Archive for the ‘cooking’ Tag

It Was Not Walden Pond, But It Was Beautiful

Back in the day, growing up in the fifties, the Fourth of July was always filled with family and friends celebrating our national birthday, swimming, a backyard cookout, and going to the fireworks.

I grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, the home of important historical places, events and literary notables, such as; the start of the Revolutionary War, home of Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and his Walden Pond.   Growing up in Concord meant we learned all these things, and we even had the privilege of taking swimming lessons at Walden Pond.  However, Walden Pond’s notoriety was too much for most town  residence and was often very crowded with visitors.  So many ‘townies’ opted to swim in a lesser known,  smaller, but just as beautiful, pond called White’s Pond.

Just as beautiful as Walden Pond

To swim at Whites Pond, you needed a membership for the Whites Pond Association which cost about $15.00 for the season.   Our family had a membership and it was a life saver on many hot, humid summer days.   On Holidays, like the 4th of July, we would spend hours at the pond.  All the kids would go with my older sister supervising a troop of 7 or 8 kids.   We all knew the rules, and my sister was always willing to bend the rules a bit, and it was a great time.  Eventually, later in the afternoon, the adults will come along with possibly another couple of kids who came late, and for the next hour or so we played and swam with the adults before going home for our cookout.

Our cookouts were huge affairs, with lots of friends, family, and food.   There was the usual cookout staples; hot dogs, hamburgers, and corn on the cob, along with a wide array of salads, fruits, desserts, and watermelon!   There was, or so it seemed, enough to feed and army.   It’s funny, years later when looking through family photo’s the only photos of my Father were of him cooking at our cookouts, and he was always smiling and happy!

To go to the fireworks on the 4th of July we needed to leave town.   For whatever reason, the town father’s of Concord never permitted fireworks, no matter what occasion.    So after our fabulous cookout was all over and cleaned up, the gang all piled into various cars, and headed to the fireworks in neighboring towns.

I can remember the anticipation I felt, along the excitement and happiness I experienced during throughout day.    Along tired satisfaction I had as my Dad carried me up the stairs and put me into bed having fallen asleep on the ride home from the fireworks.

These special days and events left vivid, loving,  and lasting memories, which now cause me to smile and wipe away a happy tear or two for the good times long ago.

Family Traditions!

I grew up in a very Irish/American household. Holidays were very important events for my family!  Even if there was no holiday in a particular month, my family found a way to celebrate something!

I have the only family that I know of, who celebrated a 4th of July by going to the beach for a picnic with our friends and instead of having hot dogs we had corned beef and cabbage!  It was fun, different, and everyone around us kept coming by asking what we were cooking!

When it came to the more traditional family holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, again the bigger the celebration the better but they were a little more traditional than our 4th of July celebration.   Family and friends gathering in love and friendship made these occasions memorable.  Food was the primary ingredients to a successful Thanksgiving, or any holiday!

Cooking took days!  I remember coming home from school to find my Mom and Grandma making cranberry/orange relish.  With a hand cranked grinder attached to the kitchen table, they would grind the cranberries and oranges together and add enough sugar to make it sweet but still tart enough to make your lips pucker!  It took hours taking turns working the grinder!  Now you can go to the store and buy a jar of this relish all prepared, but it may be too sweet.

Mom would make the pies; Grandma would make cookies and cakes.  This was done a day or so ahead so the oven was available on Thanksgiving for the honored guest of the day — Mr. Turkey!   We always had two different kinds of stuffing, too many veggies, and all the other specialty goodies of the season.   No one left our home on Thanksgiving, or any other day for that matter, hungry!

Sadly, Grandma and Mom are no longer with us, but the memories live on.  The tradition of preparing and cooking for days are also just fond memories.  Families move on, and life styles change.  We still have too much food and no one leaves hungry or without a take home bag, we just do things a little differently.

We don’t have every root veggie known to man, cooking 5 lbs of mashed potatoes is taboo! There is only one stuffing (TG for package stuffing mix), and the turkey has a pop-up to tell us it is done.  Now everyone is in the kitchen helping and cooking. There is no such thing as too many cooks on Thanksgiving!  We experiment with different recipes, reminisce about past Thanksgivings, laugh at our cooking disasters (soupy, lemon meringue pie), and sometimes we have a good cry remembering past times.

So if you have your family traditions continue to enjoy and pass them along to your children and grandchildren.  If it is time for your family to create new traditions do so with joy and happiness.  It will help the family grow, stay vibrant and happy.  Let your imaginations go wild, and think of some fun new activities and events that everyone will enjoy for many years to come.  You may also want recreate some old traditions that you may remember from your past, but have not shared them recently, give them a new twist.  They may become the new, but really old, tradition!

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