Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

A Minnesota Spirit of Giving

Bill FoussardThis is a re-post from a couple of years ago. It is definitely worth reading again. What an amazing man and selfless giver.

Back in 1970, Bill Foussard and his friend, Barb Aslesen, heard about a friend’s family that was not going to be able to afford a Thanksgiving dinner.  They immediately sprang to action planning to cook extra in Bill’s kitchen and deliver a full meal to them on Thanksgiving morning.  A few people heard what they were doing and asked Bill and Barb if they could help out with feeding two more families.  Those three families amounted to twenty four meals that inaugural year; this year they will feed 19,000 people.

Owner of the Best Western White Bear Country Inn in White Bear Lake Minnesota, Bill is no stranger to making connections.  That is how this Thanksgiving Meals on Wheels program works, all through volunteerism and donations.  Having no paid staff, a hundred percent of cash donations go to the program.  When I asked him where he got all the food, Bill gave all the credit to others, “People are just generous!”  Some of their contributors are Jennie-O turkeys in Minnesota and US Foods headquartered in Illinois.  They even get donations of some of their rolls from a bakery in Omaha, all a testament of the regional spirit of giving.

Initially they cooked the meals in Bill’s mother’s kitchen; feeding up to 400 people.  When the program outgrew that space, they moved to a mobile kitchen, working out of the Prom Ballroom in St. Paul.  After that location was torn down, they settled in their current location at Cretin Derham High School in St. Paul.    This is a convenient setting for the 3000 volunteers who start rolling in at 4:00 AM to cook and 7:30 to deliver.  The cars are on the road by eight with a minimum of two volunteers per vehicle.  Often times it is a family affair.  Since they are done with all the deliveries by eleven, people still have plenty of time to enjoy the rest of their day.

Barb works with over thirty agencies to find the families who are in need.  This year they will enjoy dinners of turkey, dressing, potatoes, peas, corn, cranberries, rolls, pumpkin pie and milk.  When I asked Bill how much time he spends all year organizing this amazing undertaking, he deferred any accolades, “I never talk about time.  That morning is so special.”  But I know Bill; his phone is like an extra appendage.  And if you think he gets to rest after Thanksgiving, you’re wrong!  He’ll be preparing for the Christmas party he is hosting for 150 local seniors at his hotel.

If you would like to volunteer for Thanksgiving Meals on Wheels in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, please contact Bill at 651-699-5404.  For people like Bill and Barb…we are truly thankful.

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Thanksgiving, Period.

Captain Pumpkin Cake(Due to the unbelievable scramble of moving, November, and National Novel Writing Month, this blog is a repost from a previous year.  Still true!)

Here is something that popped up when I looked up Thanksgiving on the internet, “Thanksgiving Day in the United States is a holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. It precedes Black Friday.”  Really?  That is what Thanksgiving is?!  I felt kinda sick.  Apparently the holiday has devolved to just another meal standing between us and shopping with a few thousand strangers.

 Whatever happened to special meals steeped in tradition?  At what point did we disregard grandma’s sacred recipes and instead opt for standing in line at a big box store?  Lunacy if you ask me.  Not that you would.  I host Thanksgiving at my house.  I absolutely love it.  I look forward to it every year, sifting through my recipes weeks before, deciding which ones to serve.  Many of them are served every year, but I still try to sneak in a new one or two, just to keep everyone guessing.

 Now, I’m not pooh-poohing shopping; I love to shop as much as the next girl.  In fact, my daughters and I usually partake in the Black Friday craziness fairly early in the morning.  But now that it is starting on Thanksgiving…nope.  I just can’t do it.  I don’t care how great the deals are, I’m not giving up my holiday.  I’m not giving up my football.

 Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you have to eat the big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. I know many folks have very different dishes for their traditions.  But what I love is having our boys in the kitchen sneaking meat off the tray as dad is carving the bird.  I love that this is usually the only time I make my Captain Morgan Pumpkin Cake, and the kids wait for it all year.  I love that we have such a big group together, that is it noisy and chaotic.  And most of all, I love our only rule of the day; Eat Lots, Talk Loud.  Because, after all, it is Thanksgiving.

 

Thanksgiving, Period

Sale Shopper

Here is something that popped up when I looked up Thanksgiving on the internet, “Thanksgiving Day in the United States is a holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. It precedes Black Friday.”  Really?  That is what Thanksgiving is?!  I felt kinda sick.  Apparently the holiday has devolved to just another meal standing between us and shopping with a few thousand strangers.

 Pie on Plate

Whatever happened to special meals steeped in tradition?  At what point did we disregard grandma’s sacred recipes and instead opt for standing in line at a big box store?  Lunacy if you ask me.  Not that you would.  I host Thanksgiving at my house.  I absolutely love it.  I look forward to it every year, sifting through my recipes weeks before, deciding which ones to serve.  Many of them are served every year, but I still try to sneak in a new one or two, just to keep everyone guessing.

 

 

 

 

 

Now, I’m not pooh-poohing shopping; I love to shop as much as the next girl.  In fact, my daughters and I usually partake in the Black Friday craziness fairly early in the morning.  But now that it is starting on Thanksgiving…nope.  I just can’t do it.  I don’t care how great the deals are, I’m not giving up my holiday.  I’m not giving up my football.

 Scarecrow

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you have to eat the big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. I know many folks have very different dishes for their traditions.  But what I love is having our boys in the kitchen sneaking meat off the tray as dad is carving the bird.  I love that this is usually the only time I make my Captain Morgan Pumpkin Cake, and the kids wait for it all year.  I love that we have such a big group together, that is it noisy and chaotic.  And most of all, I love our only rule of the day; Eat Lots, Talk Loud.  Because, after all, it is Thanksgiving.  Period.

Captain Pumpkin Cake

Planning To Give

Hats, Mittens, and Scarves

If you’re like me you cringe when you walk into a store in October and see the Christmas decorations out already.  I’m all about the holidays, but I don’t want to skip the ones between now and the end of December!  However, there are some things that need to be brought up in advance because some planning is required.

I wrote in an earlier post about a friend of mine, Bill Foussard, who is the soul of Meals on Wheels in the St. Paul area of Minnesota.  He is one of those guys with a heart of gold and his actions speak volumes.  Bill fed nearly twenty thousand people last year for Thanksgiving.  Why bring this up now?  Because it’s getting to be that time of the year.  You don’t just wake up one day and cook tens of thousands of dinners for some folks in need.  It requires planning and a lot of volunteers.  These people are needed in advance, not just on Thanksgiving Day.  Who could you help this year?

Another thing to think about is holiday parties.  Are you planning one?  Have you already purchased your centerpieces?  If not, this story and pictures could help.  Last year we decided to forgo the usual greenery at our Minnesota Lodging Association holiday banquet.  Instead we purchased baskets to decorate and filled them with nonperishable food.

I made a detailed spreadsheet, checked and rechecked food prices at the wholesale club, and then made one big purchase.  We bought baskets from a craft store when they went on sale and used tissue for decoration.  By doing this, we were able to donate over 400 pounds of food to local food shelves.  And no one argued over who got to keep the centerpiece.  Another bonus, now we have baskets to reuse this year.

What else could you do?  How about adding some mittens, scarves, and hats to the baskets?  They could be donated to local churches or community organizations that reach out to the homeless.  I rarely leave home without a skein of yarn and a crochet hook.  (I needed something to keep my hands busy after I quit smoking in 2007.  This is a much better habit!)  This year there will be 75 handmade pieces in the baskets with the food.  There are a lot of people out there like me.  Be creative.  Plan ahead.  Most of all; get involved.

Shop Small For Big Meaning

It’s almost Black Friday.  Those two words can strike fear or excitement into the hearts of many.  But a recent conversation with my mother got me thinking about some family that are really having a tough time this year.  Most of us have been there; wolf at the door, wondering how the ends could really ever meet.  What would they be thinking about Black Friday?  “Big Deal”, I hope.

In the grand scheme of things, somehow the holidays have been transformed into more-is-best.  Gone are the days when  you gave a person one gift.  One nice gift that was filled with thought and actually had meaning behind it.  Remember those days?  I do; and I miss them.  So this year, I will go out the day after Thanksgiving, but not so much to race for “stuff”.  I will go out to spend time with my daughters, hoping that my desire for the return of simpler times rub off on them.

Where will I go to actually purchase my gifts this year?  I will go to small shops in my neighborhood.  We have some amazing little stores filled with potential for finding the perfect gift for each person on my list.  Our hardware store is right out of the 50’s I swear!  I could spend hours in there just milling around the myriad of things you’d never see in a big box home improvement store.  And these shops all come with friendly staff members that love to show you what “just came in”.

So even though I will be out and about on Friday, it’ll not be for filling a cart and wrestling to get to the checkouts.  We’ll look around, do a lot of people watching, and probably go out to eat.  The real purchasing will take place on Small Business Saturday.  I hope you’ll join me and Shop Small.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

 

A Minnesota Spirit of Giving

Back in 1970, Bill Foussard and his friend, Barb Aslesen, heard about a friend’s family that was not going to be able to afford a Thanksgiving dinner.  They immediately sprang to action planning to cook extra in Bill’s kitchen and deliver a full meal to them on Thanksgiving morning.  A few people heard what they were doing and asked Bill and Barb if they could help out with feeding two more families.  Those three families amounted to twenty-four meals that inaugural year; this year they will feed 19,000 people.

Owner of the Best Western White Bear Country Inn in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, Bill is no stranger to making connections.  That is how this Thanksgiving Meals on Wheels program works, all through volunteerism and donations.  Having no paid staff, a hundred percent of cash donations go to the program.  When I asked him where he got all the food, Bill gave all the credit to others, “People are just generous!”  Some of their contributors are Jennie-O turkeys in Minnesota and US Foods headquartered in Illinois.  They even get donations of some of their rolls from a bakery in Omaha, all a testament of the regional spirit of giving.

Initially they cooked the meals in Bill’s mother’s kitchen; feeding up to 400 people.  When the program outgrew that space, they moved to a mobile kitchen, working out of the Prom Ballroom in St. Paul.  After that location was torn down, they settled in their current location at Cretin Derham High School in St. Paul.    This is a convenient setting for the 3000 volunteers who start rolling in–some as early as 4:00 AM.  The cars are on the road by eight with a minimum of two volunteers per vehicle.  Often times it is a family affair.  Since they are done with all the deliveries by eleven, people still have plenty of time to enjoy the rest of their day.

Barb works with over thirty agencies to find the families who are in need.  This year they will enjoy dinners of turkey, dressing, potatoes, peas, corn, cranberries, rolls, pumpkin pie and milk.  When I asked Bill how much time he spends all year organizing this amazing undertaking, he deferred any accolades, “I never talk about time.  That morning is so special.”  But I know Bill; his phone is like an extra appendage.  And if you think he gets to rest after Thanksgiving, you’re wrong!  He’ll be preparing for the Christmas party he is hosting for 150 local seniors at his hotel.

If you would like to volunteer for Thanksgiving Meals on Wheels in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, please contact Bill at 651-699-5404.  For people like Bill and Barb…we are truly thankful.