Holiday Traditions

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and my home will be filled with the aromas of a special dinner for my family. I’ve hosted my family holiday dinners at my home for a ton of years. (I think it’s been about 18). I’m not really sure how I started…but I’m very glad that I kept the tradition going.

One of my first memories of holidays dinners centers around my grandma’s small kitchen table in her home in Detroit. My grandparents were immigrants from Hungary and Czechoslovakia. My grandma was a fabulous cook. As a kid, I just took it for granted that all holidays were spent at her kitchen table. My grandma would start really early in the morning and even the day before…preparing a huge variety of dishes for us. Thanksgiving wasn’t just turkey and Easter wasn’t just ham…it was also breaded pork chops, stuff cabbage, creamy cucumber salad, homemade coleslaw, potato salad, meatballs, mashed potatoes with a whole stick of butter, all followed up by fancy cakes and pies. My mouth is watering just remembering all her home cooked dishes. And my grandma prepared all of this in her super tiny kitchen with an antique gas stove. I think she had a roaster oven in her basement…she was multi-tasking before it was even invented!

I remember if I was lucky enough to arrive at her house early enough…I was her official kitchen helper. However, I mostly watched and enjoyed the wonderful aromas and little did I know that I would later take over her tradition.

My awesome grandma cooked these fabulous meals for my family each and every holiday until she wasn’t able to anymore. She had some heart problems and eventually had a minor stoke. Asking her for her recipes wasn’t an option because my grandma cooked everything from her memory. She never used recipes or measuring cups. Her measuring tools were coffee mugs and spoons from her silverware set. Thank god that I watched her every year as a kid. She tasted her recipes as she made them and made adjustments along the way. I think she brought some of her cooking knowledge from the old country. She never really talked about it much and I think that when I was little…I just thought all grandmas could cook like mine.

After my grandma passed away and I was married, I decided to try and cook a holiday meal. I invited my parents and my favorite aunt over. My father in law came too…to try out his new daughter in laws cooking talents. At first…I made a few mistakes but I eventually got the hang of it. I certainly don’t claim to be as good of a cook at my grandma. My meals mainly consist of the traditional items with only one main entrée. I like to think that I am a good multi-tasker but cooking several entrees is totally pushing my culinary (?) talents.

But, every holiday my kitchen gets hot from the oven and my windows steam up…just like my grandmas. I love the smell of freshly cut cucumbers for my creamy cucumber salad and rolls baking in the oven. All the aromas from my kitchen bring back all those memories like it was yesterday. Isn’t that funny how that works?

I try to make everything like hers! I make many side dishes and usually a pie for desert. And I invite my family…just like my grandma did. I love sharing this tradition that meant so very much to me…with my children.

Now, my little daughter helps me in the kitchen. She helps to peel the potatoes and cucumbers. She stuffs the turkey with me…and bakes cakes and pies. I often share with her how I used to help my grandma in the kitchen when I was her age and I hope she’ll carry on this tradition in her own way…as I have.


Spring…a time to move on

Today is the first day of spring.  Being a home gardener, I always count the days until it’s official.  I scan my garden looking for tiny shoots poking up through the snow. Searching for new life and signs that spring and summer are on it’s way.

At my last inspection for spring life, I found daffodils and hyacinths peeking up.  It’s truly amazing how nature knows exactly the right time to come back from it’s long winters nap.  I don’t try to understand it (although I have read botany and gardening books) … but instead, I try to appreciate that it does happen each and every year.  I don’t have to analyze the science behind it…just be thankful that God and nature has blessed us with this wonderful place to live. 

As I happily think about my garden and look forward to the summer,  I have to think about moving as well.  I’ve lost the battle for my home and it’s going to be sold tomorrow at a sheriff sale.  I’ve been trying to get a modification and was verbally turned down last night.   The attorney has already scheduled a sale for March 21st and since it was denied today, it’s going to be sold.  

So, it’s time to face reality and think about moving on.  I am trying to think of this as a new adventure and a fresh start for my family.  We don’t know where we will live yet, but at least my children will able to finish the school year and we can move over the summer. 

So, my garden will be left behind to a new owner of my home.   I hope they will enjoy it and give it chance to bloom.  I’ve been blessed by receiving many plants from other gardeners who have shared their bounty with me. 

My garden has been a source of so much happiness for me.   I have really learned to appreciate nature and how perfect everything is on earth.  After I lost my job several years ago…I felt lost and so sad. I didn’t know what to do. I’d never been unemployed before and it was hard to adjust. I never knew that I had a love for gardening. I’ve always loved flowers from pictures and photos and always enjoyed drawing them. Then, the idea just came to me…to start a garden and make my home look beautiful. But, I didn’t know where to start. So, my parents gave me a lilac bush they had dug up from their own yard…and that’s where it all began.

Soon, I found gardening websites where people post plants that they have divided and want to give some away. Hey…free plants…that’s what I’m talkin’ about! I was unemployed…but looking for something economical to start with and it had my name written all over it. So, I responded to everyone in my local area and I soon became the new owner of many varieties of lilies, hostas, daisies, black-eyed susans and so many more flowering plants. I felt like I had finally found something that I could do that would provide a little peace in my heart and wouldn’t cost me anything but a little time and hard work.

After about 2 years, my garden really started to fill in nicely and I was so proud of my work. I felt so lucky to have a piece from so many gardens. I’ve met many nice ladies who have shared their happiness and knowledge with me.

Now, my daughter has starting helping me in the garden. She loves to dig holes and water the flowers. She’s 6 years old and loves to garden as much as I do. I often refer to us as the “The Garden Girls”. We even planted a vegetable garden a few years ago in our backyard and she especially loves growing fresh vegetables. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

So, as think about the loss…losing our home in a foreclosure…I can’t help but feel a huge sadness, but I’m also becoming more at peace with it. I do plan on taking some plants with me if it’s possible. But, I also know that my garden grows deep…the roots from my hard work are strong…and it will bloom again for whoever buys our home. I’m glad to share my garden with someone new. I was so blessed to have several years here to make it beautiful and I feel a little better knowing that I can pass it on.

I feel like I’ve made my little corner on earth a little more pretty, peaceful and enjoyable…and it was all worth it. Now it’s time to stop being sad and start looking forward to my new garden…where ever it may be.