Thanksgiving and Beyond

John, daughter Lise, and I began Thanksgiving Day doing something we’ve never done before. We took our morning walk. There were very few people driving about, and even the cafe was closed. The regulars were not there to give us credit for our laudable exercising. When we returned and opened the front door, baking turkey aroma surrounded us. The 20-pound bird was the largest I’d ever wrestled into the oven. I was nervous enough to have a ham in the refrigerator as a backup.

Brother Bob, wife Beth, daughter Julie, and house-mate Patty arrived mid-morning from Winston Salem. The fun began in earnest. A bit later, neighbors Connie and Marla and our son John $ completed the circle. We were sorry Connie’s husband Dave had the flu and couldn’t come. Before we sat down to eat, Marla took a loaded plate to him. We had not yet gone into a food coma when I took a photo of everyone at the table.

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$, Lise, Julie, Patty, John, Beth, Bob, Connie, and Marla

For those with food curiosity, our menu included the obligatory turkey, dressing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. We also had Connie’s home-grown green beans in a delicious sauce, which everyone raved about. I had prepared mashed potatoes, creamed corn, homemade dinner rolls, and the Mehrling frozen cranberry salad. After the main meal, we stacked the plates and moved to the living room while John loaded the dishwasher. We needed a break from our hard dining chairs. It would be almost impossible for anyone to fall asleep sitting on one of them. Desserts were cranberry-mince pie, Connie’s pumpkin roll, and pumpkin cheesecake left over from our pre-Thanksgiving meal four days earlier in Winston Salem.

 

Neighbors Shawn, Bob, and Logan had their big gathering at their son’s home. They came over to visit us for a short while. I was so glad they had a chance to meet Beth and Bob. We bought a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle for Logan to work here and gave it to him. He had enough time to assemble the edge pieces before they left. We asked him to come back the next day to finish working it. When he came on Friday, I asked if he wanted to sit with us at the table or go straight to the puzzle. At that instant I should have texted Shawn to see if he could eat with us, but I didn’t think of it. He got a drink, and I set a plate next to John for him. Beth helped him to a slice of ham.

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He ate the meat nicely, chatted for a bit, and asked if we were leaving the table. We said no, but he could be excused to work the puzzle. When we finally finished our late lunch, Logan proudly showed Beth the finished puzzle.

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It had been an excellent week of giving thanks, from the family gathering in Winston Salem through our holiday meal in the mountains. I was very happy that Lise had another full week here after everyone left. If all the people had gone at once, I’m sure our spirits would have looked like shriveled balloons.

The Reluctant Guest

The turkey and leftover sides were put away, so Thanksgiving came to an end. The end of the big meal was the only dish I photographed. It’s John’s favorite cranberry mince pie. I wish I’d taken a picture of Connie’s pumpkin roll, which was as delicious as it was pretty.

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If I write one more paragraph about what a wonderful visit we had with family and friends, you’re going to think that’s all I can write about. I’ll tell about the reluctant guest in a minute. Here are two photos to show both sides of the table. John was included twice, because he needed double exposure to compensate for being slightly out of focus.

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John $, Lise, Chris, and John
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John, Marla, Connie, and Dave

We particularly enjoyed hearing Marla tell about flying airplanes and working with bicycles. I wanted to know what narrow escapes she might have had on two wheels. She told about riding on the shoulder of the road when a car slowed beside her. The thugs shouted for her to get off the road. The passenger flung his door open against her bike, which catapulted her into the ditch. All of her other tales had happy endings.

The reluctant guest was in something of a brown funk. He did not enter into the general conversation other than to bark at Marla and Dave. They made the best of it and didn’t retaliate. This fellow tended to be a bit underfoot, although he didn’t interfere with my serving. Unlike our other guests, he ate nothing but turkey. He was a bit antsy too, insisting on going outside several times for short walks. Lise , Marla, and Chris went with him to get a bit of fresh air. He managed to stay through dessert and was obviously eager to leave when the meal was over.

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Albert, the reluctant guest

Isn’t Albert, our reluctant guest, a cutie? After closing the bedroom doors, we let him have the run of the house. When he stretched out on the floor after dinner, we thought he was settling in. It didn’t last long, so Marla, now the reluctant one, took him home. We were happy that Connie and Dave could stay to visit.

Toward the end of the evening, we found out that Dennis (18) was visiting across the street and would spend the night with us. He hadn’t expected to stay and had nothing with him. He and I remembered the camo nightwear he found here when David and Nathaniel were here. It was still in David’s room, so he didn’t have to sleep in his clothes. I had gone to bed when Dennis came back to the kitchen where Lise and Chris were watching a video. From the edge of the door he said, “You can’t see me.”

Lise could see him and wondered why on earth he said that. He stepped into full view, saying, “I’m wearing camouflage, and that’s why you can’t see me.” They laughed, and all three watched the video about rednecks. It included a bit about Popcorn Sutton, the famous maker of moonshine that lived a few miles from our house. Lise said there was also a good section on railroads.

Logan and his niece Lily came to fetch Dennis the next morning. They jumped into a game of checkers before going back across the street.

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Logan, Lily, and Dennis

What meal do you have the day after the Thanksgiving feast? We ate at a Mexican restaurant in Maggie Valley, one that $ and I had been to twice before.

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Mexican restaurant — John, $, Chris, and Lise

Chris, $, and I enjoyed a spicy meal, but we found bland dishes for Lise and John. Everyone lived happily ever after, as far as I know.

Our Thanksgiving Fun

I had the phone with me in the bathroom. Son $ rang, asking, “Where is everybody? I’m here in the kitchen.”

I replied, “Lise and Chris aren’t dressed yet, Dad is at church and I’m in the bathroom, stark naked.”

$ quickly said, “I’ll stay in the kitchen.”

I told him I’d be with him before he finished a cup of coffee, which I was. Later Lise and Chris saw the horses in the pasture next door and asked if I had apples. I had saved six cores from the pie and had other junk apples. They enjoyed giving the animals treats and petting them.

 

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Chris and Lise talking to the horses next door

$ opened the door to my brother Bob and Beth. John came back shortly after that, and we noshed on spinach dip until the turkey was done. $ had two other dinners to attend, so he left before we got down to the serious business of eating. We had standard fare – turkey, dressing, gravy, frozen cranberry salad, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casserole (made from fresh potatoes this year and well worth the minimal effort).

 

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Bob, Beth, John, Lise, and Chris with the remains of Thanksgiving dinner

Bob asked Beth how her team was doing, cause for turning on the TV. Beth watched the game as the rest of us wondered about the blue shoes on the football players. I daresay our household was unusual in that only one woman was following the action. Her team won, so we were all happy.

John pointed out the huge newspaper for the day, mostly ads. All but Chris from England laughed at ourselves for having participated in at least one Black Friday spree in the past. We dove into the stack of ads to see what we would not go out to buy the next day. Chris and Lise said European merchants are catching on, and they are having Black Friday shopping days without the Thanksgiving Day prelude. In Denmark the words came straight from English and were not translated into Danish.

 

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Beth, Bob, Chris, John, and Lise looking at Black Friday ads

Someone asked was it time for dessert, and that was hours after the turkey was put away. Instead of supper, we had cranberry mince pie and pumpkin cheesecake. Appreciation was high.

Our after dinner entertainment was listening to Bob play the French horn. He practices every day and is improving greatly. I think he had just started the last time he was here several months ago. He is proficient playing the trombone and is probably still good on the trumpet. He can also play the saxophone, clarinet, flute and musical saw. My shoe was untied as I walked toward the piano to accompany him. That sparked the next phase of entertainment as Bob demonstrated Beth’s knot. He first did it on my shoe and repeated it several times so that Lise and Chris would learn. By the last time, my head was almost on the keyboard as I struggled to keep my leg stretched out toward the sofa. Bob removed his own shoe and handed it to Chris to practice.

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At the end of the day, I refolded Chris’ jumper (sweater) to help it dry. He washed all the tops he had worn, and Lise discovered they couldn’t be put in the dryer. The tags said to dry flat. I offered to take one to put it on the heated towel rack. Who could have predicted to what lengths that jumper would go to get the sleeves dry?

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