I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots of family time and relaxation. Ours was relatively quiet but still most enjoyable. Since we ate our Thanksgiving meal out in a non-traditional style—a buffet lunch at an Indian restaurant—I had time to reflect on Thanksgivings past rather than spending the day in the kitchen helping to prepare a Thanksgiving feast.
Growing up in Louisiana, I can recall getting the entire week of Thanksgiving off from school. Since at the time all of our relatives lived in Texas, we would travel there to spend Thanksgiving with them. On one these trips when I was probably 8 or 9, I remember going to school one day with my cousin right before Thanksgiving. I guess it must have seemed novel for someone to come to school that didn’t have to as I seem to recall being the star of the classroom that day. For me, these early Thanksgivings were all about getting to see cousins and having fun playing together.
By the time I was in high school and our family had grown with my two sisters married, Thanksgiving was celebrated at home with my mom doing almost all of the cooking. My mom was a great cook and she would outdo herself with the choices she made for us. While it was great for our family to get together, it seemed these Thanksgivings were more about the meal and so I did my very best to pig out—something I could do at that age without fear of any repercussions on the scale the next day.
After I married and started my own family, Thanksgiving would be spent mostly at my in-laws. My mother-in-law was also a good cook and would prepare many delicious dishes. For his part, my father-in-law would spend hours smoking a turkey overnight, a wonderful treat I looked forward to every year since oven roasted turkey was never my favorite choice of meat.
After the death of my parents and the subsequent death of my in-laws in 2006, my wife and I decided to celebrate Thanksgiving in our own home with family members from both sides of our family. We spent the day cooking and then set up a series of tables extending from the kitchen into the great room. While it was a bit of a sad time with the death of my mother-in-law just a few months earlier, it was good for all of us to be together as we embarked on a new phase of our lives with the knowledge that Thanksgiving celebrations would be quite different for all of us going forward.
Once two of our children moved to California, it became obvious that celebrating Thanksgiving at home was not going to be possible. At our oldest son’s suggestion, we rented a house in Sea Ranch for all of us to be together—a destination Thanksgiving so to speak. Not wanting my wife and I to spend any time in the kitchen, my agreement with my children was that if they were willing to do the cooking, I would pay for whatever they wanted to cook. With that as the premise, we had some fabulous meals.
But beyond just the meals together, there was plenty of time to explore the area overlooking the Pacific.
And even the drive up from San Francisco along the Pacific Coast highway was a thrill in one of my Miatas with spectacular views around every corner.
We were fortunate to get to return to Sea Ranch the next year with the same arrangement and more wonderful family time together on Thanksgiving.
And more time to explore.
Now that two of our three children live on opposite coasts, it is more difficult for all of us to get together. And any Thanksgiving celebration in the future will have tough competition from these two fabulous ones. So until we return to large family Thanksgivings in unique locations, I’ll be content to celebrate smaller ones with loved ones knowing there will be future fun celebrations in the years ahead.