Memorial Day 2021

The hows and whys of our national holidays have maybe never have been as important as they are now. We must remember the significant events of the past as our history is challenged and in some cases, erased or rewritten by scheming individuals and organizations. Our collective identity is built on a foundation of courage, sacrifice and honor. Memorial Day is the perfect time to remember who we are and were we came from.

Memorial Day began as a commemoration of the soldiers who fought and died in America’s Civil War. It was a terrifyingly brutal military engagement. Besides the fact that fathers were fighting their sons and brothers against brothers, the casualties were so great that the total of fallen soldiers in all of the others wars we have fought do not equal the number who died fighting in the Civil War, now thought to be close to 750,000.

Arlington National Cemetery has its roots firmly planted in the Civil War. When General Robert E. Lee was leading the Confederate forces, the Union generals began burying their dead in the kitchen garden of Lee’s family’s plantation. At the end of the war, the Union confiscated Lee’s plantation as war reparations and turned it into Arlington National Cemetery.

I’ve been teaching this week at Highland High School in Salt Lake City. My freshmen students have been creating “Letters to Your Senior Self,” a tradition at Highland. I was thinking about how my life changed during the next 3 years of high school. It occurred to me that when I was a freshman, some of the seniors graduating would be drafted and sent to fight in the Vietnam War. Nowadays, the seniors may be leaving for 2 years of church service, family vacations, their first jobs or time with a parent they see in the summer.

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The poppy is a traditional symbol of Memorial Day. The story behind this icon can be found here. The poem “In Flanders Field” was originally penned about World War 1 but has become a Memorial Day classic too.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

Modern Memorial Day celebrations often feature the decorating of graves, both military and family, veteran speakers at special ceremonies and picnics and barbecues. We should take moment and teach our families about Memorial Day, the cost of freedom and pay our respects to those who have paid the price. When you add the facts that 750,000 lives were given to end slavery, it’s not hard to see that America is not a racist nation.

Here is a delicious dessert to share with your loved ones as we honor the heroes of our nation this Memorial Day.

My sister Cindy gave us a Cuisinart ice cream maker for Christmas a couple of years ago. We adapted this recipe using theirs for basic vanilla ice cream. Ours calls for freezing the container for 24 hours before using. Follow the preparation instructions for your ice cream maker.

Coconut Nut Ice Cream

In a large mixing bowl combine the following ingredients, refrigerate overnight:

1 C milk ( the recipe calls for whole but we have been happy using our 1%)

2/3 C granulated sugar

pinch of salt

2 C heavy cream

1 TBSP coconut extract

The next day, place in the frozen Cuisinart ice cream maker bowl, attach paddle and turn on. After the ice cream mixture has processed about 20 minutes, add

1 C shredded sweetened coconut

1 C salted mixed nuts

Continue processing until mixture starts to harden. Place in freezer for a few minutes until it sets up. Makes 10 – 1/2 C servings.

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Celebrating Mothers

I was going to write about the hours that Moms spend caring for their families, like the 21,900 meals they cook in the 20-ish years of rearing each child.

Or the 52,000 pieces of clothing and accoutrements they provide, launder and replace in a never-ending cycle.

But instead, I decided to take an excerpt from my A Holiday Handbook and share a few creative ideas, I’m going to do a few of these for my Mom.

Our Mom will be leaving us soon and going on to her reward. The last year has been bittersweet as dementia has taken more of her personality and memory and left us a person we hardly know now. But we believe she will be glorious, healed and whole in the next life; the beautiful, loving, creative, intelligent Mom that we love.


            Create an arrangement or bouquet of Mom’s favorite fresh cut flowers or make a French floral basket with potted flowers that she can transplant to her garden later

            Showcase Mom’s talents by displaying quilts. paintings, family records, flowers from her garden, photos of Mom and Dad, family and friends

            Enjoy the shade of a market umbrella for outdoor events

            Mom’s favorite selections: colors, flowers, china and background music

            Thank Mom for all the love and time and resources she shared with you. Tell her specifically what you remember and appreciate.

            Ask mom for your favorite recipes if you haven’t copied them yet.

            Make a quilt featuring her favorite things and colors. Write notes on blank squares; love will keep her warm!

            Present her with tickets to a favorite concert or play. Take her to a gallery or museum. Or give a gift certificate to a favorite store.

Mom as a bridesmaid in her friend Lila’s wedding party.


  Collect stories about the women in your family, print them and present them to the girls for inspiration and to strengthen loving bonds.

            How well do you know your Mom’s story? Copy the following questionnaire and hand it out to family and friends; have Mom give her answers. How well do you know your Mom?

Have Mom and significant women fill in the following questionnaire.


Your favorite color

Favorite flower

About your birth

What you loved to do with your Mom

Your Dad

Your favorite relatives (and why)

Values they instilled in you

Favorite childhood activities

Family trips

Books you loved

Who were your heroes?

Your dreams?

Your brothers and sisters

Childhood home

Your grandparents

Memories of church

Your favorite teacher in elementary school (and why)

Your favorite holiday (and why)

Your favorite subjects in high school

Some popular songs

Did you play sports, act, write or….

What you did with your friends

Your first job

Your first car

Your first boyfriend

How you he met my father

Why they picked my name

About college

Your accomplishments

Service to God

Service in the community

Your favorite vacation

People you’ve known

Places you’ve been

Your favorite president

Your favorite music

Your adult dreams

Your favorite game

Favorite scripture story

Favorite books

Favorite television and movies

Things you wished you’d done differently

Your passions

Your hobbies

What you’d like to do.

Life’s lessons

My Grandma’s porcelain teacups , a crocheted dress that my Mom wore when she was a baby, flowers from my children; 4 generations of love represented here.

Here’s a delicious Mother’s Day meal to celebrate the love you share.


Serve her favorite foods or enjoy this traditional luncheon menu

Croissant Chicken Salad Sandwiches

            Bake, skin and cube

16 chicken breast halves


1 15 oz can crushed pineapple, drained

6 stalks celery, chopped

1 bunch grapes, halved

2 C light mayonnaise

1 C vanilla yogurt

1/4 C frozen orange juice concentrate

salt and pepper to taste

            Chill until serving time. Scoop generous amounts onto

16 croissants, split almost through

            Garnish with

leafy green lettuce

Fruit with dip or chocolate fondue; offer pineapple, strawberries, melon cubes, grapes, orange wedges, raspberries, kiwi, banana chunks, coconut macaroons

Fruit Dip

            Mix together

8 oz light cream cheese

7 oz marshmallow cream

orange juice to thin to desired consistency

            Chill until time to serve

Wild Rice Salad

            Cook with 2 C. of water and enclosed seasonings:

2 boxes Uncle Ben’s long grain and wild rice mix (don’t use instant)

                        Cool, set aside.

Mix salad ingredients except avocados and pecans. Combine with dressing, refrigerate 2 – 4 hours. Before serving add avocados, pecans and serve on a bed of torn lettuce.

8 green onions, chopped

6 oz. sugar snap peas, ends removed

4 med. avocados, diced

2 C pecans, chopped and toasted (350* – 7 min)

1 red peppers, chopped

2 stalks celery, sliced

Dressing, combine in food processor

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2  TBSP Dijon mustard

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 C. seasoned rice wine vinegar

1/2 C vegetable oil

2 lemons, juiced

May be made a day ahead.

Honey Lemonade

            In a saucepan, stir over medium heat until combined :

Juice of 10 lemons (about 2 1/2 C)

1 C honey

            Cool, add       

12 C water

            Serve over ice with sliced lemons

Rich and Easy Fondue

            Melt over low heat, stirring constantly

16 oz. chocolate chips or chunks

            Whisk in

1 1/2 C whipping cream

            Serve warm with fruit and coconut macaroons, ice cream, shortbread or other cookies

Happy Mother’s Day!

Corsages for Mother’s Day.

I’ve shared this before but in reaction to a ridiculous political move to reduce the role of Mother’s to “birthing persons,” here is a tribute to the actions, duties and love that follow “birth.”

To Mother, Grandmother,Aunt,Sister, friend and precious women

Who give life,

nurture and give joy.

Who bled and fed and hid Easter eggs,

and wrapped gifts and dyed Halloween costumes.

Who took me to the zoo

and Disneyland,

and grew pumpkins,

and taught me to play chess

and feed my babies.

Who taught me to write thank you notes

And have good manners

and remember birthdays

and ancestors(and love them).And gave me crayons

and dolls

and retainers

and fishnet nylons

and a radio to take to the beach.

Who took me to visit my grandparents

and on road trips

and swimming

and had a barbecue.

Who taught me to pray

and love

and find joy

and set a beautiful table.

And to watch out for little ones,

and spell correctly,

and feed stray kittens,

and read books.

And to try,

and fail,

and try again.

Who found our great grandfathers were kings

and great grandmothers were queens.

Who took pictures,

and listened as I learned to read,

and filled a piñata.

And eat Thanksgiving at the beach like Pilgrims,

and go on bike rides,

and read Luke on Christmas Eve,

and sing carols,

and find treats in my stocking.

To share with those in need,

and love art and beauty,

and wear bows in my hair

and shoes that fit,

and remember God and go to church.

Who sewed clothes,

and prayed for soldiers,

and firemen,

and missionaries,and me.

Who baked cakes

and arranged flowers,

and made 20,000 meals,

and made me brush my teeth.

And bought sugar sticks,

and made drawings,

and bread,

and Beef Stroganoff.

And soothed wounded hearts,

and took us to movies,

and to the woods,

and the sea.

And played

and prayed

and gave time

and love

and life.

Thank you.