Where Everybody Knows Your Name

 

cheers

The hangout. The go-to place. We all have one. But why?  Why have one place that you go to repeatedly? What is the allure to going to the same location, having the same experience over and over? Where is the fun in that?

The answer is:

Familiarity breeds well, familiarity. In other words, sometimes you just need a place that you can count on. Your happy spot. Your own version of “Cheers”.

We have lived in our new location for 2 years now, and while we enjoy eating out at all different types of places, we didn’t have our hangout.  And we missed that.

Growing up, I had a few places that were my hangouts. The Tewksbury Inn in Oldwick NJ, used to be a great bar and restaurant. The Inn was old, and the bar was an enormous old-fashioned wooden bar. The bathrooms were labeled “Bucks” and “Does” and there were deer heads mounted on the wall wearing hats, Hawaiian leis and smoking cigarettes.  You could get a burger and a pitcher of beer inexpensively and listen to local blues or bluegrass musicians.  But, as time went on, it was sold. The deer heads came down, and matching wallpaper and curtains went up. And so did the prices…. you can check it out here, but it ain’t no hangout…. $33 entrees, sheesh.

There was also Bernie’s Hillside Lounge in Chester, NJ.  Bernie’s has been around for a long time, and used to host  some well-known jazz musicians, like Bix  Beiderbecke.  I used to go there to listen to the Blue Sparks From Hell, a local band that played R & B, swing and blues. Frontman C.J. Tucker, was both talented and entertaining.  Sadly, Tucker has passed away, and the band is no longer playing.  But check them out on YouTube. Listen to one of their best songs “Caledonia”.  Bernie’s is still growing strong, playing music.  Stop in.

The Stanhope House in Stanhope, NJ was a haven for great music.  It was the place where everyone went to dance and drink. Sawdust on the floor, and plenty of graffiti in the restrooms.  Stevie Ray Vaughn and Buddy Guy were some of the notables that played here. I danced the night away many time, reveling in blues and R & B. I have a term for places like this.  It was my “clean dirty bar”.  Tidy enough to just barely pass a health inspection, but gritty,  colorful and raw.  Loved it.  It had closed for a time, but since has reopened, and back to being a roadhouse.  I haven’t been back in years, but may take a trip to see  if it’s still dirty.

So back to why we like our hangouts. Sometimes we need to go somewhere that doesn’t change much. After a day or a week of challenges, we all need to have some continuity.  And a hangout offers that. My requirements for a place to be a hangout are:

Casual Atmosphere-nothing fancy. I want to be able to go right from the horse barn in my horsey clothes to the hangout. No cloth tablecloths. No coordinating curtains and wallpaper. Just tables and a bar. Fireplace is a plus.

Great food with entrees under $20-yes, it can be done.  A hangout offers well priced entrees cooked superbly, plus burgers, salads and soups.  And some specials. No overdone plating, no foam, no pyrotechnics. Just fine fresh food cooked well.

A large selection of beer, wine and spirits- an extensive and changing craft beer list is a must.  With so many craft beers, local wineries and distilleries opening, I want to see  an establishment support local products IF- and only IF- they are quality.  And hard cider.  Love hard cider.

Friendly staff- without a doubt, one of the most important features of a hangout. Personable wait staff who know the menu, and are pleasant and chatty go a long way with me.  And a bartender who will remember what I like to order.  Remember, I can go anywhere, so if you get to know me I will be back. No surly or pretentious attitudes at a hangout.  No way.

We finally discovered our hangout here in Bucks County, PA. Becker’s Corner is located right near the beautiful Lake Nockamixon in Quakertown PA.  It meets all of the above requirements, and we head there whenever we don’t feel like cooking,  and we just want some time together.  We have gone there with friends, and we now run into people we know. And they have hard cider on tap. Perfect. Give this place a try.  You won’t be disappointed. And hey, we may meet at the bar.

What is your hangout?  What makes a place a hangout for you?  Share your place, spread the word.  Everyone need a place to hang out.

 

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The Family Fudge Tradition

 

I just got done making a batch of the fudge that I make for gifts every year. It’s easy, and really sinfully good. My son has adopted the tradition of making it at the holidays as well. So I thought I would give the gift of this recipe to you all, my dear readers and followers!  Give it a try, and follow the tradition and pass the recipe on to your family and friends.

fudge

Refrigerator Fudge

  • 2  1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup, light or dark
  • 2 TBSP butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, raisins or coconut, optional

Combine sugar and evaporated milk in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat stirring CONSTANTLY until mixture boils. Turn heat to low or medium low, so that it is still bubbling, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring CONSTANTLY to prevent scorching.

Remove from heat-don’t just turn the burner off- take the pan off of the burner- and IMMEDIATELY add butter, vanilla, corn syrup and chocolate pieces and stir well until the chocolate is melted, smooth and shiny. Add optional ingredients if desired and stir in and pour into a buttered 8 inch pan.

The mixture sets up rapidly, so spread it quickly.  Chill for  two hours in the refrigerator or until firm. Cut into pieces.

Makes 2  1/2 pounds.

The best method is to measure all of the ingredients out before you start cooking, and have it ready to pour into once the milk and sugar have cooked. You have to move fast, so it is easier if everything is opened and measured, and all you need to do is pour it in and stir.

A couple of variations that I like:

Add 2 tsp of peppermint  flavoring in when you add all of the ingredients.  This gives it a nice peppermint flavor.  You can crush up candy canes and sprinkle on top when the fudge is slightly set, before you chill it.

Once the fudge is cooled and slightly set, sprinkle sea salt on top.  You don’t want to add the salt when the fudge is too hot, it will get absorbed into the fudge.  It is a lovely combo of salt and sweet.  Delicious.

Or experiment with other ingredients.  Let me know what you come up with!

 

Happy Holidays, all!

 

 

 

Less is More

 

xmas-stress

Ah yes. It is the Holidays. With a capital H. Full of traditions and family rituals. Parties, gifts, food.

And a whole lotta work.

I am not being a Grinch here, far from it. And I don’t want to write another one of those ” how to reduce your stress at the holidays” pieces. We all see plenty of those. But the holidays are time consuming and exhausting.  As much as I want to enjoy the holidays, I also feel  anxious about it.

Bottom line is, I just want to have a good time.  And the best way to do that is to take the Less is More Method.

Less gifts. Less food. Less fuss. Less activity. Less anxiety.

I’m going for the Quality over Quantity Holiday this year.  My husband and I told our children that we don’t want any gifts this year except for them to contribute to our purchase of a new gas stove and cook-top.  We currently have an electric one, and if you are a serious cook, you all know how much electric cook-tops stink. So instead of buying gifts for each other, and trying to surmise what each other wants, we decided to buy the new stove.  Period. And our kids can give us money towards the purchase. Done and done.

Our children want gift cards for Christmas. And I used to fight that, thinking that it wasn’t personal enough, that it was a cop-out, that I should know them well enough to find the perfect gift, so if I bought a gift card, I was a lazy failure.  Not this year. Gift cards purchased. Done.

I’m still going to buy small gifts for the Christmas stockings, but I am going to be buying from socially responsible companies like Bombas. This company started out with a mission to provide socks for homeless people. They have done their research by interviewing the homeless for what they need in a sock, and redesigned socks to make them comfortable and long lasting.With every purchase you make, they donate a pair to help the homeless.
They started with a mission to help people in need, and have already donated over one million pairs of socks. I can get behind that.

I will also be buying from Penzeys Spices. A friend turned me onto this company, and their quality is the best, bar none.  But another reason I support them is how their CEO, William Penzey, has spoken out against the rash of racism, misogyny and fear mongering that is our current political climate.  Sure he has taken some hits on social media, but go read his letter to CEOs of other companies on their Facebook page here. This is a company worth purchasing from.

And I will be supporting local stores. I have some favorites, but I want to get into some local stores that I haven’t been to before. Plus, when you actually shop locally, you meet people who live locally. Instead of  hanging out on my laptop with my credit card,  I will get out and interact. Try it. Even if you don’t make a purchase you will be in the world.

Don’t need or don’t want any more “stuff”? I know I don’t.  Do what we did. We told our children that from now on, for holidays and birthdays, we only want:

  • Good things to eat
  • Good things to drink
  • Time with them

I have favorite wines that are always an acceptable gift! Plus, Turkish dried apricots, caramel and dark chocolate with sea salt candies,  balsamic vinegar, coffee, and more. Consumables are the perfect gift for me, as I don’t want any more:

  • coffee cups
  • tee shirts
  • refrigerator magnets
  • gee gaws and doo dahs

Time together is the one gift that we all too often fail to give or receive. Take time to go do something with your friends and family. Go to a museum or to a play, or go hiking. Dine out at a really special restaurant. That combines the time together gift with the great food and drink gift!  Be unscheduled and just hang out. A day playing board games, or reading a book, sitting around in our pajamas is not time wasted, it is time well spent.  So put aside some time to do something. Or nothing. Together.

We are working on our holiday meal menu, and we both do love to plan and prepare the feast. Our Christmas Day breakfast tradition is lox and bagels. Not your typical Christmas breakfast, but we love it. (This was the subject of my very first blog post, which you can read here.) We will most likely do some sort of roast beef, with the usual vegetables and pies for dessert.  In the past, we have done the traditional Italian meal of the Seven Fishes Dinner on Christmas Eve.  This is a perfect meal for a large group.  We have done a shrimp cocktail appetizer, clams in white wine over pasta, calamari,  or a bouillabaisse.  Our favorite story  was when my husband tried a recipe from the fifties that was  a crab dip with Worcestershire sauce and mayonnaise. If it sounds awful…. it was. What a waste of crab. It was INEDIBLE. We both tried it, gagged and just started laughing.  It is still one of our favorites tale of recipes gone horribly wrong.

And I will make a date with a friend who came over last year to make Christmas cookies. We had a blast. It was a great time to catch up, and we had so much fun. There was royal icing everywhere, but who cares?

I am sure there will still be some stressful or anxious moments over the holidays, but I am planning on letting go of anything that causes stress or discord.

My new ritual is…less ritual.

So, to my readers, I wish you a holiday season of less AND more.  This has been a tumultuous year, with more upheavals and discord on the horizon.

I wish you less stress and more peace.

I wish you less fear and more community.

I wish you less helplessness, and more power.

And I wish everyone  hope.  Give it. Share it. Receive it.

Happy Holidays to All.

 

winter-tree

Thanksgiving 2016-We Are All In Need of Comfort

diversity

 

This is a Thanksgiving unlike any other I have known. I am still reeling from the results of the election, as I think many of you are. I was going to share some recipes, and some tips, but that feels trivial to me right now. It’s going to be challenging to be thankful with everything that is happening.

But we have to rise above. That is not to say we normalize the situation, ignore it or take no action.  I believe that now more than ever, we must stand up for kindness and empathy.

So here is my take on getting through this Thanksgiving.

We need to celebrate our differences.  We need to celebrate our heritage and our cultures. We need to share our stories, and we need to hear the stories from others.  Our diversity is what makes us strong.  So we cannot give in to those who say otherwise. Ever.

I see many people who are struggling and are afraid. This is not who we are as a nation. We don’t incite fear, we work to take it away.  Always.

So how to get through this holiday when the whole premise is to be thankful? Not easy.

First, I think we all need to give ourselves a break. Not to forget, but just to let ourselves find a spot that is less painful. We need to put our outrage and our anger on hold for one day.  And we need to surround ourselves with our family and friends that we love. Use this Thanksgiving meal as your safe place. Enjoy the community of your own traditions. Find comfort in your meal and in your loved ones.

You can also give back. Go to a church or homeless shelter and serve dinner to those in need. They need to know that they have not been forgotten.  You can also donate to causes to help feed the hungry.  One is feedingamerica.org, but there are many national and local organizations that could use your support. Or invite a person or people that you don’t know very well to your dinner. In the Jewish faith, at Passover, it is customary to have one stranger at the meal. Find someone who you would like to get to know, and invite them. Expand your community to beyond your familiar gathering of folks. Be open. Be welcoming.

Celebrate diversity at your meal. While it is comforting to always have the same  menu for the holiday, try adding a dish from another culture. I found this New York Times article called “The American Thanksgiving” which is about all of the different menus from families of all different cultures.  It is what this nation is all about. So try something new. Add some diversity to your menu.  You can find the link to the article here.  It is inspiring.

Be thankful for what you have. This feels like a tall order right now and I struggle with this concept myself. But in spite of all that is going on in this country, we are fortunate. And we do have the ability to make change. I see it happening in the people who are rallying to run for office in their town or county. I plan to attend the Million Women March in Washington DC on January 21. I see it with people wearing safety pins and offering safe haven to those who are afraid.

Be thankful for those that you love and who love you. My 94-year-old mother, Betty passed away on November 1. So I am going through that list of “firsts”. First Thanksgiving without her, next will be Christmas. Both my father and my only sister passed away over 10 years ago. With the passing of my Mom, I am now parent-less. It’s a weird feeling. But I have a loving family, and I am so thankful for all of them. I wrote a blog post about my Mom and her banana cake recipe.  You can read it here. She would like that.

And after this holiday is over, take your strength and your fortitude to do what is right. Get involved. Run for the school board, your town council or get involved with a cause that you are passionate about.

What we cannot do is nothing. What we cannot do is normalize this. It took Hitler over ten years to bring about the persecution of the Jews, Catholics, People of Color, LGBT, those with mental or physical disabilities, Freemasons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the list goes on.

History cannot repeat itself. And it will take all of us to protect the freedoms that are the core of this country. I am counting on all of you.

Let’s get to work.

Remember

Joy Harjo, 1951

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember.

 

 

Autumn is Apple Time-Easy Recipes

grnny-smith-apple

 

It’s autumn and that means all thing apple.  I was just at a pumpkin carving party and brought an apple crisp for dessert.  It was a huge hit, so I thought you all should have the recipe as well.  I got the recipe when I bought a piece of stoneware from the Pampered Chef, so credits to them. It is super easy and always a crowd pleaser.

I am not a fan of the one-use kitchen gadget, but I do make an exception for the apple peeler/corer/slicer.  It take no time at all to get your apples ready, and that is the hardest part of this recipe. So go ahead and invest in one.

apple-peeler
Use the curly peels as a garnish for Apple-tinis.

 

 

Quick Apple Crisp-courtesy of The Pampered Chef

  • 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced
  • 9 ounces of yellow cake mix , approx. half a box
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon good quality cinnamon
  • 1/4 of butter, melted
  • 1/4 chopped nuts are optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut the peeled and cored apple slices in half and place in a 9″x 9″ baking dish.
  3. Combine all of the remaining ingredients and mix until crumbly. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Yield-10 servings.  This recipe also doubles easily, just use a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

 

 

apple-cider-mimosa-2

I found this recipe in Country Living magazine and it is my go-to cocktail at any autumn party. Last Thanksgiving I made these as the welcome cocktail, serving it to my guests as they arrived.  Again, super easy and just delicious.

Apple Cider Mimosas

  • Prosecco or other bubbly of your choice
  • Fresh apple cider
  • good quality cinnamon
  • sugar
  • Champagne flutes
  1. Mix equal parts sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Wet the rim of the Champagne flute and rim the glass with the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  2. Fill the glass with half Prosecco and half fresh cider.
  3. Garnish with an apple slice.
  4. Toast your friends and family!

 

If you have any recipes that you would like to share,  let me know.

Happy Autumn, all.

 

 

 

I am NOT eating that! My Halloween Tribute.

Since we are getting close to Halloween, I thought I would share my scary food stories. I am pretty adventurous in what I will try, and I am not a picky eater, far from it. But even I have my limits.

1. Liver

dutchcalfsliver2
No. Not Ever.

Nope. No way. And here is why. When I was about ten or eleven, my Mom took me to the Gladstone Market, which was  small town grocery and butcher shop. Mr. Cooper was the owner of the store and the butcher.  It was a great old store, with big wide wooden floor boards, and bins of local product.  Back then local was normal… He had  big wooden butcher block in the meat department.  It was worn and uneven from years and years of use.  My Mom ordered liver for dinner that night. It was one of my Dad’s favorite meals. Mr. Cooper went into the back to the meat locker and returned with the ENTIRE CALF’S LIVER. He laid it on the butcher block, and it took up the entire surface. It was BIG.Way bigger than I expected it to be. And to a ten-year old, rather gross. Gelatinous, shiny, kind of alien-looking. What it did not look like was something that was edible. I remember standing there wide-eyed while he cut off pieces for my Mom.  He wrapped it in paper, and my Mom brought it home and made my Dad liver and onions.  I could not get that image out of my mind, and to this day, whenever I see liver on a menu, that is the memory that comes back. And I am not eating something that its sole purpose is to filter out the junk in a body.

Trauma by liver….

 

2. Lima Beans

baby-fordhook-lima-bean
Wrinkly, ugly, and shaped like liver…

My husband loves lima beans. Me, not so much. Now I love black beans, red beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans. But no lima beans. For me, it is a texture issue.  They are wrinkly and mushy, with no real flavor. Come to think of it, they are kind of shaped like a liver…. hmmm. I can handle them in soup, and MAYBE in a mixed vegetable side dish, but not on their own. Again, I think this is a childhood  issue, as my Mom cooked vegetables to death. No steaming, just boiled them into oblivion. No amount of butter on them can make them palatable to me.

 

3. Pickled Beets and Pickled Eggs in Beet Juice

pickeld-beets
Looks like something from the movie “Alien”.

I used to never eat beets. But my husband roasted some, and now I love them, so they are  on my list of good eats.  Especially with some goat cheese. But no pickled beets. It is a combination of the pickling and again, a texture issue that makes them not appealing to me.  The same goes for those pickled eggs that you would see in a giant jar sitting on the bar at an old tavern.   And how long have they been sitting there?

No. Just no.

 

4. German Potato Salad

german-potato-salad
Sorry, I have too much baggage with you, German Potato Salad.

Regular potato salad, red skinned potato salad, potato and egg salad, yes. Love them. German potato salad, no.  I don’t care for the vinegar-y taste of German potato salad. To me, it tastes sour.  And I do love pickles and  foods with an acid base, but not this. Another reason why I don’t like it doesn’t have anything to do with German potato salad per se. A person was trying to get me to taste it. I said no, that I didn’t care for it. He kept insisting, that I try it.  No, thank you. When he put a spoon of it up to my face, that was it. He ended up wearing it…. So I think German potato salad in some  weird way became a symbol of me  asserting my preferences and not accepting being told what to like or try. No means no, whether it is potato salad or anything else.

 

5. Anything with Jell-O

beet-mold
Run! Run for your lives!

Every kid ate some sort of Jell-O as a dessert.And it was okay, not my favorite.  But we were subjected to that fabulous fifties food-the Jell-O Mold. My Mom had  the copper molds in rings, one that looked like a fish, and others. She would create those God-Awful molds as a side dish.  There was Tomato Aspic-plain gelatin made with V-8 juice and celery and onions. Served of course, on Iceberg lettuce. Bleagh!  Rings made with orange Jell-O and fruit salad. Not as bad, but no, not great.

But the worst was her Pickled Beet Gelatin Mold. (Note the tie-in to #3 on the list). She used a mold that looked like a cone. It was clear gelatin with chopped pickled beets. I was in Jell-O hell. I remember one time she made it, and it hadn’t set completely. When she turned it over onto the plate of Iceberg lettuce, it ever so slowly began to spread out.  Did you ever see the movie “The Blob”?  We had our own version of The Blob, right there in the kitchen.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It was alive, ALIVE!!!! It was a purple, icky slimy mass that was going to kill me in my sleep. So, no Jell-O for me.  Too scary.

There are a few other  less than delectable items on the list:

Insects-I have seen Andrew Zimmern of the TV show “Bizarre Foods” eat many a bug. Nope. No. I don’t care how protein rich they are, until there is an apocalypse, I am not consuming insects.

Miracle Whip- I am a Hellman’s woman. Period. Miracle Whip is too sweet for me.

Tuna Noodle Casserole- canned tuna heated up is gross. Just sayin’.

Tuna Salad with Sweet Pickles–eewww.

So, what is on your list of non negotiable foods? And what is the story behind it?  Share your tales of fear and horror!

Happy Halloween!

 

This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Annika at We Must Be Dreamers

our-growing-edge-badge

 

Jeannette vs Oxford Bryn Mawr

china

It is getting to be that time of year when  we all start thinking about getting together for the holidays.  Though still a ways off, the discussions of who is going to whose house are starting to occur. And this always brings me back to the holiday meals as a child.

It’s not pretty.

My mother, who I have written about before, was a child of the Great Depression.  Part of living in that time  made her value possessions to the extreme.  What she owned defined her worth, not who she was. Enter my nemesis, the GOOD CHINA.

Oxford Bryn Mawr, ten place settings. Dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl, butter plate, cup and saucer. Plus various bowls and platters.  She loved it. She idolized it. It had its own china cupboard in the dining room. You couldn’t wash it in the dishwasher because of the silver banding on the edge. So precious, so special.

I hated it. Hard to believe that I had sibling rivalry with a set of china, but I did. Yup, I was jealous of an inanimate object. I actually fantasized about throwing each piece down the basement stairs and watching it shatter, all the while laughing a maniacal laugh. I even did a stand up comedy bit about my rivalry with the good china.

And the worst part of it was, she hardly ever used it. There  it was, all comfy and on display in the china cupboard in the dining room, which we never used either. My mother had the formal dining room and the formal living room, and both rooms NEVER got used. It was like living in a museum. All we needed were the brass poles and velvet ropes to block it off. We would cram ourselves into the kitchen on a small table for all of our meals instead of using the damned dining room.

Except at the holidays. Then, all of a sudden, we were supposed to be that Norman Rockwell family. Four times a year, we were the perfect family eating the perfect meal.

The stress was enormous. My mother would become obsessive about the family being together for the holidays. She would start two months ahead, badgering my sister and me as to when we would be there, what we had to make, etc. And no guests. We were not allowed to bring a friend or a date because “they weren’t family”.  I remember a time when my sister wanted to bring her friend Buddy to Christmas dinner.  Buddy was hilariously funny, and would have been a break from the usual tension that surrounded these meals. He was Jewish. My Mom responded with “no, it’s not his holiday”.  Yikes. (Turns out, I did my Ancestry DNA test, and I am 26% Eastern European Jewish on my Dad’s side. Had I known , I could have gotten out of that meal…)

The actual meal was full of  tension as we all tried to fulfill my Mom’s wish for the ideal holiday family.  We would all smile and nod, while secretly wishing for it to just be over. And its not like we weren’t an ideal family during the rest of the year. But at the holidays, the bar was set really, really high.

So the china became the symbol to me of what a family meal shouldn’t be. It held a place of honor all year, to be paraded out on those occasions that she deemed worthy. I vowed that in my own home, I would never have rooms that I wouldn’t use, or dishes that only come out for the pomp and circumstance. And I have held to that with my own family.

Over time, both my father and my sister passed away. I relocated my mother to be closer to me. And of course, we moved the china. Where it took up all kinds of space in her tiny kitchen. And she continued not to use it.

I asked her one time about why she didn’t use it, just to enjoy it. Here it was, taking up all of this space, and she never would take it out and have a meal on it.  She thought about it, and then said she was going to use it. Just her, even if it was a grilled cheese sandwich.  I was thrilled! Finally!

But she never did. There it sat. When it came time that she could no longer live on her own, we had to move her again. So I boxed up the china, and packed it into my garage. I labeled the boxes and stored it for her.  And my intention was to sell it.

But I couldn’t. Somehow, even though the china represented everything that I hated about a family meal, I couldn’t bring myself to sell it. It meant so much to her, whatever her reason, that I just could not  sell it. I refused to use it for my own family, that was too much for me. So it languished in boxes.

When we moved my mother into a nursing home, I decided it was time to sell the china. I tried selling it online, but no one wants dishware like that anymore. The tradition of the china, silver and crystal pattern being part of the marriage ritual is really just about gone. So, no buyers. I decided to take it to a local auction house. And it sold….for ten bucks. Wow. All of that importance over the years, and someone bought all ten place settings plus serving pieces for ten bucks.

So here is my takeaway from all of this. Whatever her reasons, this was important to my Mom. And although I didn’t understand it, I learned to respect it. She made it hard on us, and I still get anxious around the holidays. But at some point, you have to stop looking at your parents as only your parents. They are people, with their own history and baggage. They have their flaws and their challenges. And she did try her best, with what she had to work with, to be a good parent. Maybe her best wasn’t ideal, but it was her best.

So along with letting go of the china, I let go of my hatred for it.

And I am looking forward to the holiday meals, however they turn out. And all are welcome.