Thanksgiving was a good day. We expected it to be a good day, but as Steve and I drove home from his brother’s house after a long day with a child screaming in the back seat and one who quickly fell asleep almost sitting up we both agreed it was better than a good day. It was a great day. Some days are just like that.
We started the morning bright and early, dragging kids out of bed for the Turkey Trot. We walked, ran, ate and played with cousins. And even knowing we were joining up with cousins shortly after – it was still like ripping teeth out to get them all separated.
Steve’s sister had her baby the day before and Steve found out while we were at the Turkey Trot that they were using his name as the middle name. Steve was touched and humbled and we made a quick pit stop by the hospital on the way home so he could hold him just for a minute. Tender moments.
Steve’s brother hosted our Thanksgiving gathering. An intimate 52 family members – all the love to them for being willing to host that crowd. When you have nine kids – nothing will ever be a small group and everyone wants to be together. So assignments were made and carried through and we fed the masses.
Our assignment this year was the rolls. I spent a good portion Wednesday making rolls – cooking some and then freezing the dough for others to pull out the next day to let rise while we were trotting. And you can expect someone to eat just one roll so we cooked over 120. I lost count of how many I had to test as they were pulled from the oven. Nothing beats a roll straight from the oven.
The tables were set up in such a way that we were able to really enjoy our meal and conversation and they were set beautifully.
After the eating commenced, the playing began and then some napping and football and more playing and then of course pies. And more pies. And just when I was telling myself that I was all pied out – a new pie would surface and I’d take another sliver. It wasn’t until we were leaving that I realized I hadn’t even touched the pumpkin pie! I made sure to make up for that the next day!
As the sun set, it cast a beautiful orange glow across the sky and backyard, it was beautiful. We sat on the covered patio, watching the cousins play and talking into the night. Briggs was the arm ornament of choice, as long as he was happy! Hunter was playing soccer. Hallie was on the trampoline. Bennett was running back and forth to the ice machine to cool off. And Cannon…he ended up being the least happy of the bunch the entire day. He was extremely afraid of the roll-top door to the game room that kept opening and closing. His cousins convinced him the walls would collapse in if the door opened. (Got to love older cousins!) So he honestly struggled every time he saw it open and he would run away screaming. So my relaxed evening on the patio watching the sunset was interrupted just a few times. Even then – we drove away with exhausted kids and agreed, it was a great day!
We were fortunate to spend our Thanksgiving morning with friends and family at the Gilbert Turkey Trot – which has become a favorite annual event. I think this event is taking an especially deep root with me as I work more with the organization through my design work leading up to the event. It’s not just a fun Thanksgiving morning activity. It’s weeks and weeks of working to make sure everything is designed, printed and ready to go. This year I counted 6 shirts I had designed that people were wearing at the event. That’s the rewarding part of designing – seeing it in use.
The other part I love – is seeing a family of our size rallying around our niece Lucy in support of Families Fighting Blindness. (You can learn more about her foundation here.)
Our little family walked the one mile “fun run” and Steve completed his first 5K – which seems like a simple task for all you runners, but we are not runners and Steve made it a goal to run this and he completed it and I loved watching him cross that finish line. I on the other hand would rather poke my eyes out with a fork than run even a mile.
Bennett loved the gratitude wall. I found him in this position more than a couple times making his mark on the board, trying to sound out all the things he had in his heart.
Hallie came up to me as excited as could be and told me she saw Lindsey Stirling (the dancing violinist who is absolutely amazing) and wanted to take a picture with her. I quickly followed her through the crowd until we came upon Lindsey talking with her sister. Hallie nervously asked if she could grab a picture with her cousins and Lindsey was as sweet as could be to oblige. These girls had stars in their eyes the rest of the morning!
Briggs has decided he doesn’t love anyone else holding him but me. When he realized my sister-in-law was holding him and my nephew was making faces trying to get him to smile – he puckered up and about lost it. I snatched him before the colossal meltdown took place.
I can’t think of a better way to kick off a day of eating, lounging and gratitude!
Bennett came home with a turkey and it was his job (with help from the family) to decorate or disguise his turkey. He talked of gluing cereal to it, which I knew would be a disaster. He talked of making it into Darth Vader which I knew would take forever.
After scrolling through pinterest, he saw the angry bird turkey. He loved it. I thought it was rather funny just for the subliminal meaning – what turkey isn’t an angry bird this time of year. 😉
With some white feathers and a red feather boa – this thing was stapled together in 4 minutes time. Much faster than watching large globs of glue on cereal dry! I drew the face and Bennett colored it with markers. It looks nothing like a turkey, but if you look real close you can see its feet sticking out the bottom!
I’m having a hard time believing its Thanksgiving next weekend. Where did November go? A number of people I know already have their Christmas trees up which I think is crazy and yet at the same time I find myself jealous that they’re already enjoying their tree. I’ve never put my tree up before Thanksgiving although I’ve been tempted to a time or two.
In my book this weekend is really the last calm before the storm. We’re going to make the most of it. Happy weekend.
The week before Thanksgiving, several of us in the family volunteered to help stuff bags for the Turkey Trot and roll t-shirts for registration in support of Families Fighting Blindness. It was a Tuesday morning, so most of our kids were in school. Those down from college were able to help out and Steve’s sister who was visiting was able to bring her kids. I brought my two youngest (obviously not my most helpful children!) who admired the dog that was there and played in the sand in the volleyball court. With so many helping hands – it didn’t take long. It wasn’t a grand act of service, but service nonetheless.
I wished that all the cousins could’ve been there to help out, my older kids especially. Not because we needed more hands, but I wanted them to see that there is much more to Lucy’s foundation than just walking on Thanksgiving morning. I want them to see all the people that are giving their time and talents to not only Lucy’s charity but to the other charity that benefits from the Turkey Trot, AZ Brainfood.
While we were stuffing bags there was a legion of people behind us prepping food to deliver to all the area schools to send home with kids in need. It’s a big process. Donations to buy food. People who pack the food. People who load up the food in their cars and deliver it. They do this every single week. And they do it out of the goodness of their hearts. That’s what I want my kids to see. Service without anything in return. It’s even benefitial for me to witness and take part in – such a powerful reminder of all the good that’s taking place behind closed doors. People’s hearts are good.
After spend a couple hours at the turkey trot we returned home in order to prepare food for our Thanksgiving feast. Steve’s family is not small and every gathering takes a lot of man-hours just to provide food for that many people. Although I wasn’t cooking an entire meal, I still found myself in the kitchen for several hours as I’m sure everyone providing food did.
Steve’s brother hosted this year and they’ve got the ideal set-up to handle 50 people and still make it feel intimate. There was a system. The littlest kids dished up and ate first.
We were able to help them and assist them while the next age category cycled through and then the teenagers.
By the time the adults were ready to eat, our youngest were done and ready to go play which left Steve and I to enjoy a nice relaxing dinner surrounded by family. Everyone delighted in their favorite dish. I’m personally a rolls and stuffing fan. However, there were a good number of people who couldn’t stop talking about the yams. There was something for everyone.
While enjoying our adult time, we each wrote what we were grateful for on a leaf and everyone tried guessing who wrote it. Some were easy to guess. Others took some time and then required an explanation. I shared that I’m grateful for my hands; that they work and function as they should. My hands are crucial to my work and the things I enjoy doing. I often take for granted that they do exactly what I want them to do, when I want them to do it, without pain or difficulty. Oh, how I love and appreciate my hands and all they allow me to do.
After dinner, there was pickleball, football, napping, relaxing, talking and prepping ourselves for the largest display of desserts one should ever witness! Extended family stopped by for desserts and before long there was over 70 people under one roof (and in one backyard). It was exactly what we love about Thanksgiving – family.
Grateful we live close enough to enjoy their company on more than just holidays!