Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Holiday Greetings

Happy Monday to all and to all #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#WHBY

This happy Monday is my regular monthly visit (on the last Monday of each month) with Kathy Keene on her “Good Neighbor” show at WHBY in Appleton, WI. We’ll be sharing our memories of Mom as the Recipe DetectiveTM and a few of her recipes, as well; giving me another reason to love Mondays! Please, tune in at 11:08 AM (Central)/12:08 PM (Eastern). In case you miss it, there will also be a podcast link on WHBY’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/ so you can listen to it later, at your leisure!

Today, I’d also like to say, “happy holidays” to everyone, no matter which holiday(s) you may celebrate! Personally, I don’t understand why some people get so upset by the greeting, “happy holidays”. There are other holidays that happen during this season, besides Christmas; and they all have their own “reason for the season” too!

There are those people who claim that saying “happy holidays” takes away from the “reason for the season”; as, to them, this season is only about Christmas and the birth of Christ. Yet, there are also many Christians, as well as non-Christians, that don’t celebrate Christmas at all.

For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that celebrations are pagan rituals and, thus, don’t celebrate any! Additionally, there are others, (both, Christians and non-Christians, alike) who celebrate Christmas, but not as a religious holiday. Instead, they focus on the tradition of Santa Claus (aka: St. Nicholas) and on “giving” from the heart.

I am in that group of people who practice the Santa Claus traditions and take “part in all the holiday fun without buying into the religious aspect of it”, as discussed in a very informative article, “Christian Groups that don’t Celebrate Christmas”, at TheOdysseyOnline.com.

Obviously, no one can tell, just by looking at someone, which holiday they celebrate – or if they celebrate any at all. Thus, saying a generic “happy holidays” greeting, seemingly, covers most of the bases, at least. Obviously, we can’t please all the people all the time. I just don’t understand why people have to be so narrow-minded and upset about the general holiday greeting.

As seen in an article, titled “How to Appreciate Diversity During the Holidays”, written by Simma Lieberman at TheBalanceCareers.com, “Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness is about using the holiday celebration time with friends and family to build understanding and awareness of the traditions and beliefs of others.”

We can’t pick the different types of people out of a crowd – with one exception! That is, if they wear something that is directly related to their particular beliefs, religion or way of life. For a couple of years, at least, I’ve seen pictures of shirts, hats and pins on the internet that say, “You can tell me ‘Merry Christmas!’” I guess, if it upsets you that much when someone greets you with “happy holidays”; then, maybe, you should invest in one of those items and wear it every day in December.

It seems (to me, at least) that the fall-winter holidays are coming and going so fast! It just seems to go by faster as each year passes. Thanksgiving has just passed us by and, before we know it, all within a few days of each other, it’ll be Advent, Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah or Chanukkah), Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve – and then, with New Year’s Day, a whole new (hopefully blessed) year will be upon us!

When I was a child, and even as an adult with my own family, there were always many kinds of holiday treats to make for gifts and gatherings. It was around this time of year that Mom would start her holiday baking & making frenzy, stock-piling and freezing dozens upon dozens of cookies, fudge and candy confections; plus, homemade cinnamon ornaments and jars of various spice mixes for gifts, as well as for entertaining. Making enjoyable food for people was always so rewarding to Mom. It is for me, as well.

One example of a holiday tradition that Mom did, and with which we got to help, was making a candy-covered gingerbread house. I always loved helping to decorate the gingerbread houses that Mom made every year, with all the different candies and frosting! My kids say they enjoyed that too, growing up.

Both of my parents were quite the tag team when it came to entertaining company – whether it was a planned, holiday event for family or an impromptu gathering of friends… Here is one of Mom’s holiday season stories of such a time…

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 277)

ENTERTAINING…

FOODS PREPARED FOR ENTERTAINING have always put me in a positive mood… Positive that, if the food is too good, everybody will keep wanting to come to our house and I’ll never be asked to theirs! On the other hand, if the food is not as good as it should be and I fall short of the best cook in our bunch, somebody will be in my kitchen; checking my stove for the training wheels they think it should have, considering the results of my cooking skills. So, food for entertaining must be fast, festive and flavorful…

When folks drop in… sometimes without notice… I like to be prepared. While there is absolutely nothing I can do to rid the lamp shades of the cobwebs that suddenly show up in the light, I can at least be glad something in the living room matches. With any luck if it is mentioned, I’ll exclaim promptly: ‘Oh, don’t touch that! That’s our daughter’s science project. We’re observing the mating habits of the harmless house spider!’

At this point, I can whisk everyone into the kitchen where, somehow, Coke splatters on the ceiling seem to go undetected if we turn [down] the overhead lights and put out some pretty candles. In 2 or 3 minutes, I can be spooning shredded cheddar cheese onto Triscuits, adding a slice of pepperoni and having it all under the broiler while Paul (on cue) delights them with another of his golfing jokes.

His old stand-by is the story of his 2 friends on the golf course, noting 2 women on the green ahead of them, playing very slowly. One of the men asked the other if they shouldn’t go up to the gals and ask if they minded if the men played through… Or chances were they’d never get off the course.

So, one of the men went running up to the ladies and got almost to the green when he darted quickly back. His friend asked what happened and why he hadn’t asked about playing through. ‘I can’t do that,’ the man said. ‘One is my wife and the other is my girlfriend!’ So, the other man offered to go up and ask. He got within a few yards of the ladies and he, also, darted back breathlessly, confessing to his friend… ‘Small world, isn’t it?’

By the time they stopped chuckling, the cheese snacks were ready, and the eggnog was out of the ‘icebox’ and into the punch cups, diluted with [Vernor’s] Ginger-Ale (soda) and, depending upon the folks we were entertaining, perhaps a shot of Grandpa’s favorite rum in each cupful! Two or three of these drinks and either Paul’s jokes got funnier – or we forgot how many times he told them…

Hanukkah – Christmas
Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Like Mom, another family, holiday tradition that I enjoy (which, both, my parents and grandparents inspired in me) is mailing out holiday greeting cards to our friends and family. I buy boxes of various cards and try to write personal, little notes on each of them.

For decades, though, Mom personally MADE our family’s holiday greeting “cards” – which were more like decorative “letters” of greetings and good wishes. Every year they were different and special, with news and highlights about our family’s past year’s events and hopes for the coming year. Often, Mom would put in a special recipe, too.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, p. 3)

HOLIDAY GREETINGS

SENDING CHRISTMAS CARDS has always been a favorite tradition in our house. In 28 years, we only sent store-bought cards twice. Every Christmas, other than that, we made our cards. That was the one important tradition we followed – and still do…

What usually happened was that we had every good intention of confining our list to those who really were important to us [and] who we rarely saw during the rest of the year… I like to put newsy little notes inside that would bring old friends up to date with what we had been doing since we sent them our last Christmas card.

…I am one of those annoying sentimentalists who will, too, read every word of the long, newsy Christmas letters and the page-by-page accounts of how our friends have been doing since the last Christmas.

I don’t know if fewer cards are being sent at Christmas since postage became so expensive – or if we simply don’t know that many people. The tradition, however, seems to be fading…

December, and all the holidays within it, was probably Mom’s favorite time of every year. ‘Tis the season of Faith, Hope and Love! ’Tis the season of sentimentalists, as well. Mom said, in the memory above, ‘I am one of those annoying sentimentalists’… I don’t find it annoying to be, or even to know, a sentimentalist. I think it’s a good thing to be affected and motivated by feelings of tenderness, sadness, happiness or nostalgia!

‘Every year at this time, we put our very best wishes together with some warm & worthy thoughts, and send them off to you, wrapped in sincere affection and the dearest hopes that this coming year gives you all you expect and derive from it.’ – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Quarterly, Winter 94/95.

#CyberMonday

Because of the Covid-19 restrictions, many more people have converted to shopping online this year. Thus, the exponential growth of the post-Thanksgiving, “Cyber Monday” extravaganza has taken on a whole new meaning for 2020; as virtual shopping has become more commonplace throughout this year than ever before!

As the last of the Thanksgiving left-overs disappear and we gear down for the final holiday shopping blast, I can only hope that everyone remembers those things for which they were giving thanks just a few days ago, as they gathered around their turkey-laden tables, with what family and/or friends they could. Please don’t let the annual commercialism of the up-coming holidays interfere with those heart-felt thoughts of gratefulness.

Remember that gratitude is the easiest gift that you can give someone – an appreciative nod and two simple words (“thank you”) can go farther than you think. It’s a gift that keeps giving! Like the ripples of water, spreading out from shore to shore, when a stone is tossed in – it can affect others with whom that person sees, as well.

In honor of #HolidayGreetings, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for #AngelWings; from her “Original 200” collection of recipes, but also seen in…  Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 280).

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

#WHBY

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#CelebrateEveryDay

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…48 down, 4 to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252