Tag Archives: Family

A Letter to Grandma

I don’t know where my son learned about writing letters (day care? TV?), but I’d say for his first attempt, he nailed it.

We just returned from a weekend with the grandparents where he was spoiled beyond belief. To try to balance out the expectations of get-get-getting, I suggested we write thank you notes. He started dictating. This is what he said to write to grandma:

Dear Grandma,
I hope I will see you soon.
I miss you a lot.
I like all the presents you hide around the house.

(Nate: age almost-4)



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Filed under Motherhood, Preschoolers, surprising

The Smell of Thanksgiving

I hate onions. I love Thanksgiving. And weirdly, Thanksgiving to me means the smell of onions — and I can’t get enough this one week of the year.

It always smelled like onions when I woke up Thanksgiving morning. Downstairs there would be chatter of my mother and grandmother in the kitchen. I’d come into the room, and they’d be piling chunks of white bread into a huge, speckled casserole dish, where it would get mixed with onions, celery and a good amount of butter and become stuffing that night.

I’m not sure I ever ate that stuffing — I was more of a turkey skin girl (my dad always slipped me the first slice when he started to carve) — but that backdrop of laughter and the decidedly non-breakfast smell of stuffing in the kitchen was what kicked off my Thanksgiving, as I shuffled to the family room to watch the Macy’s parade.

A couple years after I got married, I started making my own Thanksgiving dinners. I chose a variation of my family’s stuffing, a version with apples and pecans, but it had the same base. And the second I sautéed the onions with the celery (in the butter, hello!), I smelled it. Thanksgiving.

I won’t deviate from that. I started putting together the ingredients for my stuffing and a recipe I kept from my grandmother’s table for Amish potato filling. They both start with chopping onions till my eyes sting. But as soon as those onions hit the butter and celery, I lean over and inhale as deep as I can. I tried to make sweet potatoes for a couple Thanksgiving, and it just wasn’t working for me. I needed onions. Won’t touch them the rest of the year, won’t even make these dishes the rest of the year.

These Thanksgiving dishes do taste good. But Thanksgiving is way more than taste. It’s tradition. And as much as I like eating stuffing and filling, I like knowing that up in Pennsylvania, there’s a kitchen that smells just like mine.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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Filed under Memory

Missed teachable moment

My son has a 2-year-old nemesis.

It’s an adorable little boy — I might even say cherubic — at his day care who he plays with regularly but who seems to have it out for him. Nemesis went through a period where he was biting my son, sometimes as often as two or three times a week. I like Nemesis’ parents and chalked it up to the Wild Wild West that is a day care toddler class. My son, however, was not so quick to forgive. He frequently volunteers that he doesn’t like Nemesis, even when we’re not talking about him at all. And when he lists his friends he always adds “And not (Nemesis).” I try to be good and use that as a teachable moment (catchphrase picked up from years as an education reporter) and gently tell him that it’s OK if he isn’t friends with everyone, but we shouldn’t be mean, etc. etc.

Fast forward to this week, when I decided we should start doing prayers as part of our bedtime ritual. I sat next to his bed, lights off, and said in my most peaceful, sleep-inducing, NPR voice, “Now I lay me down to sleep” … and continued through the prayer to the list of people to bless. He was captivated. I named all our family members and then threw in his best friend,  “all your teachers and allllll the animals.”

Nate smiled dreamily, and then added: “But not (Nemesis).”

I’m sorry. I laughed.

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Filed under Motherhood, Toddlers