I had lots of other winter projects to contend with today...the snow had finally decided to pile up... possibly 12 inches according to my personal meteorologist...so it was a good day to stay inside the cabin, keep the fire roaring...eat popcorn for lunch... and to get to work and finish my growing mounds of pictures to organize...albums to name and assemble for Christmas gifts...the box of Judith's columns... saved for years... to cut out of the newspaper, place in plastic sleeves and put in my personal album...finish decorating the tree Peter had cut in the forest which is now residing between the sun room and the living room in an Apache kettle on a stump...visible from Molly Butler's Lodge, 92 Beans and passersby on Main Street.
Peter decided to leave me alone and go to his studio in the gallery across the driveway to paint another masterpiece. He has an uncanny sense when I need to be left to my emotional, mental and physical privacy.
While procrastinating and watching CBS Sunday Morning, I found myself tearing up...not big sobs...just soft tears,,,falling down my cheeks. There is no explainable reason except maybe it's the outward reaction to the stabbing pain I always feel when Christmas rolls around and I have no parents...no grandparents...no aunts and uncles...no cousins...no childhood "unrelated" siblings...no Birthday Club.
There is nothing any of my children, grandchildren, or my husband can do to console me. I miss my childhood.
Joni did call from Maple Hill Cemetery on Saturday...texting me that she wished I was there with her. We are both still alive...but I understood what she meant.
The Hallmark Channel certainly fed my melancholy...while looking at pictures and putting them in their own special piles...I multi-tasked watching a predictable, syrupy Christmas movie and cried some more...then laughed...as I read the back of a picture of some members of The Birthday Club..."having Bloody Marys after church"...that would have been the First Methodist Church...on the northwest corner of Delaware and North First Street in Fairfield, Illinois.
Having somewhat pulled myself together by mid-afternoon, the popcorn lunch wasn't holding and I started thinking about dinner...as I pulled Agnes Dickey's Cheesey Grits casserole recipe from Mother's old recipe box, the box collapsed.
This is no ordinary recipe box...its made of fine wood and is a foot long. It was beyond repair as it had shattered on its backside...not a clean break...70 years, maybe older, of opening and closing had taken its toll.
Recipes are now all over the dining room table...just one more thing to organize.
As I started looking through the recipes and becoming more and more frustrated about how I would ever fit them into a normal sized recipe box, I decided to relax...take a deep breath...grab a chair and sit down.
My mother was the perfect cook. She managed to prepare meals in high heels, not a hair out of place, cleaning pans as she used them. She donned a cover-up apron (monogrammed with her initials, of course) over her designer outfit, every single night of the week after a full day of teaching Home Economics or English at Fairfield Community High School. Every night except when The Birthday Club got together...or when they went to the Elks and "Wiley" took care of me. Mother's meals were well-rounded, healthy and delicious.
The Birthday Club was a group of post-WW II survivors who all ended up in Fairfield and decided to find an excuse to party. Some were born and reared in Fairfield...others were transplants...but they were, for the most part, educated professionals...even the women. Some were not formally educated but had obviously been taught good manners and social skills...they were generous and charitable to the church, the community and to each other.
They were mostly good cooks...even the men...after the barbecue grill was invented.
Bob & Letha,
Walt & Mary Helen
Russell & Matty
Francis & Katherine
George & Florence
Scott & Bernie
Tom & Marge
Gil & Robley
John & Millie
(Note: This list is in alphabetical order according to their last names...which are not going to be posted. If you knew of the Birthday Club, you already know their last names. If you didn't know them, it won't matter. They are now all deceased...and dearly missed.)
This blog is a cookbook memoir which I intend to publish in hard copy someday for my descendants' benefit. My children and some of my grandchildren knew many of the members of the Birthday Club. They felt as I did...that these people were family... cared about them and were interested in them. Their story just can't be lost...and my memories of them are so precious. I will try to share what I remember but it is my hope that any of you who have special stories of these wonderful people will contribute to the blog. Send me an email me and I will tell you how.
November 1, 2017: It is the season of Allhallowtide. My departed ancestors, beloved family and extended family...The Birthday Club...are in my thoughts and prayers today. Their photos received an extra look this morning as I paused to remember them and thank God for their presence in my life.
This blog post in "draft" form relentlessly stares at me everytime I write a new entry.
The time has come to finish my story about these very important citizens of Fairfield and very important grown-ups in the lives of The Birthday Club kids. I may be mistaken, but I sincerely believe that they each loved each other's children as their own. If I am mistaken...don't burst my bubble...nor are they here to convince others, as well as me, to the contrary.
The Birthday Club anthology will profile each couple in a separate post. From the aforementioned recipe box I will share a favorite recipe or two of the subject couple that my mother saved.
More to come...someday.