Jolly Old St. Nicholas

We’re getting used to life as a family of 4 now that Big Brother has been living on campus for 4 months. Not that we don’t miss him, but we’re just getting used to the different routine.

And then something comes along and smacks you in the head. For me, this week, it was St. Nicholas.

I always get the kids a treat for St. Nicholas Day, and put it in their shoe near their bedroom doors. (Parents get a treat as well. Rumor has it that my treat this year will be a Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt bar. Yum. But I digress.) So when I was in the grocery store the other day, I remembered that I needed to get busy shopping for those little treats.

Then I remembered that one of my kids is not going to be here with his shoe outside his door. It’s almost worse than not having him here for family dinner or Sunday Mass.

Dorm security being what it is in his urban university, it’s not like I can sneak into the third-floor hallway and leave him some treats outside his room. Instead, I had to depend on the US Postal Service. So the other day I filled up one of those Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes with all kinds of yummy things–enough for him and his roommate and some friends to share–and sent it along, with a big note marked on there that said “Do not open until December 6.”

It’s not the same, but it will have to do.

I Love Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, and the fall-leaves-turning-color, are the two reasons that fall is my favorite season (It’s certainly NOT because the weather turns colder, that’s for sure!)

The other night I was on the phone with TheDad’s cousin, whom the kids call “Aunt S,” who wanted to invite us all to her home for next Thanksgiving. We both agreed that we love to cook Thanksgiving dinner, and that the holiday is a favorite of ours. And she explained why she feels this way: “You don’t have to worry about any gifts, or any decorations, or anything like that. It’s just about family and the people you love, and getting together. You can be thankful for each other and just enjoy the day and a nice meal together.”

Aunt S has it right. So even though I hate to give up my every-other-year chance to indulge in my time of Food Nostalgia, we will enjoy Thanksgiving with her and Uncle D next year.

There’s got to be some other time that I can cook a turkey and make all the special dishes that I need to put along with it. Maybe in February, when things get slow….

An Early-Morning Thanksgiving Tradition

My sister cooks Thanksgiving dinner at her home every year. My family attends every other year, and in the off years we spend the holiday with TheDad’s side of the family. Usually I cook, and they all come here–though there have been exceptions, like the time Pop was in the hospital. That year I cooked it all and brought it to my brother-in-law’s house and finished making the dinner there, since they lived closer to the hospital, and the adults visited Pop in shifts throughout the day.

When you cook Thanksgiving dinner you have to get up early. There are a lot of details to take care of, and a big turkey does take a while to stuff and cook. So my sister and I have developed our own little tradition. Whether it’s our year to visit her home, or the “bye year” as she calls it, we spend part of the early hours of the morning on the phone. Even if we’re at her house, she’s got so many guests and is so busy that we don’t get to talk much. So we enjoy our Thanksgiving phone call.

I’ve got nothing to cook this year but I’m up early anyway. The coffee is brewing, and I just got an email from my sister telling me that she’s awake, and that those participating in the annual Great Pheasant Hunt will be leaving at 5:45, so I’m welcome to call anytime after that.

It may be a while before I get to cook Thanksgiving dinner again, as TheDad’s cousin has just extended us a standing invitation for the “bye years.” I’ll have to find another time to do a turkey dinner, I guess.

But the early-morning phone call will stand as our tradition.