This was definitely a challenge.
Just choosing one photo. Out of a zillion (well maybe not a zillion, but close)
So many wonderful memories of the last few decades.
When I stumbled upon this photo in my search, I remembered Frank’s suggestion: don’t hesitate to go for the whimsical.
Father’s Day 2008
My two adult children made it a point to be home to celebrate with their father. As they always did – and still do – they let the silliness of childhood surface. My son had recently found this road sign while at his local summer job.
I have no idea why he kept it, except that it became a handy prop. For a photo taken while waiting for the steaks to grill. Creative minds at work…when Mom wanted another photo of the two of them.
Another example of the joyful, silly, irreverent atmosphere that permeated their childhood. And our life together as a family of four.
And their close relationship – even at almost 6 years apart.
A day – if you’re fortunate – set aside for family.
For gratitude. For sharing a meal.
Usually a massive meal – in our house it was based around turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, some kind of vegetable. Rolls or banana bread. Every year the “fixins” changed somewhat.
The most important part: many pies. The dinner was basically a stop on the way to pumpkin…apple…cherry pies.
And my personal favorite…playing cards while eating dessert: aka pie.
Dinner was also all about the conversation and stories we shared. So much time and opportunity for prolonged discussion when you are passing endless bowls of food around. Pouring wine. Pouring water. Carving more turkey. I just never knew what subjects would come up; but many became classics.
In 1990, my husband and I hosted our first Thanksgiving.
I had never cooked a whole turkey before. An overwhelming task. I had heard horror stories about overcooked turkeys and dried out white meat. That would never happen to me…I’ll cover it!That should do it.
My parents and my in-laws were coming – to join me, my husband and our 2 kids.
I dusted off the big blue covered roaster pan my mother had passed down to me. Coated the fresh turkey with spices and some oil. Tied the legs together.
I put the cover on. It went into the oven. I set the timer. And let it cook. And cook. Many hours later – when, according to the recipe it would be done, I removed it from the oven. Look it’s ready! With great fanfare, I lifted the lid…Oh No!
It looked like a turkey snow angel! All the turkey meat had slid off the bones. We had turkey stew! There was nothing to carve. Legs askew. Wings fallen off. My mother was horrified. I laughed. And laughed.
It still tasted great…and…the white meat was NOT dry!
♥ ♣ ♠ ♦
The following year:
Twelve family members gathered at the dining room table to enjoy our Thanksgiving feast – including my parents, my husband’s parents, my grandmother, my sister and her family.
Upon noticing someone struggling to remove the meat from a turkey leg, my father-in-law shared a memory…a story that has become part of family lore.
He began describing his job at the First National grocery store in the 1930’s. When he helped get the turkeys ready to be sold for Thanksgiving. The turkey carcasses were brought to the store and his job was to pull the tendons out of the legs. Apparently, this made the turkey legs easier to eat. He went into graphic detail. Right in front of everyone. Who put their forks down and stared at him…as he explained this was probably not done anymore. Those pesky tendons still attached.
GROSS! we protested.
Shocked faces…especially those with turkey legs eaten or half eaten on their plates. There may have been some gagging. My big city brother-in-law’s face turned white. He got up and left the room…
My children’s paternal grandparents were always willing to play with their grandchildren – no matter what the game was. It could be as simple as reading a book, playing cards or tossing a ball. Even planting seeds in their huge backyard garden.
One Christmas – 1994 – they even joined in, sunglasses and all, when their grandson tried out his new “saxophone.”
Even when I was a little kid. Despite the fact that I got carsick, I enjoyed the excitement of discovering the unknown. Even if it just meant the next “tourist trap” as my father described Country Stores and such. We didn’t go on many family vacations but they were always memorable for one reason or the other. One was the coin operated vibrating bed in a cheap motel room somewhere. I shoved a coin in the slot, pushed the button and surprise!
Fast forward a few decades. Air travel was exciting then. There was security of course, but we could bring any food and drinks right through all the checkpoints. Family members accompanied us to the departure gate and waved goodbye. Even 20 years ago, a cross country flight was not the hassle it is now. I didn’t think twice about the process. And I could run without gasping for breath to the gate for my connecting flight.
Now it is stressful – at least for me. My adult children are faintly annoyed by this (well, perhaps more like eye-rolling annoyed). They don’t understand…because they have mostly known air travel post 9/11. I remember when it was easy. They do not.
So here I am. High anxiety 2 days out. Making lists. Everywhere.
Getting ready to fly to see my grandson – all 2 ½ years of him. And his parents too, of course — who need some childcare help while the daycare is closed for a few days. Grandma to the rescue. So to speak rescue. Well, Grandma is trying her best to get her travel act together. For a 4 day visit. Let’s see….
Make a list –
What will fit in the carry-on….that I can lift and drag/wheel through the airport including the ladies room. Along with my tote bag, purse, computer, etc.
What do I need…what don’t I need….
Back cushion!! Don’t forget that.
Special goodies for the kiddo.
What about the weather! High anxiety 2 days out.
I wonder if this is a sign of advancing age…the inescapable fact that my body is just not responding to my commands as it used to. Sitting. Standing. Stairs. All harder. Trying to find safe foods to eat on the road…gluten free because I have to.
What the heck.
However what I do know for sure (thank you, Oprah) is that I miss the sight of this little one who I last saw in person…walking down my hall in June. It’s the ache in my heart that won’t calm on its own.
So, until his little family moves closer – about 500 miles closer – I will quench my thirst for this bundle of love and limitless energy.
By powering through this travel thing.
To see him. And his parents too.
FaceTime is all very well and good,
But nothing beats a real hug and sloppy 2 year old kiss.
I would hear their voices…while they walked up the driveway. Waiting by the side door, I watched through the glass. Little witches, clowns, princesses, ghosts, pumpkins, monsters, ballerinas….about to ring the doorbell.
They remembered my house.
And they were excited about pencils.
It was October 30th. The night before Halloween.
Trick or treat night where we lived for 37 years.
I wasn’t always the pencil lady. I handed out fun size Snickers and M&M’s like everybody else that first Halloween in our new neighborhood. It was 1980. But my conscience won out a few years later.
I worked as a dietitian at the local hospital. Cautioning my patients to avoid sweets and eat a balanced diet. Somehow giving out those exact items to young children seemed…well hypocritical. And I was young and very idealistic at the time.
Hence the pencils…
…which I ordered from a catalogue. A box of 12 dozen Halloween Pencils.
In 1985 I started using the lid to record how many we gave out every year. Including how many went to school Halloween parties. I didn’t know it at the time, but 2015 would be my final year as the Pencil Lady. I had already refilled the box before we moved.
As Halloweens went by, I discovered that decorative pencils were not popular with every trick or treater. Especially the older ones. For example:
A group of large size, teenage-looking ghastly creatures came by one year. Fake blood. A few in their football uniforms. Rubber monster masks. Practiced nonchalance. All holding out pillowcases filling up with candy.
“Happy Halloween!!” I greeted them.
“Trick or Treat” they monotoned.
I held out the pencils, ready to drop one in each pillowcase.
One creature looked at me with alarm: “Pencils?”
“Yes! Pencils! They are great for school. You don’t have to take one if you don’t want to!”
The next morning I looked for and usually found a few broken pencils in the front yard.
When I was growing up, our dentist lived at the end of our street. As I trudged to his house dressed in my hippie/flower girl/hobo costume, I knew I could count on Trident sugarless gum. Which was fine with me. Another neighbor handed out homemade popcorn balls. Another one gave us apples. My favorite: Mounds bars and peanut M&M’s. The trading back at the house with my brother and sister was intense. Almost as fierce as swapping houses and hotels in Monopoly. My brother often had an unfair advantage as he would trick or treat twice – changing costumes in between. I personally wished I’d thought of it first, although he only got away with it once. That I know of.
When my children reached trick or treat age, we celebrated with costumes and pumpkin carving. Candy trading. Traditions evolved.
Chili became Trick or Treat night supper since it was a fast one pot meal. My son and daughter trick or treated together in our family friendly neighborhood until she left for college. Either my husband or I usually tagged along. Not because they needed us, but because it was fun.
After they were both grown and out on their own, it was trick or treat from my viewpoint as the Pencil Lady. Those little faces so bright and expectant. Carefully climbing the 3 stairs to our side door; the light left on to welcome them.
From 5 – 8 pm every Oct. 30th, the doorbell rang and rang.
Costumes of all shapes and sizes – from lions and tigers to Sesame Street and Disney movie characters to robots made out of cardboard boxes – they were so proud.
The littlest ones trying their best to say Trick or Treat.
And, as they turned to leave, say Thank You.
I wonder if they miss the Pencil Lady.
She misses them.
Trick or Treat does not happen here in our over-55 condo community.
Although I suppose I could still hand out pencils in the lobby.