Archive for the ‘holidays’ Tag

I Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!

I would like to start a movement where ice cream becomes a daily food requirement.  Okay, it could be frozen yogurt, lactose free ice cream, sorbet, sherbet, or any other form of frozen delight yoImageu can find.

My sister told me today, Sunday July 15th 2012 is designated National Ice Cream Day.   I plan on celebrating later today.  I will take a leisurely drive to our favorite ice cream stand.  This ice cream stand set on a corner of a working dairy farm.   There are cows, yes cows, still in the pasture and the children can walk up to the fence and see a real live cow up close and personal.   That includes all the flies, odors, and country ambiance you can take.   It also lets the kids really know where their milk and other dairy products come from originally, not the local grocery store.

It is fun to;

  • go for a simple short Sunday drive on a beautiful summer afternoon
  • stop for an ice cream cone
  • see that there are still live cows and working farms
  • know that ice cream has its own special day.

Thank goodness we don’t have to wait for a special day to have ice cream, and there are still ice cream stands in the country where children and adults alike can actually see real live cows!

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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.

Now That The Funeral Is Over, Now What?

The funeral is over and finally the last person has left the house, the last of the food  stored in the refrigerator, and everyone sits down around the dining room table and looked at each other and said, “Now what?”

For the past several days, actually several months, this family the moment on the moment and that was just dealing with todays problems, situations, and concerns.  With the death of their parent their primary focus then shifted to just getting through the funeral.

This family has several Now What questions to deal with immediately, because there is a surviving parent that has some concerns and issues that need consideration.  So before all the family members start to scatter back to their ‘normal’ life; work, family, soccer games, PTA, etc., it is time to focus on the ‘Now What?’ questions.

Everyone needs some down time, particularly after what they have dealt with, but first question and most pressing one now is:  Can Mom (or Dad) stay in the family home alone, or would it be better for her to go home with someone?  Once decided then you can move on from their.   Whether Mom stays at home or temporarily goes with one of the children the rest of the Now What’s will wait for another day.

No Fireplace To Hang Our Christmas Stockings!

Even though we lived in a wonderful old home, we had no fireplace.   This was a problem only at Christmas, because you need to hang your stocking on the fireplace mantle!   Well Dad and my Aunt Alice fixed this problem! They made a fireplace with a mantel, painted it brick red with white lines (the lines were not quite straight or in the proper spot but no one mentioned that!) it looked as “real” as possible.   They even painted logs and flames to further the illusion.  Christmas cards and evergreens decorated the mantle, and there were hooks for everyone’s Christmas stocking; 4 children, Mom and Dad, Grandma, and Aunt Alice.  The stockings were filled with small trinkets, toys and games but that was beside the point, it was all about the fireplace and the stockings and less about the small gifts – IT WAS FUN!   

 Around the holidays as we get older, we often look back and remember the way things were when we grew up.  We keep wishing that all those happy times could be relived.   I have said this before, we should honor the past traditions, create new ones, and bringing back the ones that have fallen by the wayside.   I am doing it, this year we are bringing back the Christmas Stockings! 

Even though I am now down to four people in our immediate family and we are all adults, we picked a name and we are filling a Christmas stocking for the chosen person.   There are new stockings, although I still have the old and tattered ones from years ago, and the stockings this year will be hung on the mantel of our wonderfully convenient gas fireplace that will be turned on as we sit around and open our stockings after breakfast on Christmas morning!

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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