Thanksgiving Memories

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Dear friends,

If I had to choose one holiday as my favorite, it would be Thanksgiving.

On the face of it, everyone could use a reminder to be thankful for family, friends, possessions, health, the beauty of nature, and so on. I also appreciate the spiritual underpinnings of the holiday, as we who are particularly blessed tend to forget where it all comes from.

My warmest memories center around a large family meal which included foods we didn’t have very often such as turkey, sage dressing, black olives, and REAL mashed potatoes. What about the cranberries? I was never a fan; probably because my mother used to buy a can of gelatinous sauce and slice it like a loaf of bread. I think she was the only one who ever ate any of, yet it appeared every year like clockwork.

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The ubiquitous pumpkin pie also made an appearance, along with apple and cherry, but I always went for the OTHER pie mom used to make only twice a year. It was called Ritz Cracker Torte, from a recipe she found somewhere years before I was born (yes, I still have it). This dietitian’s despair was made of sugar, egg whites, Ritz Cracker crumbs, and chopped walnuts, among other things. Bake, refrigerate, top with real whipping cream, and Voila! Heart attack on a plate. I loved it back then, but can’t eat foods like that any longer. My blood sugar goes up just thinking about it!

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Growing up in a large family, we gathered around an enormous dining room table for the meal, with a couple card tables for the little kids on the side. The whole thing was messy, noisy, and required a group effort to pull it off. When the kitchen was clean and leftovers divided, we would break up into smaller groups for games – usually charades, telephone, twister, or the dictionary game. Sometimes, we even did skits or songs. It was a lot of fun! As older siblings married and had kids, Mom and Dad could be found spoiling the babies, or watching sports on TV with my brother’s-in-law.

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Nowadays, I live too far from my siblings to join them for any holidays, and I miss this one the most. One of my sisters still hosts a family gathering at her house on the weekend before. Good food, laughter, games – it’s all there (except for the cranberry sauce). On a sad note, my mother passed away on Thanksgiving Day back in 2000. It doesn’t normally bother me, but I miss her just a bit more this time of year.

Whatever you have going on this Thanksgiving, take a moment to reflect on your blessings, share with others in need, and tell the special people in your life how much you love them.

Holiday Hugs,

Alex

 

Weekly Roundup 11-21-18 Thanksgiving – More Than a Holiday

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God”.

Growing up, I loved Thanksgiving because it meant a big family dinner and time off school. I didn’t care why it existed or when it started or what it might mean for me personally. Introspection and history were for grown ups, and I couldn’t have cared less.

I’m happy to report my attitude of gratitude has changed over the years, but Thanksgiving provides a crucial reminder to get me back on track. Many have forgotten or ignore the spiritual side of the holiday, which is more than regrettable considering how blessed we are as a people in this country. God has been so very good to me, and I am eternally grateful for His love and provision.

I must confess, however, it’s entirely too easy for me to focus on the negative and gripe about what I don’t have. If you’re like me, then I challenge you spend some time tomorrow making a list of blessings and place it where it can be seen every day. As more things come to mind, add to your list and review it when your attitude starts to sour. While we often can’t change our circumstances, we DO have the power to change our attitude, and a thankful heart will go a long way to lifting your spirits and encouraging friends and loved ones.

My best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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I’ve made some progress on Expectant Moon this week and am more than halfway through chapter 11! Have you ever planned a memorial service for shifters? Well, neither had I! This was another difficult and emotional portion of the manuscript, and I found my self choked up and crying as I wrote. Good thing the tissues were close at hand! Hopefully I managed to create something unique to the wolf shifter community, yet still recognizable to my human readers.

This event marks the end of the dramatic attack sequence and leads into the final wrap-up portion of the story. I still have a bad guy to deal with and a number of dangling threads to tie off, but the end of the book is now in sight. With the holiday tomorrow, I have a long weekend ahead and plan to spend most of it writing. No promises, but if all goes well, I may actually get the book finished before the end of the year after all!

Reader Roundup 7-4-18

Reader Roundup is a weekly update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

“The Fourth of July – also known as Independence Day or July 4th – has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.” See the full article HERE.

Looking back, July 4th was always a fun family day. I don’t recall my parents teaching us anything about the Holiday itself or why we celebrated it, and as a child I’m almost certain it would have gone over my head. I was more interested in the evening cookout, homemade ice cream, watermelon, and fireworks.

I may be mistaken, but I seem to recall July 4th was one of the few times we used the grill. Perhaps it was because meat was expensive and feeding our large family wasn’t easy. Pasta goes a lot farther on a budget than beef! Dad would cook hot dogs and hamburgers while Mom served potato salad, baked beans and other picnic type foods such as chips and pop.

Making the ice cream came before the the grill was fired up, and I was probably in my teens before the old hand cranked device gave up the ghost. It always took at least two of us to get the job done – one to crank the handle and the other to sit on the top (cushioned with a folded rug) to keep the blue wooden bucket from tipping over. It was the only time of the year we got to enjoy homemade ice cream, and couldn’t wait for dinner to end so we could have some. Hello brain freeze!

Sometime after supper the ice cold watermelons were brought out and sliced, which inevitably ended up in a seed-spitting war. Uncouth? Sure! We had a blast anyway! (If you’ve never done it, the trick is to nail the other person in the face with the seed, minus the spit. Sometimes you got both…)

Before the sun set, Dad would dole out the snakes, smoke bombs and parachutes, since none of these were any fun in the dark. It kept us busy for a while while Dad set up the bigger fireworks display. They were illegal where we lived, so he would drive to a neighboring state to buy them. His job was to light them while we kept an eye out for the cops! Bottle rockets, roman candles, fountains, pinwheels, firecrackers – he always bought a variety of cool stuff for our private show.

After the main event, he handed out the sparklers and we enjoyed trying to write our names in the air with them (you have to move really fast!). I recall some years we also created floating lanterns made out of newspaper and straight pins. We had a lot of fun every year, and I’m amazed no one ever got hurt! I don’t usually bother with going to fireworks displays any more. I don’t like the heat, noise, or crowds, and the magic of it all is long gone. Oh well.

I hope you and yours take a moment to remember what we are celebrating and have a safe, enjoyable Holiday.

Other things going on this week:

  1. Making some good progress on Traitor’s Moon. Still in chapter three and hope to finish it up by next week. I’m at an exciting part of the story with a lot of action, and writing it requires careful thought and precision. Nolan finally meets his mate, and they’re both in for a surprise!
  2. Been working on adding an email sign-up to my website. I chose MailPoet and am wading my way through the settings and trying to figure it all out. I’m not a tech person, so this kind of thing gives me hives. I would vastly prefer to let someone else do the set-up while I get more writing done.
  3. Started reading a dragon book this week, but had to quit. It wasn’t billed as a YA title, but it certainly wasn’t geared for adults! Too simple, too cute, too illogical for me to enjoy. That’s OK – there are enough books out there to satisfy every taste imaginable, and I’m not arrogant enough to assume everyone will enjoy my work simply because I wrote it.
  4. I don’t know about you, but the heat here has been awful, and I tip my hat to the fine gentlemen who invented air conditioning! In 1902, the first modern electrical air conditioning unit was invented by Willis Carrier in Buffalo, New York. In 1945, Robert Sherman of Lynn, MA invented a portable, in-window air conditioner. The first mass-market system for automobiles appeared in the Nash Ambassador in 1954. Without these fine inventions I would melt into a puddle of goo like the Wicked Witch. Not pretty folks!

 

For Father’s Day

I was digging around in my mementos box and found a father’s day “card” I gave my Dad years ago. It was drawn/written in pencil on a piece of notebook paper. It’s obvious I cannot drawn to save my life, but my mother must have thought it was worth keeping. My Dad passed away in 2016, and though we weren’t particularly close, it’s sad not to have him in our lives any more.

Instead, I sent my oldest son (a father of two, plus one on the way) a Father’s Day card and we spoke on the phone. Here’s to all the great dads out there!

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Since I missed Mother’s Day, I wanted to include this poem I wrote for my mom when I was 11 years old. She would always read the stuff I handed her, and would often cry – probably because it was so awful! I’m still glad she kept some of these things. My mother is also gone – passed away back in 2000. I miss her!

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