|Judy and Joe Arrive -- Greeting Tim|
|Sisters -- Heather and Jillian|
|Chris and Kendra|
I asked my niece, Alicia, how the "first annual turkey run" had gone, since it was my understanding this was to be the start of a new tradition for the family. I had to laugh when she informed me it never happened, because, "they all got interested in cutting down this big tree and now they are too tired to run." I learned more about the tree-felling story later, and, though I am not completely clear on the details, it seems there was a dead cedar tree which, the family consensus deemed, was time to fell. My brother Dan apparently cut the tree, and ALL of them helped try to bring the tree down. I imagine they were eventually successful, though I never went out to see the now-fabled tree. I'm sure we will hear again the stories of my two nieces, assuring my brother and others that they were in no danger being in the path of the falling tree as they positioned themselves for a decent photo-op, and how my brother was insistent the tree WOULD indeed fall on them if they did not move.... all I know for sure is, the tree fell as Dan predicted it would and nobody was hurt.
My sister Jeannie and my sister-in-law Michelle carved the turkey and they, with the help of several of the "kids" (this is the first year that EVERYONE at the table was over 21) delivered all of the food to the table. When the call went up that dinner was served, none of the 19 of us needed to be told twice.
|Michelle and Jeannie, Consulting on the Bird Carving|
|Food to Table|
We all made our way to the table, selecting our seats without any squabble, and awaited grace. My niece, Alicia, offered the prayer of Thanksgiving this year, and then the clockwise food progression began... well, mostly clockwise... there are, apparently, a couple of definitions of "clockwise" because I was being delivered bowls of tasty goods from both directions, but I assure you, I did NOT complain.
|Good Family, Good Food, Good Fun|
The food was all good. The conversations were fun and entertaining, but did not interfere with our successfully filling our bellies to that point just a wee bit beyond comfortable. And when we'd finished eating, we talked some more, laughed some more, told more stories, groaned at Dad's (bad) puns, and generally had a good time. There were the typical "after huge dinner" activities....
|Alicia Giving Jillian a Massage|
|Dan, Massaging Michelle's Shoulders|
- book give-aways,
|Jeannie Hands Out Books|
- dancing with the battery operated stuffed turkey,
- the traditional family game of GOOF,
and more. Before we knew it, it was time for desert and we started, once again, down that path of "eat 'til you bust." I, personally, tried a little of EVERYTHING served, and to be honest I still cannot recall the names of some of the deserts I tasted... I DO know, they were all delicious!
Finally, with a three hour drive ahead of us, we said goodbye to all and there were hugs all around. 19 people each hugging 18 other people is an amazing sort of "hug fest." Without a doubt, my nephew Richard holds the first prize for the biggest, "bust your rib cage" hugs! Always makes me laugh.
|Richard... Champion Hugger|
Three hours later, Joe and I rolled into our driveway. As we relaxed from a lovely Thanksgiving celebration, we looked at the 300 photos we'd taken. Smiles, miles and miles of smiles.... smiles from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida, Missouri, and Virginia.... the only smiles missing were of my brother and his family in California.... they could not join us this year, but we did a short "group" phone call ... so at least we got to "hear" their smiles.
|Alicia and Jillian|
|Benoit and Dan|
|Pile O' Cousins|
|Dan, Joe, and Tim|
|Jodi, Mike, Kendra, Chris and Alicia|
Yes, it is the everyday things for which I am most thankful. The hugs, the crazy stories, the comfortable "togetherness." But above all... those smiles.
|Jenn and Alicia|
|Jenn and Heather|
|Miles of Smiles|