Dear Friends,What a year!
I recall thinking back in early 2020, “Thank goodness this Covid thing is happening now — not during our busy holiday season.” However, we all know how that turned out! It certainly was a challenging year. Like so many other businesses, the only thing we knew to do was “improvise” and simply take it one day at a time. Fortunately, we were able to keep working and never had to lay off any employees. To keep our employees safe, we reorganized our baking and break room areas to accommodate social distancing requirements. We reconfigured our sales area to handle our holiday crowds and installed hand sanitizing stations. With our “Cookies to the Curb” service, no one had to worry about getting in 10,000 steps! Masks were required by all. Previously I had always prayed for “no snow” during the holidays. That prayer became “no Covid please.” Well, my prayer was answered, and we made it through the holiday season unscathed. But it certainly was a challenging and nerve-wracking experience.
Personal reflections on 2020.
My children were immensely helpful in running all my errands, (Grocery shopping, drug store, etc.) Being stuck (and bored) at home inspired me to do more cooking. Instead of cooking only once a week, I started cooking 2 and 3 evenings for Travis and the kids. It certainly helped clean out my freezer! (Daughter Mona remarks that while she escaped the Covid virus, she certainly caught the “Covid 25.”) But I sure did miss my church family. Yes, we were able to hear/see our sermons online, but I really missed socializing with my dear friends. Isolation can be very depressing. I was fortunate to have my family and work family to keep me company. My heart aches for those who did not have that advantage. I hope we never experience another “Covid-like” situation again.
2021 and the “new normal.”
So here we are in 2021. Things are slowly returning to “normal.” Our Tour calendar is once again filling up. People are getting vaccinated (Travis and I gladly complied). Summer is here, people are traveling, and everyone is becoming cautiously optimistic. Those masks! Oh, how I missed seeing people’s smiles! Maybe because I am older and my hearing is not as sharp, I had a hard time understanding people. I had never realized how much I relied on seeing people’s mouths move when they speak. (Did anyone else experience that?) I also think my sense of smell diminished. (Although it didn’t stop me from eating.) LOL. As always, I try to find the silver lining when life serves up some lemons, so I do think some important lessons were learned. I am left with a renewed appreciation of being able to just “go and do.” I am also more grateful for my family and friends. Because we were forced to “think outside the box”, we actually made a lot of improvements in our sales area to help streamline the bakery
“pick-up” process. We are going to keep those changes along with all our enhanced sanitary practices. But those masks! Let me tell you, I look forward to the day when the word “mask” only brings to my mind, a spa treatment.
Family news.A tale of Two Weddings and Two Great Grandchildren: In September 2020 we rented a big van and drove to Chicago for my granddaughter Madison’s wedding. We had a great time meeting Jim Boland’s (her husband) wonderful family. We were royally entertained. The food! Oh, my goodness. The wedding was beautiful. It was not the wedding of Madison’s childhood dreams, but during “the time of Covid” special occasions required a bit of “reimagining.” Personally, I think the simplicity of the wedding only served to enhance the intimacy. It was an easy and joyous affair. Madison’s brother Jedidiah
(“ordained” via the internet) was the officiant. He gave a very touching “sermon.” Mona served as an “unofficial” photographer. She followed Madison and Jim all over Chicago, kneeling to remove Madison’s heels as they walked (ran) and then kneeling again to replaced them for the photos. (She is sure some people are still laughing at the sight of her, kneeling and struggling to get up and down.) She was especially fond of the moment when someone on the street shouted during one shot “You work those shoes girl!” The reception was filled with flowers graciously provided by her cousin, Meighan Harmon and the food was delicious. I have really enjoyed visiting Madison in Chicago. The people are so nice, the summer planters overflowing with flowers, so lovely. I feel that Chicago has a “small town” vibe. I had to chuckle during the reception, when Jim’s dad asked a friend of Madison’s, “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to be related to ______.” (It seemed very reminiscent of the South when we ask, “Now, who are your people?”) While I miss having Madison nearby, I am so happy she now has the Boland family to support her and surround her with love. We loved Jim from the moment Madison introduced him to us and now we love his extended family. But that’s not all! The joy continued with the birth of my first Great Grandchild! Our newest “Cookie Taster,” Mr. Hanes Edmund Boland was born on November 19, 2020. He was named after “us” and Jim’s Dad. Upon hearing of Madison’s pregnancy, Mona’s first reaction was joy immediately followed by, “Wait! You are having a baby in NOVEMBER?” Being a seasonal business, our family has often joked, “Don’t die during November and December, because we won’t hold your funeral until January.” As it turns out, Mona couldn’t have been present even if she wanted to due to Covid restrictions. Fortunately, there is the internet. It was a very quick birth and Madison was grateful Hanes arrived before Thanksgiving because she had bought the “cutest matching family Thanksgiving outfits.” (Husband Jim was also thrilled, LOL). One “Covid blessing” was that since both Madison and Jim were able to work remotely and were able to spend most of January and February in North Carolina. We got to shower sweet Hanes with lots of love. (Yes, I am sharing lots of photos.) So, that was one wedding. Then on May 15, 2021, my grandson, Jedidiah married dearest Lori Moore. Since both Jed and Lori work at the bakery, it was a marriage of family and business. The wedding was lovely. Once again, because of Covid, it was a small and intimate affair. Madison returned the favor to her brother and was the officiant. The vows were personal and heartfelt. The wedding was held at my house, and I cooked the wedding dinner. (see photos). Daughter Mona’s children apparently like to do things in an “expedient” manner, because very soon, my second Great Grandchild will arrive. Her name will be, Adelaide Beatrix Templin (Addie Bea).
I am so excited. Once again, Mona and Scott were overjoyed, but “Wait, what? Really October? LOL” Exciting times ahead.
Business news.Ramona decided it was time for a changing of the guard. She handed over the Presidency of the company to the next generation. Congratulations to our new President, Jedidiah Templin, and to his wife, Lori Templin who will replace Jed as Vice President. Ramona says she really will not notice the change because she usually signs all letters and emails as; “Mona, (Mrs. Hanes’ daughter).” Her suggestion that perhaps Jed might want to sign his emails as “Jed, (Mona’s son)” did not get a whole a lot of traction, LOL. I am overjoyed to see the 4th generation of family continuing the business my mother began over a 100 years ago. Who knows? Someday, one of my great grandchildren might be writing this letter.
Personal news.If you read last year's family letter, you will recall that I have faced some health challenges. Breast cancer in 2018 and a brain tumor in 2019. I had brain surgery to remove the tumor and (so far) 5 gamma knife procedures. This past April I had surgery to implant Gliadel chemo wafers in my brain. At the age of 88, one expects there to health issues, but I admit, a brain tumor is scary. I just take things one day at a time. I stay busy gardening, cooking, working at the bakery during the holiday season, and putting together puzzles. During some of my sleepless nights (especially when I was on steroids), I took all the old diary’s I have religiously kept for the last 65 years and wrote 365 pages of my life story. It is to be shared with my children, grandchildren, and now my great grandchildren. Why? I guess I want to leave something tangible behind in addition to memories. I certainly don’t profess to have any great wisdom or be a good writer. I just wanted to share some of the recollections of a simple woman who has lived a long and blessed life. I have seen so many changes. Mona is going to “edit it” for me, (we write a lot alike). She has promised to remain true to my recollections, even though a running theme during her teenage years was how challenging, strong-willed, and extremely argumentative she was. The bakery and this book will be part of my legacy. (Not that plan on going “anywhere” soon). I want to see how my great grandchildren fare at their cookie tasting job.
Giving thanks.In closing, I must express my gratitude to a couple of groups and publications that really helped our bakery during this difficult year. “Thank you,” Carolina Country magazine, for the excellent article in your November 2020 issue entitled, “Cookie Making Masters.”
We also want to thank Southern Living magazine (and wonderful writer, Sherri Castle) for sharing our story with your readers in your December 2020 issue. I have always loved Southern Living magazine and from the overwhelming response we received, so does the rest of the world!
In October 2020, Our State magazine featured my husband Travis, and the walking sticks he makes and sells at our bakery. The article was called “Craft of the Staff.” A 2019 film done in conjunction with Our State magazine called “How Mrs. Hanes Made the Modern Moravian Cookie” remains one of my favorite videos and we proudly continue to share it on our website.
To our Friends at “Visit Winston Salem” and dear friend, Kay Calzolari — During this very challenging time you have continued to be one of our most vocal and treasured supporters.
And lastly, to all those customers who have written us such kind emails and letters. You have no idea how much they mean to us.
There are so many people to thank, and the list (and this letter) could go on forever. But, alas, my space is limited. Just know that hearing from you truly touches my heart. You helped make this past year bearable, and your support means more to me than I have words to adequately express. So, until next year. Thank you for reading this letter and for supporting my family business. It has been a joy sharing my life and my cookies with you.