Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Family Dinner: Better than Fiction

Ready for dinner?  If you're joining my extended family for Thanksgiving or New Year's Eve, you're in for a real treat.  Chances are there will be turkey, tender and cooked to perfection by my mom, or the world's best meatloaf expertly created by my sister Charity.  Homegrown mashed potatoes and green beans will grace the table.  

Grandma will bring her classic 7-layer salad.  Uncle Rick will bring a delicious corn casserole, and, perhaps, Aunt Sandy will bring fruit salad.  My youngest sister will have a beautiful array of pies: apple, raisin, pecan, and/or Santiago Chocolate.  Her hands know how to work wonders with pie crusts, and with a dollop of ice cream, these will be the best desserts you've ever tasted.  Be sure to save room!


Everyone knows to show up on time.  It's a Carson tradition not to keep the cook waiting.  If anyone is late, there's talk of excommunication, but with a meal like this, who would want to be late?

"Dad, will you say the blessing?" my papa asks.  Grandpa leads us all in a prayer of thanksgiving.  The food is passed around the table.  

"Pass me a bun please" someone asks.  It's not exactly a safe request among Green Bay Packer fans unless you're a wide receiver.  If you're lucky, the pass will be underhand.
Once everyone is served, conversation begins.  It's a family trait to be opinionated and strong in our beliefs.  The only "problem?"  Everyone has different beliefs!  

Around the table is seated the whole political spectrum: Republicans, Democrats, non-conventionalists, and people who don't vote at all because they think the whole system is a mess.   Political discussions are lively, but in the end everyone agrees to disagree--or at least agrees that the country has problems that need to be fixed.  "I still love you anyway," Uncle Harley tells a member of the opposing political camp.
There's conversation about doctor appointments, Y2K (when we stocked up on paper towels and cat food) and other past new years, old friends, and the relatives who couldn't be here. Nine generations after the family's immigration from Scotland in the 1700s, Carson aunts, uncles, and cousins are scattered throughout the states.  What would a full family get-together look like?  Chances are I'll never know.  Besides the Carsons throughout the states, we have in-laws and relatives in and/or from Thailand, the Philippines, and New Zealand, not to speak of our unknown distant cousins in Europe.  

My dad mentions he's been watching Gomer Pyle, USMC lately and learning all about the Marines. Sergeant Carter once told his men, "My grandmother can march better than that!"  "Well bless her heart!" Gomer replied.  Laughter ensues as everyone harks back to the tv show, and pretty soon a discussion starts on military barracks and base housing.  
A photo from Korea during the war.
Grandpa was a sergeant in the Marines who fought bravely in the Chosin Reservoir in Korea.  Uncle Rick is a retired Chief Petty Officer in the Navy who served during the Vietnam War--and on vessels including the USS Enterprise.  My mom was an Army sergeant who worked in a hospital laboratory in Germany during the Gulf War.   For some reason they don't think Gomer Pyle, USMC is very accurate.  

After dinner everyone settles back to look at old photos.  Perhaps they're our grandparents' slides from the '60s and '70s portrayed on a screen with a projector, or maybe a slide show on Uncle Rick's computer.  We see everyone much younger, my dad's great fishing catches as a boy, beehive hairdos, camping trips, a retirement party at John Deere (where many family members have worked), and trains.
How do you like these gas prices?  
  And this car?!  Pretty sweet, eh?
Of course, the present does not go un-photographed.  Uncle Rick and cousin Keith are dedicated photographers who always bring their gear (and plenty of helpful pointers for beginners like myself), and my youngest sister and I snap some photos as well.  What is a family reunion without the constant clicking of camera shutters? 

Papa tells about a project he's been working on for a local cemetery, a little pyramid that tops a gazebo.  He is an expert welder and metal fabricator, but the customer has wanted it remade according to different specifications several times so that it looks just right.  Have the neighbors in the cemetery been complaining?  
The Neighbors.
Uncle Rick tells him that the project is more important than he might suspect: "People are dying to get in there!"  To keep the cemetery popular, everything has to be just right.  Soon everyone is engrossed in discussing the neatest cemeteries around.  Apparently I'm not the only one who finds photographing graveyards exciting.

Everyone is asked to give a message, song, and/or words of encouragement for the coming year.  Uncle Rick plays a couple songs on the piano and says the old photos of family were his contribution.  Our friend Aileen, a retired school teacher who now works in AWANA child evangelism, shares a good message on how important it is to know God for ourselves.  Grandma shares how the Lord has miraculously seen her through over the years.  
My siblings and I pull out our guitars and other instruments and sing a couple songs, "Pray the Clouds Away" and "The Eyes of Man."  Mama says dinner was her contribution.  Papa sings an old Johnny Cash song, "He'll Understand and Say Well Done."  My brother plays "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho" on the piano, and Charity plays "O Sole Mio/Down From His Glory."  

Cousin Keith shared that we have to live one day at a time; we're not guaranteed our tomorrows.
Grandpa told us about how the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years.  Then Joshua became the leader.  The days of indecision were over, and at God's command they stopped wandering in that wilderness and entered into the Promised Land.  

We played a late game of dominoes, and munched on plenty of brain food to keep us awake.  Grandpa won our yearly match, and everyone headed home.

This year I want to follow Grandpa's advice and leave behind the wildernesses of indecision. It's time to claim the promises of God as we march toward the Promised Land.
What are your words of wisdom for 2015?
Did you stock up for Y2K? 
What was your most memorable New Year?

106 comments:

  1. sounds like a lot of great food, great family, good discussions, sharing and music. :)

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  2. What a delightful post, Bethany! I loved joining in on your family celebration. So much diversity and so much love! Really wonderful! I love reading and hearing about people's backgrounds. History has always been one of my greatest passions and I love genealogy. It's so good to know where you came from...AND where you are going! :-) We stocked up for Y2K! Well, it isn't the only time one needs to stock up for. :-) Wandering in the wilderness so long...soon time for the Promised Land! Individually we shouldn't be wandering anymore but be a bride ready to meet the bridegroom! Maybe 2015 will be it.

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    1. Exactly! Knowing where we're going is the most important part, and it is important to be ready for Jesus' return.
      History and genealogy are fascinating studies!

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  3. By the way, we never had music in our family gatherings, but I love it when that is part of a family tradition. My first cousin does so...her Dad is very musical and so is her brother. She told me she is learning the mandolin just so she can join in!

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    1. That is awesome! My sister's mandolin (pictured) came from a great uncle who purchased it at the Columbian exposition around 1893, so it's a family heirloom. She can really make it sing!

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  4. I was going to tell you thank you for visiting my quilting blog and making such nice comments on my work...and got very sidetracked. Sorry. :-)

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    1. You deserve the compliments! Quilting takes a type of patience I don't have.

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  5. Excuse me while I clean up the computer screen....my mouth may have started watering when I saw your tasty food :) Wow, what a meal!

    It sounds like you have a delightful family and your gatherings appear to be a sweet blessing. Enjoy your Sunday!

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    1. I feel the same way when you or your mother post photos of your family's cooking!

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  6. What a wonderful time, and what a wonderful family you have! That's what holiday gatherings are all about. It's great that you "agree to disagree". If everyone in the world would do this, we'd have peace.

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    1. True. It irks me that some people have the "Believe my way or die at my hands" mentality. God created everyone with the free will, and each person is responsible to Him for what he or she does.

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  7. That sounds like a lovely celebration! Oh, turkey (I lacked turkey for Thanksgiving, so I ate it during my trip and got really sleepy... and I also spent Christmas in an arcade because it was raining, so I'm not that surprised how strange traditions were this year). :)

    xoxo Morning

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    1. Turkey does have that effect! We ate it for New Year's Eve this year, so it's amazing we managed to stay up past midnight!

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  8. Just got hungry looking at those pictures...lovely! we keep it simple this year...have a blessed 2015 loves soraya

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    1. I'm starting to get hungry myself. I guess what goes around comes around ;).

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  9. Great post Bethany! I loved the old photos and the pictures of your meal. To answer one of your questions, I did stock up for Y2K and -- I think we still have some of the honey from then. It was a LOT cheaper back in 1999:) Please tell your family Veterans thank you for their service.
    Blessings, Aimee
    PS: My Scottish ancestors came over fairly early also. I would dearly love to see Scotland someday--Ireland also.

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    1. Just about everything was a lot cheaper in 1999! It amazes me how much in our society is different from then. Neat that you still have some honey. It took us a few years to use up our supplies, but we managed.

      It would be nice to visit Scotland one of these days!

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  10. It was fun to hear about what your family dinner was like. You seem to have a lively and talented family! :)
    I don't believe my family stocked up for Y2K...I was pretty young, but my parents don't usually go for stuff like that.
    Words of wisdom? Hmm... Trust the Lord. He knows exactly what He's doing, and we don't, so it can be a great relief to know that He is in control.

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    1. Amen! Great advice, Paige!

      Our family is pretty lively!

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  11. Bethany I love your post very much because it is funny and in fortamtive. I remember family gatherings when I was a child now most of members of my familiy so we don't organize parites.It is difficult to say which New Year was the most memorable my are the same ...

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    1. I'm sure you must have some good memories!

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  12. Now that is a feast. Sounds like you have some good cooks in the family.

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  13. Bethany,The food looks so yummy, I love apple pie! Spending time with the family is great tradition and lots of fun.. thanks for sharing your family celebration. Happy Sunday and have a great week ahead!

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    1. It was yummy! I think we need to plan celebrations and parties more often!

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  14. I want to be adopted by your folks Bethany :)
    Delightful post.
    R

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    1. I'm sure everyone would love to have you and Jilda join us! There's a saying that goes something like, "The more, the merrier!"

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  15. I loved this! It sounds like a wonderful dinner and good times afterward too.
    We stocked up for Y2K, and I was actually working that year. I was working nights, and as night nurse I was supervisor too. There were precautions made and our administrator called a little after midnight to make sure all was well. :)

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    1. Sounds like you were on the front lines!

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  16. Hi Bethany, You are just a wonderful writer. Reading your post is almost as good as being there ... If only I could have a bit of turkey and hear the music it would be perfect. Are you going to write books? Seriously, you should consider it. I think your family does the "get together" right! I wonder if you are by any chance related to Johnny Carson ... I think he was from your part of the Midwest. It is a real pleasure to be following your blog. Thank you for sharing. John

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    1. Thank you, John. Perhaps someday I'll give book-writing a try. I don't know if we are related to Johnny Carson or not. There are a lot of Carson cousins that I haven't figured out yet. We do share a common ancestor with American adventurer "Kit" Carson.

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  17. you know the food was my favorite part ;)

    and the railroad tracks, that's an awesome shot!!!!!

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  18. What a perfect evening of family time. An evening well spent!

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  19. This looks like a wonderful evening with your family.
    The food looks delicious.
    Best regards, Irma

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  20. Lovely to eat, but, the poor turkey!

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    1. It sacrificed its life for a noble cause.

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  21. Your family get-togethers sound scrumptious!

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  22. Oh I loved this post and I really enjoyed reading about how much fun your family has during the holidays. Those are great pics, too and the dinner looked sooooo delicious.

    I remember stocking up on water and food right before Y2K. New Year's Eve is always pretty much the same year after year... sparkling cider and watching the ball drop, but one of these days, I'm going to throw a party to bring in the new year... :)

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    1. I'm sure it will be fun! From the photos on your blog, it looks like you have some excellent cooks in your family as well!

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  23. Bethany, I love reading all your writings - you are gifted girl and you keep me motivated :) I am glad you had such a good celebrations with the lovelies ones. Liuba x

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    1. Thank you, Liuba! I enjoy your posts as well!

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  24. Looks and sounds like your family is full of many gifts and talents! :)

    Lindy

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  25. Everyone should have Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations like this one Bethany.

    You are making wonderful memories with your family.

    God bless

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  26. What a wonderful time and lovely memories, Bethany, and the food looks absolutely delicious.

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  27. Everything looks and sounds scrumptious, Bethany! It is so nice your family can play guitar and sing together. Happy New Year!

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    1. Agreed! It is pretty awesome to have a musical family.

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  28. What a delightful post. Thanks for sharing.

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  29. It's funny the way people end up with 'signature' dishes!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Right; family get-togethers wouldn't be the same without them. I'm just worried my family will start thinking of my "signature" meal as rice, green beans, corn, and a can of salmon, since that's what I make whenever I want to cook up something quickly. Seems I should think of something more memorable.

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  30. Delightful post, Bethany, and insightful as well. I did not stock up for Y2K, and I do not have a favorite New Year's celebration, but the wisdom for 2015 that comes to mind is "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."

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    1. Excellent verse for the New Year! Thanks for sharing, Gracie!

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  31. You have a lovely blog! I'll be back to visit soon!

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  32. As pessoas entram em nossa vida por acaso, mas não é por acaso que elas permanecem.
    Essa é a vontade de Deus...famílias unidas, cheias de amor, alegria!
    Querida Bethany, amei o versículo "Isaías 9,8"... fiquei feliz com esta citação, foi como se Deus estivesse dando-me uma "resposta" da sua grandeza, e controle de tudo !!!
    Lindos dias em 2015 !!!!!!!!
    Beijos Marie.

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    1. The same to you! It is wonderful how the Lord gives us verses to tell us of His love and care for us.

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  33. Love the family gathering, Bethany, and the food looks delicious!
    We didn't stock up for Y2K simply because we knew we got along just fine before computers came along, but a friend kept bringing boxes of dried food to our house just in case. ;) That was a very sweet thing for them to do.
    My words of wisdom for 2015 are the same as every year. Stay with the Word of God and cast my cares on Him.
    Have a great week!

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    1. Sounds like you have friends who want to make sure you don't go hungry! (That's the kind of friend to have!) Excellent advice.

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  34. Such wonderful food and wonderful times with your family.
    You are blessed!
    I so enjoyed this post!

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  35. A wonderful looking feast and after seeing this, now I am hungry!

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  36. Comment from Rachel (www.therandomwritings.com) accidentally deleted: The food at your dinner looks very much like the food for family dinners on my dad's side of the family! My grandma's specialty is also 7-layer salad. :) The pictures of choice we usually watch when the whole family gets together are pictures from the most recent person who just came back from overseas--my parents' photos of SE Asia, my sister's photos of Israel after she worked there for a summer...one of these days it'll be our pictures of China! :) I love that shot of the gas station's prices! And dominoes is a favorite with my family, too!

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    1. Sounds like there are a lot of fascinating photos to look through! How neat that your grandma has the same specialty dish!

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  37. Hi Bethany! It was such a blessing to read this post. I haven't been to a Carson family holiday since I was maybe 13-14, I think? What lovely memories! You painted a beautiful scene with your words. Hopefully we'll get to share a meal together someday. Thank you for describing the scene so beautifully. I've been doing some research on family trees lately. Do you know much about the Carson tree? Both Grandma and Grandpa's sides? Email anytime: emily.carson@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Emily! Wow, neat that you're researching the family tree too! The past few days I've been trying to get all our trees together in one place and expand them. I'll send you an email. Hope we do get to have dinner together one of these days; you're actually not too far away.

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  38. Wonderful post! This scene you've painted of good food, lively discussion and God fearing folks takes me back to a time of family gatherings at my Grandparents when I was much younger. Wonderful memories, thanks for stirring them up!

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    1. Sounds like you have an awesome family as well. Memories are sweet.

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  39. I loved this post, Bethany! I wonder if the threat of excommunication would work for me. I might have to give it a try.;-) I also love it that your family, with various political views, can have a lively discussion and still remain loving and 'friends' afterward.

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    1. It wouldn't hurt to try the threat. Grandpa was always to work on time, and my dad made it to work rain, snow, or sleet, so they gave us good examples to follow in timeliness. It can be pretty hard sometimes for families with young children though! Blessings to you!

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  40. Happy New Year, Bethany! Your family, gathered around the holiday dinner table, does, indeed sound like a very entertaining feast, with scrumptious food, delicious desserts and signature specialties. How wonderful to have such lovely traditions, passed on from one generation to another. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Poppy

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    1. I'm glad I have the family I do. Happy New Year, Poppy!

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  41. all of that looks and sounds amazing and even better that it is all shared with family....happy new year!!

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    1. Good company makes everything sweeter! Happy New Year to you as well!

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  42. what a feast!!!
    Happy New Year dear girl!
    Debbie
    xo

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  43. A grandeza dos amigos são como as flores raras: sua magnitude fica para sempre.
    (Cristina Beloni)
    Obrigada por compartilhar comigo este 2º aniversário do blog Algodão Tão Doce !!!!
    Um doce abraço, Marie.

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  44. Oh my...everything looks SO good! Thanks for sharing about these meals!

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  45. Happy New Year Bethany !! You have a wonderful family, and you are lucky to see and feel it.
    Looks gorgeous, maybe I will pop in :-)

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  46. Oh YUM! Everything looks and sounds delectible! Comfort food at it's finest! Happy New Year, Bethany!

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  47. Yummy food!!!!!! It sounds like you had a great Christmas and New Year's!!!!!
    ~Ashley
    creatingpreciousmoments.blogspot.com

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    1. The food was delicious! Maybe we should have holidays more often!

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    2. I agree! :)
      What's your sister's blog, Bethany? If you would, please reply on my blog because I will probably forget that I asked you the question.

      Love,
      Ashley

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    3. Ok, sure. I'll leave her blog address in a comment at your blog :)

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  48. Your faith, your talents, your love of family, your curiosity.. as TexWis noted, these things are your strength and I might add, contribute greatly to the huge generosity of spirit that comes through in every post. I guess this meal is long gone :) but I hope all of you enjoyed it mightily! Wishing you more of the same things that continue to bring you peace and make you happy for 2015, Bethany!

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    1. Thank you Carol! May God bless you with an awesome year!

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  49. The food certainly looks and sounds delicious, glad you had a wonderful time, the photos are awesome. Wishing you a happy 2015 ;)

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  50. I loved seeing your family gathering through your eyes, Bethany! Thank you so much for sharing this! I realize I'm late to the party, so I don't expect any of that delicious looking food :) Blessings!

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    1. It was eaten long ago, but we can always make more!

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  51. Very special, Bethany! Those gatherings are part of our identity....

    Love, Karen

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    1. Agreed! Thank you for visiting and commenting, Karen! :)

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