Although it’s been years, summer always fills me with nostalgia of spending precious time with loved ones in my hometown of Raceland, Kentucky. Back then, summer meant coming home from Florida to spend time with the whole extended family – aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course, my grandparents. It was a simpler time, but those lazy summer days bore the foundation on which my family built its strength and devotion that have lasted us through the decades.
We all lived on the same block, making it easy for my grandparents to entice us to their home for a game of badminton in the side yard or croquet in the back yard. Sunday supper was open to all – the perfect excuse to get together at Nan and Pop’s for some good food and to enjoy one another’s company. We spent our days eating homemade peach and banana ice cream on their front porch and talking about life. My cousins and I shared our dreams for the future, and my grandparents shared the lessons they’d learned over a lifetime.
I didn’t realize it then but thinking back, all my grandparents really wanted was to spend time with us. As the years passed, my Grandmother became increasingly ill after suffering five strokes. We continued to return home to help care for her, as well as Pop and eventually my parents. Now it was us making the Sunday suppers and the homemade ice cream, but the thought was still the same – enjoy one another while we had the chance.
With Labor Day upon us, I’m reminded once again of the importance of family and making the most of those precious moments we have with our loved ones. Even though we’re spread out across the country, my family has made it a priority to keep in touch. Social media, such as Facebook and Skype are making it easier than ever to stay connected, and we still get together over the holidays to reminisce about those lazy summer days spent at home in Kentucky.
Life can get a little crazy sometimes, but I encourage you to take some time to enjoy your loved ones this Labor Day holiday. Whether you realize it or not, you’re celebrating traditions and making memories that will influence your children and grandchildren for years to come. Take pleasure in these simple moments – from old family recipes, like the broccoli casserole below, to a lifetime’s worth of experiences, these are the days you’ll cherish forever.
2 10-oz. pkgs. frozen broccoli spears
1 C. chopped onion
¼ C. butter
1 6-oz. jar Kraft cheese spread with bacon
1 10½-oz. can mushroom soup
1 4-oz. can mushrooms
½ C. toasted sliced almonds
½ C. toasted bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 325°. Cook broccoli 5 minutes. Cook onion in butter until transparent. Add cheese, soup, mushrooms and half the almonds, simmer until cheese melts. Arrange broccoli in 12 x 7½ x 1¾” baking dish. Pour sauce over broccoli and sprinkle bread crumbs and almonds over top. Bake 25-30 minutes at 325°. Serves 8.