Tag Archives: family

Family And The Holidays

I was blessed with two parents, who enjoyed and reinforced the importance of family traditions surrounding the holiday season. Christmas for my family was always held at my parents’ home with lots of wonderful food and laughter, and everyone in the family participating. Continue reading

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Family And The Holidays

I was blessed with two parents, who enjoyed and reinforced the importance of family traditions surrounding the holiday season. Christmas for my family was always held at my parents’ home with lots of wonderful food and laughter, and everyone in the family participating. Continue reading

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Thanksgiving: A Time For Enjoying Nature’s Bounty

Thanksgiving History:

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated between the Pilgrims and the Indians in 1621. That first feast was a three day affair. Life for the early settlers was difficult. The fall harvest was time for celebration. It was also a time of prayer, thanking God for a good crop. The Pilgrims and the Indians created a huge feast including a wide variety of animals and fowl, as well as fruits and vegetables from the fall harvest. This early celebration was the start of today’s holiday elebration.

After the first Thanksgiving, the observance was sporadic and almost forgotten until the early 1800’s. It was usually celebrated in late September or October. In 1941, Congress made it a national holiday and set the date as the fourth Thursday in November.

I wanted to share some of the family traditions that started as I was growing up, and those that I’ve tried to create for my children.

First and most important, All Are Welcome! You don’t have to be a blood-relative to enjoy our festivities. Many people who attended couldn’t go to be with their families for a variety of reasons. For 40 years, my grandfather’s horse trainer and his wife attended and were welcomed guests.

The day before all the kids (and dogs) and adults who could hustle, would play The Turkey Bowl. A highly unregulated, touch-football game that had a very clear lack of rules, and never seemed to have ‘a winner’, which is just the way we liked it.

This pre-Thanksgiving day began the turkey preparation. The bread was cubed and layer out to dry, the turkeys were cleaned and process began. One rule though; don’t enter the kitchen zone unless you planned to stay and learn.  Students were welcomed, but transients were discouraged.  I went in one year to soak up the knowledge that my Father displayed, and was exhausted by the end.  It was intense.

Typically, I was in charge of decorations.  We had a very long room that had three dedicated eight foot folding tables and chairs. We had family dinner in here every Monday night. In the 40s the mindset was that you didn’t have more kids than you could feed, and we were in the restaurant business…so we had a lot!  I used my Mothers lovely linens, beautiful silver and decorated with gourds, candles, leaves and whatever theme inspired me that year.  I considered it a place of pride to create a dramatic setting that paralleled the amazing flavors that my parents and siblings were creating in the kitchen.

Thanksgiving morning changed when I had my own children. I wanted to start a tradition that was ‘just ours’.  So we would get up, make breakfast, spread out blankets and hot chocolate and watch the Macy’s Day Parade. We loved the balloons, the dancing and the excitement of eating on the floor!  To this day we do this, though my 19 year old sleeps hrough half of it, but she still attends!

By afternoon we start to get ready and put on all of our finest holiday clothes. This was a special time when we sat in the living room where we typically were not allowed in when I was young. We looked spectacular, and always got special oliday pictures with my Mom (Dad was cooking).

Then the Thanksgiving prayer was read, and the feast was presented. Oh, it was a vision of opulent bounty.  My Father made the best turkey, gravy and stuffing on the planet!!! It was the star over any side dish, or dessert which was just peripheral calories.

Afterwards we would clean up and play Scrabble or another board game while laughing into the night. Trying to continue these memories for my children without my parents is a challenge.  The traditions have evolved and are different. I don’t have the skill level my Dad did at cooking turkey.  All the siblings don’t get together anymore, but we do the best we can.

I wish all the best to all of you on this Thanksgiving holiday. Be safe. Enjoy and I’ll see you back here after the holiday.

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Thanksgiving- A Time For Gratitude Or Stress? Or Both!

Many people travel at the holidays and find their time for the holiday can be filled with laughter, good food AND stress!

Life’s stressors cause them to become irritable, short-tempered, or unable to concentrate on tasks. Others have interrupted sleep (trouble falling asleep or waking early in the morning with racing thoughts). Then there are those who react by eating junk food — and a lot of it!

Some of these stresses are dumped upon us by societies’ Norman Rockwell’s’ expectations, your families issues about how to deal with one another as adults, or the unreasonable expectations we set on the holiday ourselves to create the ‘perfect memories’ for our kids.

Easing up on yourself over the holidays is important because the connection between stress and illness is real, says Simon A. Rego, PsyD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and associate director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y. As Rego explains, “Stress may weaken the immune system. Each cell contains a tiny “clock” called a telomere, which shortens each time the cell divides. To counter this effect, the body also produces an enzyme, telomerase, which protects the cell and prevents further shortening by adding more DNA to the end of the telomere. But under stress, the body pumps out cortisol, a hormone that suppresses this protective enzyme. The study found that people under chronic stress have shorter telomeres, which, researchers say, means they are more vulnerable to a host of ailments.”

Health effects of stress may cause serious health side effects. Take the effects of stress very seriously to reduce your risk of: Heart disease, including heart attacks. Digestive disorder flare-ups, such as symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. (Try to stay true to the foods you know your body can process well). Immune disorders can flare-up if fighting multiple sclerosis or lupus. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia. If you already have a pain disorder such as arthritis, back pain, and muscle spasms, the pain may increase.

Keep your sleep routine as constant as can, or have control over. This means that staying up really late over the holidays and balancing it out by sleeping later than you typically do does not leave you rested, but rather dragging and lethargic.

Don’t forfeit your workout because your holiday schedule is super-busy. Take something off the list or get up earlier, to get at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise.  It increases your energy, but also helps your mood and tolerance for stress and possible family-drama.

Enjoy social holiday foods, but keep your portions moderate. Use smaller plates if faced with a buffet-display. Have a glass of water before you sit down, and don’t take seconds from your host if you don’t really want it.

I wish you all have the holidays that you desire, and if they aren’t going that way, change your direction and make them what YOU want.

Safe travels and happy bellies!

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Kid Cooks Are A Hot New Food Star!

Getting children involved in the cooking process for your family benefits everyone! Making meals at home is a healthier and cost-effective choice for families. Continue reading

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