About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Pie and a Movie

(The most touching part of Christmas for me this year was seeing the movie "Joyeux Noel" for the first time. There were no crazy, stupid, or very funny moments, but there was, as always for the last 45 years, Cherry Cheese Pie. Our hostess for this week's post-Christmas Fun Monday is Sayre over at Sayre Smiles . Sayre asks us to share the best part of this year's Christmas and/or the wackiest part of our celebration. Here's my take on her topic.)
First the Cherry Cheese Pie--the pie that you see above has been a traditional part of our family's Christmas celebration for over 40 years. Every year we want it and this year was no exception. I had Christmas dinner with friends, but still made this pie. It wouldn't be Christmas without it. This letter is one I wrote to my sister from college when I was
19 years old
. As you can read, I'm worried about whether there will be money enough for the family to buy presents for each other. That was always the case in my family from the time I was a little girl. On Christmas morning would there be a doll and play dishes or the red Banlon sweater like all the other girls were wearing for me under the tree?

So at the mature old age of 19 I'm trying to get my family to not worry about buying gifts, but to just have a good family dinner together. That dinner would include the Cherry Cheese Pie. In the 1960s this was a very exotic dessert--cream cheese, canned pie filling and whipped topping were not on our grocery list, except for Christmas. We ate what we raised on our small farm. My older sister was babysitting for a family in town and Dorothy, the woman she worked for, made this dessert for her bridge club(bridge clubs were serious business for many women in the 60s) and taught my sister to make it. In another part of this letter I write ". . .you will make a cream cheese pie when I come home for Christmas, won't you?" She always did. And I keep this tradition going even today.

Christmas Movies -- I always try to see a good movie on Christmas Day. This year I found a treasure in the 2005 French film, Joyeux Noel. This movie touched my heart, even more so because it was based on a true story. If you're not familiar with this story, apparently on Christmas Eve 1914 in the midst of World War I a short truce is stuck in the trenches as French, German and Scottish soldiers battle each other on the border between France and Belgium. The soldiers are trying to celebrate Christmas in their own way--Christmas trees for the Germans, bagpipes and carols for the Scots and champagne and chocolate for the French. First there's carols on the bagpipes, then the Germans raise Christmas trees above their trench, then Silent Night rings out. Soldiers on all sides cautiously come up out of the trenches and walk towards each other. This leads to sharing Christmas food and drink, photos of wives and girl friends, offers to get letters to Red Cross, and burying the dead. On Christmas Day there was even a football game. Of course, there was hell to pay on all sides when the main commanders found out about what came to be known as the Christmas Eve Truce of 1914. I've ordered Stanley Weintraub's book on this remarkable story. And apparently there have been more instances where soldiers in the field have managed to do what the brass can't do--find common ground and good will, even in the midst of war.

So, for Christmas 2008, I'll remember Cherry Cheese Pie and Joyeux Noel as the highlights. Be sure to head over to Sayre's blog to read about other Fun Monday participants' celebrations.

(Special Note: you'll see in Sayre's post that I'm volunteering to host Fun Monday on January 5. If you want to play and are not scared of buying a pig in a poke, just sign up in the comments below--give me your full address as I'm not sure I can sort out Mr. Linky. Otherwise, I'll post the topic for January 5 on Wednesday of this week. Be sure and sign up before you have too much New Year's Eve champagne and forget!)


{i}Post said...

What a great story about the pie. And the letter is such a treasure to have! I love hand written letters. Was the film captioned in English, or is it spoken in English, as I don't know French and would love to watch it!

By the way, I will take a chance and sign up for Jan5 Fun Monday! I trust you ;0)


Sayre said...

I have heard of the Christmas Eve Truce - an amazing display of humanity in the midst of such horror! There IS good in everyone!

Your Cherry Cheese Pie is a much nicer tradition than the one dish that ALWAYS shows up at our holiday dinners. Rutabaga. I have no idea why a giant turnip is such a tradition in our family but this year, for the first time, it did NOT make an appearance and we were suitably grateful!

Sign me up for next week's Fun Monday! The pig in a poke idea makes it more challenging to me!

m (the misanthrope) said...

What a lovely post, my friend! And I loved the "Joyeux Noel" summary. Yeah, I think I'd need a box of Kleenex handy to watch that. I used to live in Virginia, in an area with a lot of Civil War history. I remember hearing a similar story of Union and Confederate troops playing Christmas songs to one another across the battlefield...so very, very touching and sad.

Pig in a poke, you say? Hm. Tell you what. Sign me up and if I need to chicken out, I'll let you know!


Ari_1965 said...

Please sign me up for Fun Monday. http://www.beyondmyslab.blogspot.com

Thank you.

Molly said...

The pie looks and sounds delicious. To me the good food and fellowship of family and friends is the best part of any family celebration. In fact, maybe gifts only get in the way of that fellowship.)

Somehow I have seen an earlier movie or perhaps a television show about the Christmas Eve Truce of 1914. I know this story, but the movie does sound remarkable.

Jan said...

Love your post, especially the Cherry Cheese pie. We have some foods, too, that are traditional each and every holiday.

Jan said...

I'll play along next week, forgot to say.

Swampwitch said...

Haven't see the movie, but have certainly enjoyed that same recipe many times.
Please sign me up for your Mon Funday. I don't promise to follow the rules...but I do promise to try. TeeHeehee

May you and yours have a healthy, happy, and safe 2009.


Faye said...

iPost--for sure there were English subtitles for the movie. Found that would have even been helpful when the Scots were speaking! Handwritten letters are real treasures, they reveal so much. My sister gave me a stack that I'd written her over four years of college.

sayre--I seem to remember that you and your family have ongoing interests in military service/patriotism. You would love this film. Rutabagas raw, fine--cooked, not so fine!

misanthrope--thanks for kind comment and back at ya! I've just been reading your holiday posts and will come back to comment on some of your pieces. Plus, I have questions about birds for a pet--my sister is interested.

ari--you're on the list--thanks for risking the pig in a poke.

molly--agreed, low key is so much better so there's an opportunity to really enjoy everyone's company instead of stressing over the frenzy that giftgiving can cause.

jan--we all want traditional at the holidays, right? Don't mess with the green bean casserole!

swampy--every woman's club or church cookbook from the '60s probably has a variation of this recipe--very haute cuisine for its day!! And, its easy. You probably wouldn't need to use your Christmas snow machine/microwave to make it. . .

ChrisB said...

I love your Cherry Pie tradition- we always have a trifle as well as a Christmas pudding. As a very young child, i remember my granny always made a trifle for Christmas tea. This was very special because in the 50's there were few luxuries!

I'll come back and sign up on Wednesday when I'm sure I can do your challenge!

Cruise Mom said...

That pie sure looks yummy!

Go ahead and sign me up for next Monday - classes don't start until Jan 20, so I have a bit of time available to blog!


karisma said...

That is a lovely letter and a lovely tradition. I would sure rather have some of that pie than a present any day! (No wonder I am getting fat! LOL)

Have a fun New year!

Okay sign me up, hopefully it will be something I can play along with.


Ari_1965 said...

Thanks for the good wishes in my blog comments, Faye. I forgot to do Fun Monday and just did it now.

IamwhoIam said...

What a laugh, when I saw your cherry pie, we have the same dessert. Are you sure we are not related? For a twist I sometime uses the an OREO crust, and we call it Cherry Jubblee. Thanks for sharing.

Janis said...

Celtic thunder sings a song about the 1914 truce, it is beautiful. I had that movie in my hand last year and put it back, I am going to be sure to watch it now that I know what its about. I love your letter to your sister, what a sentimental keepsake. Cherry cheese cake is high on my list, I love it. Im in for FM on the 5th, please sign me up. Happy 2009 Faye

Janis said...

Sorry, forgot to leave my address

Faye said...

chrisB--my Christmas dessert doesn't rival your classic trifle but it is good and a symbol of the season.

cruise mom--not bad for breakfast either.

karisma--better than presents? Well, I don't know about that.

iamwhoiam--I suspect everyone has their version of this pie. So far today I've seen a recipe for Pink Stuff, English trifle, etc. And sure, we can be related!

janis--I'll check out Celtic Thunder's music about the Christmas Eve truce. When I did a google search noted that several artists, poets to musicians, had commemorated this event. I've also checked out another movie in this same vein, Once Upon a Midnight Clear, but about WW II. Hard to imagine that it would be as moving as Joyeux Noel though.

Gattina said...

Nice story ! I have never seen this movie, but I knew the story. It proves again that even soldiers are against war ! I think a far better way would be to put all politicians together in a ring and let them box and catch together !

Lane said...

Your letter is one of the best things I've seen on a blog this festive season. 19 year old Faye was so mature with her words of wisdom and beautiful script.

I shall earmark that film for next year. It sounds like an extremely good one.

Sandy said...

What a wonderful post. I also remember the Christmasses past fondly although without much recollection of much money. We always got (and gave) clothes to each other and then Santa brought us each one toy.

I am thinking of reinstituting this with my family next year. I'll bet my Dad still had unopened T-shirts (JC Penney, white pima cotton) when he died at 84!

Sandy said...

Oh,and please sign me up, too, for next week's Fun Monday.


Debs said...

Loved the story about the pie.

How strange that you recently saw 'Joyeaux Noel', I watched it (for the second time, love it) on Monday night! R bought it for us all to watch a couple of years ago and I fancied watching it again. So glad that I did too.

Have a wonderful New Year and may 2009 be all that you want it to be. x

m (the misanthrope) said...

Hello there Faye! I just put up a New Year's navel-gazing post when I realized that...whoops...your soon-to-be announced Fun Monday topic might be along those lines. So...I'll check back...it is SO mysterious!

m (the misanthrope) said...

PS That'll teach me to hit "Publish" before I'm done writing. If I've correctly guessed your FM topic, I'll take down my post and re-post it on Monday! If not - yay, I get to blather about another topic! Happy New Year!

m (the misanthrope) said...

Hey there! Can I win a prize for "most comments made on one post"? I'm replying to your comment over on my New Year's post.

I think your two-part FM idea is great! I totally understand about not wanting to ask too many personal questions - but I like your idea, it can be interpreted in lots of different ways. Here's what I'll do: I'll leave my current post up, and I'll answer "Part 1" of your assignment on Fun Monday, with a link back to the current post for Part 2. Or whichever part is which. Have I muddled things sufficently?!

Hmmm...I have not seen "Doubt". I was raised Irish Catholic, as I've mentioned :-) and while I completely respect each person's right to worship (or not) as they see fit, I have some issues with my own religious upbringing, especially given what has since come to light in the Catholic Church. So, I've been doubting (ha) whether or not it's a good idea to see "Doubt", since it might just upset me all over again. I'd like to hear your thoughts though, if you feel like writing!

Faye said...

gattina--I think the movie shared your opinion about resolving conflict--let politicians take some of the licks!

lane--19 year old faye was a plotter, if nothing else. Stil can't control things. . .

sandy--yes, in our family also many pairs of socks and boxes of chocolate-covered cherries were exchanged.

debs--loved that you've seen "Joyeux Noel" again this week. One of my favorite lines was when the French lieutenant told the German that they didn't have to invade Paris to stop by his home for a drink!

misanthrope--hopefully the Fun Monday assignment will be part 1 to your already written part 2.