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The First of December

Another Thanksgiving is in the past.

In our family, I've been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for as long as I can remember. With pleasure, I might add. These days though, not a Thanksgiving goes by that I don't feel some pain along with the pleasure. You see, it was in the early afternoon of Thanksgiving, 2003, that changed the day for me forever.

Our Mom was dying of ovarian cancer, but still in pretty good shape. David and Michelle agreed to pick her up from the condo to bring her over to our house. Except, when they arrived, she was in anything but ladylike condition. Bruce went over to help. What could be happening, I wondered, because just the night before she was pretty darn lively.

While mashing the potatoes, Bruce called saying I'd better get over there because it did not look good. Leaving the house, with a plateful, I might add, I drove the mile over there with a heavy heart. She was pretty much unresponsive by this time and I put the call into Vitas, the wonderful hospice we'd been using. From there it was pretty much downhill and on this day in 2003, she died around 4 in the afternoon. Her life journey was over.

The funny thing is, she was a terrible Mother. I won't go into all of the details because, by now, they don't really mean much; in spite of that, losing your Mother is a hard thing. I now know more about the environment she grew up in, which is no excuse, but it helps to have an explanation. I feel pretty confidant that she suffered from depression, obviously easily treated these days, however, back then, as we all know, things were different.

Focusing on the good things, both silly, and important, helps. My thick dark hair comes from my Mother. My curiosity comes from both parents. Life skills too numerous to list come from my Mother, one of which is cooking. I put that to use last week, spending days getting ready for Thanksgiving.

So, now both of my parents are but part of the genealogy, birth and death, like all those who came before them. What were their lives like? Mostly we will never know, but we can be certain that there were those who loved them who suffered when the death date was in the books.

Okay, enough of that....

Last Christmas, when Bill gave me a gift card to Williams Sonoma, I struggled to find things I either wanted, or needed. That said, I did buy this new rolling pin which was everything advertised!
If you like making pie crust, and I know most of you don't, however, they are amazingly easy and taste way better than store bought, I suggest you look for something similar!

The table was set, with Bruce's favorite glasses passed down from my Mother.
Ignore the plain glasses, I don't have enough of the fancy ones!! Nor do I ever use my china these days as I have place settings for eight, and that does not cut it!

Asking Lisa to bring some old photos, she beat me to the punch, having gathered some days earlier. Maureen is looking at some here.
Pat and Ruth were kind enough to bring this lovely orchid as a hostess gift, a Cymbidium.
Matt will be interested to know that I made the famous vegan chocolate cake for Ruth, this time adding a cup of coffee instead of water. Both she and Pat claimed it was the best vegan cake they'd ever tasted. Should you be in need of a vegan dessert recipe, here it is.  Plus, this non-vegan thinks it's amazing as well.

Because of all the prep work, things went pretty smoothly, giving me an hour or so to attend Cheryle and David's Bloody Mary party in the late morning. Everyone arrived, and it was game on. Michelle wore some killer shoes which is not entirely surprising as she mostly always does. Speaking of Michelle, this is such a funny joke on me. I made a calendar last year with all of the birthdays represented by cakes. Before leaving on our trip I looked on November 19 and thought, yikes!!, I'd better get Michelle's birthday card in the mail. She called early last week to thank me for the early birthday gift--as in a month early!!! I laughed and laughed at myself. :)
And as you can plainly see, the day was warm enough to have the door opened. Following dinner, the outdoor table was used for socializing.
As was the indoor one...Rich and Jenn came a little late after spending time with her family.
One dishwasher load on Thanksgiving night, and this was all that remained on Friday morning for the now rested hostess.
Saturday brought the big rivalry game between Florida State and Florida. I am more than happy to report that although Florida was favored, (can't imagine why), Florida State prevailed from the very beginning until the last seconds. One neighbor down the street puts this sign in his front yard, mostly to taunt the neighbors across the street who are Florida fans. When we drove by on Sunday afternoon, the spear was moved to the Florida fans side of the street!
The church looked ever so lovely decorated for Christmas.
As you can tell, we sat very near the front. Seated on my right was the pastor's wife whom Bruce and I call Connie because she looks like one of our fave actresses, Connie Britton. She is as sweet as she is pretty. :)

Monday brought another "Sew Day" and what a big crowd turned out. Our organizer, Sharleen's daughter sat across from me, expressing camera envy when I pulled my gorgeous Olympus OMD1 out of my handbag. Can't say as I blame her!
I'm glad this shot includes the pattern used to make the shields. See it on the left side of the table? Several woman spent hours drawing the pattern onto the special waterproof fabric.
While others worked on the pads. After they are cut and serged, there is the tedious task of putting a sort of fabric glue on the end threads to stop any raveling. The pads begin as a long sheet of two pieces of flannel. I must have sewn about forty of them in the afternoon.
We worked assembly line style with one woman ironing all day, some making the patterns, others turning things inside out, and more steps too numerous to list. Many hands made for lots getting done!
I began sewing about five minutes after arriving, and kept going, and going, and going. A whole large spool of threads worth! We learned that the group's shipment of over 800 kits were delivered safely to Africa. Hurray! That is a whole lot of kits, I can tell you that much. Each kit represents hours and hours of work as there are so many steps to make them well, ensuring durability.

Using that handy dandy rolling pin, I made a turkey pot pie for dinner, and pretty much called it a day.

I am happy to report that my sister Nancy's daughter, Sara had a beautiful baby girl on Sunday. They are calling her Harper. Adding yet another generation on the family tree.

Christmas is coming,

Gail


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