Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving 08

It is the tradition at my church that we hold a joint Thanksgiving eve service with the other UCC church in town, with the confirmands of both churches holding primary roles in the service and the combined choirs performing the anthem. Then we all head into the other room for a massive distribution of pumpkin pie with whipped cream. It's a good time and a nice tradition, but it pretty much rules out any Wednesday afternoon travel plans. (One year we did go directly from church, but that put us in Chicago at the exact same time as about 40% of the other travelers in the entire Midwest - it wasn't pretty.)
So, it seemed much more reasonable to leave the house about 4:00 on Thursday morning, and glide through the trip when everyone else in the world had either (a) already left or (b) was still asleep. It worked out fine - a nice smooth trip which ended with us in the Grandville parking lot about 20 minutes before anyone else. (The alternatives seem to be either arriving too early, or too late. With the variables of Chicago traffic, there is no such thing as "on time.")

But folks started showing up before too long, and I headed into the kitchen with a few of my Dad's female cousins and other assorted relatives, and we started putting the feast together. The fruit salad worked out okay, although I stuck with just one pomegranate (after squirting juice everywhere while trying to get those seeds out) and even then some people decided to work around the seeds. My cousin Kate brought a turkey - and so did one of Dad's cousins, and I think there was even a third somewhere, so we were never in danger of running out. I don't know who brought the flan, but it was fabulous. The rest is all a happy blur, although I seem to remember a cheesy broccoli dish and a rice concoction that went down well. The group was smaller than last year, but another subset of cousins who were not regulars filled in some of the gaps and we still had a respectable gathering of 35 or so.

The fun really begins after dinner, when attendees split up to chat. There was the usual pile of people asleep in front of the football game, and another group talking about politics or tractors or something along those lines. Some of the women started talking about childbirth (can anyone tell me why we always do that?), and a couple of knitting and other craft projects came out (mine included). Some group photos were taken. The kids discovered some of the exercise equipment in the back room, and had a wonderful time with the stretchy rope thingees. I'm not sure how they got into "Guliver's Travels" mode, but a mob of the "under 5" group surrounded Rick, trying to get him down and tie him up while yelling "Get the giant! Tie up the giant!"

We broke up when the light started to get dim, and followed Carl's group back North to the farm for a game night. There's something so wonderful about a large happy group of family, gathered around the dinner table and laughing and teasing and competing gleefully with each other long into the night. It's one of my favorite parts of visits to the farm, even if I'm not actually playing in each game. It leaves you with a strong sense that no matter what challenges we all face, there is always this warm safe group of people in the background who care about you - even as they knock your piece off the game board.


Christylea said...

I'm glad you enjoy game night, even if you're not playing.
And, I didn't know about the giant thing. Those pictures are great!

Roger said...

I love to hear your version of things! It's too easy to get lost in the travel and once-a-year faces. Thank you for bringing the brighter side in!