Holidays are flying off the calendar! Last week people were slicing limes and hoisting shimmering salt rimmed glasses to salute Cinco de Mayo and last weekend the mother of all Hallmark events (if you will) Mother’s Day. Our reasons for celebrating holidays often get blurred it seems to me. For example, Cinco de Mayo originally was a date set aside to celebrate the victory of Mexican forces over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Not, as might be concluded by present day behavior, the anniversary of the first time tequila was introduced to triple sec, lime juice, and crushed ice. I know.
In my youth it didn’t take much encouragement for me to find a reason to throw a party. I didn’t actually develop a taste for liquor until my late twenties. With two young children in the house by the time I celebrated my twenty-first birthday there wasn’t much time to hoist a glass. Though, looking back, there often was a good reason to do so. As I remember, however, I enjoyed a May 6th after party tequila hangover a time or two during my early thirties. Having a hangover makes you wonder why you poured a drink in the first place. Finding oneself in the grips of a full-blown hangover can at times be a deeply spiritual experience with you on your knees praying for redemption. While in the effects of the alcoholic intake from the night before it is likely you will take the pledge never to touch the vile liquid again. This newfound spirituality generally lasts as long as the pounding headache, parched mouth, and violently churning stomach, at least in my experience.
Always it makes me laugh to watch college students having “fun” at a frat party, knowing the following morning the best time they’ll have is in between trips to the toilet. It has been many years since I’ve consumed enough alcohol to produce after effects, but the memory lingers on. These days I rarely take a drink save an occasional margarita when at a Mexican restaurant or when friends or family are visiting. Hard enough as the years pass to keep your mind churning through the gears efficiently without adding a controlled substance to the mix.
Mother’s Day having been properly put to bed and tucked in, we move on to Father’s Day in June. Father’s Day appears as an also-ran on the greeting card shelves. Cards appear with duck decoys, ties, and “manly” images emblazoned on the front. Rick often comments historically he footed the bill for his “father’s day brunch” and finds the holiday definitely having men playing second fiddle to the ladies who are the concertmasters when it comes to the “hoopla factor”. June is also graduation month so many will be sitting in bleachers watching their youngsters take their first step into adulthood (ostensibly).
Just as we’ve properly thanked our dads and saluted our grads, Fourth of July will be hovering close by. Some holidays stay the course simply because it’s hard to veer them off it. Fourth of July is the celebration of U.S. independence, period. There are no bunnies or candy filled plastic eggs necessary. Flags fly, fireworks go off, barbecues are fired up, and how the U.S. progressed once out from under English influence remembered. Growing up in Canada until the age of nine, my first 4th of July celebration was in California after we relocated. I knew much about American history already as it was taught in Canadian schools along with our own. My first year in school on American soil was 4th grade. Mrs. Potts was my teacher that year. A short sturdy woman with six children of her own she seemed to recognize without being told I was going through a rough period of adjustment and tucked me under her well padded wing. Being transplanted from Nova Scotia to California was a big adjustment for a small girl. Without being aware of it, it was her influence that helped me to find my way that first year and allowed me to begin to get adjusted to my new world.
With summer and holidays popping up each month people are scheduling their vacation days. “Me Days” are a new addition in some companies. Days taken off just because you need one or have personal business to attend to. Longer maternity leaves for both the new mom and the new dad are starting to be introduced as well. A time for the new family to settle in with a new baby in the house. Back in the day when I was spending some time studying the ceiling in the delivery room dad’s didn’t join you during the final throes of labor and baby didn’t stay in the room with you, but was delivered at meal time like a pizza.
Times are changing, and this is a good thing. Americans tend to keep their noses to the grindstone, working their way up the ladder putting in long hours and providing “face time” so their employers can see how invaluable they are to the team. Somewhere along the line enjoying time off has become a corporate no-no. I like the French approach to working. They put in as little time at the office as they can get away with and consider lengthy vacations (around 10 weeks) part of their hire-on package. I say “oui, oui” to that.
When I started working (back before they invented the wheel) I got one week of vacation for the first three years, working up to two weeks when I hit my third anniversary. My vacation time progressed marginally as my years of employment history increased, but never did I see ten weeks, not ever. The last job I had in the high-tech industry they considered weekends an adjunct to the work week and two more opportunities to log eight to ten hours. Vacation was something you accrued but never actually put in for if you wished to be promoted. Sort of like insurance. You pay for it, but you better not ever have to use it.
Soooo, I too am planning our vacation, or we are. I am having a need for the ocean so some time in the next few months we will seek it out for a few days. Looking forward to it.
This salad is delicious. Sometimes I add chicken or tuna and make it the star of the meal. I adapt it to the veggies I have in the drawer but always it’s a crowd pleaser.
Penne Pasta & Green Bean Salad
6 oz. tri-color penne pasta cooked
8 oz. fresh green beans, cooked and halved
4 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
3 large mushrooms, halved and sliced thin
1/2 English cucumber, sliced
14 yellow and red cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup sliced red onion
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, halved
3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together and toss with salad ingredients.