Six months after the official holiday season ends, another one begins at our house. Starting with Father’s Day, the third Sunday in June, and continuing for the next month are a series of celebrations that bring our family and extended families together to share food and camaraderie.
On Father’s Day this year, as we traditionally do, we gathered at Brian’s parents’ house where his father, Dennis, grilled barbecued ribs, salmon and hotdogs for a crew of about 20. Brian's mom, Betty, prepared potato salad. The rest of the gang contributed side dishes and desserts.
Like all of the family gatherings at the elder Gregoires, the one on Father’s Day was filled with laughter and delicious food. The Gregoires are the ultimate in-laws – generous, kind, affable and great cooks to boot. We never leave without some kind of treat to take home, be it a loaf of Dennis’ freshly baked bread, Betty’s signature ginger cream cookies or an extra bag of Hershey bars because they know how much I love chocolate.
A couple of weeks after Father’s Day, Betty and Dennis drove over to our house for Brian’s birthday dinner on July 2. This year, we honored Brian on his 58th birthday with grilled steak and potatoes, Betty’s orange ice cream gelatin salad and, for dessert, strawberry and peanut butter-chocolate shakes from our local drive inn.
I had planned to make Brian a homemade birthday cake, but when the temperatures on the days leading up to his birthday week climbed well into the 90s, I decided against adding more heat to our un-airconditioned home by turning on the oven.
I knew that the shakes from Larson’s Drive Inn in Larimore, N.D., would be a more-than-worthy-substitute, and they did not disappoint. Sandra and her crew at the drive inn braved kitchen temperatures even hotter than ours to turn out the shakes we ordered and a plethora of food for other customers. It was small-town service at its best.
Two days after Brian’s birthday is Independence Day, a holiday which either my sister and brother-in-law, Bonnie and John, or brother and sister-in-law, Terry and Marie, host. This year, it was Terry’s and Marie’s turn. As is traditional at our family celebrations, Terry and Marie provided the main courses – hamburgers, fruit salad and dessert – and the rest of the family made sides. My contribution was my mom’s three-bean bake; Bonnie made her famous roasted potato salad and Betty bought a fruit tray. One of the perks of being part of a family whose members are excellent cooks is tasty food, and everything served was super that day, as I expected it would be.
Three days after the Fourth of July, on July 7, Brian and I celebrated our 31st anniversary. We honored our special day with a taco bar at our house that we shared with Ellen and with some of the members of the Larimore-Hatton-Northwood cross country team that Brian will help coach this fall. You can’t go wrong with a combination of tacos and teenagers, and for us, it was a perfect way to celebrate the day.
In two weeks, our summer holiday celebrations will conclude with the annual Larimore Days event that includes a 5K race that Brian and Ellen organize. I’ll be helping with the race and attending some of the other Larimore Days events, where I’ll eat more great food and likely run into out-of-town friends who have come home for the celebration.
Besides enjoying the summer holiday season because it includes family, friends and fun times, I like it because I don’t have to worry a blizzard will cancel the feast we've planned. If the worst thing that happens is that hot temperatures "force" us to go to the drive inn for shakes, that is OK by me.
Ann Bailey is a Grand Forks Herald reporter who writes a personal column twice each month.