Throughout November, I’ve been working on scrapbook layouts about Thanksgiving. I printed about seven years’ worth of the very best Thanksgiving photos and set to work. It’s been interesting scrapping Thanksgiving like this. I’ve noticed patterns and discovered several last-ofs and first-ofs that I don’t think I’d have noticed otherwise. I also realized that I don’t really take a lot of photos on Thanksgiving.
I decided to rectify that this year. I was going to take some very specific photos. I wanted a picture of my mom holding an apple pie, because she usually makes them. (I made ours this year because she broke her hand a few weeks ago and wasn’t able to cook very much at all.)
I wanted a photo of Becky with her sweet potato dish (or is it yams?) because she introduced it into our family traditions and now it’s something many of us look forward to, even though we didn’t grow up with it.
Maybe, if I hadn’t been too embarrassed to ask someone, I wanted a picture of me holding a basket of Thanksgiving rolls.
I wanted a picture of me with my mom, sisters, daughter, nieces, and great nieces.
If I could get them to cooperate, one of all of the husbands, because marrying and putting up with Allman girls (however far descended from the “Allman” part) is an adventure they’ve all so far survived.
One of all of the cousins with my mom.
One of the food table, especially because I planned on bringing my Hall’s Jewel Autumn Leaf bowl that belonged to my grandma, and I knew it would feel like I had a little part of her with us there.
One of the dining table, with everyone eating.
And some candids.
Which is a fun, albeit a little blurry, one of my mom, me, and Haley in our boots. (Actually…Haley’s wearing my boots in that photo, so 2/3rds of the boots are mine!)
And this one of Haley being the little-girl whisperer (in a non-creepy way):(she was holding Suzette's cat, which is the friendliest cat I've ever met, and her little cousins Josie and Oakley couldn't resist.)
Kaleb eating with his cousin Oakley
(And exactly zero of Nathan, who left before we cut the pies to go stand in line with his dad at Target, a choice I was not happy about, btw.)
All of them pretty awful cell phone pictures. I didn’t get any of the photos I wanted because I optimistically took my camera in to be repaired less than a week before Thanksgiving. Of course it wasn’t fixed in time! So I only had my cell phone to take pictures with, and I confess: those of you who only take pictures with your cell phones are a curiosity to me. It drives me nuts. I’m not sure anything frustrates me more! I know that, for a cell phone, they are OK. Much better than other, older cell phone pictures. But, call me a camera snob if you must: I’m used to the flexibility of my DSLR. I can make it do what I want.
So, I got exactly none of the photos I wanted.
(And Becky: that isn’t a guilt trip. It’s my own fault. I could’ve taken my camera in for repairs at the beginning of October.)
I know: there will be other Thanksgivings. But never this Thanksgiving, with all of my kids at home with me. With this family make up, the way it is right now. I’m terrified that it was my last Thanksgiving with my mom. Terrified. With everyone healthy and happy (as we ever are) and together.
So much could happen in two years.
So, since I don’t have images, some words about this year’s Thanksgiving:
- One of my favorite little moments: Haley came home the night before Thanksgiving, and she & Kaleb watched How to Train your Dragon 2 together on his bed. I loved hearing their combined laughter while I cooked. He misses her so much and wants to spend every second with her that he can.
- I was sick with a cold this Thanksgiving, and it made me realize something: a big part of the happiness in Thanksgiving is the smells. I couldn’t smell anything (I especially missed the scent of the cranberry sauce cooking) and it made me feel so much less connected to the day. Still, this will linger in my memory as the Thanksgiving I had a cold and couldn’t breathe without coughing, and somehow that is a good connection in a weird way.
- The dishes I brought: apple pie, crescent rolls, cranberry mousse, pecan bars. I also made a berry pie but it was pretty small so I kept it at home.
- Jake peeled all of the apples for the apple pie. Once I get him in the kitchen, he is a good worker. He literally whistles while he works, and if that doesn’t make a parent happy I don’t know anything that will.
- I made my pie crusts totally with my Bosch. Instructions coming, but let’s say this: they were the easiest and best all-butter pie crusts I’ve ever, ever made.
- While I was making the rolls, I dropped the cup of just-melted butter. A whole half-cube of butter splashed all over me and the kitchen. It made me laugh. I was covered in butter!
- A little while after I cleaned up the butter, my sister-in-law stopped by our house…with a pan of stuffing! Kendell loved his mom’s stuffing (which is different from my mom’s in very specific ways that don’t make him very happy…I love both of them) and was sad it wouldn’t be part of his Thanksgiving. (I’ve tried but I can’t quite make it like she did.) So Cindy bringing Beth’s stuffing to share…well, of course it made me tear up. It was like a little piece of Beth right there with us.
- The kids all hung out in the kitchen with me while I finished the rolls and put the apple pie together. They were eating berry pie (it didn’t last very long!) and laughing together (their cousin Nicki was there with her mom) and doing their running-joke/pun thing that they do, and I was just so happy to have them all there together.
- I had another one of those I-love-you-so-much moments with Jake and Nathan in my sister Suzette’s kitchen. I was standing in between them while they joked with each other, and I looked up at them and just felt it…life is amazing. I hugged them simultaneously and tried to tell them what I was feeling but I’m pretty sure they just thought I was crazy.
- It made me so happy (how many times can I write happy in this post?) that Suzette also had out some of her Hall’s pieces. More Grandma with us!
- Becky brought a corn casserole that was divine!
- Eating together. I sat between Haley and Kendell, with Jake and Nathan across from us and the rest of the grown-ups near. (Kaleb had already eaten and gone back outside to throw the football with his cousins.) There was joking, stories, memories. Of course, we eventually got to Aunt Suzette’s drying-pot-in-the-microwave story, but we usually devolve to that. The stories, laughing, and talking are the best part for me, even better than the food, because it reminds me that while we have some pretty crazy experiences and have maybe made some awful decisions, we are OK.
- I sat on the couch and talked to my niece Lyndsay about her upcoming ultrasound. I’m not sure she’ll tell me what she’s having, but I’m dying to know!
- Kaleb has been talking nearly all month about how bad he wanted a “real turkey. The kind with legs.” (Last year, when I cooked at my house, I just made a turkey breast because there were only seven of us. And because I’m a little bit afraid of cooking a whole turkey.) He, Jake, and Nathan polished off all four legs (Suzette cooked two turkeys) on their own. Kaleb was so happy he got a turkey leg to himself!
- After the meal was over, I met up with Kendell at Target. (My opinions on the Thursday-edition-of-Black-“Friday” coming soon!) He’d gotten the door buster things I was hoping he’d get, but then we wandered around some more. (We=Haley, Nathan, Kendell, and me.) I was so tired and feeling so sick, I kept nearly falling asleep with my head on the shopping cart.
- When we got home from Target, it was to discover that Jake had cleaned the entire kitchen by himself. Detailed it, and it was a fairly big mess. It was so nice to come home to!
I just searched so I could answer my own question: 8. I used the word “happy” eight times in this post (not counting that last use). I think it’s a good way to sum it up: despite the pictures I didn’t take, it really was a happy Thanksgiving. I hope yours was, too!