Memorial Day – USA Holiday

It has taken me a bit to collect my thoughts concerning this holiday, what it means, and what it should mean.

In the United States of America, Memorial Day has largely become an extra Federal holiday that allows a large number of Americans a day off to rest, grill outdoors, drink lots of beer, and in general celebrate. However, most of them don’t even know what they are actually celebrating.

There is so much more to this Day of Remembrance than just chilling in the back yard. A friend of mine made the following post on Facebook, and helped to solidify my own thoughts and feelings.

“Decoration Day was what the Grand Army of the Republic called it to begin with. A day to go to the cemetery and decorate the graves of the fallen. The date was chosen since there was no great battle of the Civil War fought then. It has changed a bit, we call it Memorial Day now, and we remember all who died in the line of duty in all of the wars which Americans have fought. It does not glorify battle or war, it remembers those who did not return to their families and homes. Fortunately of the many members of my family who served only one died during the conflict. ¬†Uncle Sandy Fred Roy Duncan, Jr. died on the beach at Saipan during the Second World War. He is buried in the Punch Bowl American Military Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii. My father got to visit his grave on his way home from the Navy during the war.

My grandmother was given the opportunity to have Sandy moved home to Oklahoma after the war, but she said it had been too painful to lose him the first time and she did not think she could take burying him a second time. It is a beautiful place. But it is far from his home in Oklahoma. I had the good fortune to visit there one year at a conference in. Honolulu. I cried at his grave for my father. Sandy had been his best friend and younger brother. They had been inseparable until the draft took dad for the Navy and Sandy for the Marines.

God watch over all the families, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, children and grand children who will never see their loved ones again. And may we learn the wisdom to settle our differences with diplomacy rather than with warfare.”

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– Rt. Rev. Dr. Stephen F. Duncan

The following links provide both historical information on the holiday and strong opinion on the same. Please take a few moments to educate yourself, and to return the day to it’s original intent.

This link leads to the Wikipedia page for the United States holiday, Memorial Day.

Forgetting Why We Remember is an op-ed written by David W. Blight, published in the New York Times on May 29, 2011.
— Ann Cathey
Family and extended to family to numerous active duty personnel, veterans, and fallen.

Candy Cane Snack Mix

There are tons of variations on the home-made holiday treat known as Chex Mix or Texas Trash. Most of them are a salty collection of cereals, nuts, pretzels, and spices. Have you ever considered a sweet version of this snacking treat?

Candy Cane Snack Mix
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes, plus refrigeration
Servings: Approximately 8

Ingredients:
5 cups rice cereal
1 cup mini pretzels
1 cup crushed candy canes
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2-1/2 cups white chocolate morsels (cookie chips)
2 cups popcorn
1/2 cup dark chocolate morsels (cookie chips)
1/2 cup mini marshmallows (any color)
1/2 cup shelled pistachios

Place cereal and pretzels into a large bowl.

Melt white chocolate morsels in microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring between rounds, until completely melted.

Pour melted chocolate over cereal. Stir and fold until lightly coated.

Fold in crushed candy canes.

Place confestioner’s sugar into a large zip-top bag.Add cereal mixture to bag, seal and shake until the mixture is coated with the sugar.

Refrigerate contents of bag until the chocolate hardens.

Turn out content of the bag into a large bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Place the mix in a serving bowl for immediate use, or measure into airtight containers as gifts.

Store at room temperature for up to two weeks.
Obviously, there are a lot of variations for this tasty treat, just as with the salty versions.

  • Mini marshmallows now come in different colors and flavors. Mint and pumpkin spice have been spotted locally.
  • Pistachios are not the only nut out there, though the greenish tint does add a bit of holiday color to this type of mix. Try different nuts for different flavors. Crushed hazelnuts or chopped pecans will lend themselves to exciting flavor variations.
  • Cookie chips also come in a wide variety of flavors. Dark, semi-sweet, white and milk chocolate, butterscotch, pumpkin spice, peppermint and others are available in my area at local chain grocery stores.
  • Candy canes are also available in a lot of flavors! From the traditional peppermint though a range of modern candy flavors, all the way to dill pickle falvored, you can find just about any flavor base you desire.

 

For the coffee lovers in your family, you might try this:

  • Hazelnuts or almonds in stead of pistachios
  • Chocolate flavored candy canes
  • Add a quarter cup of instant coffee to the confectioner’s sugar

 

For the pumpkin spice crowd, you migth try this:

  • Pecans instead of pistachios
  • Pumpkin spice, clove, or coffee flavored candy canes
  • Add a touch of pumpkin pie soice or cinnamon to the confectioner’s sugar
  • Butterscotch or pumpkin spice cookie chips in place of the white chocolate morsels

 

For the lovers of fruity flavors:

  • Small jelly beans instead of nuts
  • Crushed hard candy of a fruity flavor (or several) instead of candy canes
  • Add lime salt (a dry powder) to the confectioner’s sugar for some zing
  • Add a bit of shredded coconut
  • Colorful mini marshmallows

Any way you put it together, this recipe is bound to be a crowd pleaser over the holidays!

— Ann Cathey

Holiday Season Activities

There is a lot to see and do in the Greater Houston Area around the holidays. From Galveston Island up to Huntsville, from Beaumont over to Katy, the region is jam-packed with sights and delights!

I stumbled across a list of activities on another blog, Big Kid Small City, and thought I might share it. Things to Do in Houston During the Holidays + Christmas Activities in November and December 2014  is a good starter list for anyone traveling to or living in the Greater Houston Area this holiday season. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza and all other great reasons to get together with family right around the corner, now is the time to start making plans for what you would like to do with that family, other than simply go to the movies. From ice skating to visual extravaganzas to specialized shopping venues, this list will get you moving and smiling.

I hope to be able to provide some more in-depth information on some of these items in the weeks to come.

Happy Holidays!
–Ann Cathey