Thursday, November 26, 2015

_The Hancock News_ Column--November 25, 2015

My first teaching job was at Edgewood Middle School in Edgewood, Maryland. I was given a few pens, a pack of chalk, and not much else. I had no textbooks, and the desks in my classroom were too small for any of my 8th grade students who’d already hit their adolescent growth spurt. It wasn’t the worst school in the world, but let’s just say there wasn’t much to be thankful for.

That didn’t stop one of the more veteran teachers from being thankful anyway. Each year he gave photocopies of his gratitude list, several pages stapled together, to each staff member. It was the kind of list that was a gift in itself, thoughtful and sometimes funny.

I was encouraged and uplifted by his efforts. Occasionally all we need is a few reminders that life isn’t so bleak as the television news tries to make us believe.  On that note, I offer up my own gratitude list, circa 2015.

I’m thankful for a 3-year-old curly girl who loves “ska-betty” but would rather eat pancakes at every meal. For her big brother who loves being able to make pancakes all by himself.

I’m thankful for the son who can tie his own shoes now. For the shoes on his feet. For the girl who works at Stride-Rite because, for Pete’s sake, I still can’t figure out by myself how to pick shoes for my kids that fit. 

I’m thankful that despite some health hurdles this year, my parents are still alive and kicking. Mom’s still spoiling the grandkids, and Daddy still gives everybody a hard time, just for the fun of it. Also for my mother-in-law who is anything but the stereotypical mother-in-law.  Ditto for my father-in-law who’s been taking good care of her through two shoulder surgeries this year.

I’m grateful for the pumpkins and winter squash that grew in our garden because their colors and shapes are so pretty. And there’s my son’s first deer hunting success; thanks to him maybe more pumpkins will survive next year.

I’m thankful for my rambunctious toddler who doesn’t have Lyme Disease after all. I’m even thankful for those crazy guineas that run around eating ticks and hiding their eggs.

I’m more thankful for the young man who is kind enough to trek to our house morning and night to take care of those birds when we are away.

I’m thankful beyond words for the friends who came running at all hours to watch our children when our baby was born. And for a chubby, smiling baby girl who is nearly smothered by kisses every waking hour. And for the new van that carries all nine of us about, even if the toddler gets carsick all over it nowadays.

I’m thankful my daughter is excited to be learning to read. And that my sons could hardly believe there might be people out there who didn’t enjoy reading.

I’m super grateful for an editor who is nice about my ramblings and for generous readers who have shared recipes, fun educational materials for my children, and tips for combatting poison ivy.

I’m thankful for my best friend, my dear husband who feeds me Lorna Doone cookies when I’m in the hospital and spoils me whenever he can. He encourages me in all my endeavors and makes me feel beautiful even when the mirror tells a different story. 

But most of all I’m thankful to our Father, who provides all that I need to support this aging body and the life I am rather happy to be living.


Cranberries are one Thanksgiving Day staple I am thankful for. We usually stock up this time of year on big bags of cranberries and throw them in the freezer for future use in smoothies and muffins and such. I am aware, however, that many people won’t let cranberry sauce pass their lips. Maybe this version, smoothed out by sweet Jello, might change their minds.

Mom’s Cranberry Salad

2  packages (3 oz.) red jello
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 can jellied cranberry sauce
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
finely chopped apples and walnuts or pecans (optional)

Dissolve jello in boiling water. Break up sauce with a fork and add to jello. Chill until very thick. Fold in apples and nuts. Chill.

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