One of the advantages to moving back North was that we would be closer to family. And by moving to Maine, we've had family practically in our backyard! I even work with Mick's cousin, which is wonderful! We see my in-laws every other weekend, and my parents have been able to come visit twice since we got here in August. It's been nothing short of fabulous for family time.
Unfortunately, we haven't seen my sister, brother-in-law and nephew (and Godson!) in New Jersey, and so it was a wonderful surprise when they were able to come stay here for Thanksgiving. I was thrilled and kept waiting for the phone call that the doctor had put the kibosh on the trip (my sister is pregnant and due in January, but my nephew was a preemie so this wouldn't be unreasonable, and we were crossing our collective fingers the trip would work out).
And it did! My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew are here! WAHOO!!!!!
And boy-oh-boy, have we been busy.
Let's start at the beginning. I didn't have to work Wednesday, but CAM had a half day of school. (Translation: we still had to get up early!) I dropped her off at the upper-school campus, came home and picked up Mick and WHM, and the three of us went to BJ's Club to start our day's grocery shopping. I dropped Mick and the groceries off at home, took WHM with me back to CAM's school for mass (which was awesome, by the way, and I am so glad she's in Catholic school -- even if I was mortified that I completely forgot to bring any cash for the collection and even if, in the perfect moment of silence in the middle of mass, WHM asked at about 10,000 decibels, "Can we leave now, Mommy?!").
And then, my friends, the running began. Ever have one of those days where you don't really have much to do but it all seems to take forever? That's how Wednesday went -- it was slow-motion and fast-forward all at once! Flu shots, Target, groceries, the drug store ... it was neither frantic nor stressful, but it just seemed to take ages. The kids were absolute troopers.
(Oh, and don't worry about the groceries issue; it's a tradition my youngest sister Courtney and I established. The two of us had done Thanksgiving dinner together for the past 8 years, and every Wednesday-before, we'd go to Kroger and Publix and do a marathon shopping trip. It started the first year by default but when we realized how easy it actually was, we made it our thing. So I wanted to honor that tradition, even from afar.)
Mick was able to work a few hours on Wednesday, so when he got home and I was finally home, we fed the kids and then finally, after bedtime for the kiddos, he and I cleaned and prepped for Thursday. I also made my very first graham cracker pie crust. More on that one in another post ... it was a PW recipe.
Thursday we were up decently early but -- blessing in disguise -- because we'd only been able to find a small turkey (less than 15 pounds), that meant it didn't need to go into the oven at 6 in the morning in order to eat at a decent time. Hooray for the little things! My in-laws arrived close to 10 and my sister and her fam arrrived around 1, and we ate right around 3:30. It was a really perfect day both with family and with the weather, with the kids all playing together and making messes and tearing things apart, and enough food for 80 and just a lot of fun every which way you looked at it.
Thursday night we just hung out and ate 'til we could hang and eat no more. I think that's about as American Thanksgiving as you can get, right?!
[I did not take a single photograph of the food spread! Pretend there's one here. If it helps you to envision the scenario, we had a grown-ups table and a kids' table. Would you like the menu? Happy to help. Turkey. Ham. Sausage dressing. Stuffing. Cornbread. Plenty o'gravy. I forgot to make corn, but we had it, so count it if you like -- your call. Applesauce. Mashed potatoes. Green bean casserole. Sweet potato pie. Cranberry sauce. Olives. Pumpkin cream pie. Apple pie. Regular pumpkin pie. Brussels sprouts from a new recipe. And of course, apple cider and wine.]
Friday -- yesterday -- the only thing I really wanted to do was to hit a craft store, and there was absolutely no urgency to do that in the wee hours. (It wasn't a big deal at all, really, except you know how they usually have 40% off coupons for one item? It was 40% off your entire purchase. Since we live a healthy distance away, that coupon saved me both time and gas, so I wanted to use it to get a bunch of stuff in one trip. Not exactly your midnight madness shopper, no tenting out for me! And Mick was gracious to come along with me on my excursion.)
So, as has been the case the past four or five years, we skipped the "Black Friday" madness.
Side note: are you big Black Friday shoppers? My secret pride is that I am -- but for the usual gifts that inevitably wait -- completely done with Christmas shopping. I've been done for a while. Now I'm just in the "oh, that would be nice to add to so-and-so's gift" mode. I inherited this from my mom, and it is nice to not be frantic this time of year. Anyway, we used to still get up and go for the fun and adventure of it, but lately there's just not been anything worth braving the madness for... at least for us. Or maybe that's old age. Who knows. But what about you? Any wonderful shopping stories?
Anyway. Back to my increasingly-long Thanksgiving story.
My in-laws headed home in the early afternoon (are you keeping up? That was yesterday, which was Friday) and then my sister's family and ours headed to the local model railroading club for their Christmas event -- lots of Christmas decorations, crafts for the kids, raffles, and tons of layouts to play with. When we'd exhausted that and the kids, we headed to Freeport to the LL Bean flagship store. We shopped a little, meandered around town a little, took in the Christmas lights show, went to dinner, and had a generally nice and relaxing evening. It was just cold enough to feel Christmas-y, and the lights show put us over the edge to feeling festive.
(We also marked a sad memorial yesterday, as it was the one-year anniversary of our friends' daughter's passing. Although we had a fun and lighthearted day on the outside, on the inside Mick and I were somewhat somber. It was a difficult day in many senses, and there were moments where one or the both of paused in thought or prayer or tears. We were thankful and sad all at once, and I'd be remiss to not mention that here.)
Today, though, we were up early! The Boothbay Railway Village that we know and love had a Christmas ride!
We rode in a heated coach, stopped for hot chocolate and cookies and a visit from Santa, and rode back around the village. Then we went and checked out Bailey Island and Cook's Lobster for lunch, and then hit "Land's End" on Bailey Island for some awesome photos. My sister is a photographer but we were all just being silly. Tide was out. :)
And now everyone's exhausted, Mick's at work, the kids are in bed, and I'm about to get our clothes ready for Monday and plan some lessons so that when tomorrow rolls around we can spend it as a family and I don't turn into a stress bucket around 3pm when Monday starts creeping up on me.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
I am thankful for all of you, my friends who became readers and readers who became friends! I hope you had as wonderful a few days as we've had!