In Honor of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is celebrated in more than 46 countries around the world. In the United States this modern holiday originated in 1908, Anna Jarvis held a memorial to honor her Mother at St. Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia.  She continued her campaign for national recognition for Mother’s as “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”

My Beautiful Mother Kay

One of my favorite sayings is “When Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  Being a good Mother is one of the most selfless acts in a woman’s life.  Although it can be frustrating and exhausting at times; Mother is a title that we carry with love, devotion, pride and honor.

I searched for words to describe a Mother, here are some of the most popular: hero, teacher, nurse, cook, chauffeur, housekeeper, cheerleader, champion, our rock and the boss.  Some behaviors and traits are:  patience, sacrifice, energetic, smart, strength, courage, nurturing, tireless, loving,  faithful, compassionate, dependable, dedicated, and supportive.

Mother & Son 1997

To my son Johnathan, I am so proud to be your Mother.  You are my greatest gift, my greatest joy, and my greatest challenge. It has been a pleasure to watch you grow to be the man you are today. You are my bright shining star.  This photo is the first of our many “back to back” shots.  I love you!

On this day, I want to honor my Mother Kay. As a child, she made us feel special and loved.  We have great memories of being kids and her being there for us, no matter what trouble we caused.  Although I am now a Grandmother myself, there are times when I just need to talk to my Momma!  She always makes me feel better and puts things into
Daughter & Mother 1983

perspective.  I love that I continue to learn from her.   I love her passion for Jesus and her compassion for others.  I love her beauty, her smarts, and her kind heart. I love her spunky go-getter attitude and tell-it-like-it-is demeanor.  I love her beautiful smile and her laugh.  I am so proud to be her daughter.  When people say that I take after my Mom, I say with a smile, Thank You.   I love you Mom!  Thank you for everything! 

There are many other people who refer to our Mom as “Momma Kay”.  At first, I was jealous of this title.  Now that I can see her with these people, I see how she has truly changed their lives by just being in it.  She willingly opened her heart to others who needed her.  She brings them guidance, love, comfort and joy.   They give her love and joy in return.  This is true meaning of a Mother’s love – one that is not guided by the boundaries of biological or spiritual tags or by marriage.  I am so proud to have a Mother with such a big heart and a compassionate soul.

3 Generations Nutcracker Ballet 2015

Finally, I want to give a shout out to the families whose own Mother’s are no longer here on Earth.  May your heart be filled with love, comfort, and peace. May your mind be filled with the wonderful memories of your time together.

For those who are blessed by having a Mother here on Earth, please make time for her.  Your time and attention are the greatest gifts you can ever give her. Remember that yesterday has passed, today is a gift, and there is no promise of a tomorrow.

What 3 words best describe your Mother?  How do you celebrate Mother’s Day?

And life goes on……

 

Open Your Home and Your Heart on Christmas

This edition is to encourage everyone to open your home and your heart this Christmas to someone who needs a place to share in the joy of the season. Someone recently said to me “Christmas is about family.”  I respectfully say yes it is about family but also much more!!

Here is the story of how The Gray family did this for me and my 4-year old son. It was the second Christmas after my divorce.  Johnathan was supposed to be with his Dad this year. On Christmas Eve morning, I received a call that his Dad would not be coming for our son.  What?!  I was not prepared for this.  I learned to always have a backup plan.

Bob and Ann Gray

I called my best friend Melinda in a panic, what was I going to do?  She called me right back to say that her parents would love to have us join them.  I packed up Johnathan and drove across town to the home of Bob and Ann Gray.  All of their children were in their 20’s so they were not ready for children or Santa. To my surprise, everyone in the house was preparing for our arrival.

This happened 27 year ago, so I may have some of the people in the wrong place but the activities are still very clear in my mind as well as the feeling of love in my heart.  Ann and Melinda’s Grandmother were in the kitchen baking cookies, treats and delicious meals.  Bob had pulled out several holiday books including “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. The family watched Johnathan so that I could rush to the store for gifts.

When I returned , Johnathan was helping to fill paper bags with votive candles along the front walk and street. He had already eaten several of Ann’s yummy treats.  He was very animated telling me what they had been doing  to prepare for Santa’s arrival.

I wish I had a photo of these next two memories but I don’t. Bob was wearing his reading glasses with Johnathan on his lap lovingly reading holiday stories.  He had a great voice and was very animated as he read.  My son was engrossed in his every word.  Later that night, Ann helped with the plate of goodies for Santa and his reindeer.

Melinda helped me to beautifully wrap a large art easel in gold paper with a huge red bow.  It would be the largest gift under the tree!  Everyone helped with the stockings.

The look on Johnathan’s face was priceless when he walked into the living room and saw that the large red-bowed package was for him!  Santa really came!!!!  He was literally pushing their grandmother into the living room so that the gifts could be opened. Johnathan was so proud to hand out the gifts. We were so full of joy and happiness.

That night as I feel asleep, I shed a few tears of gratitude and appreciation.  Without hesitation, the Gray family had welcomed a struggling single Mom and her son into their home and into their hearts to make this a very special day. Bob and Ann are now in heaven with the Lord.  I hope they knew what an impact they made on us and that I have never forgotten their generosity and kindness. To Melinda, Scott, David and Mike – thank you for sharing your family with us!  These are fond memories that I will always cherish. 

Since that year,  I have often invited people who don’t have family nearby into my home and my heart to celebrate Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This is one small way that I can pay forward the generosity bestowed on us by the Gray family.  So, I respectfully say to this person, Christmas is about family but it is also about welcoming friends, who would otherwise be alone, to share the joy of the season. On this special day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,  I am sure this is what God would want from us.

I’d love to hear your stories about opening your homes and hearts for the holidays or when you were blessed with this gift of love.  I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

….. And life goes on. 

 

 

Thanksgiving – The Centerpiece is the Meal

In this edition, I encourage you to express your appreciation to your cooks and hosts for your Thanksgiving gathering.   It takes far more money, time, and effort to pull this off than most people think.   Yes, the meal itself has become the primary centerpiece of the gathering but the real focus is the gift of making  memories. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate your relationships with family and friends, and to express appreciation for blessings bestowed during the year.  For many families, it is also a platform to carry on traditions and to make new ones.

Merriam-Webster definition of thanksgiving is:  (1) the act of giving thanks, (2) a prayer expressing gratitude, (3) a public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness.    So, this year as you are going around the table expressing what you are grateful for, please add a special thank you to the cooks and hosts.

When I was a sophomore in High School, my parents went to Florida on a business trip over Thanksgiving.  I did not want me or my siblings to do without the traditional meal, so I volunteered to cook.  Using a Betty Crocker cookbook and several phone calls to my Grammie Lou, I began on the task of cooking.  I quickly learned that the most difficult part was the final thirty minutes.  I did not have enough hands to stir all of the pots!  The act of coordinating all of the dishes to be ready at the same time required skill, timing and patience (of which I had little at this age).  Just moments prior to the appointed time for dinner, Archer (our caregiver for the weekend), brother Bill and sister Dana arrived.  They ate the dinner I had spent most of the day preparing within 15 minutes!  Then I did most of the cleaning in the kitchen.  I felt overworked and unappreciated!!!  Sure they said thank you but it didn’t seem to be enough.  To give them credit, we were just teenagers at the time, they meant well.  As I explained the day’s events to my Mother when she returned with great animation and disappointment; she simply smiled and said something like “get used to it” and reminded me that until that year I had done much of the same. Yikes! I am sorry.

restaurants-open-thanksgiving-dinnerOur traditional holiday meal consists of turkey, ham (sometimes), mashed potatoes, gravy (my Aunt makes the best!), dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, rolls, deviled eggs, and black olives (which we place on our fingers like puppets much to my Father’s displeasure). Dessert is usually pie – pumpkin, pecan, apple or chocolate.   Full disclosure – I am more focused on how the food tastes and less about the presentation.  I have never put this garnish around my turkey as shown in this photo, I serve it already sliced. Although I can see my Grandmother’s eyes roll when I do this,  I may serve meal on  paper plates if it is a large group.

stuff-dres-mapThere has always been a great debate it is  referred to as stuffing (generally used when it is cooked inside the bird) or dressing (generally used when cooked outside the bird)?   I found this map from Butterball showing the regional preferences for the correct term.  The truth is that on most tables there will be both stuffing and dressing based on amount needed for the number of guests.   Often, two different versions are served. In the past few years, I have added raisins and apples to my dressing.  Sometimes I make a smaller amount with sausage and lots of sage.  In my unofficial poll, this item is one of the most popular dishes on the table.

In closing, I want to say a special thank you to my Grandmothers in Heaven, my Mother and my Aunt for teaching me how to cook.   I look forward to passing down the art of mastering the Thanksgiving dinner to future generations.

What is your favorite food?   Do you serve dressing or stuffing?  What are your family traditions?  What time do you normally eat?   What are you most thankful for this year?

bless-the-foodMy favorite foods are dressing and green bean casserole.  I am most thankful for faith, family, friends, good health and new opportunities.  I am thankful for a great season for my beloved Dallas Cowboys!   I love having a Cowboys game on Thanksgiving!!!  When I host, the meal is finished by 3:15pm CT in time to watch the game!  Go Cowboys!

I wish you and your family a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.

….. And life goes on.