Coach4aday blog posts are written by John Rancke and me. We write daily about leadership, food, people, music, our granddaughters, Lumberton NC, and things that pique our curiosity.
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December 16, 2018 Pealed grapes, A Tree, A Bundle of Joy, and Goodbye Hugs
Post by John Rancke from December 15, 2012 with an update and reflection
My wife Pam is asleep this morning and has been since 8pm Friday night. My granddaughter Ayden just ate breakfast and is watching her mother cut up green peppers while her great aunt Nancy cuts up the onions. Gonna have a 7 layer salad today at dinner.
Yes the day has arrived. December 15th. The Rancke Family Christmas dinner. For many years, we have had the dinner either before or after Christmas as we worked around Nancy’s work schedule at Wake Medical Center.
The dinner has always been held in Lumberton at Bunky and John’s and there was always a fire in the fireplace (sometimes had to open the windows due to the 70 degree weather). The tree was decorated, table was set, and the eggnog was consumed in the kitchen before dinner.
Prime rib, asparagus casserole, baked peaches with pecans over the top, twice baked potatoes, dinner rolls, and Bunky’s ambrosia. Now there are many varieties of ambrosia, but Bunky’s has always been the best. Cut up oranges, pineapple, grapes, and then she would add the cut up bananas each time she would serve a bowl so the bananas never got too ripe. Pretty simple recipe but she would take it one step beyond the norm. Bunky’s ambrosia had pealed grapes.
Yes, she would sit and peal each and every grape the week of the dinner. She did it because I liked it that way. I’ve never had ambrosia anywhere prepared with the “love” that Bunky put into hers. Today, I get that ambrosia one more time. It will be special as Bunky’s only responsibility today for dinner is the ambrosia and I may never get this treat again.
Every Christmas dinner needs a pretty tree with lights. The plan this year was to have the dinner at Lindsay and JB’s home at White Lake. It’s decorated, roomy, and has a beautiful tree that JB and Lindsay decorated. But as so often happens, plans change due to whatever reason. Our plans changed in 2012 long about Dec 1. We realized that Pam would not be able to make the trip to White Lake this year. So we easily adjusted the dinner and moved it to Wilmington. Plenty of space for everyone.
But the spirit of Christmas was not evident in the house in Wilmington. There was no garland along the mantle, no wreath on the front door, no festive Christmas candles around the house, no manger scene on the hall chest, and NO CHRISTMAS TREE.
The plan was to have a nice dinner with family, scale back the menu (But there will be prime rib), enjoy each other’s company this Christmas season, and give thanks for all we have received over the years. It is also a time for the family to say both goodbye and hello as Pam is saying farewell and Ayden is saying hey.
Friday night I received a call from RT Jones, a co-worker that had been at a little pick me up lunch that several co-workers put together earlier that day, telling me he had something for me and could he bring it over in about an hour. I had mentioned the Saturday dinner plans and the fact that the house was absolutely barren of Christmas decorations.
So at 8:30 pm, RT and his wife Nicole show up at the house in their truck with a fully decorated 4-foot artificial white Christmas tree. They bring it in a set it in the living room. The entire tree is covered in Carolina ornaments of all types and shapes and has white lights. it is topped by a Carolina Blue and White Santa hat. A very special act by a very special couple.
When Pam and I were married in June 1977, we began a family Christmas tradition of having a Carolina Christmas Tree with white lights and Carolina ornaments and every package under the tree was wrapped in white paper with Carolina blue bows.
We continued this tradition for many years and finally one year after Lindsay was born we decided to do a “Normal” tree with various colors and ornaments.
I sit here this morning crying after reading the latest listing of contributions to The Robesonian Empty Stocking Fund and the lights of a Carolina Christmas Tree shine bright in the corner of my eye one more Christmas.
In hindsight, little did we know that the Family Christmas Dinner in 2012 would be the last in our family. Pam passed away the day after Christmas 2012, my dad passed away 11 months later in November of 2013, and my mother, Bunky, although being with us until October of 2014, by December of 2013 she was confined to her bed at Wesley Pines and slipping into her own little world.
But we had an angel named Ayden given to us from God and that Christmas of 2012 was so special.
I haven’t eaten ambrosia now in 6 years. I will never eat it again. I had the best with white grapes pealed with LOVE.
Somewhat ironic that December 12 was National Ambrosia Day this year.