Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday's family makes chocolate. You want to be my friend now, don't you?

Hello, girls! I hope you all had a good Father’s Day, or a good Sunday, whichever is more applicable to you. :)

Alexandra: Hooray for Disney World honeymoons! My boyfriend and I have abstractly discussed going to the Harry Potter theme park for our hypothetical honeymoon if we both haven’t been by the time it becomes non-hypothetical.

Carlyn: Favorite culture? Hmmm . . . probably British. I like exploring the differences.

Casey: I feel as if every bit of creativity got sucked out of me with Alice, and it’s going to take time to regenerate, so I’m going to leave punishment ideas in the hands of others. I think what I would come up with would be more odd and nonsensical than punishing.

Christina: Road trips are fun. I’m supposedly going on one this summer (maybe. We’ll see.). Have fun in Texas!

And now for the topic of the week. Family.

I’ve touched on family in the past, in my introduction and in talking about Kate and my cousin’s wedding this summer, but family has always been a big part of my life, and so I certainly don’t mind expanding on what you already know.

I’m very lucky, as I come from a close and friendly family. We have our minor inner disputes, of course, but on the whole, we all get along with each other pretty well. My dad has one brother and three sisters, and even though we’re spread out across the country, we’ve always made a point of keeping in regular communication. Three times a year, at least four branches of the family gather together, either in the summer (say, for a wedding) or at Christmas or at Thanksgiving, and we have a lot of time-honored traditions. We sing, a lot, first of all. There are 22 of us when we all get together, and we’re almost all pretty musical. My uncle plays the guitar and my older brother plays the piano, and my cousins will occasionally accompany on flute or trumpet or drum or ukelele. And we sing. We sing Christmas carols at Christmas, and Golden Age showtunes during the summer. The only holiday we don’t get much singing in is Thanksgiving, because we’re all busy doing something else during Thanksgiving.

See, three generations ago, my great-grandmother decided she want to learn how to hand-dip chocolates. So she experimented on her own, but she couldn’t figure out why her chocolate ended up grey or streaked. So she went to a local chocolate shop and got a job and learned the secret of dipping chocolate. She learned how to make fudges and creams and caramels, and that’s how she and her family got through the Depression. They made and sold candy. Then, once the Depression had ended, my great-grandmother decided she would pass on what she had learned to her family, but that she would never again sell the chocolates. Instead, she gave them away as gifts.

And to this day, that’s what we do. Every Thanksgiving, three branches of the family gather at my grandparents’ in Bowling Green and make upwards of 200 pounds of homemade, hand-dipped chocolates. We’re up to 23 flavors, including nine kinds of fudge, six kinds of creams, four kinds of caramels, plus toffee, truffles, and nougat. It’s a week-long process, but it’s one of my favorite times of the year. I’m a fourth-generation dipper, and I help dip just about everything. If you’re interested, here is a YouTube video on the process that my brother put together a couple years ago:

So that’s my extended family, but my immediate family is pretty awesome, too. Leaving Kate out of the picture for now, My immediate family consists of my mom (a Methodist minister), my dad (a theatre PhD/college adjunct/children’s theatre instructor and director), my older brother Matthew (a Music Ed grad student), and my younger brother Jeffrey (a junior theatre major at BGSU). I am almost four years younger than Matthew and almost three years older than Jeffrey.

When my brothers and I were little, we were constantly at each others’ throat, particularly Matthew and I. Everything was a competition, everything was a battle for dominance, and the times when we could coexist peacefully were few and far between. Then he graduated high school, moved out to college, and became one of my best friends. We’re incredibly close now, which is kinda mind-boggling, especially when you consider that he once hit me in the head with a golf club (I can already hear the protesting, so I’ll add the caveat: accidently. He accidently hit me in the head with a golf club. But still).

Similarly, Jeffrey and I have gotten closer since I graduated high school, and he followed me to my school and major, so I’ve plenty of sisterly wisdom to depart, which he is super grateful for, I know.

And my mom and dad are great, as I’ve said before. They’ve always been very accepting, very supportive, and very understanding of whatever we’ve chosen to do. I like that I can talk to my parents, because I know not everyone can. I’m very lucky in my family, and believe me, I’m well aware of it!  So even though trying to get us together to do anything is like trying to get a herd of cats to walk in a parade, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Well, except maybe Jeffrey, if I got a good enough offer . . .

I look forward to hearing about your families!

Also, please let me know what you'd like to talk about in the future! It's likely just Alice aftermath, but my creative well is running dry -- so let's throw some topics out there for consideration!

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