Archive | November 2014

Happy American Thanksgiving !

It is just a few days until the United States celebrate their Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 27th.

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Thanksgiving Day is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November.  This is one of the more important holidays where friends and families spend time together.  Family time would not be complete with the all-important family dinner.  Of course roast turkey is a tradition in many homes.

Even though we have celebrated our Canadian Thanksgiving in October, I am reminded of a special USA turkey dinner in a special place not too long ago.

My Man and I travelled to a small island in the Cook Islands.  This island was Rarotonga and it’s a beautiful vacation place and not what one would think of as being linked to Thanksgiving…or is it ?

Here is what transpired one Thanksgiving Day 1989.

We were relaxing by the pool at our hotel when we noticed some of the local villagers come in and start digging a huge pit in the sand on the beach.  This peeked our curiosity so we went over to get a closer look.

Before we knew it, there was a large gathering of people crowding around and watching as well.  Everyone was happy, friendly and in a party mood.  Who were these people?

Turned out they were our fellow travellers; many of them our USA neighbours to the South.  We found out that they didn’t come empty-handed to this beach party either.

These vacationers had planned ahead for their Thanksgiving. They had packed four large turkeys in their suitcases and had brought them from the USA.  They had planned for an American Thanksgiving Day feast “Maori style”!

After the pit was dug, and the fire was blazing and the embers glowing red-hot, the prepared turkeys were put in and immediately covered with banana, papaya, mango and other leaves that we did not recognize.  The turkeys were then left to bake for the next 3 hours.

Everyone was in a festive mood and soon we were celebrating along with our new friends.  When their turkeys were cooked and all the trimmings served up, we too were invited to share in their memorable Thanksgiving Day dinner.

It was pretty memorable for us !

They may not be Maori-style but my Ukrainian-style recipes are sure to please.  Be sure to check out the recently added Turducken Roll.  Please try it and let me know how it all goes for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Christmas Toys – Then and Now

It’s after our Canadian Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day and now the stores are filling with everything Christmas!  It’s nice that some of our stores did not fill their shelves nor decorate their windows with Christmas decorations and displays until after Remembrance Day.  Let’s try to keep this up.  Let’s dedicate this small space of time to thank our veterans and present military personnel.

Now I’m not being an old Scrooge about setting up for Christmas.  On the contrary, I love Christmas.  The twinkling lights on the neighbourhood houses, the smell of fresh-cut evergreen boughs and trees help raise our spirits.  At this time of year, we see a few more smiles, a few more exchanges of friendly greetings and just maybe, everyone slowing down a bit and taking a few moments to reflect on their own lives and on those special people close to them.

There’s also the anticipation from the children of maybe getting a new toy.  If you have children (young and even those a bit older) in your home, there will be lots of talk about the latest gadgets and gizmos out on the market.

There are so many tech toys out there for young children.  I thought I was doing well keeping up with the talking Furby or even the remote control cars.  But now, to just name a few, there are interactive dogs (Dog Dalmatian), dinosaurs (Roboraptor) and dolls that giggle and repeat your own words and phrases.  How time and toys have changed.

Looking at this doll reminds me of Dolly.

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This is Dolly.   I know, not a very creative name.  But it suits her just fine.  Dolly came into my life when I was very young.  If you recall from my earlier posts, our family was very sad after my sister passed away suddenly in the early 1960s.  We never really had Christmas at our house for the longest time (See Oh Christmas Tree, my Dec. 22 post).

Here is my “Dolly” story as told to me by my mom.

My mom and I were in a department store and we walked past a display of toys.  Not so unusual for us to just look at toys.  But not this time.

This time, we stopped and we saw a beautiful big doll on display.  I asked mom if I could hold her.  I did and I called her my “Big Baby Dolly”.

I called her big because she was 33 inches tall.  I was only a little 3-year-old and maybe only 36 inches tall myself.  According to my mom, I said “Oh, Big Baby Dolly wants to come home with me”.

My mom said “No, you don’t need this doll.”

Mom was right.  After all, the doll was just a piece of plastic and she was very expensive. But I was only 3 years old and this didn’t sound reasonable to me back then.

So understandably, I was upset.  I cried all the way home.  I cried myself to sleep that night.  I did a lot of crying for the next little while.

A few weeks went by.  Mom noticed that I didn’t want to play with my other toys or go outside or well, I didn’t want to do anything.  My parents couldn’t figure out why I was so despondent.

My mom took me to the local doctor to get checked over.  What could possibly be going on?  Maybe I was ill?

The doctor checked me over and said to my mom that physically I was just fine, but something was wrong.

“It’s like she is missing something” said the doctor.

My mom knew right away after he said that.

“Petrosha wants a doll; what she calls a “Big Baby Dolly.  But Dr., we cannot afford to pay that kind of money for a plastic toy”  said my mom.

The doctor then looked at my mom and said, “Would you rather buy this toy or have an unwell child?  You need to decide what costs more…the doll or her health ?”

We went back home.

Not too sure how long it took, but after talking with my Dad, Mom said to me, “Ok, we will go and get the “Big Baby Dolly”.

I looked up at her with wide sparkling eyes and said “Dolly?” to which she replied, “Yes”.

I still have Dolly but more importantly, I have this story that I have heard so many times before.  I feel bad that mom and dad paid so much for Dolly. Times were tough for them back then.  But I do know that my parents loved me more than their hard-earned money that year.

Maybe that is why Dolly is so special to me even now.   We have been through a lot together.  She is looking a bit run down.  She has a broken arm because I dropped her off my bed when I was 6.  She has a crack in her leg because I took her tobogganing with me when I was 8 or 9.  Dolly has travelled across the Prairies with me.  She has moved houses with us.  My own children have played with her too.

Dolly has now endured over 5 decades.

Do you think she was worth the cost?

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