Friday, November 30, 2007

Nana's Fruitcake

Growing up, nothing said Christmas like Nana's Fruitcake. Now I know that fruitcake gets a bad rap, but I had no idea it was the butt of so many jokes until well into adulthood. I simply knew I loved Nana's Fruitcake and looked forward to her box of homemade goodness each December.

I still remember coming home from work one night in early December 1993, my first Christmas in DC, and being surprised by a box of Nana's Fruitcakes. That's when I knew I was an adult. She didn't send it to me when I was in college, but now that I was on my own (and over 21), she felt no guilt in sending me her bourbon-soaked fruitcakes.

I practically ran all 9 flights of stairs as I salivated in anticipation of the goodness to come. Ripping open the box, I was not disappointed. The rich smell of bourbon seeped through the layers of wax paper, saran wrap, and aluminum foil. I unwrapped a small fruitcake to have just a taste before making dinner, but the phone rang and suddenly I was sitting on the couch chatting with a girlfriend and chowing on Nana's Fruitcake. When I tried to get up to make dinner, I discovered that much to my surprise, I was drunk!

Almost 2 years ago, on a post-Christmas trip to Florida, Nana and I made fruitcakes together. Although she'd long ago sent me her recipe, it was important to me that we make fruitcake together. Knowing the fruitcakes we made that day would be the last she ever made, I have stored them in the freezer, eaten them sparingly and sharing has not been an option.

As I've begun preparing for tomorrow evening's 2nd Annual Marshall Field's Memorial Dinner & Christmas Party, I decided that in Nana's honor, I would share slices of Nana's Fruitcake with my friends. Christopher was over today to start cooking and made a snide comment about fruitcake, so I pulled Nana's Fruitcake out of the frig and carefully unwrapped it to give him a taste.

As I prepared to slice into the last of Nana's Fruitcake, my eyes started to fill with tears. The thought that when this cake was gone there would be no more was just a bit overwhelming. I cut us each a small slice, but couldn't look at Christopher the entire time I ate mine. I just knew that if I looked at him, I would start to cry and I was doing a pretty good job of keeping my composure.

I've spoken with Nana each day since Thanksgiving and each day her voice has grown weaker. The good news is that she still knows it's me on the phone and not because the nurses have told her. She knows because she says "It's my granddaughter" and then tries to say my name. When I told her I had opened the fruitcake we made together, her voice perked up and she said she wished she could taste fruitcake again. I wish she could too.

I hope it's ok, but I just can't share the last of Nana's Fruitcake.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Count Your Blessings

As I count my many blessings today, I'm reminded of the old children's hymn "Count Your Blessings". The refrain contains the lyrics:

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

This Thanksgiving, my blessings include:

Being able to speak to Nana and hear her call me by my name. No voice has ever sounded sweeter. And although I know her time is short, the nursing home called in Hospice 2 days ago, I'm blessed today to have spoken to her.

Nana's fruitcake. I know fruitcake gets a bad rap, but Nana made the best white fruitcake I've ever had (of course, I won't eat any other fruitcake, so I may be biased). It's full of bourbon, which probably explains a lot of things. Almost 2 years ago, Dave and I went to Florida after Christmas to visit Mom and Nana and Nana and I made fruitcake. I have 1 fruitcake left. It's the last of her fruitcakes and today Mom and I may have a little.

My friends. They keep me grounded and humble because they know where the skeletons are hidden. :)

My family. For the first time in years, I'm spending Thanksgiving with my mom. In an hour or so I'll start cooking and we'll share a nice dinner. But most importantly, we'll be together. I've spoken to my dad and Dave today and both are fine.

The Greens. Although Joan passed away a few weeks ago, I'm eternally grateful she was in my life for 30+ years. I am the woman I am today partly thanks to her. She and Don and their son Bill were always there for Dave and me, and we have many wonderful memories of times spent with them. And Don still edges my sidewalk. The Greens are family. I'm also grateful Dave got to see her in the days before she died.

On a larger scale, the men and women who selflessly give of themselves and volunteered to serve in the military are a blessing. We may be fighting a war I have serious questions about, but I'm grateful for the people doing the job. I'm also grateful for the brave people fighting to bring the military home.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Brad Meltzer for FREE!

You know how much I love Brad Meltzer. Not only is he my favorite writer, but he's also just an all-around super cool guy. I could list all the cool things he does, but that list would be a novel in itself. So just take my word for it and keep reading.

Over on his blog today, he proved once again, just how cool he is.

Brad announced that starting tomorrow (11/13), if you visit iTunes or, you can download his novel, The Millionaires, for FREE. Yep. For FREE. No catch.

He writes legal and political thrillers and I've read all of his books. I absolutely love them all. While his books aren't a series, I normally would recommend reading them in order because you can really see his evolution as a writer, and I've always preferred real books to audio books, but it's FREE! So since you can download The Millionaires for FREE, just do it! Oh, and of course, listen to it.

You can thank me later.

P.S. Thanks for letting me use the pic of The Millionaires Brad!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's A Small World

Over the last 5 weeks, I have been bombarded with friends from the past.

First, at a college reunion, I ran into a guy I had a huge crush on in college. I swear he hasn't aged a day in the last 15 years and neither have I. It was a great weekend and I had a blast, but as Tim said, that was the greatest reunion where nothing happened. :(

A couple of weeks later, the woman who gave me my professional break in Washington DC in August 1993 contacted me via LinkedIn. It's been fun catching up with her.

Three or four days later, my best friend from DC, Kelly, emailed me and caught me up on all of our friends from DC. She told me that there's a big party planned for February and I have to be there because it's been too long since we've seen each other (7 1/2 years). Kelly and I met Jimmy Smits together at the 1997 Presidential Inaugural Ball and used to get in all kinds of trouble together. In fact, it's partly her fault I have Betsey and Ross. :)

Last Thursday, the grandfather of the last guy I dated in DC died. He flew the Enola Gay. Until I read about it on CNN, I hadn't thought about him in forever.

This week, Rick, another DC friend contacted me via LinkedIn and we're back in touch.

And this morning, I discovered an email from my friend Steve from high school. We haven't spoken since the summer after freshman year of college. I can't wait to hear what he's up to.

God, I love technology!