Thanksgiving Revisited

Thanksgiving 2020 Centerpiece – a gift from my daughter and her family

Today is Thanksgiving Day, a traditional American holiday, but – as one friend texted in response to my Happy Thanksgiving text…Hopefully last one like this....

My husband and I are celebrating on our own this year, as many others are. A smaller version of the feast we used to make years ago…(cooking less is a silver lining here)…we are still as thankful as ever. That part hasn’t changed.

And, no matter what, there will be pie. But just one. Pumpkin.

Do we miss sharing this day with friends like we did last year? Most definitely. And the special times with friends and family from many years back? Absolutely.

But I know we are not alone and my heart goes out to the thousands who don’t have a job or a home or enough food to feed their families…much less a Thanksgiving meal. The pandemic’s ongoing toll.

So my focus today is on gratitude for what I am blessed with…and also for looking back on memories made in years past.

Below is a post I published on November 22, 2018 – the 4th Thursday of November – and, in the United States, celebrated as Thanksgiving.

🥧 🥧 🥧 🥧 🥧 🥧

Thanksgiving

A day – if you’re fortunate – set aside for family.
For gratitude. For sharing a meal.

Usually a massive meal – in our house it was based around turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, some kind of vegetable. Rolls or banana bread. Every year the “fixins” changed somewhat.

The most important part: many pies. The dinner was basically a stop on the way to pumpkin…apple…cherry pies.

And my personal favorite…playing cards while eating dessert: aka pie.

Dinner was also all about the conversation and stories we shared. So much time and opportunity for prolonged discussion when you are passing endless bowls of food around. Pouring wine. Pouring water. Carving more turkey. I just never knew what subjects would come up; but many became classics.

Such as…

In 1990, my husband and I hosted our first Thanksgiving.
I had never cooked a whole turkey before. An overwhelming task. I had heard horror stories about overcooked turkeys and dried out white meat. That would never happen to me…I’ll cover it! That should do it.

My parents and my in-laws were coming – to join me, my husband and our 2 kids.

I dusted off the big blue covered roaster pan my mother had passed down to me. Coated the fresh turkey with spices and some oil. Tied the legs together.

I put the cover on. It went into the oven. I set the timer. And let it cook. And cook. Many hours later – when, according to the recipe it would be done, I removed it from the oven. Look it’s ready! With great fanfare, I lifted the lid…Oh No!

It looked like a turkey snow angel! All the turkey meat had slid off the bones. We had turkey stew! There was nothing to carve. Legs askew. Wings fallen off. My mother was horrified. I laughed. And laughed.

It still tasted great…and…the white meat was NOT dry!

♥  ♣  ♠  ♦

The following year:

Twelve family members gathered at the dining room table to enjoy our Thanksgiving feast – including my parents, my husband’s parents, my grandmother, my sister and her family.

1991
1991

Upon noticing someone struggling to remove the meat from a turkey leg, my father-in-law shared a memory…a story that has become part of family lore.

He began describing his job at the First National grocery store in the 1930’s. When he helped get the turkeys ready to be sold for Thanksgiving. The turkey carcasses were brought to the store and his job was to pull the tendons out of the legs. Apparently, this made the turkey legs easier to eat. He went into graphic detail. Right in front of everyone. Who put their forks down and stared at him…as he explained this was probably not done anymore. Those pesky tendons still attached.

GROSS! we protested.

Shocked faces…especially those with turkey legs eaten or half eaten on their plates. There may have been some gagging. My big city brother-in-law’s face turned white. He got up and left the room…

♥  ♣  ♠  ♦

Empty nest Thanksgivings…

 left more time for documenting…

IMG_1302

But traditions remained the same.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Macro Monday: Milkweed Moment

I returned to see what was happening with the milkweed pods I posted for Wordless Wednesday last week. That WW photo had been taken on September 27th. I originally planned to check them out again before now, but you know, the days just seem to blend in together…and time passed.

However late afternoon on Saturday, it was clouded over and the light was flat. I remembered the milkweeds…which usually photograph well in that kind of light. Cabin fever had risen (again), so I grabbed my camera and escaped out the back door (Exit Stage Right! as Snagglepuss used to say).

I followed a path through the woods to where the milkweed pods had been. Since it is now November, the landscape is basically brown…various shades of brown. It was difficult at first to find them amongst the gone-by plant life.

Luckily, wisps of white perched on top of nearby tall grasses gave away their location. I spotted tall stems with puffy hats. That’s what a strong breeze will do with milkweed “floss.”

And there I found the pods in all their glory.

I braved potential ticks in waiting and crunched through a thick ground cover of leaves and brush.

I was not disappointed.

I also took a special liking to the following image. As the saying goes…it resonated with me…

Milkweed 2020

Night

One Word Sunday: Night

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Petworth Neighborhood – Washington, DC
February 21, 2020
6:26 PM

The last time I was able to visit my family in Washington DC was this past February. Four days with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson. A dinner out with my son. Memories made.

It was right before the pandemic exploded onto the scene here in the United States.

Little did I know on this beautiful moonlit night that I wouldn’t be able to see my kids again for many months to come.

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Any Kind of Seating

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Any Kind of Seating

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A few months ago, in that sliver of time between the pandemic’s summer lull and the current surge, I took care of a few neglected health care appointments. I had not been to these two facilities in at least a year.

What a difference a year…and a pandemic…can make.

The waiting areas were stark and impersonal. I totally understand why, but it was still a shock to see the rooms stripped bare of anything welcoming. No magazines. No brochures. Just warning signs everywhere.

Even though I did appreciate the vases of fake flowers attempting to add a sense of normalcy, I couldn’t shake the surreal vibe in the air.

However, I did avoid the time-out chair in the corner. It felt too much like we were all being punished. A tad bit too creepy for me.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: November 20

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: November 20

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year. How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

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The following post was published on November 20, 2018 – as an entry for V.J.’s Weekly Challenge. I know this sounds cliché, but two years feels like a lifetime ago.

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Deviation

This post is inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #24:  Deviation

Which way?

Deciding.
A constant struggle.
When drilled to
Never stray.
Never deviate.
Playing the part
Paralyzed.

That knot in my gut
For years
Warning me
Within the haze
To take a different path.
Safety
Just an imposter.

Which way?

To face the fear
Finally.
Finding the courage
And strength
To discover that
Old realities
Were in fact
A fragile fantasy.

Choosing
A new search for why.
Predictably
Becoming the bull’s eye
For anger.
For arrows of shame.
Exiled.

Finally
Just
Grateful.
The cloud lifting
While there’s still time.

jan 13, 2011

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: White or Cream Colors

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: White or cream colors
Cee’s Flower of the Day

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It isn’t often that white flowers get their deserved attention, so I am taking advantage of this challenge opportunity.

I am also grateful to focus on white (tinged with pink…) flowers rather than life and world events. Just not up to that at the moment.

Thank you Cee!

White tulips took center stage a few years ago in a Mother’s Day bouquet.

They also outlasted their yellow counterparts!

Macro Monday: Look at Me

Look at Me!

While walking along the sidewalk at Hampton Beach a few months ago, I noticed the sun (always the sun) highlighting a perhaps often overlooked narrow strip of a garden. Including a seemingly oversized leaf in the midst of a lovely flower display.

It needed a sign:

It’s not just about the sand and the surf people! Please look down here!

The only way to show proper respect for these beauties of nature was to fill the frame, sun and all.

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Cee’s Flower of the Day (maybe someone can identify this plant!)

Not So Frivolous

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #120: Frivolous

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Another Tourist Trap! my father would inevitably snarl as we approached a Country Store…my favorite destination for souvenirs as a child. My sisters, brother and I would be poised and ready to jump from the family station wagon as it pulled into a dusty parking lot. The result of a small side trip off the main road. We were all excited. He was not.

Keep in mind my family only went on a few – maybe 3 – “family vacations” when I was growing up. My mother always pushed for more, but my father was not interested in the minutia of planning and disruption of routine. To be fair, it couldn’t have been easy with 3 or 4 kids to pack up, transport and stay overnight in a new place. One time my paternal grandmother traveled with us, which severely dampened my mother’s usual enthusiasm.

But I loved a Country Store. There was one in particular in Vermont that we stopped at on the way to Expo 67 in Montreal. Penny candy. Those little wax bottles filled with colored chemicals that tasted like liquid candy. Straws filled with colored sugar. Barley rock candy on a stick. Candy buttons on strips of paper…(do you detect a theme here?). I think this was a Big Deal mostly because we weren’t allowed much candy at home. So it was okay to fill one of those small brown paper sacks with sweet treats “just this once.” A sugar high ensued for the rest of the trip. Tourist trap indeed…a kid’s little slice of heaven.

I didn’t usually have more than a few dollars to spend, but I always inspected all the shelves and displays…not just the candy bins. The “Gem Stones” or “Seashell Collections” glued to cardboard. Lucky Rabbit Foot key chains. The supposed pelt of a small animal (which I now hope was not really…real).

Nothing in those stores was essential. It was all unnecessary…and yes, frivolous, and would eventually rest in a drawer or sit on a shelf in my room. Never serving any useful purpose in the long run…at least that’s what my increasingly practical self concluded.

Except for one item discovered during a “day trip” which included a trip to a Country Store. A denim shirt. This was 1967 and denim shirts were extremely Cool (or as the term was back then: tough). I didn’t need a shirt. I couldn’t justify it in my mind as I could with the candy…I never get candy at home...because I did have enough clothes. And it was a men’s shirt. But boy did I want it with all my teenage soul. I hadn’t wanted something like this in a long time.

I don’t remember how much it cost, but even though I had my own money from babysitting I had to justify it. It was (sort of) a Vacation! One-day trips were out of the ordinary after all. And so were purchases at a Country Store. And it was clothing (even as a kid, I was sensible). My mother was most likely not thrilled I was acquiring a non-feminine men’s shirt. But it was my money (a life lesson right there).

I wore that denim shirt constantly. All the way through college. It eventually became threadbare in places…and what does one do in the ’70s with holes in one’s clothes? Patches!

Later, after I was married with a family and a house, it became my “work shirt” during home painting and staining projects. It faded with each washing. Eventually…and sadly…the fabric started to shred in my hands after being laundered.

I had to stop wearing it. But I still have it.

My frivolous purchase survives to this day…retired and safely tucked in a drawer. Perhaps to remind me that it’s okay to splurge and only with time will the value become clear.

Even if it’s from a Tourist Trap.

Most of my other fervent purchases would collect dust and be saved for decades…until the purge of downsizing began.

But not this shirt. It’s a keeper.

I did need it after all.

And it’s no wonder that the moment I first heard Mary Chapin Carpenter sing this song many years ago, I fell in love with it.

On May 21, 2020 she performed “This Shirt” as part of her “Songs From Home” series she has been posting on Instagram during the pandemic.

During this series, her sweet dog wanders through the kitchen during her singing and can be heard off camera sometimes as well.