Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Very Late Thanksgiving Blog

I haven't said anything about our Thanksgiving celebration, and I do want to remember it, so I'd better record it here before I forget the little details that make everything so meaningful.

We went to Lawrence to my aunt and uncle's house for Thanksgiving this year. This is the first year it hasn't been at Grandma's house in Salina, so there wasn't all of the nostalgia surrounding the day, but the family was there and the food was just as good as it has ever been, and we had Grandma's Green Jello, so the celebration was still wonderful.

I'm going to write about past Thanksgivings so that I have a record of them, and then I'll go into the day at Aunt Susan and Uncle John's.

Usually we would drive the three-and-a-half hours to Grandma's house and arrive on Wednesday evening, usually getting there pretty late because we didn't leave until Dad got home from work. We would sit up and talk with whoever was already there, usually Great Grandma (She died this year not too long after she turned 100 years old, and we miss her being there SO much!), Aunt Susan, Uncle John, cousin Alison who is a couple years younger than me, Aunt Lynda, Uncle Marty, cousins Kurt and Kelly who are two years older and one year younger than me respectively, and our family: Mom and Dad, Christy (one-and-a-half years older than me) and Wesley (nine years younger than me). Christy and I usually slept either in "the piano room", which had a hide-a-bed couch that folded out to quite a nice size, or when all of the cousins were there (Kurt and Kelly moved to Colorado and didn't get to come every year), we'd all bring our sleeping bags and pile onto the floor in the living room. Thanksgiving morning we would all wake up to the smells of Grandma's cooking. She usually had little loaves of pumkin bread and banana bread, along with cereal, juice, milk, coffee, scrambled eggs, and other yummy things. We would eat while the adults took their showers, and when they were finished we got to use the bathrooms. Grandma's house had two water heaters, so people could take showers in both bathrooms at the same time! It always amazed me.

After shower time, the kids would play at various things. Grandma usually had one of those big puzzles (the ones with tons of tiny little pieces) set up on a card table for everyone to work on, and we'd sit and work on it for what seemed like a very long time before giving up and letting the adults finish it. Grandma would sometimes be able to wrangle us into actually helping her set the table before we ate, but mostly we just stayed out of the kitchen. That is, until we got older and actually wanted to help!

The meal was always delicious. Turkey, gravy, homemade stuffing, gravy, tons of mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, cranberry salad, Grandma's Green Jello, Mom's homemade rolls with butter, and then some more of everything on that list. When we were done, there was pumpkin pie, apple pie, and usually a couple of different kinds of cakes too. We were always stuffed when we were done, and would usually just lay around saying how full we were while the older people did the dishes and burned some calories while they were at it.

A couple of hours after we ate, we would all bundle up and head outside for the annual "hedgeapple retrieval". Grandma has some hedgeapple trees on her land, and we would pull the little red wagon all over the place and pick them up, and then drag it over to her neighbor's fence and throw them as far as we could (we threw them farther every year!). Sometimes it took several trips, but we were always red-cheeked and ready to go back inside when we were done.

For me, this was the longest part of the day. Waiting until everyone else was ready to eat again! I was a big eater (still am, hence my need to "scale" back on how much I consume), and the food was just as good the second time around.

We would stay up and watch the Thanksgiving specials -- "It's a Wonderful Life", "Charlie Brown Christmas", "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "Garfield Christmas", and all of those other Thanksgiving shows designed to get everyone in the Christmas spirit so they would go out and buy lots of stuff the next day.

The day after Thanksgiving we would wake up and eat a quick breakfast, and the brave ones of us would go out and brave the crowds at the mall and find some good deals. When I went I knew I should be looking for things to give as Christmas presents, but if I bought anything it was usually something for myself. I'll admit it. I'm a shopaholic. I love the feeling of bringing something new home. When I lived with my parents I would clean my room whenever I bought something new, so that it wouldn't be spoiled by my messy room. Betcha didn't know that, Mom!!

Anyway, Thanksgiving is a very special memory for me because it was a tradition for our family. Now that I am married, we spend every other Thanksgiving with my family, and every other one with Mike's. We do the same thing for Christmas. I miss the tradition and always going to the same place, but I know we need to spend equal time with each family.

I just love traditions! My absolute favorite day of every year growing up was the day we would put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house. Mom always made homemade hot chocolate and Rice Krispies Treats, and we'd pull out all of the ornaments we had made at school and ones we had collected over the years and put them all on the tree while we listened to Johnny Mathis sing "It's a Marshmallow World" on the record player. Ah, memories...

So this year was a fun Thanksgiving. There were some very yummy appetizers, including Grandma's pumpkin bread (!) and some extremely delicious mini-quiches that cousin Alison and her boyfriend Robert brought. They are very talented cooks, and I ate too many of the little things, but they were so tasty! One kind had goat cheese and spinach, and the other kind had pancetta and gruillere (sp) cheese. SO good. And the dinner was wonderful, with most of the same foods we had always had at Grandma's, but I chose to bring a spiced fruit dish and one I made up with squash, carrots, onion, and cheese. It was really colorful, and it tasted good too!

Sammy had a helping of cranberry sauce, and let's just say it was quite the mess to clean up! I think there's a picture on someone's camera of him when he was done, I'll have to find it. It's a good thing it was such a nice day, somewhere in the upper 60's, so we took him outside while still in his high chair and "hosed him off" with some very wet paper towels. He played in his playpen outside while the older kids (Christy's girls and Griffin) ran around. The men decided to go outside and play basketball, and when they were finished I challenged Christy to a game of pig while Mike took the kids (all four of the older ones, he was brave) on a walk around the entire block. I won. Then we played horse. I won that one too. Then the guys started to come back and play, and I lost a couple of games and decided my streak was over, so I went back inside. We all sat and talked for quite a while before we decided it was time to head home. It was a good day! I can't wait for Christmas, it's going to be fun too.

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