I write this post with a slight bit of embarrassment as we are now in March but I’m only on week three! I think I misunderstood and thought this challenge was called Twelve Months of Gratitude! Never mind – I’ve promised myself that come the end of the year, I’ll have completed all fifty two weeks. In fact I’m grateful to be on week three at all!
OK, this week’s topic is family which is interesting considering that I didn’t get off to a good start with mine this morning. My sister woke me up by WhatsApping me with the latest family drama – and before I’ve had a coffee that’s dangerous!
I consider myself to be a very family minded person. That’s the way I was raised. I never understood people who claimed that they were not close to their aunts and uncles or used phrases like “Oh, he’s only my cousin.” In my family we were raised to believe that there was no such distinction between immediate and extended family and distant relatives. If we shared DNA, we were family – end of!
Sadly now that I’ve reached adulthood, my circle of family has gotten smaller. This is due to people wanting to go their own way for whatever reason. I also understand that I have relatives who don’t know the meaning of ‘family loyalty’ and the ties of family are such that I cannot cut them off no matter how much I want to, so for the sake of my emotional well-being, I have been left with no choice but to keep certain relatives at two arms length – and I don’t feel guilty about it.
So the bottom line is that I have family, and I have people I just happen to be related to.
So far you’re probably thinking that where my family are concerned, I don’t have a lot to be grateful for. Not at all! As far as I’m concerned my family consists of Mr. D. our immediate families, and a handful of extended relatives.
I’d like to make out like we’re the perfect family – like my mum has convinced herself that we are – but we’re not. I don’t mind admitting that my family are totally bonkers! There are a multitude of characters and personalities, and we all have our eccentricities and oddities, and are more than just a little on the dysfunctional side! There’s always some drama or stressful situation that we’re trying to resolve – but at least no one could ever accuse us of being dull and the in-flight entertainment is always worth watching (although we’d rather you didn’t!)
When I was growing up I always wished that we could be like the families you saw on TV. I also thought that my friends and classmates had better, more ‘together,’ families than I did. Now that I’m an adult, I realise that there’s no such thing as the perfect family. We all have our own struggles and own problems that we’re trying to overcome. And past experience has taught me that its often the families who claim to be the most perfect who often have the most issues.
Coming from a seemingly ordinary, perfect family is no guarantee, as I’ve learned, that you’ll turn out ‘right’. Growing up was hard and I used to blame many of my problems on the fact that I didn’t come from a ‘normal’ family. But I now feel that coming from such a family has given me a resilience that I may not have had. I feel like I can handle anything and I’ve learned to embrace my weird family and my own weirdness. As my dad once said ” Who wants to be normal?”
In recent years my immediate family and I have had a lot of issues which meant that we weren’t as close as we should have been. It was a very sad period of our lives but I’m glad that even though certain issues are not fully resolved, we are all back in each others lives and our bond has grown stronger and there’s definitely more than enough unconditional love here. We don’t take anything for granted any more and we all know that when push comes to shove, we are always there for each other.
And there’s other things I’m thankful for when it comes to family. I’m thrilled there there are many different nationalities here and different languages spoken. We’re like a mini UN! Some people think it’s a little ‘confusing’ but it’s not. We have learned so much from each other and we really wouldn’t have it any other way. Not to mention there’s always something for everyone when it’s potluck at family gatherings!
I also love the big pool of talent that exists in our family as we all have different interests, skills and areas of expertise. There are creatives, techies, sports enthusiasts, business brains, problem solvers, culinary geniuses, fashionistas… We all bring something different to the table.
My family have made me who I am, so for all their craziness and zaniness, I have to be grateful that God put me in with this nutty bunch. There’s tons more fabulous stuff I could say about why I’m so grateful for my family but I’ll just end by saying that the greatest blessing to be bestowed on our family is definitely the next generation – our gorgeous nieces and nephews. Not only are they a constant joy to be around – even when they’ve tired you out – but they’ve played a major part in healing our family and bringing people together. We may never be a TV family – unless you’re thinking of The Adams Family – but it’s thanks to those amazing kids that we can try to do ‘normal’…Sometimes!
My husband and I pretty much gave up on television a while back. No matter how many channels there were, there still didn’t seem to be anything worth watching. But there are still some shows we make time to watch religiously. At a risk of sounding like a couple of oldies who have nothing better to do, Mr. D. and I are addicted to culinary competitions which seem to be all the rage on television these days: Come Dine With Me, The Great British Bake Off, Masterchef, Next Great Baker… you name it, we watch it! In fact it’s more than watching it’s become a full scale obsession. We must tune in to see what happens next: who stays… and who goes. Oops! That’s Big Brother which we don’t watch!
We have a lot of fun watching these shows. They’re entertaining and informative but they can also be quite depressing. Why? Because after years of thinking that I’m a pretty good cook (I’m no Heston but I’m not bad either) I’ve suddenly realised that compared to the contestants who take part in these shows, my cooking skills leave a lot to be desired. I’ve come to this conclusion after realizing that:
- My pastry making skills are far from perfect (as explained by Mr. Hollywood and Ms. Berry.)
- I have no idea how to make sushi – even though I love to eat it!
- There is a tendancy for me to overcook food (as pointed out by Mr. D!)
- I can really only bake cakes when I have a little help from my friend Betty Crocker.
- Rare, medium rare, medium, well done… it’s all the same to me!
- I’ve lost the ability to poach a decent egg.
- I’ve never heard of half of the ingredients mentioned in the show.
- There is no way I can chop onions, apples, carrots etc. so that all the pieces are virtually identical.
- I have no idea how to debone a duck.
- There’s very little chance of me being able to adequately filet a fish.
- I don’t have the kind of palette where I can successfully identify every ingredient in a dish.
- It’s really not a good idea for me to attempt to flambé anything…
- Me and sharp knives are a dangerous combination so it’s really not a good idea for me to go at the speed of the professional chefs or the other contestants.
- I like to take my time in the kitchen – that probably explains why we never eat before 10pm.
- I probably don’t add as much seasoning as I should.
- I love eating shellfish – but haven’t got a clue how to prepare it.
- This may be an Anglo-Italian household but there is no freshly made pasta in this house as neither of us know how to prepare it!
- If I cook fish so that the skin is super crispy, it’ll be burnt.
- We like to drench our food in sauce – none of this ‘little smidgeon’ business.
- We also like large portions in this house!
- I haven’t got a clue how to make ketchup or barbeque sauce from scratch.
- I’ve never used most of the gadgets and kitchen appliances I’ve seen.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. We’ve learnt a lot from watching these shows and have got lots of new ideas. We like to put what we’ve learnt into practice:
- I can make bruschetta better than I did before.
- I now know what goes into making honeycomb.
- I know how to remove bones from fish easily.
- I know the secret to a good pesto sauce.
- Seasoning is important!
- So is not overcooking food!
- Garnishes are important but there should also have a purpose other than just decoration.
- We come across lots of new flavour combinations.
- I know that you should never wash sea urchin (not that I’m likely to cook it!)
- we’re trying to put into practice that less is more!
- I know what’s meant by tunnel boning.
- I also know what a ballotine is.
- I know how to pronounce words such as ‘coulis’ and ‘melange’.
- I see the contestants mistakes and know what NOT to do.
I still have an awful lot to learn and I’m getting there slowly. There’s still hope for me. But I know that no matter how much I learn, I would never want a dressing down from Mr. Hollywood or Mr. Ramsay so there’s no chance of me ever entering one of these competitions. I know which side of the television screen is the safest for all concerned!