All I want for Christmas is a Mango Treat

I love the holidays – Christmas trees, carols, snow (or at least dreams of it, because we certainly haven’t been getting any), family traditions on Christmas morning. I could go on for ages.

One thing I’m particularly fond of is Secret Santa. Every year the social committee at my school hosts a secret Santa and every year I do it because I a) love gift giving and b) love wondering just who figured out that this scented candle was exactly what I would like. Every year I’ve had good Santas, but I have to really give it to my Santa this year.

Here’s how it works: if you’re participating, you answer a series of questions about your favorite things – favorite drink, favorite type of music…and this year’s twist, what kind of cupcake would you be. That question was most helpful for me as a Santa, as CakeLove had both flavors I needed to make a sweet ending for the week.

My Santa, I could tell right away, KNEW me. Seriously folks, one of my gifts? A BAG OF FRESH MANGOS. I could not have been more excited! The best gifts of course come at the end of the week…and it was then that I learned my birthday buddy J (we share the same bday) was my Santa. My last gift? A themed gift, “A day with a book” – awesome fuzzy polka dot blanket, a loaner book, kettle corn, and orange-mango soda. Needless to say, next day I have free, I’m making the most of possibly the best secret Santa finale EVER.

Setting Sail

Hello dear readers!

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone…I had my first fried turkey, in addition to the good ol’ roasted bird. Surprisingly delish! Perhaps made even more exciting by the various videos watched throughout the day about how to fry one’s bird safely and avoid the armageddon style fireball in your backyard, on your deck or in your garage. Did everyone enjoy their turkey? Or chicken (or, if you’re one of my students, “a big chicken”…sorry to break it to you kid, but you probably at Chicken’s big brother named Turkey)? Or goose? (<–I saw geese for sale at Shoppers for $50. $50!! At SHOPPERS. )

Did anyone eat a Turducken? Seriously though, I’d be curious to know from someone else what that’s all about. I’m certainly not one to shy away from trying new things….but that’s just a tad too odd for even me.

Anyway, I digress. My family’s holiday was spent in Illinois this year, in the Chicago suburbs where my Aunt L’s family lives. It was painful to wake at 3 am to catch our 6 am flight, yet worth the whirlwind of hugs, kisses; the thrill of watching the Redskins triumph over the Cowboys (HTTR!);  indulging in the largest Thanksgiving gathering I’d ever been a part of (24 people!). After all was said and done, a beautiful massage appointment the next day, followed by a delicious dinner and then a return flight home. For which we again had to wake up at 3am. Less foot traffic, but perhaps still feeling the interruption of my sleep cycle.

All the traveling seemed to lay the perfect little red carpet for my next mango read:

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Another of my delightful finds from the mom & pop book shop several months back, An Embarrassment of Mangoes tells the story of a couple who packed up their lives and set sail on a two year journey along  the east coast of North America into Central America and back again. What a delicious idea, to cross the last T and dot the last i and sail away….

The introduction to the tale opens on the water – Ann and her husband are returning from dinner with friends and navigating their way back to their boat in a small dinghy by . All at once the reader is transported to the next day, where Ann and her husband travel on a bus to the local Caribbean markets to purchase fish and mangoes. Ann describes the hot and balmy drive in such detail that for brief moments, I could have sworn I was right there with her: light cotton shirt sticking to my back, dust whipping in the warm wind against my cheek, the sing-song of hellos as passengers greet each new body to get on board. When they arrive at the market, Ms. Vanderhoof describes seeking those precious, juicy gems by name:

“What are they called?” I ask, because here, a mango is not simply a mango; at least half-a-dozen varieties are available in the market on any one day, and I’m trying to learn the differences. “Sealawn,” she says drawing out the second syllable like a musical refrain, and the name seems fitting, since we’re surrounded by the sea and lush greenness. I know there’s a place called Seamoon toward the north end of the island ; I envision the bountiful Sealawn right next to it, covered with heavily laden mango trees…

On the way back toward our homeward bus, we poke into one more shop. Unlike the market, here the prices are posted, and I see the sign above one of the bins. “Ceylon Mangoes,” it says. Or Sealawn, in the lilting voice of an islander.

The scenery is so well depicted through Vanderhoof’s voice that when I ended the introduction, I couldn’t help but smile as though I had just stepped into the Caribbean heat myself. But what I really love, aside from her vocabulary, is her clear delight at the sight, smell, taste of the theme of my humble little blog – that magnificent mango. The way she describes those sweet little gems….well, let’s just say it warms my mango-lovin heart.

More to come…