Thanksgiving Memories

With Thanksgiving this Thursday, Barclay and I thought we would start a tradition of writing our own recollections.  After all, in this first year of publishing, we want to celebrate with you. To our followers in Mexico, Canada, and elsewhere in the world, it’s the spirit of being with people you care about over a meal that you are fortunate enough to have on your table.  You are all family now since you know far more than you ever wanted to about both of us!! I like to call it blog catharsis!  I digress…

I love Thanksgiving, always have.  It’s an innocent holiday, no gifts, no high expectations (I hope the mashed potatoes come out fluffy.  I hope the turkey isn’t dried out, …) but rather traditions passed down from generation to generation.

Muriel, my mother, labored over Thanksgiving every year.  She ironed the bedspreads (I’m lucky if I make the bed at all!) went down to the Lower East Side to buy nuts, prunes, dates and marshmallows that she made into a confection stacked with a toothpick.  She took that recipe from her mother.  She had to climb on a ladder to get the “good” dishes down from a cabinet in our kitchen too tall for any human being to reach without help. Linen tablecloths and napkins passed down from my great grandmother to her daughter (my grandmother) to my mother with monograms. A bygone era of formality and manners.

The most important tradition was the chestnut stuffing, no recipe, but passed down by observation.  It started with 2 day old white bread, scoring chestnuts, roasting them to sweet nuttiness, and the addition of chicken broth, sautéed onions, celery, salt, pepper, paprika, touch of sage, onion powder, and if a bit dry, a touch of oil.  I can’t give you specifics because they are in my head and only passed on to family members! This one recipe was the hallmark of our family celebration, coupled with watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade while my mother ironed the bedspreads and attended to last minute details before the 3:00 planned feast.

Traditions are wonderful to pass down to our children, make them your own and value them.  The generation they came from will live in the foods you prepare, as well as the smells in your home unique to your own family history.


Peggy was not big on holiday fanfare. I will have to consult my brother on this, but I don’t recall any Thanksgiving feasts or Christmas stockings.  When we moved to Florida she didn’t bother with a Christmas tree.

So when I became a mom I was determined to go to the other extreme.

The only problem was that I was not much of a cook.  My mother in law, Rosemarie, had to resuscitate many a parched turkey or salvage many a side dish of dry stuffing or limp green beans.  Sounds appetizing I know!

For dessert we eventually just turned to Bakers Square since my pie creations were not exactly award-winning.

But we did have FUN in the kitchen and around the table.  Our neighbors would come over for cocktails and appetizers and we’d be a happy group by the time dinner was served around 4pm.

We loved playing games as well.   After dinner, a card game of Hearts would be in full swing while football played in the background.

Joy is right about the innocence of Thanksgiving.

Just family, friends, and togetherness.  A tad drunk – chewing on a dry turkey!

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We welcome your own recollections of Thanksgiving and why you think it’s special.


Whether you call it mishpachah, famiglia, familia, famille, or my peeps, these are the folks you are bound to by blood.  There are memories, secrets, feuds, warmth, feelings, as well as DNA that binds one family member to another.  They are not people we choose, but who by marriage, birth, remarriage, or adoption are part of our life on happy occasions and sad.

Yesterday, was such a day in my family. We all came together to say goodbye to my uncle Morton, my mother’s only sibling.  Muriel  (if you have been reading our blog you know she was my mother) passed away almost 28 years ago, far too soon, at only 71 yrs old.  (looks super young to me now!) Her brother outlived her to a ripe old age of 94 1/2.  He lived longer than anyone in our family by far and he lived a good life, a happy one.

His daughter FranLisa, my cousin handled his funeral calmly, with composure, and grace.  She read a few paragraphs she had prepared to the small gathering of family and smiled through tears about the man she knew and loved.  The word “kindness” was repeated many times.  He said good morning to people he met at his assisted living facility, folks in the hospital  or  people that needed a smile in the dining room.  He was married to my aunt for 57 years and he worked until he was 74.  He died peacefully truly from old age not from disease or accident , though he had fallen recently and just wasn’t interested in going through physical therapy for the 3rd time.  (I get it)

As I looked around the group gathered in front of our family mausoleum (room for 3    more!) I felt a sense of belonging and connection.  My own daughter stood next to me as well as my husband. I stood next to my cousin and put my arm around her feeling close and touched by her strength in putting her dad to rest.

The service was followed by a lovely lunch at a waterfront restaurant in Westchester, surrounded by people that loved my uncle.  A cousin made the 3 hour drive with his daughter (aided by 2 canes) to recount stories of the old days.  They made me smile and they made him happy to tell them. (and tell them and tell them)

The ties that bind a family should be reinforced, cultivated, nurtured.  The Thanksgiving meal (that everyone in my family always complained about going to) is still the ritual we will remember for many years to come. Soak it in, relish it; for the family that we have in our presence today won’t be here forever, but the emotions we shared will.

Today’s Takeaway…

. Love your family, cherish them, even the crazy aunt that blurts out obscenities or the black sheep of the family that did too many drugs in the 70’s!  They are your flesh and blood and you share a unique history.

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy






Mother’s Day 2018

Joy —

Today being Mother’s Day calls for a special post.  Barclay and I have been experimenting on co-writing certain posts.  We feel jointly our own individual memories and perspectives make for one hell of a great read!! (all modesty aside)

Mother’s Day, to me has always been about celebrating my own mother, not my motherhood.  It took me many years and sadly the death of my own mother to understand that this is my day too.  Funnily enough, as my good friend Christine would say, my own mother, Muriel (of previous blog fame!) thought these holidays were silly.  She always said, “the greeting card industry invented them” and “every day should be about celebrating your mother.”

I always remembered to say I love you and to be mindful of how special a person Muriel was (quirky, a bit odd, a character for sure, but the best mother I could have wished for, if I had ordered her up) So this day, May 13th, 2018, I recall the very first Mother’s Day without mine. (Muriel passed away Feb 21, 1990.)

I changed my mind and decided not to be teary and remember that first Mother’s Day, but rather to reflect on the unique character that Muriel was.  She was trapped in the 1950’s, but secretly had a yearning to break out..  She didn’t care for other women that much, small talk, swapping recipes, and ladies lunches.  My mother preferred to  take her Tuesday off from motherdom and wifedom (though she didn’t work), ride the #4 bus downtown, shop at Lord & Taylor, and eat lunch at the Birdcage restaurant, probably collecting her thoughts and dreams. She then would prepare my father’s shrimp cocktail  for when he came home serving him as he sat throne like waiting for his food.

She was a great listener and old ladies (probably a few years older than me now!!) loved telling her their problems.  She was compassionate, thoughtful, and kind hearted. She wore a girdle, though she was thin all her life, never accentuated her curvature of the spine (born with it) by wearing form fitting clothes, and sat in the window of the bathroom where the natural light was best to apply Max Factor pancake makeup, false eyelashes in the 60’s and thereafter, as well as pressing it all onto her skin with ice wrapped in a tissue.  Oh, the things we do for beauty! She used Noxema every night to wash her face, applied cold cream, and wrapped her bouffant hairdo in toilet paper to keep it in place until next week’s beauty parlor appointment.

She loved me dearly, though not overly affectionate (my father made up for that) and I always knew I could go to her for whatever upset me. I always wanted my relationship with my daughters to be what I had with my mother and I have been blessed to have that.  So this Mother’s Day, 2018, I think of you mommy, but also know it is my day too.

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Barclay —

Sometimes I am asked how I came to live in the midwest.  The answer I give is that I attended college in suburban Chicago and then “settled” here (as if I am Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie).  The real answer is I was trying to get as far away from my mother as possible.

This was a positive.

States between us — I now have an entire file drawer filled with birthday cards – she was fond of Snoopy – and notes that begin with “Dearest Barcs” or better yet, “Barcsy” and end with hand drawn hearts, the emojis of yesteryear.   I also have letters written in careful cursive on yellow legal paper – all ending with the word, love.


Love wasn’t a word Peggy used with wild abandon.   But she did love fiercely without sentimentality.  A friend of hers once told Charlie (my brother) and me how proud she was of us – to the point of boasting.  For some reason she could only direct such thoughts to her pen or to Florida friends.


At the end we discovered that Peggy had her own file drawer.   In it we found clippings from college tennis, letters from camp, articles written, birthday cards – featuring the Peanuts gang of course.  Evidence of pride.  Of love.

When Mom passed away one October evening in 2010 we held her hands standing around the hospice bed – something she would have recoiled at.  She would also have been aghast at not wearing lipstick.  Yet she looked radiant as she stepped onto gold pavement.

Surrounded by Love.



“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” – Maya Angelou


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No takeaways today, just enjoy the day.  If you are a mother rejoice in being lucky enough to have children.  If you want to have them, may your prayers be answered to have them.  If you are fortunate enough to still have a mother to call, go ahead and pick up the phone.  No text, no email, just let her hear your voice.

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy