Christmas Treats and Holiday Eats

 We’ve attended quite a few Christmas parties this month.  One of the topics that seems to come up at each party is what everyone will have to eat on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Over and over I have heard people say, “Every year we have…” Whatever filled the blank was part of that family’s Christmas tradition and something that everyone looked forward to having.

In my own family, we always had an appetizer buffet all afternoon and evening on Christmas Eve.  We would put out a huge variety of both hot and cold foods and let everyone graze throughout the day as we watched Christmas movies, wrapped last minute gifts, and visited with family.  Of course, Christmas cookies were also part of the fun spread!

I still remember the excited voices of my children asking if we were going to have their favorites on the Christmas buffet each year. On Christmas Day, we would have the more traditional turkey or ham (or both) for dinner and always, always, banana pudding for dessert.

Now that our children are grown and live in other states, we don’t always get to see all of them at Christmas.  We’ve adopted a new Christmas Eve tradition in the past few years of going out to dinner with a group of friends.  Often, we go to a Japanese hibachi restaurant and are entertained as our dinner is made in front of us. This takes away a lot of the time and work of food preparation, and makes for a very enjoyable and relaxing evening. 

We will still have our traditional dinner on Christmas Day.  This year it will be turkey.  Some of the other yummy and interesting Christmas dinners I’ve heard people say they will have this year are: beef brisket, Cornish hens, lasagna, clam chowder, roasted chicken, crab legs, pork loin, and tamales. 

Figgy Pudding

Interestingly enough, I haven’t heard a single person mention having roast goose, figgy pudding, roasted chestnuts, mincemeat pie, or Dundee cake (Scottish fruitcake).  What will be on your Christmas table?

Inspiration for “Coffee without a Cup”

Many of you know that my first e-story, “Coffee Without A Cup” was published on Amazon Kindle on November 28th.  It isn’t a book, but rather is a 20-page story about love, loss, and healing.  The inspiration for the story was the death of my beloved grandfather, Selmer A. Barrett, 20 years ago. 

Several things in the story are true and the rest is complete fiction.  The grandfather’s last name and initials are the same as my own grandfather’s.  This was my way of honoring his memory and the important role he played in my life. I loved him very much and still do.

The other truths in the story are that we loved drinking coffee together, and he did indeed read his Bible every day.  He had actually read his Bible cover to cover many times. Finally, my grandfather loved to garden and he often shared the abundant produce from his gardens with others. One of my favorite pictures of him, was taken in his garden with his roto-tiller.

So often, I hear people say they want to write or that they have a story in their head that should be a book.  Here’s a cold, hard fact.  If you are a writer, you will write.  Writers must write.  It’s our way of dealing with the highs and lows in life. 

After my grandfather’s death, one of the ways I expressed my grief, was by writing the rough draft of “Coffee Without A Cup.”  I then put it away for a number of years because it was too painful for me to read.  After the death of my brother, Jeff, 12 years ago, I finished the story and put it away again. 

Following the publication of my most recent children’s book, “The Day The Turkey Came To School” last year, I spent some time reading through some of my older stories. I was trying to decide what to publish next.  

About that time, a friend and I were talking about grieving and dealing with loss.  She told me she believed that God places people in our lives who will help us through the difficult times.  That made me think of my story, “CoffeeWithout A Cup” and the way that Tom came into Janie’s life to help her after the death of her beloved grandfather.

 Many of us are grieving the loss of family members and friends.  The pain is often magnified at the holidays when we feel the huge void left by those who are missing from the parties and family gatherings.  It’s no coincidence that I have published this story now.  It’s my hope that it will help even one person who is grieving a loss during this holiday season.

To purchase a copy of “Coffee Without A Cup” click on the cover image on the front page of this blog to go to Amazon Kindle and download a copy.

A Handprint on my Heart

I firmly believe that God places people in our lives who help us to grow and learn. We may help them as well, but they are definitely there by design. The older I get, the more I can look back and in hindsight, understand why certain people were in my life at different times.

I also believe there are people in our lives who simply love us. That is their role. If you think about your own life, how many people have given you complete, unconditional love? I can name those in my own life on just one hand and I don’t think I’m all that unusual.

The first time I heard the song, “For Good” from the Broadway musical, Wicked, it took my breath away. Not just because of the amazing voices of Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, but because of the lyrics of the song. (Yes, I was fortunate enough to hear that song for the first time in NYC on Broadway and it was sung by the two incredible original stars of the show.)

Do you know the song? I’ve copied the lyrics below. “For Good” expresses many of the things that I’ve always believed about the people in my own life. Certain people change us by what they teach us or by the example they set. Perhaps we see the mistakes they have made and we don’t want to follow that same path. Sometimes people change us because they inspire us to do better in our lives.

Other people help us to look at life from a totally different perspective because theirs is so different from our own. They teach us that one can approach a problem or a situation from a different direction and still reach the same goal or end result. Or perhaps, they simply help us to see a more complete view or consider other possibilities.

The people from my life whom I treasure the most, are the ones who have helped me along the way by setting an example of love and kindness toward others. I’ve always been drawn to people who have a joyful demeaner. Their influence is something I carry with me.
Some of them are gone now, but like it says in the song, they have left a “handprint on my heart.”

Who has left a handprint on your heart?



Lyrics to “For Good”:
I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good
It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…
Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a sky bird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
Because I knew you
Because I knew you
I have been changed for good
And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the things I’ve done you blame me for
But then, I guess we know
There’s blame to share
And none of it seems to matter anymore
Like a comet pulled from
Orbit/as it passes a sun/
Like a stream that meets a
Boulder/ half-way
Through the wood
Like a ship blown off its
Mooring/by a wind off the
Sea/ like a seed dropped by a
Bird in
The wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better
And because I knew you
Because I knew you
Because I knew you
I have been changed for good