I hope you have all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it. If not, I hope you had a great weekend just because you deserve one!
The kids and I were out of school for a week. The first two days we devoted to sleeping in a little, having fun, going to the library and meeting friends for lunch since we don't get to do that much anymore. We packed up and left on Wednesday right after lunch to go to Arkansas, where my dad's brother and his wife have a house big enough to accommodate all of us. We go there every other year, and my cousins have arranged their holiday schedules so we can all be together every two years. This year, my brother and his new wife couldn't come because she works in retail and had to work on Black Friday, and my youngest cousin had to stay in San Diego because he just got a job and couldn't take off. They were missed, but we enjoyed seeing everyone else and eating turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, candied yams, cranberry salad, rolls, deviled eggs and other relishes, cherry pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, coconut cake, and chocolate-chip cookies that I made for the kids since my kids don't like any of those other desserts, which was fine because that was more for the grown-ups.
It was a little different because the last time we were together, my grandmother was still alive. She had just suffered a stroke and was unable to talk much, but she said, "Yum, yum" and had a big appetite. A few months later, she was gone. My grandfather and my aunt's mother, both regulars at the Thanksgiving feasts of the past, are also gone. We reminisced a little but none of us would choose to call them back to the pain and paralysis and dementia they were facing. We are grateful for the memories, though--and we'll never forget them, since the recipes we use are from their kitchens and are still made with just as much love.
It was hard to be sad with the children around, too. The cousins had seen each other this summer, and they picked up right where they left off, with few squabbles. The two oldest girls get along as well as my oldest cousin and I always did, while the boys rode a tricycle through the house and the youngest girl inserted herself confidently into whichever group she chose. The second-oldest of my cousins is pregnant with her second child, due in January, and they are choosing to be surprised about the gender, just like we did with Miss Pink. Life goes on. And for that, we are thankful.