As the mother of a U.S. Marine, and mother-in-law to a sailor in the U.S. Navy, Veterans Day has special meaning for me. Today, I would like to thank my son Ryan and my daughter-in-law Elizabeth for their service to our country--and extend that gratitude to all America's veterans and active duty service members.
From the mom's chair, I've had a close-up view of the very special strains and stresses encountered by our young people in service, and by the family members who support them as they serve.
Over the years, I've watched my son progress from recruit to Staff Sergeant, and held him close in my heart as he went through two overseas deployments.
On September 11, 2001, Ryan called me from his barracks before dawn to let me know his unit had been placed on high alert--and that call led to this writer's most-read, most-published piece of work: My Child, My Home, My Country: A Marine Mom Speaks. That essay still speaks for my feelings today.
You have to give it to social networking: it can bring the most amazing and far-flung people back into your life!
The past couple of weeks, I've had the delight of regaining contact with my children's aunt Suzanne. Back in the day (total '70's: Earth shoes, disco and breastfeeding-as-radical-act), we were young mothers together. Married to a pair of brothers, we shared those years of early marriage and dishrag soup--but when divorce struck us both a few years later, we lost touch.
Hello, Facebook! We've had a glorious time, catching up on the trajectories of each other's lives. She's discovered that I'm an author, I've discovered that she's an artist, and we've brought each other up-to-date on the progress of our respective children and grand-children.
This week has been ripe with the harbingers of autumn to come. Morning brings the shouts of children as they walk to school with bright faces and shiny new backpacks. Yellow leaves peep through the trees' coverings of summer green. Evening temperatures flirt with a bit of new coolness in the night air.
And this week, I bought our pants-and-suits.
What in the dickens is a "pants-and-suit"? Why, it's a family marker of the approach of autumn. A small, silly celebration that has meaning only for this household--yet it's the kind of sweet and personal holiday observance that makes each family unique and strong.
I'm so excited, I can't sit still! As I write, a special package is winging its way to my grandmother Betty. Mamma, as we call her, will turn 102 years old next month--and while her body is frail, her mind and spirit are undiminished by the passage of the years.
Summer or not, she's going to receive a special holiday gift tomorrow.
Mamma has always been my homemaking inspiration; I treasure my collection of family recipes written in her own hand.
One such treat, Aunt Bill's Brown Candy, has been part of family holidays since before I can remember. As a child, I'd watch my parents work together to make our family's favorite sweet; by the time I reached my teens, I had taken over the candy-making chores--and to this day, Christmas isn't Christmas without the Aunt Bills!
A year or so ago, I was contacted by cookbook author Georgia Orcutt. Researching a cookbook of Christmas favorites from each American state, she was interested learning more about our family recipe.