Thankful for Thanksgiving Day

On November 26, 2009 something wonderful happens. Nowadays, it rarely occurs so it makes me particularly cheerful. I get to stay home and spend time with my family. Yes! My husband, six kids, and two dogs, plus any other family members, or friends, will find me at home in a somewhat delirious state of mind as I enjoy my loved ones on Thanksgiving Day.

 It’s widely accepted Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day because the Pilgrims of 1621 got together with the Wampanoag Indians to give thanks for a bountiful fall harvest. A delicious meal, games, and socializing had to mean the world to those people since so many Pilgrims died the first year after they arrived in Plymouth. However, it’s also known by many that even earlier than the Plymouth Pilgrims, European settlers in North America, like British settlers, had a banquet of thanksgiving at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia in 1619. Their feast included a prayer and thanksgiving to God because they had traveled the treacherous Atlantic and survived it. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln selected a day of thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November.

 Now, back to present day where the turkey, sides, and desserts…plus lasagna made for my beautiful gypsy-girl, Rachael, will soon be made. Thanksgiving Day can be stressful, so let’s highlight some ways to make the day easier.

-Make a list of everything you’ll need for the holiday or holiday weekend, especially if company is arriving. Check items off your list as you purchase them…so you don’t end up with twenty cans of pumpkin or 50 sticks of butter. Remember: cool whip, canned milk for pumpkin pie, extra paper products…like napkins and paper towels, containers and/or storage bags to send leftovers home with guests, snacks for before and after the meal, plus extra garbage bags. Also, have some buns available for the next day so sandwiches can be made and that means ketchup, mustard etc. is needed as well.

-Are young children coming to your holiday meal? It would be prudent to have a few baskets of toys or books for them placed away from the kitchen. In addition, you could set up an area for the kids to watch some holiday movies. A friend of mine is setting up a table with washable markers, crayons, and construction paper for the kids to make cards for a few soldiers they know. That’s one of the best ideas I’ve heard.

-It’s important to remember if you have pets or a guest is bringing a pet or two—keep young children and the animals separated unless adults are overseeing things. Pets, who normally love just about anyone, can get scared and possibly nip or bite if they feel threatened. Events like the holidays can be stressful for pets, so be sure to watch young children.

– The day is about caring and sharing, so back to young children…ask a few adults or older children to keep a watchful eye on them while the meal is finished. The kitchen will be busy and any number of accidents could happen if a toddler runs in and accidently bumps in to someone.

-This brings us to the next tip, sad to say it, but do make sure you have a fire extinguisher that works and you know how to use it. An old neighbor of mine got caught up in a conversation and left a skillet on the stove and it did catch on fire, but she had a small fire extinguisher. She added this tip for everyone. It’s a marvelous idea to check your medicine cabinet for first aid supplies. I don’t know about you, but I would be left without Band-Aids on a holiday and that’s when someone would need one.

-Provide healthy snacks before the meal. Veggies and dip, maybe a yogurt dip, or fruit, but nothing too filling because the meal is special.

-If possible, help moms and dads with babies by borrowing a swing or portable crib if you don’t already have these things. Thanksgiving Day is fun, but caring for a baby when you are not at your own house can be trying.

 Happy Thanksgiving Day!

 

Do It in November 

We are what we eat. That’s sad, but true. November is the month to start making healthy lifestyle choices. No way should you wait until January 1, 2010, because you matter too much for time to be wasted. I’ve found the safest way to approach one’s diet, is to be sensible. First, make healthy choices before you go to the grocery store. Do not starve yourself because our bodies are machines and we need fuel, so let’s get the good stuff in us. Eat a balanced diet, watch portions, and get physical. Come on…do it in November.

Start by speaking to your doctor. It’s also important to know how many calories you need to maintain or lose weight, however if you are too thin, then make an adjustment as well. Go to Americanheart.org for examples and to do some research. Then, make a healthy grocery list and you can do this at checkmark.heart.org, which allows you to click healthy choices and print them out. Keep in mind, if your kitchen is filled with processed food items, then most likely, you will cook them. If some fruit, chicken, and vegetables are available, then go for that. Dessert? Try one of the tempting yogurts available. The joy you’ll feel from making a healthy lifestyle choice is amazing. It beats the guilt you’ll feel from a not so great lifestyle choice.

Tips

Park as far from the store or mall as you can; burn calories by staying there and walking an additional 30-40 minutes. If you do walk those extra minutes and burn some calories, do not reward yourself by indulging in an ice cream sundae. Get an ice tea or flavored water and smile. And be careful with your snacks since some pretzels and popcorn are loaded with calories. Read the nutrition labels and notice the servings in that package. You could grab a snack bag and read the calories as 110 per serving assuming the entire bag is the serving…yet 2 or 3 servings could be in that snack bag.

I asked some people what provoked them into making unhealthy lifestyle choices. All too many answered, sleep deprivation and stress. Well since stress is heightened when we don’t take care of ourselves, try as best as you can to stay conscious of that fact. Many of these same individuals said when they wake up in the middle of the night, feeling starved—they indulge in whatever they can find. Once again, make healthy choices available and keep some in plain sight. So, it’s better not to eat during the middle of the night. Try to read or listen to some music, whatever will relax you.

Another thing to keep in mind is we are humans…not perfect and making healthy lifestyle choices is not always going to happen. Accept sometimes things won’t go as planned. If you have a bad day, let it go and the very next day get back on track. Stay positive! Don’t allow a bad day turn into a bad week…or month.

If exercise for the sake of exercise is difficult for you, then clean, organize, go sightseeing, do yard work, but use the beautiful body you have. Also use your precious mind; educate yourself about the basic food groups, calorie intake, and the marvelous benefits that will come your way from getting healthy.

A Side of Lasagna

Does the thought of a juicy, golden-brown turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, homemade stuffing…that’s crispy around the edges, cranberry salad, warm dinner rolls, and of course, pumpkin pie with a huge spoon of whipped cream on it sound mouth-watering? Yes, it sure does. Thanksgiving Day is special.

Preparing for the upcoming holiday is no easy task, yet I believe my family thinks this wondrous meal magically appears on Thanksgiving Day.

My daughter is coming from Boston to celebrate with us. We were discussing the meal. “Hey,” I said, “anything sound especially good to you? Are you looking forward to the mashed potatoes, or the stuffing more? I can’t wait to have turkey and mashed potatoes with gravy.”

“Um, well…turkey is good, but could we have a side of lasagna?” Rachael added, “Pepperoni rolls would be welcome as well.”

“Lasagna? You want that on Thanksgiving?” I asked trying to not sound surprised…but I was. We continued to discuss the holiday and how much fun it will be to have the family together.

A few days later, I asked my other daughter, Brenna, what she was looking forward to on Thanksgiving Day.

“Oh…hanging out with everyone. I’m happy Rachael is coming home. We all miss her,” said Brenna. “And you know, we haven’t had lasagna in a long time, mom,” she added.

“What! Are you kidding me?” I mean, seriously…my kids don’t want the traditional Thanksgiving meal? “I thought you liked turkey and mashed potatoes,” I mumbled heading out the door.

Well, it was confirmed the next day. Brenna spoke to Ryan. Ryan mentioned lasagna to Brandon, who in turn informed Jordan, that a side of lasagna would be a real treat for the holiday.

However, things are never that simple at my house. I asked my third grader, “So what do you want to eat on Thanksgiving Day?”

Aaron replied, “Ah, I guess turkey, stuffing, some corn would be good, pumpkin pie…you know the usual.”

Needless to say, my family will be helping to prepare the juicy, golden-brown turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, homemade stuffing…that’s crispy around the edges, cranberry salad, warm dinner rolls, pumpkin pie with a huge spoon of whipped cream on it and that side of lasagna Rachael is craving. Lasagna is tasty, but it’s the memories attached to eating the saucy dish that are most desirable. Italian food is on the menu frequently at my house. Rachael reminded me—giving thanks for family and friends as the spirit of Thanksgiving touches us all ensures a bountiful harvest of joy.

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Greetings!

Veterans Day: November 11th, 2009

This week, Veterans Day is the topic of interest. Veterans Day, which used to be called Armistice Day, became a legal U.S. holiday to honor the end of World War I and it is officially recorded as November 11, 1918. Legislation passed in 1938 stating November 11th was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day.” (military.com)

In 1954, veterans service organizations urged the 83rd Congress to amend the holiday due to our participation in World War II and the Korean War. As a result, the Act of 1938 was changed and the word Armistice was replaced with Veterans. Veterans Day honors all American veterans in wartime or in times of peace.

Teachers/Guardians/Parents: Check out this link for a Teachers Resource Guide. While teachers may find this helpful to celebrate Veterans Day, any adult could utilize it to enhance a child’s understanding of Veterans Day.

Celebrate Veterans Day

  • Send a card, or email to veterans you know.
  • Check out websites like Treat Any Soldier or Soldiers’ Angels
  • Call a veteran you know and ask him/her questions about the military
  • Put your life on hold for a short speck of time to be grateful for our brave veterans

(Military.com. 9 Nov 2009. http://www.military.com/veteransday/History.htm)