Sweet Connections

~ Anthony Parker Marban, Human Resources ~

My wife and I are the only members of our family in Houston as our daughter and her wife live in Atlanta, Georgia, and our son and his wife and daughter live in Okinawa, Japan. With travel restrictions imposed globally, it’s been difficult to know our children remain far away. 

Our 2-year-old granddaughter is in Okinawa, and we haven’t seen her in person for over a year. But we devised a plan to remain close in a way that the pandemic allows. We went to a bookstore and bought a dozen children’s books, with 2 copies of each book. We shipped a set of books to her in Japan and kept the others with us. Whenever we have our video calls, I ask her to select one of the books, and we read them together. It’s a simple thing, but she loves the experience of having her grandad read with her, and I fall in love with that sweet little face all over again.  

This Christmas will be a virtual celebration, and we’ve planned a colossal video supper. The menu choices will be similar for all of us, and we’re excited to share this new experience together. We’ll share some holiday magic and reflect on our blessings, because despite the 700 miles to Atlanta and 7,000 to Japan, our family will be together. 

It’s a simple thing, but she loves the experience of having her grandad read with her"
Stories good for the soul

Sweet Potato Casserole


  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage 
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced 
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 2¼ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced 
  • 2 firmly packed cups shredded Gruyère cheese 
  • Sage leaves to decorate 


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Blend the cream, sage, nutmeg, onion, garlic, salt and pepper together and heat in a pan on medium for 5 minutes. Don’t let it boil. You’ll be using this mixture in quarters. Butter a standard size casserole dish. Spoon in one quarter of the blended cream and onion mixture and layer one third of the sweet potatoes on top. Add another quarter of the cream mixture, then add another layer of potatoes and another layer of the blended mixture. Sprinkle 1/3 of the shredded cheese on top, followed by the last of the blended cream mixture and another layer of cheese. Now add the last of the potatoes and the remaining cheese on top. Add some black pepper to taste and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes in a preheated oven. Remove the aluminum foil and cook uncovered for another 15 minutes. Garnish with fresh sage leaves before serving.