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It’s not Christmas or Thanksgiving, But Just as Special

November 6, 2015
Mom at my shower, thrilled I was finally getting married.

Mom at my shower, thrilled I was finally getting married.

I remember being  the center of attention at the wedding shower my mom, sister, and sisters-in-law, threw for me in 1987. They all fussed and my mom made sure the church hall was decorated with hanging paper bells and pretty table covers.

My mom invited all her friends and relatives and was so proud that I was FINALLY getting married. She was thrilled because, at 32, with one foot practically in the grave, she didn’t think my prospects were promising.

It was a great day. I even got a crochet toilet paper holder, something every couple needs when starting a home.

What girl wouldn't want one of these?

What girl wouldn’t want one of these?

As I was talking about how much I enjoyed my soon-to-be step-son, someone (who shall go nameless) said something like, “Don’t worry — that won’t last long.” Then she proceeded to tell me about her step child and their terrible relationship.

See? And you thought bitter, unhappy people only existed in Disney movies.

Luckily, she was wrong.  My step-son, Brandon, was always a joy to have around (well, there was an iffy month when he turned 13) but that was hormones, so it doesn’t count.

That’s why, every year since my divorce, a pang of sadness comes over me during the holidays.  The first year I decorated the tree, PD (post-divorce) I was a sobbing heap over Christmas ornaments that reminded me of Brandon.

I knew he wouldn’t be coming to my house for the holidays and I didn’t expect him to, but it was hard nevertheless because he was my family for 22 years. (Dammit, he’ll always be my family!) Maybe some step-parents don’t love their step-kids, but I love Brandon as much as if I’d given birth to him.  (Maybe more — he was painless!)

He’s got parents,  step-parents, in-laws, and enough people clamoring for him, that I know he’ll be somewhere else for holidays, and I completely understand. But it meant Mr. Mistletoad had to go.

The Mistletoad was the first Christmas ornament I bought for Brandon when he was six. I bought it in 1987, the year we got married, and I knew he’d love it.  Mr. Mistletoad held a little yellow string and when you pulled it, his mouth opened, he made a croaking noise and you could see his teeth.

Stinking Mistletoad

Stinking Mistletoad

Like an idiot, I’d get it out of it’s box, and pull his little croaker and cry like a baby because I knew I wouldn’t be seeing Brandon.

Clearly, that crap had to stop, so I packed up Mr. Mistletoad and a few other things that made the tears flow, and mailed them to Brandon so he can start his own tradition with his little girl now.

And I decided that we needed our time together too — a weekend that’s not any major holiday — just a few days when we could meet and hang out as a family.

And I am so excited because THIS is our weekend!  I have my list of things to bake and bring so I can spoil him, his wife and now his daughter.

I’m making my slow cooked chuck roast meal, maybe some stuffed pork chops, a pasta meal and one of Brandon’s favorite pies; Cherry Cranberry. I found the recipe years ago and I love it. It’s a great combination of sweet and a little tart and is great for the holidays.

I am so looking forward to just being able to spend time and catch up. I love seeing all three kids together, and can’t wait to meet his daughter. I feel very lucky that Brandon is the same sweet person he always was, that he married a wonderful woman, that he still makes time for me, and that the dire shower prediction turned out to be way off base.

But I sure do wish I could find that toilet paper holder.

Cranberry Cherry Pie

My original recipe for Cranberry Cherry Pie.

My original recipe for Cranberry Cherry Pie.


2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup butter flavor Crisco

1/2 cup butter

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. sugar

1/4 to 1/2 cup cold milk

Mix flour, salt and sugar together then cut in Crisco and butter.  Mix well, it forms small crumbs.  Add enough milk so that dough can be molded into soft balls.  Better that the dough is too soft and sticky than too dry.. Once you add the milk and have made about four or five balls, wrap each one in flour coated plastic wrap and flatten out dough.  Place them in the refrigerator or freezer to cool. Then roll them out and line a pie pan with them.


2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

3/4 cup sugar

2 Tbsp corn starch

1 21 oz. can of cherry pie filling (Comstock is the best)

Combine the cranberries, sugar and cornstarch, then add the cherries.  Pour the mixture into the pie crust and top with additional crust. Bake in oven at 350 until filling bubbles. (I know the old recipe says bake at 425, but I never do that and mine turns out fine.)

  • Reply
    I Could Use Your Help – Can You Nominate Me? – At Fran's Table
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    I Could Use Your Help – Can You Nominate Me? | At Fran's Table
    June 8, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    […] It’s Not Christmas or Thanksgiving, But Just as Special – 639 words- November 2015 […]

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Brandon is one lucky guy to have family like you, and I know you feel lucky too. Family comes in all shapes, sizes, and are sometimes not related through blood. You are one hell of a woman, Fran. I m so thrilled for you that you get to spend time with people who make your heart happy. That is family! (And you look beautiful in that photo, almost as beautiful as you are now xo)

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      November 7, 2015 at 12:13 am

      Awww Nicol, you always make me smile. I’m so looking forward to this weekend and looking forward to having that coffee with you next week! Love you to bits.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 8:15 am

    Awww, I hope Brandon reads this. It should make him feel pretty good! Nice, Fran.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      November 7, 2015 at 12:12 am

      Thanks Mare, I’m not sure he is a follower, but you never know. Thanks for the sweet note! xo

  • Reply
    Donna Tunno
    November 6, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Over the years, you have always told me how crazy you are over Brandon. I am so happy that this is your special weekend with him and his family. Brandon is a lucky boy to be loved so much be everyone.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      November 7, 2015 at 12:11 am

      Yeah, Brandon has always been a special soul. Very kind and sweet, how can you not love him? Thanks for always reading and taking the time to write. xo

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