Those 70ish girls… Val’s Newly Newby New Year

We hear it all the time currently, “Happy New Year!” Really?

What if I am not ready? Can I just ignore January 1st? Can I let it go by? Would it hurt to still write 2022 on forms, checks, letters, in journals or diaries? Would it feel any different to not recognize the new year? People might correct me or say I am wacko, crazy and out of touch. That’d be all right. If I ignore this new year, dare I say it: 2023… will it still come, sneak up on me? I do not want it. No thank you. Will it still happen?

The answer is YES. But you knew that. Poets and writers and scholars and scientists and historians have known it. Everyone knows. “Time waits for no man.” Heck, I am still eating Christmas leftovers. There are stains on the table cloth from prime rib. The poinsettia is still vibrant. Tree is up! Some people leave their CHRISTMAS TREES up for months after it’s over. Maybe they think that will ward off the New Year. HA! Nope, no, uh uh.

Then there’s New Year’s Eve. Gosh almighty and darn it. I’m not going to any parties nor celebrations. I’m not drinking any alcohol. Nor am I eating special appetizers. Just leave me alone in my easy chair and I will get through it. I’m going to bed around 10:00 pm like usual, even though the loud fireworks and neighbors will probably wake me around midnight. It’s just another night. Go away.

What’s so new about New Years? They always show some baby in drawings symbolizing a new year next to an old man as the old year. I can identify because I feel pretty old as well. But did that guy get that old in just one year? Is it all a joke?

So have a good time and enjoy the page turning in our book to a New Fresh Baby Year. I’m going to be here in my easy chair…complaining. It’ll just be another day, another year, another baby popping up, happy or not.

I look my best when I’m standing next to a red Convertible

Those 70ish girls… Inspiration comes from many places

I have been binging on all of the Hallmark Christmas movies again. I love them because I know I won’t be offended, and I know the story will have a happy ending. The main character, sometimes a guy and other times a girl, always leaves the big city that they have become disillusioned with, and returns to their quaint and beautiful hometown where their high school girlfriend or boyfriend still resides. Even though they are now in their 30’s, neither of them has ever been married, or if one of them was married, their spouse has died and left them with a darling little girl or boy who is now around 7ish. After being called back to the big city because the offer they thought was dead in the water becomes available, they realize that they can’t go through with accepting the amazing job, and return home to live happily ever after with the reignited flame.

Here is what attracts me to these movies. The towns are always beautifully decorated for Christmas. Everyone has a quaint, but large home that is also beautifully decorated. The residents are interesting and the whole town always plans a lot of festivities during the Christmas season. The main characters always dress in expensive and stylish clothes, and the scenery is always breathtaking. It may not be real life drama, but it sure is fun to live vicariously through these people who are usually people of faith. It’s all very heartwarming. It increases my Christmas spirit and makes me happy.

I have wonderful Christmas memories of my own childhood, and the years my children were growing up. Each year we make new memories. I have been around for 70 Christmases and to me there is no more magical time. The Christmas story is so beautiful and the decorations and bright lights are awesome.

I think people are more inclined to be generous during the holidays as they are reminded of those who are unable to make Christmas festivities happen without the help of others. I think many become more aware of the needs of all of the orphaned and homeless animals. People contribute as much as they possibly can to whatever cause tugs at their heartstrings the most. There are so many worthy organizations that desperately need help. Many people come through, and many goals are reached.

Jesus chose to use people when He fed the multitudes. He could’ve made food appear from thin air or turned rocks into bread, but ordinary people made their resources available to Him, and thus, the needs of a multitude were met. Despite the small amount of fish and bread He had to start with, Jesus turned it into something remarkable. This is so encouraging to me because there are times when I feel that what I have to offer is pitifully sparse. Praise God that He can take our small contributions and turn them into exactly what is needed for that moment. There is always more that can be done to make more happy endings, but the spirit of giving that began with the gift of Jesus is pretty inspiring… Don’t you think?

Enjoy the beauty of this Christmas season, and let us all welcome the promise of a brand New Year.

Those 70ish girls


Here at our house we have been working on special traditions in cooking and planning, not to mention cleaning and decorating.

My husband preps his fillings for Pierogi for days, cooking potatoes, sautéed onions and grating cheese. He makes a mashed potato filling and stores it in containers. He also fries bacon and chops the crisp bacon finely to add later. Another day he makes a sauerkraut with chopped sautéed mushrooms and onions filling. Then on another day he makes a sticky dough, kneads it and rolls it out. He cuts out circular pieces and puts a small amount of filling on each piece and folds it over, sealing the edges with a fork pressed around the edges. They will be boiled and served hot on Christmas Eve night with sour cream at our big dinner along with prime rib, potato cream cheese casserole, veggies, salad and homemade apple pie for dessert.

I love sending and receiving cards over the holidays. I mailed 60 photo cards this year of our family pose taken on Thanksgiving. Many people sent cards back. We received an interesting one yesterday from Cousin JEFF H. The letter was a holiday quiz with descriptions about each person in his and his wife’s family with a letter given next to each. Then blanks were typed where you could match descriptions with names. A tiny paper was enclosed separately with the answers! Clever and unique idea. Most people sent cards with short messages about how they were doing. I save the cards for sharing with my kids or just rereading later to make me feel the happiness again.

We did not decorate much at all. Getting lazy in old age. Just put out a few poinsettias and little tree. Our two sons arrive today so I make beef stew and cornbread which has been a tradition since they were kids. A few gifts will be passed out this weekend. One fun tradition is seeing the two dogs rip open their gifts! They each get a toy and a special treat. Funny seeing them go at it. So we will enjoy chatting, a movie maybe and some walks downtown, but the joy of the holidays will surround us and being with family is the best part. Happy holidays from our house to yours.

Sam, Caitlin, Everett, Matt, me, Ken, and Morgan
Caitlin, Matt, and Morgan with Lucy
Someone is over it!

Those 70ish girls…Yram’s 3 Ingredient Pumpkin Biscuits

There is nothing that Yram Sicnarf enjoys more than cooking up a holiday feast for her family. Here she shares one of her most talked about recipes. Yram’s main goal in life is to make it into Jones County’s next Treasured Recipes Book. The last one was printed in 1976 and will surely be reprised and updated in 2026…Right? Yram still has her copy of the Bicentennial Collection and also the copy she inherited from her mother. (Loretta had not one, but two recipes in the book.) Yram has tried repeatedly to make her mother’s recipe for lemon bars, but they never quite seem to come out the way her mom’s did. Could she have possibly left out a key ingredient? An ingredient lapse can flat ruin a delectable dish.

Let’s put our hands together and welcome, Yram Sicnarf (stage name) who has invited us into her home for this one of a kind pumpkin biscuit demo.

Spoiler alert! The bracelet Yram proudly displays in the video belonged to her Aunt Irma Sanderson. Thank you, Cousin Mark for the best Christmas surprise, ever.

Those 70ish girls…Cooking with Baba…YeaH!

Baba’s riveting Christmas cooking video makes news!!! She discloses that she has a fatal flaw. You heard it here first, folks!!! She is Con-de-sending, which in layman’s terms means she cons de people into sending her recipes. YeaH!

Following her cooking segment, Baba invites us to take a short walk with her while she tries to snag a short interview. I’m happy to say the interviews are short…er the interviewees are short. Or maybe they are short with her. IDK

Baba has to wear a lot of hats…

Those 70ish girls…Is it okay for Santa to bring used stuff?

On at least two occasions, Jolly old St Nicholas brought used merchandise to my house. I think I know why. He is a wise Santa and he knew the thing I just had to have was only a momentary desire that would pass in a flash…hardly worth the investment of the new version of whatever I had my heart set on.

An older version of the the younger me with Mom.
I never did learn how to sew

There is a very good reason why I can’t sew, knit, iron, cook, or clean house. Murdo High School did not offer a home economics class. Believe me…the world is full of challenges if you are one of the unfortunate few like me, who was never availed the opportunity to take home economics.

The funny thing is…I wasn’t embarrassed or offended when I got something used. Once I got a pre-owned sewing machine. It was a real clunker too. I remember setting it up on a big table in the open area of the basement house. I also remember sitting there with my dress pattern, my pink fabric and a zipper, wondering what to do next. Mom had asked me if I wanted some help. I soon regretted my impulsive answer. “I can do it by myself!! There’s nothing to it!”

After sitting there for a while and ripping out several miss-placed rows if stitches, I decided being a seamstress was not my calling. Mom made me stick with it and even got our neighbor, Roni Poppe, to try and teach me how a sewing machine worked. I think Mom was still smarting because Mrs. Theisen told my cousins and me that the Sanderson girls never did learn how to do anything useful. I finally finished the pink dress. I never could get one of the sleeves in correctly. I had to hold one arm back like I was about to throw a bowling ball for it to hang right.

Mom sold the pink bowling dress at a rummage sale.

Thankfully, I was able to teach myself how to make chocolate chip cookies.

I’m not sure about what happened to that used sewing machine. The table it sat on was in the way everywhere you went in the house. Maybe Mom sold it with the bowling dress.

The next used thing I got was a stereo. That probably should have been new, but at the time, I didn’t question why Santa decided to find me a good used one. I’m sure he runs across good used stuff all of the time. It only had a few scratches and it was on a new stand with rollers. I think my parents regretted Santa’s choice, because it was a year before I could afford to get any new albums. I got two from Billy for Christmas and I played them over and over again. One was the Kingston Trio and the other was Ray Charles. For some reason I really got attached to his song, “I’m Busted.” Not so long ago, I even sang it at Gus’ American Legion Club karaoke night. I knew the words, but apparently, they didn’t have the music in my key. You don’t get a do-over at the American Legion, anyway.

It’s been fun to reminisce about Santa’s second hand gifts. I guess I come by my enjoyment of shopping at resale stores, honestly. Mom used to bring me things she purchased at garage sales. She told me she only went to those in RICH neighborhoods. I appreciated that. It must be difficult to find people who live in RICH neighborhoods who feel the need to get rid of things for a dollar.

Mrs. Theisen was wrong. Our moms passed on lots of useful things.

Those 70ish girls…MG’s Christmas letter

I vowed to write a first at last. I’d never done this in the past.

I thought there would be nothing to it. It seemed like anyone could do it.

I brought my family all together, so we could write a Christmas letter.

I read those I’d received from others. Written with love by grandmas or mothers.

I said,

“These can be a great example, but our own exciting times are ample.”

One friend’s son has lots of knowledge. He’s only ten and goes to college.

I asked.

“Who has something that compares?” All I saw were empty stares.

My son read,

“This mom said she lost a ton. Now she out-runs everyone.”

A daughter said,

“Mom don’t be sad. look at all the fun you had, eating donuts, pies, and cake.

Who needs to run for heaven’s sake?”

Ignoring her I forged ahead. “Let’s write about our trips instead.”

“Do I have a volunteer to highlight our time-off last year?”

“You said we’d soon be on vacation, and then you changed it to staycation.

Instead of seeing Disneyland and building castles in the sand…

We stayed right here in our own house and drew pictures of Mickey Mouse.”

Had I been overconfident? There must be one accomplishment.

“Did anyone get to school on time, clean their room or solve a crime?”

(They were reading others news and it was giving them the blues.)

I said,

“Let’s not continue this. We’ll send pretty cards this Christmas.”

“We should not antagonize all those with less exciting lives.”

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Those 70ish girls…The stock we came from…wrapping it up

As we have thought back over our lives, growing up with these aunts and uncles as our role models, our guide, our family, we wanted to share some memories of them. These write-ups have been a tribute to the six SANDERSONS all born during the early 1900’s – 1926. They lived through WWI, the Great Depression and the Dirty Thirties plus WWII. Talking it over, Cousin Mary said to me when she had the idea, “Their lives stuck in our minds. They dropped little jewels and stories. We learned from what they lived.” She wanted me to just write about them from my point of view. It would be a series, a story of growing up and learning from them. Maybe you have known some of them or had family members like them. They were pillars in their community. They were our family foundations. They came from strong, solid stock.

Uncle Wayne had a black dog named Smokey who chased cars and later a black dog named McGee. He worked hard all his life and enjoyed his farm on White River later in life, calling it Green Acres. He liked dancing also and attended several dances in his later years. I didn’t know until many years later, after he had passed away, that he and one of the family’s neighbors,Gene Thomas, were great friends. Uncle Wayne talked baseball with Gene who didn’t quite understand it all.

My mother, Ella, was the second born arriving on December 12, 1914, although Grandpa SANDERSON got the date wrong and she always had trouble with her birth certificate for some reason. The day she was born, the doctor came out to their rented farm with a team and sleigh riding up over fences on deep snowdrifts. There seem to be many more baby photos of the two first born than the other four which most new parents usually do. She was named after her parent’s mothers- Ella Elizabeth. She is a part of me now and always.

Melvin Eugene came next in 1916. He had his father’s same initials, but a nickname stuck and he was Jeff for life. He and his wife, our Aunt Irma, volunteered to help their community of Murdo unselfishly on countless projects and in many ways. Too many to list. They gave back in volumes.

Aunt Helen was born next and always loved life to its fullest seeing the glass half full. She loved children, having four of her own, the most of the six SANDERSONS. (When we got together for reunions, we other cousins thought Bobby and Blake were cute and world wise. They were cool.) I still have some of her recipes as she was a good cook. She always looked slim, trim and neatly dressed and coiffed. She was a selfless giving person.

Aunt Loretta came next and thinking that she would be their last born, Grandpa called her Babe. She could be fiery hot with a temper, or quietly contemplative at times. She intrigued me yet scared me. I had never known anyone like her. She was probably one of the first successful and unique business women in Murdo. Stories about her abound within our family. She kept cash in her refrigerator lettuce drawer, she kept family and cousins working at her motel, she called people with one line of gossip then hung up…”So and so is pregnant.” Boom.

Aunt Elna was born in 1926, last and certainly not least. The family came back from a trip to Iowa when Elna was small. Her parents gave her a gift when they got home. She opened the box and inside was a puppy. She got scared and cried. That gift didn’t work out. As she grew up in Murdo. Elna enjoyed driving uptown checking out the motels or going out for coffee. She would go into places just whistling a tune or humming a sweet song. Even into her later years, she worked, helping at the Range Country. She was a joy to know.

They aren’t gone. The SANDERSON cousins, 12 of us, and dear Stephanie in heaven, have them living with us, the good memories and some bad ones maybe, living inside our minds, our hearts, however, some memories slowly fading as we grow old, still a part of us. We come from good stock.

Below is a slideshow of some old family photos…