December has arrived in a blustery, rainy gust of weather. In recent years it seems that this final month of the year arrives rather quickly, though the months preceding it are no shorter than before. Why then am I surprised that we are already facing the final hurrah of the year? In ten days we will celebrate Isaac's birthday, we will then decorate the house for the Christmas season, Kate and Rebekah will arrive home for the holiday, and before we know it, it'll be time to adjust to a new number for the calendar year.
This past week with Thanksgiving was full to the brim with activity, family, and wonderful food. Perhaps the time flies quicker that way. Kate came home Tuesday, and Wednesday Jim and Isaac made the long drive to get Bekah. We only had her here for four days, but we made the most of our time with all of the girls under one roof. Thanksgiving day we cooked up a feast, with each of the kids assigned certain recipes or tasks to complete. I think that this was the easiest Thanksgiving feast we've ever prepared, and it must be because we were sharing the work and not rushed about the timing. The girls chose which pies they could not live without, and each prepared their favorites. Erin loves the Cranberry Streusel pie, Bekah had to have traditional pumpkin, and Kate made another perfect Pecan Pie.
Naptime followed our meal, and then the cleaning up. We had an invitation to join friends for dessert, so we packed up the pies and drove across town for a nice evening visit. Erin and Isaac learned to play pool while Bekah played Rummicube and Kate shot a few photos. Blessed ending to a full day.
Friday we slept in- no Black Friday shopping for us! Sitting here now, I'm asking the kids what exactly we did do on Friday, and we're coming up blank… It must have been calm and relaxing all day. Imagine that. Oh, we did have a bonfire in the evening for Bekah and friends. Marshmallows were toasted; a movie was watched.
Saturday was another blessedly full day for us. Last year we invited Jim's cousins to come over the Saturday after Thanksgiving and join us for pie and leftovers transformed into soup. We had so much fun then, and multiplied that fun with seeing them at the wedding and Fourth of July party over the summer that we repeated the invitation. This time we asked the Nelsons to come along as well because, while they aren't actually related to us, they might as well be. Mark and Brooke and their four boys live with cousin Ginger in what is affectionately known among the extended family as "the Group Home". Since they have been there long before our re-connection with Ginger and the Carlton gang, they have been part of our every visit and our kids, Isaac especially, have enjoyed having someone their own age to hang out with.
So the morning was spent making three kinds of soup and more pie- can't have enough pie! At the appointed hour Ginger, Gladys and Alexys arrived with homemade rolls, salad, and approximately 700 deviled eggs, (give or take a few hundred). When the Nelsons arrived we settled in for our feast. Every chair was filled, every bowl used, and the conversations and laughter flowed. Our dining room was filled to capacity as was the kitchen table, and once we were all seated there weren't any objections to placement at the "kids table". Once we finished our meal the Dads and kids went outside to shoot the potato gun, to which the Nelson boys added a twist. Shoot the potato straight up into the air and see who can catch it when it comes back down. It would take a Nelson to dream that one up. Those of us who stayed inside enjoyed a quieter visit with a bottle of zinfandel.
Before long the kids came back inside to thaw out and dig into the pies. Then they played ping pong, foosball, air hockey, and darts in the basement. The noises coming from downstairs testified to the general fun being had, with occasional exclamations, and once a cry of, "Cease fire, cease fire!" After the sun went down- which is still far earlier than I'm used to- the guys all suited up for a game of airsoft outdoors. Like I said, Isaac really enjoys this gang! We sent them out with the simple instruction to not aim for the face.
Meanwhile, back in the house, Jim brought out some old family photos which he'd come across and we passed them around as Gladys and Ginger helped us identify who was who in each picture. This prompted storytelling which the girls enjoyed immensely. Tracing family resemblances in the pictures, figuring out relationships, which generation was which, and stories of those who live now only in the photos and memories made for a very interesting and entertaining end to the day.
As far as I'm concerned, this is a tradition to keep. The family gathers at Ginger's for New Year's, will be gathering at Angie and Guy's for the Fourth of July, and we will welcome any who will join us for Thanksgiving Saturday.
Sunday was a quieter end to the weekend for me as I drove Bekah back to Hyde Park after church. Four hours each way made for a long time in the car, but I took along some sermons on cd to keep my mind occupied and the drive was an easy one. For her next trip home she'll try taking the train at least to Philadelphia, if not all the way to Lancaster. School has now resumed at Kelly Academy after a week's break. Back to it then!