Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving at the Lake 2009

This was such a good time, not at all like the ordinary Thanksgiving dinners we've always had. Normally when I have family away, I just don't even bother with doing anything special, but together Debby and I put together a nice little gathering with 3 generations and had a great time. Three cousins who had barely been in contact for the past 40 years before this year, my mother, and Debby's two younger sons.

After cooking our stuff the day before, Mama and Darby and I headed to Gantt on Thanksgiving morning. Bobby had come up from Ft. Walton the day before and enjoyed exploring the areas where his folks once had a cabin. He took some pictures that day, and then we all drove over there Thursday afternoon to look around. I had very little memory of it, but the two of them spent a lot of time walking and pointing and arguing and agreeing while Mama waited in the car, afraid someone was going to come "shoot us" for being on their land.

The dinner was wonderful with way too much food, as usual, but no one complained. The turkey was fried and one of the best I've ever had. Beautiful and crispy on the outside and tender and juicy inside. And it just took an hour to cook! When I think of all those hours of thawing and basting and seasoning and checking temperatures, when all this involved was a little seasoning and popping it into the fryer.

And here's the masterpiece.

There were peas and butterbeans, corn, rice, deviled eggs, dressing, of course, salads, chicken and rice casserole, sweet potato casserole and the desserts....

Red velvet cake, pecan pie, lemon pie, buttermilk pie, and banana pudding. We actually didn't even eat any of those desserts until later that night or the next morning.

It was so nice to get a chance to know Clark and Hunter a little better and get reacquainted with Bobby. Mama did her best to rile up all the Alabama folks at the table with her "orange and blue" comments. No takers though. We remained friends.

After Darby calmed down from her excitement at having attention from new people, she spent hours sleeping in the sun or keeping watch over a suspicious hole in the rocks with a little break for some leftover turkey.
After lunch, we all piled into the car and went to Andalusia. I left Debby and Bobby at the nursing home to visit our step-cousin (?) Ann (where Mama discovered Aunt Nell's room and stopped in for a visit). I then took Mama to her friend Clara's and I went to my father-in-law's for a brief but nice visit.

Debby, me, Bobby, and Ann in front.

I'm afraid we woke up Aunt Nell, but they had a nice time laughing and talking.

We had planned to visit two cemeteries and take flowers, but the afternoon just disappeared, and that didn't happen . We'll go back next week maybe.

I so much enjoyed the drive and talk about the area and memories. We asked Mama hundreds of questions about her family so we could fill in the blanks from this picture. Sherry had sent me a picture of the picture, and we had debated the names and likenesses already, and then Thursday, Debby gave me a large copy of it.

The baby is our grandmother with her parents and sisters and brothers. Mama amazingly remembered everyone's names, their children's names, and usually a nice story to go along with it. We cousins shared what we remembered of them, but our memories usually consisting of going to one of the houses on Antioch Road and picking pears and blueberries and poking around in barns and outhouses. Maybe this will spur me on to finding the grandchildren of all these people and filling in yet more blanks.

Bobby had to leave for home as soon as we got back to Debby's, and she and I finished cleaning up the kitchen. Mama was freezing the whole time in spite of Debby raising the thermostat, so she went to bed early to warm up, and we talked and ate pie and watched a movie and talked with our families and talked some more.

Tom called from Iraq, Brent from Connecticut, Elise from Texas, and Mike, Emily, and Ryan from Washington. We missed them. Hopefully we will have more of us together for Christmas. I appreciate Debby making this happen for us. It was a special time.

Yesterday, as we came home from Mama's beauty shop appointment, we saw our neighbors once again showing me up by getting their trees pruned and their decorations up.

Trent and Drew working on lights and the new nutcrackers. Last year there were angels and reindeer there, and Darby got out once and sat on their lawn and barked at them for hours. I'll take a picture tonight with all the lights on.

My decorating yesterday consisted of gazing at the Christmas boxes in the pantry for awhile and then taking down a box and putting placemats on the table. I did put away all the autumn decorations though. Hopefully, no one will come look at the house while it's in transition - which will probably be a couple of weeks at the pace I'm working.

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