Out Loud: December 21, 2017

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The last time I wrote this column was for the Aug. 10, 2017, issue. Last week, when JP was out and I ran the news meeting, an attendee asked if I was ever going to write it again. He wanted it back. A couple of other people supported that request so here it is.

I took the time off to give up the space to the membership drive and since that is going so well and people miss the column, so I’m back — speaking “out loud.”

I’ll be honest. This holiday is not my favorite. Thanksgiving is my favorite and this year’s turkey season — even with its ups and downs — gave me reason to be thankful.

My Navy son brought his girlfriend, whom we had not met. He said she was not feeling well. I shook her hand and shortly after, she went to lie down on the downstairs bed. Within an hour, he was driving her to the VA hospital where, a day or two later, her gall bladder was removed.

That was just one hiccup at Thanksgiving. The other was the sweet potatoes. One year, I forgot to make them and my stepson was beside himself in disappointment. So, I make sure the potatoes my late friend Alla made are on the table, as well as sweet potatoes.

Usually someone else makes them, but that person could not attend. I picked out sweet potatoes at the market. Apparently, they were mislabeled because once they were peeled, they were the color of the Yukon gold potatoes for Alla’s recipe.

My stepson kindly volunteered to make the sweet potatoes next year.

Then, there was the dressing. I make most of the dishes the night before so that the oven is free for the roasting turkey Jack supervises.

The cornbread dressing my mother made and that I’ve revised over the years came out of the oven the night before. We have a ceramic stovetop. When it’s not being used, it acts as another countertop for my small kitchen. That’s where I set the casserole of dressing to cool after it came out of the oven, forgetting that one burner was still hot from a pot of boiling water.

The next day, I noticed the dressing in the bottom of the casserole was black. But the turkey was in the oven and I couldn’t make the dressing.

My son, who had not taken his girlfriend to the hospital yet, brought up a small oven from the downstairs and I was able to bake everything from scratch for the dressing in that little oven.

Some of our usual family members were not present for our Thanksgiving so we managed to get everyone there at the table together and had a beautiful dinner and a wonderful time together, despite the hiccups.

And a couple of weeks later, my son brought his now well girlfriend and we spent a wonderful weekend getting to know each other while we cooked together, making up for lost time.

I am feeling very festive for the upcoming holidays, even though they’re not my favorites. We now have a tradition of joining my daughter, her family and her in-laws for an incredible brunch Christmas morning where we open presents and catch up on family news. My son usually brings his children. I eagerly look forward to that.

We’ve been invited to one of our good friends’ houses for New Year’s Eve where the hostess is an amazing cook. That’s something I’m looking forward to.

And tonight, after I finish this column, our staff and stringers will celebrate with a staff party. All much to anticipate with gratefulness and joy.

Becky Clark, Editor

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