatoes
Gravy
Black Eyed Peas
Hominy
Cornbread
Beets
Fruit & Cheese Tray
Crackers
Cranberry Sauce
Chips
Relish Tray

~ desserts ~
Banana Pudding
Sweet Breads
Cream Cheese & Jellies
Cookies
Candy Buffet

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will. ~ Jonathan Edwards & me

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

The holiday season is behind us, and while you may be ready to start putting your next foot forward, it is important to hold on to the precious memories of past experiences, favorite traditions; new additions and old family traditions.

I was thinking about all of the new ways to personalize scrapbooks, cards, and gifts for next year. I write in next years planner all the changes that I want to make for the upcoming holiday’s so that I can recreate all the things that I enjoyed this year and not repeat any mistakes, as in the past.
I like to record little things like:
• New ornaments or decorations
• Holiday foods we love
• Holiday movies we enjoyed
• Favorite holiday music
• Cookies and/or candy made
• Visits to Santa Claus
• Special meals
• Family visits
• Special Services
• Parties thrown or attended
• Meaningful moments

What were some of your favorite moments from this 2011 holiday season?

I’ve hung the same Mistletoe each year for the last 12 years, but somehow it was lost or misplaced. I’ve called everywhere, but no luck; I can’t get any locally.  I’ve got my florist on the case, maybe he can get one before Christmas, but if not, not to worry, they’ll still be lots of Kissin’ in the foyer this year, it just won’t be under a mistletoe  plant.

Kissing ‘neath the mistletoe – have you experienced this holiday tradition? This article explains how the mistletoe plant came to be associated with Christmas, & why people started kissing underneath it. Do you hang mistletoe in your home? C’mon, time to kiss & tell!

That isn’t writing at all – its typing. ~ Truman Capote

Christmas cards – do you make your own (with photos, etc.) or do you use standard cards? Have you sent your cards yet? Have you seen a decrease in the number of cards you receive due to the economy (I think we have)?

This year, I will admit that I was behind, so I only sent them to the people that sent them to me; only about 20 in all. Each year, I’ve cut back more and more, but this year will be the least that I have sent. I’m guessing that was the case with many of my relatives. However, both of my daughters sent picture cards, as did many of my nieces. I love those cards. I’m hoping this will become a tradition they keep. If the family picture works out this year, I may try and use it on my Christmas card for next year. Well see.

Tell us about your Christmas card situation!

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it. ~ Tennessee Williams

How was the New Year celebrated during your childhood? Have you kept these traditions in the present day?

Our family always starts the year off right, with the traditional pork and cabbage meal for prosperity in the New Year. Ever since I was a little girl, sauerkraut and wieners has been one of my all time favorite meals. I’d eat it every week, if the others that lived here would get on board, but that’s not going to happen. They don’t even want it on New Year’s.

My oldest son hated it, until he married and had children of his own, now he fully embraces it. His son, my oldest grandson, Craigie said, “I hate sauerkraut and my dad is going to make me eat it!” Poor baby; he also claimed to be almost 13 years old, when in reality, he’ll be 11 in July, so he may have been stretching it, just a little. It’s good to try foods that you don’t like, it broadens your horizons, or so my mom said.

A family, no matter where they live, is steeped in tradition, whether they choose to embrace them or not, is an individual decision. I’ve resolved myself to that fact anyway. My youngest son is dating a young Japanese girl, and she said that they eat Soba Noodles on the first, for prosperity. So each culture has they’re own version of this long standing tradition. I have no idea where these things originate, but hope they have no end.

I also hope that each of you enjoy a time honored tradition this year in America or wherever you are, and eat your Pork and Cabbage, or Soba Noodles, or whatever your heritage dictates.  It’s good for family and the soul.

Please share your New Year’s Family traditions and resolutions with us…

My most important New Year’s resolution: I will be able to look in the mirror come 2012 and see a better me — and know I’ve done more for myself to ensure I’ll be around as long as possible for everyone who needs me. ~ Leslie Shane Collins

INGREDIENTS

2 c Packed brown sugar
1 c soft shortening (or butter)
½ c cold coffee

2 large eggs

3 ½ c unbleached All-Purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
1 tsp Ground nutmeg
1 tsp Ground cloves

2 cups (16 oz) (1cn) unsweetened applesauce

1 c Raisins
½ c coarsely chopped nuts

DIRECTIONS
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix together thoroughly brown sugar, shortening, and eggs. Stir in the coffee. In a small bowl sift together flour, soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir in. Add well drained applesauce. (dough will be very soft. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake until almost no indentation/imprint remains when touched, about 7-9 minutes. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Christmas Adam
Twas’ two days before Christmas
and all through Aunt Ova’s house,
all happiness ran a muck
for such a clatter did arouse.

Uncle Robert reads the paper
and the rest watch TV.
The ladies are in the kitchen.
It’s all tradition you see.

Oh yeah, the men do some work too
as we put up some window blinds.
But there are football games on
and the cooks now seem to pay no mind.

Yet today has special meaning
in this grateful happy family.
One created by a member
just as simple as can be.

Like Adam before Eve
one tradition is now borrowed.
Christmas Adam is today.
Christmas Eve comes soon tomorrow.

They say Aunt Beth is the installer
of this new holiday.
Because of her we have plenty more
to enjoy until Christmas Day.
~Juan Manuel Perez