Grandma & Gene Autry

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It is the day after Thanksgiving and the kids are everywhere. There are cousins and hide-and-go-seek and stories of our childhoods and food galore and more noise than any of us could handle on a normal day.

If anything, it is a family week around the house.  My Grandma Ber is sitting beside me here in the living room. She is 86 and, always being cold, perpetually covered in a big blanket as we talk together about “the old days.” I have heard most of these stories before, but as we talk she tells me a brand new story. We are discussing an old western comic book that my nephew has opened here on the coffee table in front of us. Something about it reminds her of what she refers to as her “first hearthrob.” She tells me that when she was young she wanted to marry the famous cowboy singer and actor Gene Autry. There was just something “about the way he wore that hat,” she said.

I know I have said it before, but just a reminder here on this Monday morning that stories are everywhere.  My grandma has a history, a life, a brain filled to overflowing with 80-something years of memories…80-something years of stories and loves and passions and anxieties and prayers and questions and wonders.  I bet your family does, too.  There are people sitting right there next to you on the couch with something to remember, a memory that will not leave them, a moment in time that continues to nestle itself somewhere deep inside their heart and soul.  When it decides to live again, it is something to see.

And who knows, you might even have a grandma who once dreamed of a famous cowboy crooner who stole her heart from the silver screen itself.


‘Thank-Full’ Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico

*Every Thursday we introduce you to another quick bedtime story about our family’s favorite resident reptile – Baby Frederico. His backstory can be found here.  Enjoy!

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Baby Frederico loves his Momma Mia and Papá Frita, his buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper, blue crayons, popcorn and painting his bedroom…but he did not like to wake up happy.  Here is his story:

It was early- too early for a little iguana to be awake – but the aroma from the kitchen was too good to sleep through. Baby Frederico lay there in his Battlestar Galactica sleeping bag (which he always preferred over the scratchy flannel sheets that his Momma Mia put on his bed in the wintertime) and tried to guess what his senses were telling him.

There was the smell of turkey…and bread dough…and something chocolate…and coffee.  There was the sound of a mixer…and music…and someone talking…and a timer ticking.

He began to think about all the things that were good about this particular holiday – family and friends and food and music and cold weather and piles of leaves to jump in.  There were also those wonderful smells and exciting sounds.  There were books to read and shows to watch and hiking in the forest behind his house and telling stories…and no school or homework.

By the time Baby Frederico climbed out of his sleeping bag that morning,he was brimming with happiness.  In fact, he was smiling so big when he came down the stairs to greet his family that Momma Mia said with surprise, “Baby Frederico, are you alright?  You are smiling from ear to ear, and it’s still early.  You never smile in the morning.”

And that is when Baby Frederico realized what Thanksgiving meant.  He was thank-full and he knew why.

‘A Turkey for Thanksgiving’ – Look at this Book!

* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room, and give you a unique “recipe for fun” this week over on our Book Cook page…


Today’s great book:  A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting with illustrations by Diane de Groat (1991, Scholastic Inc.)

Time to Read:  short and sweet with great friends and lots of kindness and humor and even a bit of mistaken identity; great for bedtime or anytime

Summary:  from the back of the book…”Everyone has turkey for Thanksgiving, and Mrs. Moose wants one too.  So, Mr. Moose and his friends set out to find a turkey for dinner, but Mr. Turkey has other ideas.”

Best Quote:  “It’s even nicer to be AT your table and not ON it…Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.”

Our View:  The last pages of this book are such a nice surprise to a person reading it for the first time, so we won’t give away the plot other than in that best quote above.  This is among the most creative of the Thanksgiving books in our collection.  We have quite a few, but this one remains special and is a grand reminder of that favorite part of this holiday season – gathering with family and friends and making the most of that time together.  Friends are everywhere in this book and working together and laughing together and sharing a meal together are the centerpiece of this grand Thanksgiving table.  As a student teacher, I read this book to my second-graders and they enjoyed it so much they decided to create a reader’s theater-style play from it.  We had sound effects people and actors and costume designers and props and one illustrator, Daniel, a little boy who found his talent as he was drawing all of the wonderful backdrops that the children would end up using to tell their story.  It was such a success that they ended up making tickets and posters for the entire elementary school, who came in shifts with friends and family and administrators to see the wonderful performance.  That is the power of a little book!  Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – “Turkey’s TrailMix” – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.