On Barb’s Bookshelf: Best of All Gifts

I’m all about the Christmas novel (and novella). Follow me on Goodreads in the fall and winter and you’ll see that a big chunk of my fiction reading falls straight into the holiday-read category. There’s no shame in that; these are light reads, with sweet stories that pair perfectly with a white-chocolate mocha, fuzzy socks and a warm blanket.

Two Thanksgivings ago, I read Sheila Cronin’s The Gift Counselor, a perfect Christmastime read. In that story, we meet Jonquil, a young widowed mom who has carved out a unique job as a department-store gift counselor. She helps customers examine their motivation for the gifts they give, while advising them on good gift choices. Jonquil uses data gathered at work for her thesis so she can complete an advanced degree.

best of all gifts

Jonquil’s story continues in Best of All Gifts, which is just the right novel to enjoy now — at Thanksgiving time. Jonquil’s work nemesis is assigned to be her assistant, her new thesis advisor seems to have it in for her (and she’s inexplicably attracted to him), and the father who disappeared when she was eight years old resurfaces. And there’s more: Jonquil’s son has a very scary health crisis and she just isn’t sure that Claude, the contractor she began dating in the first book, really wants to marry her. And Thanksgiving is coming.

My favorite character from The Gift Counselor, Rita, doesn’t get very much face time in this story, but we do get to meet Jonquil’s grandmother, who is lovable and wise.

Grab a cup of tea and a slice of pumpkin pie and savor this well-told story. You’ll love Best of All Gifts.

Barb's Book shelf blog title


Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz
This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

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#WorthRevisit: What Do You Feed a Diabetic on Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving. It’s all about the food. And that worries people who have special dietary needs, as well as those who feed them.

Thanksgiving happens in November, which is Diabetes Awareness Month. Whether a person with diabetes has Type 1 (like my son) or Type 2, Thanksgiving food can present challenges.

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Courtesy of BeyondType1.org

Today I’m revisiting last year’s pre-Thanksgiving phone call from my sister–because what people with any special dietary need really need on Thanksgiving is a host who cares enough to check on things ahead of time.

On the day before Thanksgiving, two years ago, our then-11-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. We spent Thanksgiving in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, feasting on a “care package” turkey dinner delivered by friends.

Last year we had a small family dinner at home, though the turkey was super-size as always (leftover turkey is never a bad thing!) But this year, we’ll be driving over the river and through the woods and up the New Jersey Turnpike to feast with family at my sister’s house, where the hospitality is legendary and involves neverending food.

My son is thrilled to be back in the Thanksgiving-dinner-eating saddle, but last week I got that phone call from my sister: “What do you need for TheKid?”

Nothing special, really, other than access to package labels.

I’m very grateful that she took the time to ask. We’ve attended other parties where people don’t bother to do that, and then when we request a label, they’ve already thrown it out.

So what do we need for him? She’s already provided it, by showing she cares.

Type 1 Diabetics can eat Thanksgiving dinner–especially if they’re like TheKid and plan a meal packed with low-fat protein. He’s all about having as much turkey as he can manage. He’s not into green-bean casserole (though if there are plain green beans, he’ll eat those). Mashed potatoes? That’s a yes, and an easy one–he’ll just need to measure his portion. As he prefers his vegetables raw, he’ll munch on carrots, celery sticks and red bell peppers without too much glycemic impact.

My sister and I did conclude that it would be a good idea if I bring along a dessert this year–one TheKid likes to eat. This way we know what we’ll be dealing with for that portion of the meal. I have the feeling he’s going to ask me to make Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies. And if that’s the case, he can help me bake them.

The after-dinner walk with Grandpa and his cousins (along with the pre-dinner backyard football game) will help him balance out his Thanksgiving feast with healthy activity.

It will be a happy Thanksgiving indeed when we learn that there’s a cure for Type 1 Diabetes, or (even better) a way to prevent it. Until then, we will continue to be grateful for hostesses like my sister, who not only serves a delicious family meal, but takes the time to make sure TheKid’s health concerns are addressed.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

#WorthRevisit: My Favorite Nonfood Thanksgiving Tradition

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Thanksgiving is all about the food in so many ways. But really, it’s all about tradition.

I was one of many who responded to a tweet by @CatholicFoodie, in which an innovative pepper-stuffed turkey recipe was shared, with this: “Thanksgiving, for me, is about Nostalgia Food. New recipes will be saved for another day.”

Nostalgia Food and tradition. That’s Thanksgiving in a nutshell. And here’s a tradition my sister and I have. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day. From 2007:

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.

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

Monday Recap: November 23, 2015

Monday Recap-What I've been writing

At CatholicMom.com

gift counselorBook Notes: The Gift Counselor

I reviewed The Gift Counselor, a sweet Christmas romance novel that doesn’t need to stay on the shelf until Christmas. Read it now, and you may gain a new perspective on your own gift-giving.

At Cook and Count

GM breakfast rice (6) C TGood Morning Breakfast Rice

A 3-Part Series on Thanksgiving Dinner with Kids:

picky-eaters-thanksgiving

thanksgiving-turkey-cooked-by-joanna-2014

What do you Feed a Diabetic on Thanksgiving?

 

Small Success Thursday: Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving, and it’s definitely better than last year’s Thanksgiving that we spent in the hospital with Little Brother. I am infinitely thankful for that.

Small-Success-Thursday-400pxIt’s also Thursday, which means we celebrate our Small Successes at CatholicMom.com! So in the spirit of the day, here goes:

  1. Middle Sister wanted to help cook Thanksgiving dinner. So far she has peeled 5 pounds of potatoes, made the stuffing, washed and stuffed the turkey and put it in to roast. I directed traffic and stayed out of the way.
  2. I’ve bitten my tongue a lot. And I’m praying I’ll be able to keep that up. I’m not talking about Middle Sister’s cooking, either.
  3. The apple pie didn’t leak juice all over the oven this year.

And now I will continue to enjoy “Alice’s Restaurant” on the radio for the second time today, and while I wait for it to come around on the git-tar, I will read what’s up with the other Catholic Moms! Because thanks to my Kitchen Apprentice, I’ve got some down time!