Murdo Girl…Looking back


I know you can’t see this very well. It’s a photo of my Great Aunt Tet Sanderson. To her right is Grandma Sanderson. Valerie’s Mom, Ella Sanderson Leckey is sitting to Tet’s left. It was taken Christmas Eve at Jeff and Irma Sanderson’s house…The year was 1958

I’ve been feeling nostalgic recently. I think because I am working on a Christmas project that I hope turns out like I want it to. It involves going through a lot of old photographs, and the whole thing is taking up a lot of my time. I get so into it that before I know it, the day is history. Meanwhile, I’m behind on everything else. Christmas is going to get here whether I’m ready or not. Oh, to be young and stupid again. I’m talking about myself back in the days when I didn’t worry like I do now. (It was back before we called worry.. stress.) I don’t think I’ve told you about my first Christmas as a married 18 year old. If I did, I don’t remember it so you shouldn’t either.

I got married in October and decided to have my husband’s side of the family plus Grandpa Sanderson for Christmas dinner at my house in Draper. Keep in mind, 2 months before then I called my Mom and asked her how to get everything cooked at the same time. I was making pork chops, mashed potatoes and canned corn for supper. She sort of walked me through it over the phone.

Put the corn in a pan and put it on the stove.

When I was growing up, I never so much as warmed up a can of soup. Both of my parents were good cooks. When Mom and Gus got married, he learned how to cook too. Why mess with what’s working right? I wasn’t all that lazy. It just never occurred to me to learn how to make my own meal.

(I have to take some of that back, or you’ll catch me lying. My cousin Mark and I made chocolate chip cookies after school sometimes, so I knew how to make really good chocolate chip cookies.)

I was undaunted by the challenge of making turkey with all the fixings. I found some recipes and bought everything I thought I needed at the grocery store. Christmas Eve was at Aunt Elna and Uncle Jerry Miller’s house that year. I was having a great time and was in no hurry to leave. That’s before I told Aunt Irma that I was having around 10 people for Christmas dinner the next day. She asked me what I had put in my stuffing. I told her nothing yet, but I planned to make it with celery, onion, butter, bread crumbs, and seasoning. Just like the recipe said.


 Aunt Irma and Harold Thune were Grand Marshalls of the Reunion parade last July. The second photo is of Aunt Irma and Uncle Jeff Sanderson


“You haven’t started cooking yet?” she exclaimed!

“Christmas isn’t until tomorrow and everything sounds pretty easy to make. I do have the turkey thawing in the refrigerator,” I added.

“Mary,” She said. “It takes a long time to make turkey dressing. You have to dice up all of the celery and onion, then you have to cook it for awhile in butter and some stock. I hope you have torn up all the bread and it’s drying out! What else are you having?” She seemed kind of worried, and slightly amused by my predicament.

It was about that time, I decided we had better go home. When I got there, I did just as Aunt Irma “suggested.” I cut up two cups of celery and chopped up some onion. My hands were cramping by this time. Then I melted butter. I didn’t even know what vegetable or any other kind of stock was, so I cooked the celery and onion in the butter. It took a long time to get tender. I knew enough not to boil it, so I put it on low and went into the living room to watch a little television. I woke up to the smell of burning celery, onion, and butter.

Well, I was bound and determined to make a good turkey dinner, so I started all over again. I have no idea why I had purchased so much celery and onion, but luck was on my side. I stayed awake this time, and made what turned out to be some pretty good stuffing. Then I looked at the ingredients for the raspberry jello salad that Mom always made. I noticed the recipe said you mixed up sour cream and marshmallows and let them sit out all night. The next day, you beat it up until it’s smooth and put it on the jello/raspberry mixture that was supposed to be set in the refrigerator. I learned from the jello box what set meant. It meant I had to put the jello part together the night before. The night had already turned into Christmas day, but I made the jello too before calling it a night.

I should mention that Mom and Gus were in California for Christmas that year. She never would have left me in the lurch. The next day I made potatoes and gravy and some kind of vegetable. Other family members brought pies and sweet potatoes. It all tasted good to me.

I guess I’ve always been a last minute lulu. I work well under pressure. I don’t remember if I ever thanked Aunt Irma for saving the day. Like I said. Christmas gets here whether we are ready or not. It isn’t something you can put off for a day or two.


I was going to make some Christmas cookies this afternoon, but I think I’ll have time to do that in the morning. All I have to do is wrap and mail gifts, most of which I haven’t purchased yet.

I wonder how late the stores are open tonight.

This is my crown hat that my friend Pat made for me. I love it. I wanted to see all sides. With and without glasses!

You look very festive Queen. Bring sweet potatoes



11 thoughts on “Murdo Girl…Looking back

  1. scoper07 December 12, 2016 / 6:14 am

    I feel your pain Murdo Girl. Sometimes self-induced stress is good, sometimes not. I am sure everyone enjoyed the meal. Good one jumpy or not!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Francis McNinch December 12, 2016 / 7:59 am

      I’m really feeling it today 07. Although, I did make the cookies last night.


      • scoper07 December 12, 2016 / 9:22 am

        I can’t even make cookies so I’m pretty poor help in the kitchen.


      • Mary Francis McNinch December 12, 2016 / 12:02 pm

        I’m sure Mari is an excellent cook. All you have to do is appreciate😆


      • scoper07 December 12, 2016 / 12:15 pm

        She is and I do appreciate every meal. I try to keep out of the way and then clean up afterwords. I load the dishwasher and I am sure she redoes it after I’ve left. She doesn’t say anything though.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. countrygirl57 December 11, 2016 / 9:26 pm

    Grea Great Cooking lesson. No way would I have attempted a Christmas dinner at 18!! Brave girl Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  3. sanjuan831 December 11, 2016 / 9:14 pm

    My comments are jumpy not to mention rambling,

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mary Francis McNinch December 11, 2016 / 9:21 pm

      Funny I didn’t pick up on that. Probably because I’m jumpy and rambling all the time!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. sanjuan831 December 11, 2016 / 9:14 pm

    That is a super original Santa hat crown. Did you take those pictures in my bedroom? Can I have that comfy room if I visit again? Your cooking stories were yummy. My Mom is sitting next to Aunt Tet in first picture ! She kept that dress until she passed away. Curious what project you’re working on. ( I need to send you more pictures.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mary Francis McNinch December 11, 2016 / 9:19 pm

      I wish I had known that was Aunt Ella. I will add that under the pic. Yes send pictures fast or email.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.