Saturday, February 18, 2023

Traditions and Doughnut Day

I've been thinking a lot about family traditions. How are traditions different from routines and habits? I think of a traditions as a way that we celebrate holidays and special days. What happens when life shifts and traditions are forced to change? How much value should be put on traditions?

You probably expect that I'm thinking of this topic since losing Ed, and you are right. But I think that the loss of Ed upended routines and habits more than traditions. Actually, Ed and I didn't have many traditions. Someone asked what we did on Valentines' Day, and I had to dig deep in my memory. While I remember various ways we celebrated the holiday through the years, we didn't have a specific tradition. Same goes for birthdays and aniversaries.

Traditions are fun. It doesn't take young children long to build a tradition. Do something once or twice and I hear, "We always...." Even though I've struggled to build traditions like for the first day of school or on birthdays, we still have acquired a few traditions along the way.

This week, for the first time, my children and I are taking a trip without my two oldest children. (We plan to spend a week helping rebuild houses after a flood, but my two oldest children are going another week with friends.) This is the fifth winter we've done this, but it won't be the same. And I'm okay with change - most days. Some change show maturity and growth - in myself and my children. I need to let go some of my expectations and allow my children to grow and change.

This past year, my mother-in-law sold her house and moved to a nursing home. My parents moved out of their big farmhouse six years ago. And, of course, Ed's death brought a huge number of changes to our home. Aging and death bring change which carries a lot of grief.

If you are a long time reader here, you know that for years my family made doughnuts every winter. I don't know when this tradition started. My first memory of doughnut making was when I was a very small girl. As my brothers married, their wives joined the doughnut making tradition. Sometimes we'd make doughnuts on Fasnacht Day; sometimes we'd choose another day.

In 2016, my family made doughnuts at my mom's house, not realizing it would be the last time. (We even had a photographer from the local newspaper record the event. The next year, my parents would move out of the farm house. The day had gotten rather crazy anyway, with so many children, and maybe it was simply time to adjust this tradition. So Ed and I spend a Saturday making apple fritters at our house. I thought maybe that would be the start of a new tradition. But months later, Ed was diagnosed with brain cancer, and we never again made doughnuts. 

This winter, we were discussing doughnuts, and I realized that my two youngest girls didn't remember doughnut making at all. I shouldn't have been surprised. At that last doughnut making at my mom's house, my youngest daughter had only been a few weeks old. 

So I asked my mom if she would bring her fryer to my house to make doughnuts. I invited two of my sisters, and we had a fun doughnut day, seven years after our last one. 

Will this begin a new tradition with my daughters? I don't know. Maybe this will be a one-time event that my girls will look back to and say, "Remember that time we made doughnuts?" Maybe some day they will bring their children and say, "Every winter we go to mom's house and make doughnuts." 

What traditions have you had to change? Have you replaced it with new ones?

To read more on past doughnut days...
Mom's doughnut recipe - we have used the same recipe for over 30 years.
Apple fritter recipe - the new favorite
What happens when your memory fries on doughnut day

Friday, February 3, 2023

Sisters' Bright Winter reading in January

I have more to life than just reading, though you might not know it from this blog. January was a full month, including our family butcher day, a trip to North Carolina for a wedding, a delightful writing day with three friends, and lots of the daily activites of homeschooling, laundry, and food prep. All these things might be worthy of writing about, and maybe I will, but somehow my time this winter is consumed by projects besides blogging. 

But some of you keep saying you enjoy our book reviews, and book reviews are some of the easiest things to write about, so here are a few more.

This post contains affiliate links.

Charity and I are both taking part in the Brighter Winter reading program. This has been a favorite part of our winter for the last several years and always helps to stretch our reading into new genres. 

Both of us completed all twenty grids in January, and here are a few of our favorite reads this month. 

Charity -

Read a green book.

The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse

Wodehouse is the author of comical British novels. In this book Bertie is once again tangled up in his friends’ affairs, trying to help and getting into trouble. The cast of characters is hilarious, and I loved Bertie’s valet, the calm, measured, and always-coming-to-the-rescue Jeeves. I listened to an audio version and the British accents make the story even better! 

Read the last book published by a author.
Read a classic you think you "should" have read before.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens 

At Dickens’ death, he left one book incomplete. Now I will always want to know the ending to this mysterious story, such as did Drood actually die, is John Jasper hiding something, will Rosa every feel safe again, and who is the stranger that watches Jasper? It is a beautifully written story with intricately drawn characters. If Dickens had completed this book, it would have been a masterpiece.

Gina - 

Read a medical memoir. 

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

I have heard of this book for years, but this challenge finally pushed me to read it. Gawande explores the topic of aging, the elderly, and ultimately, death. This isn't a fun subjects to read about, but by the time I finished reading this book I thought that anyone who loves an older person or will one day become an older person, should read this book. In other words, everyone. Gawande looks at nursing home options, end-of-life decisions, the role of communication, and much more. Probably what makes this book so valuable is that Gawande isn't looking at it as a researcher. He tells the story of his own patients, and then his own dad, showing that he has wrestled deeply with these questions himself. 

Read a nonfiction book by a female Christian writer.
Read a green book. 

Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson

This book seems simple, just a book sharing garden analogies on humility. With Jefferson's grapevines and her own herb garden plus more as examples, Anderson shows that humility is the fruit of belonging to Jesus. I'm finding myself thinking about the book a few weeks later, which is a sign of a book that I read at the right time.

Do a buddy read. 

One of the reading challenges was to read a book with a friend so you can discuss it together. Charity and I chose The Great Good Thing. In this memior Klavan shares how God slowly drew Klaven to Himself from a life totally devoid of God. I don't think I've ever read a conversion story like it and though I might not agree with all of Klavan's beliefs, his story made me love our Savior even more.

Do you read more in the winter? What was your favorite book in January?


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