I think I’m up to the task

I think I’m up to the task

I've got lots of resources . . . maybe too many!
I've got lots of resources . . . maybe too many!

I’ve accepted this challenge! I’m going to make a concerted effort to record stories from my personal history.  I don’t expect they’ll be in any specific order, but I’m excited to write my memories.  So watch this blog . . .  we’ll be traveling from Saginaw to Saudi, Uniopolis to Isfahan, and many places in between.  We’ll meet a lot of people along the way and learn a little of their stories also.  Because really, our personal histories are greatly influenced by those who have come before and after us.

The challenge is for the month of February.  I’m hoping to continue throughout the year and maybe even have something to publish by early next year. . .

Dear Tom,

Dear Tom,

Tom - Lynnette - Carolyn - Yvonne - Jeff - David  -- 1962
Tom - Lynnette - Carolyn - Yvonne - Jeff - David -- 1962

Happy 51st birthday!

September, 1970
September, 1970

You were just a kid when I left home – a 13 year old pest to be exact!  At that time you were still making dumb and inappropriate comments about and to my friends.  You were still wrestling with Jeff until something or someone got broken.  You were fighting with Mom about cleaning your room.  You were avoiding daily showers.  You were so obnoxiously normal.

High School Senior - 1978
High School Senior - 1978

As you grew up, you became a very likable guy.  (or maybe I’m the one who changed?)  You had a great sense of humor and made me laugh a lot.  You did some great impressions – remember “H-e-l-l-o, B-e-a-r”?   You were a great football player, even though you were part of a couple of heart stopping moments on the field.  You were fun to be around, and my kids thought you were the best.

Tom with son, Brandon - 1983
Tom with son, Brandon - 1983

You handled leukemia with faith and courage.  I learned a lot as I watched you establish priorities knowing that your time on earth was limited.  After doing all you could do to prevent or delay the inevitable, I watched you accept the outcome gracefully.  I have a good memory of our last phone conversation the day before you died.  Who knew the end would come so soon after that?

January 22, 1989
January 22, 1989

Because your life was so short, we haven’t had a chance to be adult friends and siblings.  I’m pretty sure we’d have had a good time together.  But I’m also sure the chance for more good times is in our future.

We still miss you, but we know that you’re in a good place.

I’m thinking of you on this day.  Give my love to Mom.

Love, Lynn

The stockings were hung – part one

The stockings were hung – part one

. . .by the chimney with care –
in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.

The mystery of Santa Claus and the anticipation of what surprises would fill my Christmas stocking were huge contributors to the mood of excited, noisy chaos that filled our home on Christmas Eve.  I felt something almost magical when I carefully positioned my empty and flat Christmas stocking in its place on the couch – in line with those of my brothers and sisters –  knowing that in the morning I would find it lumpy, bumpy and filled with presents, candy and an orange in the toe.  Settling down to go to sleep was almost impossible for all of us.  We could hardly wait for morning!

Berrett family Christmas - 1959
Berrett family Christmas - 1959

I think it was 1959 when my mother made Christmas stockings for each of us six children.  After cutting them from red felt – with pinking shears, of course – she decorated each stocking the same.  Shapes of a Christmas tree, snowman, and star were carefully sewn to the front of the stocking and then further trimmed with sequins and beads.  On a strip of white felt at the top of the stocking she wrote each of our names in glue and then sprinkled red glitter over that so that individual ownership was sparkling clear to Santa.  The jingle bell sewn to the toe of the stocking was just the right finishing touch, and we sometimes imagined we heard those bells jingle when Santa was at work. . .

Vintage Christmas stocking - 1959
Vintage Christmas stocking - 1959

I have put out that same stocking every Christmas since then.  The snowman no longer has a mouth, the hanging loop has been torn off, and the bell went missing years ago.  The glitter is patchy, but the name is still readable – Santa still fills it every Christmas Eve.

Freshman creation
My freshman creation - 1972

In December of 1972 I was a freshman at BYU dating Don Butler and wondering what would be an appropriate Christmas gift for my new boyfriend.  Deciding to go the “not too serious, but still casually personal route,” I made a red felt stocking, filled it with a variety of little gifts and treats, and then gave it to him somewhat nervously.   That stocking was a success that year, and has been hung every Christmas during our 37 year marriage.  His name, spelled out in bold blue letters (no glitter here), leaves no question about ownership.  Like my 51 year old stocking, Don’s is also showing its age, but Santa makes sure that it is never neglected.

Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve.
Yuletide excitement is a potent caffeine, no matter your age.
~Carrie Latet, poet

The tradition rolls on

The tradition rolls on

Mouth watering deliciousness
Mouth watering deliciousness

Every year on Thanksgiving Eve, the phone rings and the conversation between North Carolina and Colorado goes something like this:

“How many batches of rolls are you making this year?”

“I think I’ll do a double.  All the kids will be home.”

“I think I only need to do a single – but what if we don’t have enough?”

“That would be tragic, but don’t forget they freeze well – if any of them even make it that long.”

The prized roll recipe
The prized roll recipe

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

The small – maybe 6×8- cookbook was stuffed in a drawer or cupboard with all other cookbooks.  The nondescript white cover which announced that it was the project of the Saginaw-Midland (Michigan) ward Relief Society, was barely hanging on to the red plastic binding.  It included  such gems as “Tomato Soup Cake”(a spice cake that actually was pretty tasty), countless jello salad recipes, and other dishes typical to the mid-America family dinner table in the 1960’s.  Certain pages were warped and ripply and stained from repeated use – evidence of which which recipes were the favorites.  But the one recipe that has stood the test of time, passing from one generation to another, is for “Refrigerator Rolls”, submitted by Joyce Berrett.

Mom’s rolls have been a part of holiday meals and other special occasions for as long as I can remember.  Light, fluffy and buttery, they are tender enough to eat 6 or 8 before dinner really even starts, several more with the meal, and just a couple more before dessert is served.  As kids and adults, we eagerly anticipated those rolls as one of the highlights of the holidays.

So it was only natural that when I left home the roll tradition continued with my family.

I’ve made them in Isfahan, Iran.

They were part of several beach Thanksgiving picnics in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

Thanksgiving, 1983
Thanksgiving, 1983

Our young grandchildren have rolled and cut and dipped dough in butter while wearing makeshift aprons.

Ryan - Thanksgiving 1999
Ryan - Thanksgiving 1999
Maddie & Ryan - 2001
Maddie & Ryan - 2001
Katie & Charlie - 2009
Katie & Charlie - 2009
Charlie - 2009
Charlie - 2009

These rolls made an appearance in a rented vacation home, because “It’s Christmas, and we can’t have Christmas without the ROLLS.”

Mark & Don - 2006
Mark & Don - 2006
Mark - 2006
Mark - 2006

Our kids get almost giddy at the sight of rolls rising under the white towels.

We can hardly wait!
We can hardly wait!

This year I got a new Thanksgiving Eve phone call – from Nate in Huntington Beach, California.

“I’m in the grocery store.  What kind of yeast do I buy for the rolls?”

And then Thursday morning that same son called with a slight tone of panic in his voice.

“I’ve just emailed you a picture of our rolls.  I don’t think they worked just right.  Go look at it and tell me what you think.”

Are they going to be okay?
Are they going to be okay?

The picture was inconclusive, so we did a live video chat allowing me to inspect the dough.  I assured them that I thought it was just fine, but cautioned them to allow plenty of time for rising once the rolls had been shaped.  They turned out beautifully.

When Pete came in Thanksgiving morning after having rolled and shaped the rolls for the Gentry family dinner, he commented, “I hope Grandma Joyce knows that all across America today people are making her rolls!”  And a little later in the day, this picture came to my in box:

Grandma's rolls loved by all generations
Grandma's rolls loved by all generations - Sam, 2010

And that’s how we roll.

Picture me laughing!

Picture me laughing!

Family group - Cyprus 1980
Family group - Cyprus 1980

I’m drowning in a sea of pictures this week.  I’ve assigned myself the job of gathering, sorting, and organizing by year all of the pictures we have taken/acquired since we married in 1973.  No small task.  I do have a system in place, and it’s working well, but the sheer volume of pictures is still daunting – even on my third day of this project.

Easter Bunny extraordinaire - 1986
Easter Bunny extraordinaire - 1986

But on the bright side, I’m finding some great shots and reliving a lot of fun times as I wade through almost four decades of our family’s history.

Christmas Eve play at David and Terry's- 1989
Christmas Eve play at David and Terry's- 1989

And just when I thought I couldn’t look at another picture, I discovered this treasure  – and I laughed out loud.  Really loud.  And for a long time.

Father and sons - 1995
Father and sons - 1995

I’m excited to see what else is waiting for discovery!

Here we go again

Here we go again

I came home from my dad’s house last week with this.

Pratt family history
Pratt family history

And as I’ve starting sorting, I’ve created some messy piles.

Pictures and documents galore
Pictures and documents galore

This desk was clean a couple of days ago
This desk was clean a couple of days ago

I’m attempting to work the new treasures into my current filing system.

Our family genealogy files
Our family genealogy files

I think I’m going to need another file box.
And a lot more hours in my days.
But I don’t lack for enthusiasm.
Maybe I’ll create another blog  like this one, for my side of the family.
I love this stuff.