Thursday, November 8, 2007

Family Reunion November 2007

I hadn't seen my relatives in California since my mother's funeral back in 1994. When I was very young, I spent a week with them every summer. Because it was a week away from home for me, I have vivid memories of the daily events of that time. Stacey (third from the right) was just a baby. I remember her first birthday and Auntie Claire's chocolate chip angel food cake...sooo good. Sharon (second from the right) is a year or so older than I am and Stephanie (far right) a year younger. These are the daughters of my mother's brother.

I remember details like seeing baby Stacey sitting on her little potty every morning while we brushed our teeth and combed our hair. There were chores to do every morning and piano lessons to practice (even on vacation!) And hot cocoa for breakfast! That was a real treat.

Sharon once tried to get me to walk across the rafters in the garage of the new house they were building. She was very persuasive but either she relented in time or I smartened up.

We played endless games of badminton in the back yard. We were playing badminton when Uncle Phil came home and told us that Marilyn Monroe had died.

I had my one and only water skiing experience with them; they instructed me to "just hang on." I guess I took them literally because I fell (naturally) and then swallowed half the lake before letting go!

I remember eating dinner on tv trays in the family room. Barbecued chicken, cottage cheese and pineapple salad. Chopped olive sandwiches for lunch. Lots of pink lemonade.

Our families gathered every year for Thanksgiving. We ate in the kitchen apart from the grown-ups and had a tradition of of searing pieces of turkey over the centerpiece candle flame. This was a clandestine activity, of course! I really don't know if our parents realized what we were up to but I do remember a lot of whispers and giggles coming from that kitchen table!

Grandma Vi always made the sweet potatoes. She called them Sweet Potato Tipsy. Just in case my cousins don't have the recipe, here it is:

6 sweet potatoes (or 2 large cans)
1/3 c butter
3T brown sugar
1/3 c half & half or whole milk
2-3T sherry

Bake sweet potatoes until done if using fresh. Remove skin, mash & whip, adding butter, sugar, milk and sherry. Turn into a greased casserole and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Can be made a day ahead and refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before reheating.

I still make this every year, often adding a pecan crumble topping. Grandma Vi also made a cranberry molded salad or a lemon/lime pineapple jello salad. I stopped making those salads in the 70's. I wonder if my cousins remember them?

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