Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving on...Saturday?

When couples get married, one of the big issues they face is what to do about the holidays. Do we spend Thanksgiving with one family and Christmas with the other? Do we alternate years? Try to do two Thanksgivings in one day? Ask both families to come to us?

When Tom and I got married, my parents suggested that we celebrate Thanksgiving with his family on Thanksgiving Day--and my family would celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday. For the first few years, that meant that my mother did Thanksgiving twice...but it meant Tom and I didn't need to choose. As the years went by, my father died, my younger brothers and sisters also got married...and my mother stopped doing Thanksgiving altogether on Thursday, shifting the "big celebration" to Saturday. With five siblings, their spouses, children and dogs, it was a pretty big Thanksgiving. Each new family unit in turn would go to their spouse's family on Thursday, and return home for "our" Thanksgiving on Saturday.

My mother's been gone since 2006, but we all still gather on Saturday for our feast-- a turkey that's generally close to 30 pounds, filled with the family recipe for Sausage and Chestnut stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes (with marshmallows), green beans, onions, and turnips. (The turnips are probably the most essential item other than the turkey and stuffing--but that's a blog post of its own.)

So tonight I baked my pies, using my grandmother's rolling pin and two of her pie pans...and tomorrow morning we head down to New Jersey to celebrate with family: Susan, Tom, Katie, Jenny, Tom, George, Lori, Dan, Will, Hugh, Victoria, Mary, Tim, Jack, Matt, Kathy, Bert, Caroline, Al, and Eddie.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kindertransport, Saving Children from the Holocaust

During the 10 months prior to the outbreak of World War II, the Kindertransport program rescued almost 10,000 Jewish children from the Nazis. Their parents sent the children from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia to foster families in Great Britain. Most of these children never saw their parents again.

Anne Lehman Fox wrote of her experiences as one of the children of the Kindertransport in her book, ''My Heart in a Suitcase''. The following clips discuss the play that was based on her book and include interviews with Anne and her childhood best friend Dorit. Their story is a poignant one--two young girls, one Jewish, one Christian, living through those horrible times.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Before "'Twilight'' there was ''Dark Shadows''...

The current vampire frenzy created by ''Twilight'' reminded me of ''Dark Shadows'', the TV Show that introduced vampires into a soap opera over forty years old. Here's a clip from the episode where Barnabas Collins arrives at Collinwood.

Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have been discussing a film version of Dark Shadows, with an estimated release date of 2011 or 2012, but Entertainment Weekly reported last month that the project appeared to be dead. Maybe the success of the Cullen vampires will bring the Collins family back to life?

Dark Shadows Store

Sunday, November 16, 2008

California Proposition 8 is Not Protecting My Marriage

Proposition 8 was a ballot initiative that sought to amend the California state constitution to eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry in the state. It passed on election night, 52%-48%.

Proponents of Prop 8 used phrases such as "defend" and "protect" in justifying their enthusiasm for the measure. That sounds great, right? Who wouldn't want to "defend marriage"? The family is the bedrock of society, and it certainly should be defended. Well I'm a heterosexual woman living in Massachusetts, and I haven't felt that my marriage has been under attack, or needed "defending" since same-sex marriage was legalized here in 2004.

Life is short. We are on this planet together for a very brief moment. What matters is that we love--not who we love, or how we love--but that we appreciate, support, value, and commit to be there for each other--while we are fortunate enough to be together.

There are plenty of things that people who want to "defend marriage" could be spending their time on. Marriage is certainly under attack from many things in society today. People concerned about protecting marriage could work to eliminate the source of financial stresses that rip people apart. They could work to stop the cycle of domestic violence, so children of abusers don't grow up to be abusers themselves. They could work on providing support to women caught between caring for children and aging parents. There's lots that can be done to "protect" marriage--but preventing two people who are ready to commit to each other in this wonderful, difficult, life-affirming journey of matrimony is not one of them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Frank Woodruff Buckles, Last U.S. WWI Vet

Updated February 23, 2009
November 11, 2008 marks the 90th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. There are only a handful of veterans of that war still alive; the U.S. has only one -- 108 year old Frank Woodruff Buckles of West Virginia. In 2007, his local television station interviewed him:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Deval Patrick, John Kerry, and Politics as Usual in Massachusetts

In 2004, the Massachusetts legislature, concerned that then-Governor Mitt Romney would appoint a Republican to fill John Kerry's senate seat if Kerry won the presidency, took action. They replaced the law that permitted a governor to appoint a replacement to serve out the term of a senator who left office before his term expired, with one that required a special election to fill the seat. As we all remember, John Kerry lost the election, so no replacement was needed. Fast forward to 2008, where the very same John Kerry is being talked about for a position with the Obama administration. Republican Mitt Romney has been succeeded by Democrat Deval Patrick--and the Lowell Sun reports that Governor Patrick would like to change the law back--so that he can personally appoint a replacement for Kerry, if needed

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Day Musings

This year will be the first year that we will have 4 voters in the family for the presidential election. Katie's 20, lives at college, and has voted in previous elections--usually by absentee ballot. This will be Jenny's first election. Katie made her selection early, and is still supporting the same candidate she backed in the primary. Jenny supports the "other side". There are three controversial ballot questions in Massachusetts as well, that we each have a different opinion on. (The youngest also has opinions--but has 3 more years to wait before he can cast his first ballot) Its been an interesting election season in our politically "divided" family.

On Saturday, Katie called, and wanted to know if I'd be home on Tuesday. She said that she was coming home to vote. When I asked why she hadn't voted by absentee ballot, she said that in this election she felt it was important to go to the polls and mark her choice in person. (If you read my earlier post on absentee ballots, you'll understand why this was a big deal to me). She also suggested that we all go out to dinner after we voted, before she went back to school.

So, tomorrow, on this uniquely American holiday, my family will cast our very different ballot choices, expressing our individual opinions--and then unite for dinner together.

Our divided family--united in what's really important. Just like America.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Zeituni Onyango Asylum Application

Barack Obama's aunt, Zeituni Onyango is an illegal alien, living in South Boston. "The Times of London" reported that she is disabled, and impoverished. Obama has denied knowledge of her immigration issues, according to CNN:

''Bill Burton, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, issued the following statement..."Senator Obama has no knowledge of her status but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws be followed."''

The Associated Press alleges that Onyango applied for political asylum in 2004, and that her request was denied. Obama, Onyango, and their family are members of the Luo tribe, as is Kenyan prime minister and former opposition leader, Raila Odinga. Odinga has claimed to be Obama's cousin. Given the political instability in Kenya, it is possible that Onyango used the tie to Odinga as a basis for her claim for asylum.

I find it difficult to believe that if someone was applying for political asylum and had a Harvard Law school graduate in the family, who was also a government official, that she wouldn't have asked him for advice, if not support, when she was preparing the application. The Chicago Tribune reports that she attended the senator's swearing in ceremony in January 2005, after her asylum petition had been declined.

Most discussion of this issue has been focusing on the fact that Onyango is living in a housing project in Southie, while Obama is wealthy. Well, that happens. What is more concerning to me is his statement, through a spokesman, that he has "no knowledge" of her status--that's about as believable to me as his statement earlier in the campaign that Bill Ayers was just "a guy who lived in his neighborhood"

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cauliflower Gratin

When I was little, my mother would sprinkle cheese on cauliflower as a treat. This recipe is a more sophisticated version of that childhood favorite. It's a great way to use up leftovers -- either as a light vegetarian entree for one, or a side-dish for two. You can easily double, triple, or quadruple the recipe to prepare an awesome make ahead Thanksgiving vegetable.

What you need:
*About 2 cups of cauliflower, cooked.
*3 Tablespoons of butter, divided
*1/3 cup of parmesan cheese -- freshly grated is best

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Step 2: Spread 1 Tablespoon of butter liberally on an oven-safe baking dish.
Step 3: Arrange the cauliflower in the dish.
Step 4: Sprinkle the cheese on top of the cauliflower, making sure each floret is well coated.
Step 5: Chop the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter in small pieces, and dot the cauliflower with the butter
Step 6: Place in oven and bake until brown and bubbly, about 15 - 20 minutes.
Step 7: Remove from oven and enjoy with a glass of Pinot Grigio