Family gathered around a holiday table, the mom is holding a framed photo of lost loved ones

Seat at the Table with Mac and Cheese

I have a love-hate relationship with the holidays because like so many, I start to reflect on the reality of the many that are no longer with me. I miss my grandmother “Mama”, my best friends (Ro and Merlyn), Uncles, well the list kind of goes on, but my mother indeed is the strongest of misses. I think my mother would be proud of what I’ve accomplished with Mae’s Breath Foundation along with the other advocacy work.

So while we sit around Christmas day and are gleeful and jolly, her presence on my shoulder will be welcomed through the sadness.

A missing seat at the table

I think like so many especially this year when we sit around the table and give thanks for the day and family (because Thanksgiving is really about that...family), in our inner hearts we’ll think of all that we have lost. It’s a hard pill to swallow but I think some do better than others in coping with reality. The reality is so ever clear when we look around the table and see those missing seats, and who used to be seated at the head of the table. The way I try and stay in the holiday mode is to incorporate food into the mix. The holidays let’s be real, it’s the time to do a bit more than we should be doing, but it’s okay because we don’t do it too often.

Trying to recreate Mom's cooking

The first holiday after my mom passed away; it was important to have my brother come up to cook and try to create some normalcy, even though her passing was literally near the holidays. One of the items she used to have in her cooking repertoire was rutabagas. I guess that was the southerner in her, and I knew growing up I wasn’t a fan of it, but it was so important to have that on the menu.

My brother a vegetarian liked it and mom used to make it, so that had to be on the menu, but how do you make it?! I can't remember if I asked someone in the family or googled it. It got insane for a minute even more so that I didn’t realize the vegetable in use was actually a turnip. So imagine me in the grocery store looking for a turnip. Anyway, I figured it out using some common sense. It’s funny all cooking lessons this was one that was needed, especially in how to cut off the waxy part of the outer layers. I’m happy to say I figured it out with a long boil, seasoning, and ta-dah...mom’s rutabaga.

Missing mac and cheese

The star of the Mae cookbook was always her macaroni and cheese...what!! I’ve become so addicted that when we sought caterers for my wedding that was a given that this is on the menu. You know how it can be - we assume our loved ones will be here forever to make our favorites, and there they go, they leave us. I must say that my mom did show me, I did watch, and she did scold when I didn’t do it right...“I thought you were paying attention!”...“Mom, just fix my 3rd serving please”.

Now I have my own thing in how I do my mac and cheese, but dangit it’s so not the same, and it's different every time. It’s good but just not the same.

Happy holidays and sending love

Here’s to a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and cheers as we lift a glass to those yesteryears of memories.

Miss you mommy!

The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile...when you feel like it

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