Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away! This is considered to be a “special” time of year, for giving thanks for all we have. Many people do that EVERY day but there’s even more of an emphasis put on it now, through New Year’s Eve, which is now less than seven weeks away!
I’m grateful for all of our “homemade holidays”, while I was growing up. Money was usually tight for our family of seven (nine, if you count the dog and cat!) Therefore, a lot of what we enjoyed during the holidays – be it costumes, toys, cards, food, gifts, decorations, clothes, etc. – was usually homemade, by Mom, with a lot of love.
That meant so much to me, so I often tried to make my own children’s holidays “homemade, with love”, too. Like Mom, it was partly necessary, to ease the household budget; but I also wanted to create special memories for their future, as Mom did for our family.
These days, through the internet, you can find instructions and videos for making just about anything and everything simply by typing a few key words into a search box. The knowledge of the world is, literally, at our finger tips! You don’t even have to be a super crafty person – some things are really so simple!
You really don’t need to be crafty to create anything homemade – from food to gifts to decorations and so much more. Barely more than a few decades ago, home computers were not a common thing – we didn’t have the endless ideas and concepts that are inundating the internet, like we have now.
My favorite inexpensive, homemade gifts and decorating ideas often use something as simple as canning jars! Any size or style you choose, these jars are so versatile – and reusable too! They can be filled with dry mix ingredients and a recipe card for making/baking the product.
They can also be filled with natural elements (like pine sprigs, cinnamon, etc.) for decorative potpourri to simmer in a pot of water on the stove. Likewise, they can be filled with homemade candles, soaps, or salves – there are so many “how to” sites on the web, from which to gather many inspirations and instructions.
Pinterest is one of my favorite search engines for homemade ideas that I can’t find in my Mom’s books, first. My own personal page at Pinterest, which I started many years ago, has a large eclectic collection of boards, as my interests are quite diverse.
The official Pinterest page of The Recipe DetectiveTM is another tribute I made for Mom, regarding her interests and talents. Keep in mind that I haven’t added much lately. I’m still building up boards for Mom’s page – so it’s a continuous work in progress, as is this website, too.
Everything Mom made was done so with love. I remember, when I was very young, Mom made my sisters and I a lot of “furniture” for our Barbie dolls’ “homes”, as well as their clothes and linens. She often made our own clothes and blankets, as well. Her attention to details in everything she created showed how much thought and love she put into her homemade endowments.
As I wrote in a blog post last month, Mom even used a crafty, homemade format in the designs of her newsletters and cookbooks. Much of her crafting talents were influenced, in part, by her favorite crafter, Carol Duvall; who had her own “Craft Letter” (as she called it), in the 1970s, to which Mom subscribed. Carol, likewise, subscribed to Mom’s newsletter and, when she retired her own “Craft Letter”, she recommended Mom’s newsletter to her subscribers.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book
(Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, pp. 4-5)
BREAKING THROUGH THE BARRIERS of tradition, we find a spirited acceptance of new family values. Occasions have replaced celebrations. Getting together has been replaced by BEING together! Good food, comfortable conversation [and] warm hospitality have become more important to the family circle than reverence without reason, tolerance without tact, relatives without relationships!
The lovely part about Christmas for us, was always being together – with our friends, our good and dear neighbors and our relatives; in a series of activities that began with Thanksgiving and tapered off around the new year. It was hectic, but it was also many happy reunions, mixed well with spontaneous visitations that, had they been a part of the ordinary activities of the rest of the year, would not mean so much now!
The food was simple, but ample. The food, I feel, should never be more important than the guests for whom it is prepared…All of these preparations are a part of Christmas – but not the important part. The tokens only represent the real meaning – that of loving, of letting go of old grudges, of forgetting past hurts, of looking for something good (even though you don’t see it – until you do!)
Love, most philosophers conclude, is the highest level of thought. It is the logic of the heart. And no other season of the calendar year seems to reflect more of this feeling, this consolation to our woes, than the season of Christmas!
We reach out to others – and want them, in turn, to respond to us. Some of us do it with gifts that we buy or make and some of us do it with social gestures of food and hospitality. While all of these traditions are renewed at this particular time of the year, the critics complain and the cynics look for reasons to begrudge us the pleasure of loving the season, renewing the fellowship of it – with family, friends and neighbors.
But that’s not unusual and we shouldn’t be surprised by the criticisms that try to take some of the joy out of the holiday traditions we follow – or create for ourselves. There are always critics, unfortunately, for those occasions in our lives when we wish to be glad about something…
So, on with the celebration – whether we choose to keep it quietly in our own personal fashion of religious customs, or whether we choose to make it festive and pronounced with the traditions of gifts and food. The point is, we are celebrating the season of hope… It’s a time for loving – for expressing it [and] for offering it to others! How can something like that not be good!
Our own traditions have not been very elaborate in our family, during the Christmas season; but, the things we have always done to make the holiday more enjoyable, brought us pleasure. So, we have continued with them. Whether you choose to follow traditions or to create some of your own, the underlying meaning is still there to express joy and LOVE – that incredible, curious logic of the heart!
‘The divine principle of good cooking is not a secret! It is taking pleasure in the activity; in the information previously retained and called upon through the facilities of memory. The spirit of good cooking is individualistic. It is not shrouded in mystery – but in love, for what you are doing and for whom you are doing it!’ – Gloria Pitzer, ‘Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter’ (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep-Oct 1987, 128th Issue, p. 1).
Even when it wasn’t the holidays, our family-meal-times were especially fun when we were taste-testing some of Mom’s famous, homemade. make-alike dishes; such as KFC-style chicken, Arthur Treacher’s-style fish and chips, Win Schuler’s-style meatballs, Woolworth’s-style macaroni and cheese – you name it!
The “duds”, as we fondly referred to those samplings that weren’t quite right enough to make it into Mom’s newsletters or cookbooks, were still made with just as much love as the final products that did…and they all tasted wonderfully delicious!
From Mom making our family budget stretch by developing homemade imitations of what could be purchased to sharing those ideas with others came the “legend” that the public came to know as The Recipe DetectiveTM! Mom loved to imitate famous foods from famous places so we could all enjoy eating out – right at home – and at less of a cost!
Homemade fast foods and junk foods – who would’ve thought it would become so popular when all the critics warned against consuming such things, for all kinds of health reasons from heart disease to diabetes. But Mom found that making homemade imitations puts the cook in charge of the ingredients, thereby, taking the junk out of junk food!
I really LOVE the old-fashioned (and priceless) homemade holidays of my childhood. When my own children were growing up and money was tight for our family, we always had homemade holidays, as well. I still have (and treasure) all the artwork and ceramic/clay creations that my kids made for me every holiday, when they were young.
Likewise, I remember Mom’s homemade gifts, from my own childhood, more often than any of the store-bought ones. My all-time favorite was a “rag” doll she made for me from scraps of material, yarn, ribbons and buttons. Oh, how I wish I still had it! Now, in hind-sight, I realize just how much love Mom poured into all of our homemade holidays.
Of course, nowadays, with the internet (and enough money), we can order just about anything we want, from just about anywhere in the world, and have it all delivered to our doorsteps. But sometimes, to me, making and receiving something homemade, with love, is priceless!
Since tomorrow is National Fast Food Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Wednesday’s Hot & Juicy Hamburgers; as seen in her last book… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 17). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
Some November month-long observances include… Banana Pudding Lovers Month, Diabetic Eye Disease Month, Epilepsy Awareness Month, Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, Historic Bridge Awareness Month, National Diabetes Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Native American Heritage Month, National Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, National Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, Spinach and Squash Month, Sweet Potato Awareness Month (See also February), and National Vegan Month!
Additionally, starting yesterday, this week is also celebrating… National Book Award Week (which is the 14th-20th for 2021)!
Furthermore, today is also… National Bundt (Pan) Day, National Philanthropy Day, National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day, National Raisin Bran Cereal Day, and America Recycles Day!
Sunday, November 21st is… National Gingerbread Cookie Day and National Stuffing Day! Plus, as the beginning of the week of Thanksgiving, it’s also the start of National Bible Week, National Game & Puzzle Week, and Better Conversation Week!
…46 down and 6 to go!