Sunday, November 23, 2008

Grandma's Story - Chapter 2 Part 1 "Thanksgiving"

Now that Holiday Season 2008 is upon us, I think it’s a good time to continue with blogging “Grandma’s Story”, the ongoing saga of my life that I am writing for my 6 grandkids, in "grandkid" language. Chapter 2: Holiday Time is all about the holidays when I was a kid. Today I will start off, appropriately enough with Thanksgiving, one of my family’s all time favorite holidays. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving 2008!

Grandma's Story: Chapter 2 Holiday Time

Another great thing about my house was that my Dad fixed up the basement so we could have big family dinners there. There was a huge table and every Thanksgiving, my cousins came from Pennsylvania to have a feast with us. When I got older, there were 28 people around the table: my Mom, Dad, brothers, sister, Nanny, Kiki, Pop-Pop, my Aunt Alice and Uncle Ed, and my 6 cousins. And me! Nanny always cooked the turkey and stuffing, her special turnips, cauliflower with bread crumbs, carrots, cranberry sauce from a can, and lots of other veggies. You had to fill the plate more than once for everything to fit. For dessert we had Nanny cake and Kiki made chocolate cream and lemon meringue pies. My Mom didn’t like to cook but there was so much food, we had to use her stove. My Dad always carved the turkey – that was his job. My favorite food was the turkey and the turnips. But the best thing about Thanksgiving was seeing my Pennsylvania cousins.

In those days nobody went “trick or treating” on Halloween. Instead we dressed up for Thanksgiving and went from house to house yelling “Anything for Thanksgiving!” And we would get fruit and candy and nuts – they didn’t have mini packs of M & M’s in those days. I’m not sure that M & M’s were even invented yet. All the goodies were mixed up together in our paper bags. On Thanksgiving afternoon the Christmas season officially began and neighbor boys would sing Christmas carols in the back yards.

After Thanksgiving, my Dad and I set up the model trains on the same huge table in the cellar. I was in charge of scenery. While we worked, we listened to Christmas songs on WPAT, my Dad’s favorite radio station. I love Christmas music. Jingle Bells, White Christmas, and Joy to the World are my special favorites. But I remember the year “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” was brand new! I am so glad you get to hear those same Christmas songs I heard. What’s your favorite Christmas song?

To be continued......

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Comment on Comments

I am so happy to get comments on my blog that I need to blog about them.

First of all, Angel, about Nanny. Maybe I didn't tell you this at the time because I didn't want you to feel bad towards Nanny. I don't remember. What I do remember is one morning Nanny came into my room and sat down on the bed next to mine. She was all teary, crying in fact. You and I were getting very serious then. She pleaded with me not to marry you. She said that if we married she would drop dead at our wedding - or something to that effect. I was concerned. I don't know what I told her but I do remember going to a priest at St. Francis of Assisi to talk about it. I loved you and wanted to marry you. But I also loved my grandmother and did not want to cause her death. The priest was very wise. He asked me if my parents were opposed to our marriage. And of course, they were not. He said that it was my parents' opinion that I needed to consider. He didn't think that Nanny would die if we got married but if she did, he told me that it would not be my fault. That was good enough for me. And of course, that part of our story worked out just fine. I think it shows how much she grew to love you that you didn't even suspect her initial "misgivings". I wonder what others thought and said that they never even told us.

I have received some other wonderful memories of Nanny from family that I will post soon.

And that brings me to my other blog and how far we have come as Americans. I loved the poem that my daughter Lisa wrote in her comments so here it is.

*President Obama*

We dared to hope...And hope smiled back.
We shared a moment in history that none of us thought would ever come except in a dream.
We stood together, faces of every color, reaching out with open hands.
We healed a nation wiping away the tears of pain with tears of joy.
We dismissed the fears, the prejudice, the ignorance in favor of the change, the intelligence and the passion.
We dared to dream...
And the dream came true.

Lisa O. Nov. 5, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Proud to be an American

Today I am very proud to be an American. Last night history was made. We elected America’s first African-American president. This is enormous. To me, it is remarkable that so many ignored the “race” issue and voted for the candidate that they thought would do the best job. I am amazed because .…

I remember the 20 year old me in the early 1960’s, full of hope for the civil rights movement. It would be hard but my generation would change the world. So many of my friends were in interracial marriages. My Jamaican friend married a Jewish man and his parents refused to attend their wedding. My Irish-American friend married a Phillipino and both families were dismayed. My Mom and Dad were very accepting of my relationship with my Puerto Rican boyfriend but my grandmother threatened to die if I married him. I did marry him and she didn’t die but learned to love him. My husband and I would discuss our future family – how our children would be enriched by having 2 cultures. And they were!

But in my wildest dreams, as I witnessed the march on Washington, Dr. King’s speech, the eventual breakdown of segregation and movie stereotypes – I never imagined that hearts would be converted to the degree that America would elect a man of color to lead the nation. How wonderful! How extraordinary!

We voted at 6 a.m. yesterday and it was already crowded. For the first time in years I was voting for someone I was excited about and not the lesser of 2 evils. People came out of the voting booth smiling. The demonstrations in Times Square, Harlem, Grant Park and all over the country were inspiring. It was truly one of America’s best moments.

Now our new president faces unprecedented challenges. But what drew me to Obama first and foremost was his calm, intelligent, compassionate vision. His community organizing skills, his willingness to listen to all sides of an issue. His deep desire to bring people together. This is what my friends in the 60’s wished for – “C’mon people now. Smile on your brother. Everybody get together. Try to love one another. Right now.”

We have a marvelous opportunity. To face bleak times together and use all of our talents, gifts and creativity to come up with the answers. To walk a new path. We’ve taken the first step.