On Christmas day this year, my husband’s parents came over to our house and visited with us. We got to talking about where my father-in-law Raymond Havey grew up and what his childhood was like. He’s from New Hampshire and if you listen really close, you can hear a little bit of that unmistakable New England accent in his voice.
We all enjoyed listening to him recall the discerning features of his growing up back East. We learned about his mother-strong and caring, a talented cook, and a woman of quick wit. His father a hard working family man. Things were harder in those days, but he recalled his childhood remembering the good with the bad, and you could tell he misses his parents.
He talked of how he met my mother-in-law, Rosann, in college in Idaho. She was originally from Oregon-their childhood homes so far apart on the map it’s a wonder they ever met. He brought her back to New England and it proved a little too much for a girl from a small town so they relocated to Utah to begin their family of eight. How grateful I am for that because I don’t know how I would have met my soul mate if he was born and raised in New Hampshire.
I felt so grateful to have my children hear of their grandfather’s heritage right from the man himself. It made me think of how many holiday meals we share with loved ones that have a lifetime of experiences that we know nothing about. My husband had tears in his eyes as he looked at me when they left. He asked me how he had grown up all his life with his Dad and had not known some of the things we learned that night. I just said, “we have to learn to ask”.
My father-in-law’s birthday is today. I wanted to do something special for him that would let him know how much we enjoy hearing of his past. Something that would remind him of the old days in New Hampshire.
I did a little research online to find out which foods New England, and especially New Hampshire is known for. I also recalled some of the things Ray mentioned that he particularly enjoyed when he was home. I put it all together in a little basket for him.
I started out with a Moxie T-shirt and some cans of Moxie Soda. Did you know they call soda “tonic” in New England? My mother-in-law learned that the hard way when she asked for a “pop” and got a Popsicle. Moxie is a tonic you can only get in new England. It is a spicy soda, kind of similar to sarsaparilla.
New England is known for cranberries and blueberries. I hear they taste better there than you can imagine. I included some Bog Berries (chocolate covered cranberries), and some blueberry pancake mix. In New England, they typically make their pancakes from corn meal and call them Johnny Cakes.
I found some authentic New Hampshire maple syrup in a cute little jar.
And a jar of New Hampshire fruit spread.
I couldn’t leave out the whoopie pies. Ray is a true chocolate lover, and this dessert is a beloved New England staple.
I thought it would be cute to include a little New Hampshire trivia, so I found this book highlighting some of the unique places and spaces of Raymond’s home state.
I wrote my father-in-law a little note.
I just piled it all into a pretty basket and adorned it with a proper label.
We are on our way over to visit. I really hope he likes this little gift we put together for him.
This is one of those things that would be a great gift for those people on your gift list that have everything. There is nothing like giving a little nostalgia-it’s like giving a bit of home.
Remember to really talk to those in your life-and listen. Don’t just sit next to them year after year when it’s time to carve turkey, hide Easter eggs, or grill burgers for the 4th of July. Get to know who they really are before it’s too late. You just never know what you will find out or how your children will grow because they know their heritage. Just learn to ask.