Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thirty Days of Thankful - Day 3 - Judy

Note: Today is day 3 in my series "30 Days of Thankful."

Many people help shape us to be the people that we are. Parents. Friends. Bosses. Coaches.  The list is endless. In the past few years I think I've become more womanly in that I enjoy things like cooking, baking, cleaning, and all sorts of other domestic duties. This is quite impressive considering that for years on end in my early 20's, I ate noodles coated in balsamic dressing and microwave popcorn for dinner almost every night. My mom worked a lot and there are many things she's good at, but cooking isn't one of them. (love you mom, but it's true!) 

When I met my ex boyfriend's mother, we'll refer to her as Judy from here on out, I was 24, living on my own, and didn't have a clue about, well, lots of things, but especially cooking. Judy is a home economics teacher and knows pretty much everything about cooking, baking, sewing, and all sorts of other things I probably still don't have a clue about. Despite my limited knowledge in the kitchen and around the house, Judy never looked down on me. And over the years, she patiently taught me how to do so many things. 

I'll never forget the knitting lesson she game me in her family room. Good thing she has the patience of a saint.  I was terrible at knitting. I realized I'm just not cut out to knit, but Judy did everything she could to help me learn how because she's just that kind of person. So kind-hearted and giving and really a natural born teacher.

I expressed an interest in candy making and she taught me how to make candy. For my first candy making party, she bought me a special warming tray to keep my melted chocolate just the right temperature. 

She bought me kitchen gadgets (I'd never even heard of a salad spinner). Gave me the most adorable apron adorned with cats.  Whenever I liked a recipe of hers, she'd photocopy it (literally - they have a copier in the basement) so I could take the recipes home to replicate them for her son. When I first started cooking dinner for my ex, she would patiently listen to him asking her my questions over the phone about how to do the simplest things in the kitchen, but she always seemed more than willing to help. Because of her (or because of her son's insistence) I learned how to cook multiple things at once and have an entire dinner on the table hot and ready in a specified about of time. When I first met her, I really could barely cook noodles. 

Once my ex and I moved in together, we decided that we were going to host Thanksgiving dinner. Kind of an ambitious feat for Roxanne the vegetarian (whose family doesn't really celebrate Thanksgiving) and mediocre cook.  But Judy had faith in us.  She taught her son how to make the turkey, and for what felt like months leading up to the big feast, I tried out different side dish and dessert recipes on my ex.  Once I had a winning menu, we hosted what I think was a fairly successful Thanksgiving dinner on our rickety dining room set.  We had none of the niceties that Judy had provided at previous Thanksgiving dinners - like fancy dishes, nice napkins, good silverware.  But it was great.  It felt like we were a family.  As the years passed, and my cooking skills improved, our Thanksgivings got more elaborate. We redid the dining room and got beautiful furniture from Crate and Barrel.  But the feeling was still the same. We were sharing a meal made out of love. We could have been eating in lawn chairs in the garage and that meal still would have been one of the most special meals of the year. And I'd like to think that I made Judy proud. Thanksgiving definitely won't be the same for me this year.  Since my family doesn't celebrate the holiday, my cats and I will be enjoying our own small feast at home.

John, Santa, and Judy
I really could go on and on about the things Judy has taught me.  I really feel like I learned how to cook because of her.  Either directly or indirectly.  And cooking is really what initially inspired this blog.  In some ways, I really feel more like a woman because of her. I don't think I can thank her enough for that.  So to you, Judy - I am forever thankful.  You are an excellent wife, mother, and teacher and you were a great mother figure to me. You taught me so much about relationships and being selfless for the ones you love. You may no longer be in my life, but the things you have taught me will carry on and be passed down to my children some day. 

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