Your Order, Please

Our daughter is flying home next Thursday for a week of rest and relaxation. It has been a big year for her, getting her independent clinical social work license and starting a private practice. She is very excited to be home and her phone calls are becoming more frequent.

One of her joys visiting home is choosing the menus for our meals. She wants Turkey Chipotle Chowder and homemade cinnamon rolls. We have settled on Horseradish Encrusted Beef Tenderloin garlic mashed potatoes, cheesy baked asparagus, and apple hand pies for Christmas Day. Sometime during her week here she wants Croque Madame Casserole.

We love to cook for her, and it will be good to have her home. She will lie on the sofa and knit an afghan for us as our Christmas present. She also wants to play cribbage with her father. She doesn’t want anything from us this Christmas except a quiet and good food.

How are you planning to spend the holidays? What would you like to eat ? How were your visits home when you were in your 20’s?

62 thoughts on “Your Order, Please”

  1. your menus sounds pretty good. Garlic mashed potatoes, Cheesy ANYTHING. Plus cinnamon rolls! Nice.

    My side of the family isn’t getting together until the 1st. (Don’t tell my mom yet, she’ll just fret over it). We haven’t really talked about food yet. I’d like to try mini cheesecakes.
    And since I didn’t get the ham at Thanksgiving, maybe we’d do a ham for our own Christmas dinner.

    In my 20’s I was still living on the farm anyway. But I remember Mom and Dad telling my older brother, if he was going to say here, they were going to make him pay rent. Don’t know if he was 18 or 19 or 20. But he moved out. And he wasn’t a slacker or anything, I think it was just a nudge. He rented an apartment with a buddy, and he had a job. Then he figured out what he wanted to do and went to college.

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        1. I was surprised to learn they often do spinals with mild sedation for these. But knowing what I had this summer, the anesthesiologist didn’t want to irritate those nerves any more, so I had general. Fine by me.

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      1. Glad to hear it, Ben. As I was drifting off to sleep last night – with an ice pack on my left knee – I wondered if the knee you had replaced is on the same or opposite leg of where you have a damaged foot? I’m guessing opposite. At any rate, push yourself to do you PT, and continued speedy recovery.

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        1. PH is correct. The physical therapy is everything. I don’t speak from personal experience, but Nonny had both of her knees done a couple of years apart and she really pushed through the therapy. In fact, the first one the physical therapists had kind of a fight over her about who was going to come in on Sunday because she had said “well if you’re not here on Sunday, what am I supposed to be doing?” She healed up very nicely both times

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  2. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    We are staying home and hanging out with my son and his wife. It is hard to spend time with adult children, so we are anticipating this. I am fixing spare ribs and potatoes of some kind for the meal. We are also going out to the Arboretum Friday evening for the light show, as well. My daughter-in-law’s birthday is on Christmas, so I am looking for an idea to make it special for her if anyone has an idea. She wants a chocolate cake or apple pie to celebrate. That I can do!

    I visited my parents often in my twenties, especially because my dad was so immobile with advanced MS. Afterwards I would usually feel overcome with grief. My uncle brought him to Northern MN to see the North Woods where we lived at the time in 1978. He set up the back of his pick up to comfortably carry dad. It was so kind of him to do that.

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  3. Holidays will be quiet as usual. Changing our M.O. to a Christmas Day potluck brunch with my mom and siblings and kids. Ten of us total. Used to have a dinner with the same group the Saturday before Christmas (other than the 24th) with rotating hosts. That was to accommodate busy schedules and multiple families to visit. Now it’s just the core group with some moved away, some celebrating Christmas in the next life. And most of us don’t care to drive at night anymore. 🙂

    Christmas Eve will be the two of us, probably dining on this new scallop, bacon, and corn recipe we found last year that is ultra yummy. We have a few more traditional Christmas movies to watch, then our typical NYE appetizers, Champagne, “Young Frankenstein,” “Casablanca,” and try to stay awake until 11:00 to see the ball drop in Times Square. Party! Party!

    NYD, probably a nice dinner of some sort. May invite mom and stepdad, but may not.

    In our twenties, we usually drove down from Cloquet/Carlton to the Cities, raced around town, saw three groups of people in about 24 hours, then went home so Sandra could return to work (nurses rarely get lots of time off during Christmas). I was teaching, so I had the time off, which helped some. More than once, we were driving home at midnight so Sandra could sleep until noon and then do a p.m. shift (3:00- 11:00). The bright side of that was seeing the Northern Lights one year as we drove.

    Chris in Owatonna

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  4. OT-My agency is closed again today. I baked frenetically yesterday, and today I plan to rest and nap. We have a two foot high drift in the driveway. Husband’s snow blower will come in handy.

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  5. We’ll be fulfilling the mitzvah by getting Chinese food for Christmas (there’s a hilarious Twitter thread, a parody Talmudic discussion of eating Chinese food on Christmas, but of course I can’t find it now!).

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  6. We’ll be going over to friends who host an “orphans” gathering for several of us who won’t see their families – we’ve been menu planning via email and it sounds like it will be wonderful food. Will think up something special for Christmas eve – I’m watching all y’all for food ideas.

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  7. Current plan is no family coming on Christmas Day. It will be just a regular day except she will get a Christmas meal, I suppose turkey or ham. I will come after afternoon with her and make one of my regular meals.
    Today I am waiting to decide about going over. One weather site is predicting 1-2, 2-4 and 4-6, depending on what adivisory I look at. One problem is that I live on top of the bluffs; she lives on the bottom. I do not need to go. She would not really miss me. But I would feel guilty if I do not go over. A main artery is right in front of me. Traffic is creeping along. This city has it seems given up plowing until snow is done.
    I spent much of evening and later with her. She seems to have another UTI, which is a reason to be there. I can calm her down. Takes 3 days for test results. She almost goes from one UTI to another. They tell me she is her usual charm9ing self right now. Took her drugs without argument.

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    1. I did come over. Streets were decent. Two idiot drivers almost got me. Came down the steep hill right by her home. It was fine. She sure seems to have another UTI. The only way I can communicate with her NP is by a special bridge which for the third time says I am not inthe system. I called the Mankato Clinic 110 minutes ago. Took me 15 minutes of waits to work my way through the phone system to leave a message to fix the message system. I know from the past that there is no other way for me to communicate with her. No one can take a message. I cannot leave a message on a phone. What century are we living in? The test is a culture test which takes 2-3 days. The poor aides have to live with her through those days

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      1. Clyde, UTIs can be serious and cause a severe infection. I’m sure you are aware of that. If possible, I would take her to the doctor, even to the ER. UTIs increase the dementia and cause balance issues and confusion. Those bridges are challenging! I had to use one of those too. They can’t leave messages due to federal HIPAA laws. Is there anyone who can help you?

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        1. My first question when I evaluate an older woman for dementia is “has she had a UTI recently?” Often, that is the whole problem, not a dementia like Alzheimer’s.

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        2. I’m mystified. What’s the connection between a UTI and dementia? To the best of my knowledge, I don’t have dementia (yet), but I have had several UTIs. Should I worry that they may be causing me to lose my memory?

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        3. It’s just a symptom of a UTI in an elderly person. They appear confused and seem to have lost touch with reality. They have problems with balance and may fall. In a person who doesn’t have dementia, it can appear to come on suddenly and families are baffled by the sudden change. It seems to happen when the elderly person has had the UTI for some time and it has gone untreated. The infection can become systemic which is dangerous. Sometimes a person who has had chronic UTIs won’t spike a fever so the infection remains hidden. It’s really important to treat UTIs in elderly people due to the complications associated with them. Sometimes a second round of antibiotics is needed. It doesn’t cause dementia. That’s just a symptom.
          Drink lots of cranberry juice!

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        4. In March my mom had a uti. She injured herself seriously as part of the behavioral problems. She is treated for another one now. She was hitting staff this time and does not remember any of it.

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        5. Sorry, Jacque. It’s hard to watch our mothers go through this. I really believe that UTIs are difficult to diagnose and sometimes aren’t treated adequately. The behavioral symptoms are baffling and mask the real problem. I could get started on staffing problems in long term care facilities, and the need for experienced nursing staff.

          My mom had UTIs too. I think she had one in August 2020 when my visits were still limited. I think a UTI resulted in a fall and hip fracture. She spent nine days in Abbott, unresponsive and on lots of medication and oxygen. They weren’t able to stabilize her adequately for repair of her hip fracture. After nine days, I brought her back with her left hip still fractured. Her nursing care needs doubled and she was put on hospice.

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        6. Thanks, Krista. I’m interpreting that as that there’s no cause/effect relationship between the two, but that they often occur together. I would expect that a care facility that specializes in taking care of people with dementia are very well aware of this, and act accordingly.

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        7. Once they fix it I can communicate all I need. She ordered the culture. This is her fourth, if it is a uti, in four months. I cannot take her anywhere. She is so difficult to get in and out of a car.

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        8. I’m glad you were able to get through. I always had trouble with that bridging site too.

          Do the staff at the facility help you at all, Clyde? I’m pretty sure there is AmeriCare Mobility Van company in Mankato. It might be a way to take Sandi to appointments with help. Maybe you already know about that. Just trying to help.

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  8. My mother went through a phase when I was in my 20s (before they were grandchildren) during which every time I visited St. Louis everything became a major deal. Every meal had to be spent with my sisters and my sisters spouses so we go out to breakfast, we go out to lunch, we go out to dinner or else we’d go someplace as a group and have lunch there and everybody had to be happy. This was really rough and I didn’t care for it at all so in perfect passive aggressive form, I made a big chart on a poster board, laying out all the different things we could do with a grid of everyone’s name and putting “x’s”about who would be happy to do each activity and who wouldn’t be happy to do it. The upshot of the grid the way I made it was that the only time everyone would be happy at the same time was from 1 AM to 5 AM in the morning when we were all asleep. I thought it was hysterical and Nonny did laugh a little, but it did seem to make a difference afterwards.

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  9. We have several holiday traditions. First off is the gift exchange this weekend. As I am starting to ramp up, I realize that I have really missed this the last few years. So anyone in the Twin Cities is coming come hungry. Please.

    We celebrate solstice and that’s when we open gifts. On Christmas Eve we go up to Alan and Julie‘s, which is insanity with the 13 grandchildren and gifts are opened. On Christmas day, we go to the movies and then go to friends’ house who live in Stillwater.

    The movie choice is going to be interesting this year. YA suggested the second Pandora; she came to me the other night and said, “have you seen the first Pandora because if you didn’t like it then you probably wouldn’t want to see the sequel.” So I dutifully Avatar on Disney+ and I did not like it. It was so incredibly Hollywood and predictable that I could hardly sit through it; and it was so long. So now we’re trying to find another movie to go to.

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  10. Men with snow blowers are so funny! Before Husband could get out to clear our driveway with his snow blower, three neighbor guys descended on our driveway with their snow blowers! Once they get started they don’t want to stop.

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    1. Not a problem in our neighborhood, possibly because husband is the only one with a snowblower. Actually, he has two: one for minor light snow, another for a heavy duty snow fall.

      It seems to me that pressing the smaller one – which is easier to handle – into service first thing in the morning, might alleviate the need for the bigger one later in the day, but what do I know? I’ve done my share of shoveling over the years, both our own and our neighbors, so feeling no guilt that I can’t contribute in that department now. Now that I think about it, we didn’t acquire a snowblower until I was no longer able to shovel! Wonder what was up with that?

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      1. YA just came in from shoveling. I asked her before she went out if she wanted to learn how to use the snowblower, but she said no. I’m not gonna argue with her.

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  11. It looks like we’ve had about 5 inches in Northfield. It’s Christmas card pretty out there!

    No Christmas plans for me. This coming Saturday night I’m getting together with some friends to sing some carols. Next Wednesday I’m getting a new furnace and I might play ukulele with some friends at the senior center. Next Friday night my brother’s family and I are getting together at Reunion in Northfield. Pippin and I will celebrate Christmas with a new bone for him and some oyster stew for me.

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      1. Yes. It’s so easy.
        2 cups of milk + 1/2 cup half n half: mix the milk in a sauce pan and heat gently over medium low until a skim forms on top, taking care not to scald it. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a sauté pan. Add 1 pint fresh oysters with their liquid to the butter and cook gently until they begin to curl and their gills are visible. Add oysters and butter to the milk and mix. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Serve with oyster crackers.

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      2. My father had his own famous recipe for oyster stew that was just whole milk and lots of butter, with a little baking soda to prevent curdling, heated up and then the oysters and their liquid added and heated, not too much, with pepper. He was asked all the time by the fraternal organizations to make oyster stew for their Christmas parties. I never had him write it down, to my regret.

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  12. During my working years, I spent every other Christmas at work (until the final few years when I had enough seniority to not have to work holidays). Because I worked the 11P to 7A shift, I could still celebrate Christmas Eve with my family, go to work, come home and sleep a few hours, then celebrate Christmas Day with them. I never minded working New Year’s Eve and sometimes volunteered to work it in addition to Christmas. We celebrated the New Year with a plastic flute of sparkling grape juice and then went back to work. One year we threw confetti – what a mess to clean up!

    Christmas will be similar to Thanksgiving – just me with my sister’s family. Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner while still living at home was homemade Italian spaghetti (using my aunt’s excellent recipe). But for years now we have Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, rice pudding, a veggie tray, cranberry sauce, and homemade cookies. New Year’s will be unique this year – celebrated on a ship sailing the Antarctic peninsula (as long as our Covid tests pre-cruise are negative).

    Ben, glad to hear the knee replacement went well and hope your recovery is uneventful.

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  13. We’re celebrating Christmas Eve at our friend Ann’s house, with the usual suspects, Mina and Will. This year our little gathering will be enhanced by the presence of their daughter, Anna, her husband, Leigh, and their eight year old daughter, Harriet, who arrived Tuesday night from Tasmania. Anna is a teacher and a writer – currently writing a book about the Franklin expedition – and Leigh is a fishing boat caption. Harriet was born, and has thus far lived all of her life, in Tasmania. I look forward to meeting them and hearing about their daily lives.

    Our planned menu, subject to changes, is roast leg of lamb with mint sauce, and roasted potatoes and veggies. (They’ve requested the same mix as what I prepared for Thanksgiving.) I’m contemplating a salad with fresh spinach, pears and pomegranate. Mina is also intends to make a Bouche de Noël. Personally I think that’ll be too rich, but I’m probably the only one who thinks that, so I’ll keep it to myself and just have a taste.

    I’m very mindful that our gatherings at Ann’s house are probably coming to an end in the not to distant future. At 88 her mind and body and failing, though her spirit is not. My left knee is making me very aware that I’m no spring chicken either.

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  14. I visited my parents only three times in my twenties. I didn’t see them, or anyone in my family, between the ages of 22 and 33. I lived too far away, and was too poor to afford to visit them.

    By the time my parents passed away in 1992, I had lived 27 years in the US, and I had visited them six or seven times, and they had visited me once. These were not comfortable visits for a lot of reasons, but a major factor was definitely that they were both heavy smokers, as was everyone else in the family. I’d be physically sick after just a day or two in their house. I have the same problem visiting my sister, though she tries to be very considerate of my hypersensitivity to smoke. The fact remains that her house reeks, literally stinks, no matter how much she has cleaned prior to my arrival. Everything, including the furniture, is saturated with the residue from smoke.

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  15. We married when we were both 21 and my parents lived here in the cities, so in the first part of our twenties we would visit them about once a week. My mother would prepare a dinner and while we were there we would do our laundry, since we were renting and didn’t have laundry facilities of our own. About the time we bought our first house, we also had our first child and things got busier so our visits became less regular. Robin’s parents and her siblings all lived in Northfield, so we would visit down there fairly often as well.

    The Christmas routine in those years would be that we would go to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve, where family , surviving extended family and old family friends would gather for a dinner of lutefisk and Swedish meatballs, etc. This was a continuation of the Christmas Eve tradition at my father’s parents’ house when they were still alive:
    Bumpa&Billy

    Christmas morning, we would all get up early (the kids would already be up, because Christmas morning!) and before we ate breakfast, we would dress and pile into the car for a drive down to Northfield. Some Christmases this was a hair-raising drive in swirling snow but we usually got there before the Northfield contingent was awake, they having been up late wrapping and labeling presents. In those early days we were ambitious about the labels on our gifts and they were often elaborate and/or poetic.

    Now we have a quiet Christmas Eve and the kids and grandkids will gather here in the late morning after their own morning traditions. I have in the past made Swedish meatballs for our meal but this year the menu is still in flux.

    Later in the week all of Robin’s family will congregate to celebrate together in Northfield.

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      1. It was a mess. Took four hours to be able to communicate with Season, the name of her NP, who is wonderful. She has ordered the urine culture. Roads were ok coming home. Got up the hill ok. One idiot weaving betwen cars at 45 mph until he spun out and hit curb and went right back to it. We have had maybe 4 in front of the apartment.
        In middle of finally getting through got a message to change password immediatley there had been a data leak at the site. Nothing on the site but her medical issues. But I changed it on the fly while dealing with it all.

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  16. We had a get-together last weekend for my brother-in-law’s birthday. It appears some illness was passed around, but I haven’t come down with it so far.

    Christmas will likely be ham for dinner. My sister makes a potato casserole recipe with cheese and cream. Not sure what else will be on the menu.

    When I was in my 20’s, Christmas was usually at my mother’s apartment. Those were nice holidays, pretty low key. We did a lot of handmade gifts in those days.

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