Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Hustle And Bustle

Thank God it’s Monday, once again; and, as such, happy Monday to one and all! I personally look forward to every Monday, as they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!



We are now in the thick of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, with only one more week until Christmas Day and only two more weeks until New Year’s Day, 2024! Are you ready for it? That’s a question I’ve heard all month: “Are you ready for Christmas?”

Much like many previous years, with only one week until Christmas, I’m still not ready yet – and I doubt that I ever will be – but I am much closer to it than I was two or three weeks ago, even if I don’t get to all of my usual holiday prep work.

Some years, I’m so busy working, I just don’t have time for all of my traditional holiday crafting, decorating, baking, fudge-making, card-sending, or even shopping. All of the hustle and bustle frustrations that many people feel around this time is partly why this Thursday celebrates National Humbug Day, with a humbug hustle.


This is usually a very stressful time of year for many people, already; having unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, and excessive commitments – just to name a few reasons. Some people wallow in the stress and anxiety, adopting a Scrooge-like, bah-humbug attitude. Others simply make the best of what they have.

Saturday, on the eve of Christmas Eve, National Festivus is observed. It’s basically an alternative outlet, where “Scrooges” can freely air their “humbug” grievances about the pressures they feel from the commercialism of the season!

Originally, Festivus was fashioned as a traditional outlet for one family’s pent-up frustrations over the annual chaos of the holiday season. First, there was an “Airing of Grievances”, prior to the Festivus dinner; after which was the “Feats of Strength”, where the head of the household was “pinned” by a family member, like in wrestling.

The idea of “Festivus for the rest of us” was fused into an episode of Seinfeld by one of the show’s writers, who was the son of the “inventor” of Festivus (as described above). And one family’s tradition became a national sensation! Nowadays, you’d say: “It went viral.”

Three major sources, common to creating holiday stress and the “humbug” attitude, are lack of time, financial pressures, and family gatherings. There’s often an unrealistic expectation of coming together as a “happy” family, like the Brady Bunch, on this one particular day of the year.

The family Thanksgiving feast is usually considered the warm-up or practice run for the family Christmas gathering. If your relatives tend to fight throughout the year, unfortunately, they will most likely continue fighting throughout the holidays, as well.


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 25-28)


WHEN I WROTE THAT very first poem that the Detroit News published when I was in the fourth or fifth grade at the US Grant School in Royal Oak, I was headed toward this livelihood and didn’t even know it.

When I wrote “The Young Pioneer” that same year with the girls who lived on the block, after we saw the movie about the life of the Brontë sisters, I was being directed towards this livelihood… Each was a little step in the right direction, in the direction toward which our entire family would come, and gratefully so.

The beginning of my interest in writing seriously began with the poem – a class assignment – and no one could’ve been more surprised than me to find it published in the newspaper… I remember that it was [after] the war ended… World War II.

Every Saturday, the kids on the block would walk up town to the main theater where, for 11-cents, we could see a double feature, cartoons and a cliffhanger serial.

The movie that made the biggest impression on me and really started my emotional batteries to move me into writing, was the story of the Brontë sisters [Devotion (Warner Bros. Pictures, 1946)] – Anne, Charlotte and Emily Jane. [Charlotte] wrote ‘Jane Eyre’ and [Emily] wrote the classic novel, ‘Wuthering Heights’.

They wrote without the benefit of a typewriter, which made an impression on me, then. So, on the way home from the movie, I coaxed my friends into stopping with me at the dime store so I could buy a pack of notebook paper and a pair of long, heavy shoelaces.

I was going to fashion these into a manuscript like the Brontë sisters used in the movie. Ordinarily, we would’ve gone to the Royal Oak Sweet Shop on Main Street near Fourth for a soda or some Divinity or fudge to nibble on, but I was saving my quarter for writing paper.

It is good, sometimes, in looking back at how far we have come from the first steps that were to lead us into a bright direction… In our office, I have a file drawer that is full of newspaper clippings that have been written about us and our recipes. These go back to 1974…

Before I ever wrote [my first] ‘Secret Recipes Book’ [in 1976], I [had] assembled a small volume of American dishes to celebrate the bicentennial. Several copies of that little book, ‘The American Cookery Cookbook’, were purchased by the Henry Ford Museum at Greenfield Village in Dearborn [Michigan].

A curious young reporter, who was going through the Museum’s collection of new books, came across mine. He tried to purchase a copy, he later told me, by contacting every bookstore in the area. No one had even heard of me. I was not even listed in the ‘books in print’ directory.

So he returned to the museum and copy down the address from the cover of my book, looked us up in the phone directory and gave us a call. Once Dan Martin of Newsday Wire Service Features saw what the production of our monthly newsletter was like, he lost interest in that little bicentennial cookbook.

When he knocked on the door, that day, it was like inviting him into a Jean Kerr production of ‘Please Don’t Eat the Daisies’. There were a dozen baskets of ironing here and there in the large dining room, each [one] tagged with the name, phone number and date promise to the customer who left [it] with me to be ironed.

Two long tables under the windows were covered with freshly mimeographed 4” x 6” cards of recipes, spread out for the ink to dry. Several times a week, I printed up to 200 recipes and about 50 copies of each. At that time, we sold these through our newsletter for five-for-a-dollar or $.25 apiece. We did very well with them too!

In the living room, Debbie’s friends had gathered with their drivers’ training manuals to quiz each other for the big day coming up when those six teenagers would be taking their driving tests. In the kitchen, Cheryl and Lorie were working on Girl Scout badge projects with some of their friends. It was a madhouse!

Mr. Piperzack was shuffling in and out of the side porch door, trying to unplug the bathroom pipes and clean out the septic tank for us. In the back room, where the prehistoric furnace was located that heated our 80-year-old house.

A man from the gas company was arguing with a man from the Edison company about what was wrong with our furnace and why it wouldn’t work. They finally asked me if my husband owned a screwdriver. I told them, ‘of course!’ They looked at each other and then looked at me, then one of them said, ‘hide it!’

Our oldest son, Bill, was hunting through the kitchen drawers for some tools at that moment, so that he could get under the hood of his mustang out in the driveway and then let Mr. Piperzack pull his truck into the yard.

Mike, our next oldest, was on the phone trying to convince a girl that the things she had heard about him weren’t true and if he could get his dad’s car on Saturday, would she go to the movies with them.

The cat was having a litter of kittens under the sewing table and our police dog, Susie, was about to have a litter of pups and was moping about, looking for comfort. I now wonder how any serious writer could have found inspiration in that kind of environment.

I almost wish we had given the impression that we were like the Brady Bunch so that the article the reporter was going to write, would have reflected better on our being normal and average; but frankly, I think I like the Brady Bunch because we could all learn so much from their faultless fantasies about family life.

Additionally, here’s a special parody poem (pictured below) that really captures the seasonal humbug attitude. Mom originally wrote it more than 47 years ago. In it, she compares us to the Brady Bunch. She shared it in her self-published cookbook, The Second Helping of Secret Recipes (Nat’l Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977, p. 26).

THE CHRISTMAS FEELING is basically a simple hope for peace and goodwill, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years, since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, goodwill towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cheerish what is good… – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov.-Dec. 1990, Issue No. 147; p. 8)


Inspired by some of Mom’s stories and cartoons, I wrote the poem parody (pictured above) about our family, from The Brady Bunch theme song: That’s the Way we all Became the Brady Bunch, by songwriters, Frank DeVol and Sherwood Schwartz (© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC).


In honor of tomorrow, being National Oatmeal Muffin Day, here is Mom’s secret recipe for “Oatmeal Muffins”; as seen in her first self-published cookbook, The Better Cooker’s Cookbook (Happy Newspaper Features, Algonac, MI; 1973, p. 12).



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


December observes, among other things… National Pear Month, National Write A Business Plan Month, Operation Santa Paws (which runs the 1st-24th), Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month, Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, National Human Rights Month, and Universal Human Rights Month!

This week also observes… Saturnalia Week [also known as the “Feast of the Nativity”, which originated as an ancient, mid-winter, Roman pagan festival, honoring Saturn (the god of agriculture) and celebrating the promise of a spring harvest. It’s always observed on the 17th through the 23rd.] Plus, Gluten-free Baking Week is always on the 18th-24th.

Today is… National Twin Day and National Roast Suckling Pig Day!

Tomorrow is also… National Hard Candy Day!

Wednesday, December 20th, is… National Sangria Day!

December 21st is… National Crossword Puzzle Day, National Maine Day, National French Fried Shrimp Day, Winter Solstice (which is usually on the 21st but changes occasionally, between December 20th and 23rd) and Yule (which is always on the day of the Winter Solstice)! Plus, as the Thursday before Christmas [for 2023], it’s also… National Re-Gifting Day!

Friday, December 22nd, is… National Date Nut Bread Day and National Forefathers Day (which is always on the 22nd, unless it falls on a Sunday, then it’s observed on the following Monday)!

Saturday, December 23rd, is… National Pfeffernusse Day and National Roots Day!

Sunday, December 24th, is… National Eggnog Day and, of course, Christmas Eve!

[NOTE: Dec. 24, 1976, is also the anniversary of Mom’s at-home-interview with Jack McCarthy of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7, Metro Detroit.]


…51 down and only 1 more to go!

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