family

Chapter 1. Coronavirus Cooking. The End.

May 7, 2020
beef taco with picante cream

Last night was my fiftieth dinner in Dallas—a record I hope I never break. After seven long weeks in almost complete isolation, I am ready to get home. I have cleaned out the refrigerator and organized my papers, including a fat file full of new recipes and menus. What have I accomplished? What have I learned? I said at the beginning that we each need …

Continue reading

130 Meals and Still Counting

May 2, 2020
Sheet-Pan Sausage

If you are in Texas or another state that is opening up again, perhaps you have mixed feelings like I do. While I love the concept of dining out with family and friends, I have no confidence that it’s safe. To the contrary, I think May might turn out to be the riskiest month of all. I am looking forward to getting home to my …

Continue reading

Thank you, God

April 9, 2020
Sunlight breaks through

Thank you, God, for the gift of senses, for the joy we feel from what we see, hear, taste, smell, touch. But as always you give us free will. We can choose beauty or we can choose ugliness. At this time, oh God, may we choose the good and the beautiful, individually, as your people, and as a nation. In Jesus’ name, Amen. My memoir, …

Continue reading

Seeking Joy While Sheltering in Place

March 22, 2020
Dallas skyline

Bad is stronger than good, but good can prevail if we know what we’re up against. When I posted the Wall Street Journal essay, Say No to Negativity, on my Facebook page the end of December, I had no idea how prophetic it would, how intentional I would need to be to stay positive while I shelter in place alone during this Covid-19 pandemic: The …

Continue reading

Maturity Brings Wisdom

December 22, 2019
Philippians 3:13-14

 Meditations for Advent: 3. Moving Toward Joy The third stage of our journey toward joy is more difficult than what has gone before. Last week we focused on practical things we can do to strengthen our relationships. In Philippians 3, the Apostle Paul calls on us to examine ourselves, to use our discouragement and grief to mature and grow with purpose and joy—to move forward …

Continue reading

Love Overcomes Fear

December 8, 2019
Philippians 1:27, 28

Meditations for Advent: 1. Moving Toward Joy Are you ready to celebrate Christmas? or is something missing this season? This has been a hard year on many fronts. Many have suffered grievous losses. Hope and peace and joy may seem very far away. That’s how I felt after Lev died. The very thought of the Holidays terrified me. To prepare my heart, I turned to …

Continue reading

One Last Time: The Amalfi Coast

October 24, 2019
from Villa Rufolo

After four cruise stops and two lengthier stays along the Amalfi coast, you would think I had seen enough of southern Italy. But how can one grow tired of the most beautiful place on earth? I jumped at the opportunity to plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip with friends. Recently retired, they wanted to travel; and I knew that I had at least one more trip on …

Continue reading

How Do I Make 2019 Better?

January 3, 2019
The clock strikes 12

That’s the question I will try to answer in four speeches this month—Resolved: To Reclaim Joy in 2019. I know the answer—that’s what my memoir is all about—and 2018 was hardly joyless. However, I let the publication and media attention surrounding Reclaiming Joy to take over my life. I want 2019 to be better. I first wrote formal New Year’s Resolutions at the end of …

Continue reading

Banishing the Ghosts of Christmas Past

November 30, 2018
Ghosts of Christmas Past

Lev relished the persona of being gruff and grumpy, and he welcomed the grandchildren’s nickname for him—Grumps. Come Christmas, he played the role to the hilt when they were around, going around muttering, “Bah! Humbug!” like Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. As choreographer of our Christmas rituals and traditions, I encouraged him, setting the stage with Dickens-themed Holiday decorations. We remember the story: …

Continue reading

You Don’t Have to Be Home Alone on the Holidays

November 23, 2018
December anniversary dinner

How do you handle life’s transitions as the older generations age and the young ones grow up and marry? How do you maintain family connections, especially those time-honored holiday traditions and rituals? The aggrieved, widowed sister wrote Carolyn Hax, Washington Post advice columnist: Our extended family—siblings and kids—has always gathered at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last week I got a text from my sister saying she …

Continue reading