thanksgiving revisited

Wednesday, November 27:  Because I’ve been living abroad for the last three years, I’ve been absent from Thanksgiving since 2009.  This Thanksgiving, we try to cobble together as many of our clan as we can for the holiday.

I start by heading south on I-95 early Wednesday morning, along with the 1 million people estimated to be leaving the Washington metropolitan area for the holiday, to pick up my daughter Sarah in Richmond.  What is normally a less than 2 hour drive is nearly three hours because of the mass exodus.  After dropping Sarah’s dog Bagel at home, we go out for some pre-Thanksgiving shopping at Tyson’s Corner Center for her Christmas presents.  There is no way I will shop on Black Friday, and we won’t see her for the Christmas holiday, so it has to be today or never.

Before shopping we enjoy some conveyor belt sushi at Wasabi Modern Japanese Cuisine at  the mall.

Sarah at Wasabi Modern Japanese Cuisine
Sarah at Wasabi Modern Japanese Cuisine

Thursday, November 28: On Thursday morning, after preparing broccoli salad and kale and sun-dried tomato hummus spread, we pile in the car to drive to my sister Joan’s house in Salisbury, Maryland.

Driving across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge
Driving across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Today, we celebrate with most of my sister’s family and most of my family, along with my father and stepmother. My brother, who is now working in retail because of his job loss during the economic downturn, has to work so is unable to come.  With the new Black Friday scenario, which involves stores opening on Thursday evening, he cannot make it to Maryland for the day.  This whole Black Friday scenario, which is now insidiously creeping into Thursday, infuriates me beyond words.  I don’t want to ruin my Thanksgiving by thinking, or writing (aka ranting), about it.

a welcoming table
a welcoming table

My son Adam is in California, just having finished his Permaculture Certification; he is spending the holidays with a fellow permaculturist and his family before he heads to Taos, New Mexico for a two-week Earthship Internship program beginning December 2 and ending on the 13th (Earthship).  When we speak with him, he says he’s really sad to be away for the holiday and really misses us, BUT if he were here with us, he wouldn’t be able to be in California.  After all, no one can be in two places at once.  I fear we are losing him to California, where his deep beliefs about the values of holistic coaching, permaculture, and radically sustainable housing are not as far-fetched as they seem to be on the East Coast.

Dad and Seth
Dad and Seth
Alex
Alex
Joan
Joan

My other sister, Stephanie, who lives outside of Los Angeles, never makes it home for the holidays because she doesn’t care to fly.  I’m sad to not see her, but we all talk by phone and I will see her on January 2, when I go to California for 10 days.  I look forward to that, as I’ve been promising for years to visit her and have never kept my promises. 😦

Shirley and Steve
Shirley and Steve
Seth and Alex
Seth and Alex
Dad, Seth and Lily
Dad, Seth and Lily

Finally, my niece, Kelsey, who just got married this past summer, spends the holiday with her new husband’s family, one of those things that happens once one gets married.

Seth and Joan
Seth and Joan
Alex and Lily
Alex and Lily

Despite the missing family, we have a wonderful holiday feast with Joan, Steve and my nephew Seth; my dad and his wife Shirley; Mike, me, Sarah and Alex; and Lily, Joan’s golden lab.  I am thankful for the laughs that are always a part of my family’s gatherings, for the wonderful feast my sister prepares, for the changing seasons, for the cold brisk November air, for my sister’s amazing hospitality and her warm, welcoming home.  Last but not least, I’m thankful for the traditional dishes of Thanksgiving: turkey, gravy, oyster stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and the “slightly chilled red wine” that is my brother-in-law’s forte.  I have missed these foods in my years abroad.

Joan and her feast
Joan and her feast
a reasonable plate, don't you think?
a reasonable plate, don’t you think?
Shirley, Dad, Mike, Joan, Steve, Seth, Alex and Sarah
Shirley, Dad, Mike, Joan, Steve, Seth, Alex and Sarah

I’m thankful that I have 5 days off from teaching, and when I return to work on Monday, I only have two weeks remaining in the semester.  I’m thankful for nearly completing my 5-week Travel Writing course through the Australian Writer’s Centre (which I will finish on Saturday), and for the 8 chapters of my novel I did manage to revise during the November NaNoWriMo challenge.  Sadly, I didn’t finish the novel, but I will try to complete it in December, when I don’t have my teaching obligations.

the clan at Thanksgiving
the clan at Thanksgiving

Most of all, I’m thankful to be back home in America with my family.

me reunited with family :-)
me reunited with family 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

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28 thoughts on “thanksgiving revisited

  1. Happy days, Cathy! 🙂
    It always confuses me that your Thanksgiving and our Christmas sound so much the same, but the turkey dinner on your plates looks so different! Do you eat the same thing again at Christmas?
    Are you staying with your sister when you go to California?
    I’m off to Edinburgh tomorrow, at a seriously early time. Lots to pack into one day 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jo! I don’t know about most families, but we always do a big brunch on Christmas day, around 1:00 in the afternoon, so we don’t do the Christmas dinner at all. I think some people have ham or roast beef for Christmas, rather than turkey. Usually, most people, I think, reserve turkey for Thanksgiving.

      When I go to California, I’ll spend about 4 days with my sister in LA, 4 days with my best friend Jayne near San Francisco, and then I’m meeting Wondering Rose, Rosie, back in LA, not far from my sister. I’m really looking forward to going; it’s been about 30 years since I’ve been to California. 🙂

      I hope you had fun in Edinburgh. What was the occasion?

      1. Just a cheap trip out. It’s a great city and I’ve wanted to go again for ages. I was looking online for a coach trip to a place called Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. I’m meeting my daughter there next week. Spotted the Edinburgh trip while I was looking and booked it on impulse 🙂 It was fun!
        Lovely to meet Rosie! Is she still not blogging? I don’t think I follow her, but I know she was taking “time out”. Back to your studies now, Cathy! But not for long 🙂

      2. Hey Jo, I’m glad you just went on impulse; what a fun way to go! I’m glad you had a great time! Can’t wait to read all about it.

        Rosie has taken time off from blogging, but we’ve been in contact outside of the blogs. We both signed up for a Poets and Writers event in LA! I’m very excited about the whole trip. I just finished my travel writing course and now I just have to finish my novel. Then on to working on some pitches to travel publications. Fun times. Too bad as of this point I still need to teach next semester, although on a reduced schedule. 🙂

      3. It’s all sounding really positive, Cathy, so I’m sure you’ll get where you want to be. Then I’ll be able to say “my friend, Cathy, the travel writer…” 🙂

  2. Happy Thanksgiving! We miss you here but are so happy you seem clear you are happier where you are, with family and friends during this huge holiday time. We have Thanksgiving in October and it does not have near the significance it has in the USA, and so am sad some of your family is having to work. That would be no big deal in Canada, as we get paid double wages on holidays! But still, if your family is such that you don’t see each other except for during these precious holidays, money is not the primary motivator, and it sounds like your brother did not have a choice and if he did, being unemployed before he may be thankful he has a job at all, and is grateful for that. I worked in a department store during the midnight shift stocking shelves a few years ago when I did not have any other job offers, and I actually loved it. Thank God the music loop was good Christmas music and not muzak! Anyway, things here are much better than they were, and this week is midterms so we are halfway through a monstrous syllabus with the new textbooks and requirements in Level one. Never thought I would like this level, but again, I am just so darn thankful I have a job at all. Almost half way through my Masters as well, another reason to be grateful that I can manage it and my 4.0 grade point average. 😀 We takes our blessings wheres we find ‘em! God bless you and happy holidays, xxxxx

    1. Thanks so much for your holiday good wishes, Mona Lisa. I’m glad you’re enjoying work now at UNIZWA. Also congrats on being halfway finished with your Master’s. Great! Yes, it’s a shame that the Christmas holiday shopping begins before Thanksgiving is even over. It infuriates me to see the consumer culture so alive and well in America! Oh well, I just try to stay away from it as much as possible. Hope you have a happy end of the semester and holiday! 🙂

  3. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia, but it is a good habit to be thankful for all we have. I love your photo of the welcoming table. It’s so simple and beautiful. Well done on completing the travel writing course – I hope you will find many opportunities coming your way from now on. I understand your sentiments about the commercialism of special days completely, especially the effect that working in retail has on people’s lives. Once, not that long ago, there were public holidays that were almost sacred but now the shops just seem to be open constantly and the people who work there miss out. They do get paid extra for working on public holidays but do we really need to be shopping every day of the year? I refuse to shop at these times because I can’t stand the crowds and there is nothing I need or want that can’t wait.

    1. I agree 100%, Carol. It seems that people these days can’t find anything better to do with their time than shop for more “stuff.” It really drives me crazy; it used to be that the Christmas season didn’t start in the USA until Thanksgiving was completely over; now it seems to start at the end of October. The one thing I didn’t miss while living abroad was the crass commercialism of the holidays in America.

      The travel writing course was great! I still have my final assignment to do today, and I’m procrastinating! I need to come up with an idea to pitch; it will probably be about Oman, although I should think of something to pitch about my upcoming trip to California!

      Happy holidays to you! 🙂

      1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it Cathy. I start my Writing Picture Books course tomorrow and I am really looking forward to it. I would love to have a book for children published one day. I hope despite the commercialism you have a lovely family Christmas.

      2. I just finished my final assignment, Carol, and guess what? No surprise here: my pitch was this: – DISCOVERING OMAN’S ISLAMIC HERITAGE: FROM TRADITIONAL TO MODERN. It would take a tourist from the ruins of Adam and Wadi Bani Habib and Al Munisifeh to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and the Royal Opera House Muscat. I didn’t really have a great place to pitch it to though; I ended up suggesting the Dallas Morning News! Oh well. It’s done, and I really did learn a lot. Thanks so much for recommending the course to me!

        That’s exciting about taking the Writing Picture Books course! I hope you really enjoy it. A long time ago, I took a course on writing children’s literature, but I decided I’m more interested in writing for adults than for children. Can you draw as well? I would love to see you publish a children’s book!

        Thanks so much for your holiday wishes. I’m excited for my first Christmas at home, but I don’t feel like tackling the malls at all. I may have to limit my shopping to online!

        Good luck and keep me posted on your Writing Picture Books course. I’ve been reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett and at the same time reading her new book about her writing process and her marriage, which I really find fascinating: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. I’m loving reading the two books side by side. I’m so ready to finish up my novel and start my next project. And I really hope someone will buy one of my pitches about Oman! 🙂

      3. Sadly I don’t have an artistic bone in my body, so the illustrating part is not going to work for me. I’d just be happy to do the writing and let the illustrator put their own touches to it.

        Have you thought about pitching to the airline magazines? Any airline that has Muscat as a destination might find your stories very useful. Also what about expat publications?

      4. Good idea, Carol. I’ll check into both of those. How do you get your hands on an airline magazine when you’re not on an airline?

        Good luck writing your children’s book. I hope you learn a lot in the course!

  4. It looks like you had a fab time with the family – you need a big table for these occasions. I’d love to have my family round at Christmas, but we don’t have a table! One day 🙂

    Also glad to hear that you have made some headway this month, I hope that you manage to have a rest over Christmas and enjoy California. Are you teaching next semester too?
    Jude xx

    1. I’m glad I made some headway, and I really enjoyed the travel writing course. I still feel I want to write fiction or personal essays most of all, though. 🙂

      I can’t wait till this semester is over. So far, I’m still teaching next semester, but I’m cutting back one class; that should free up some time for me to pursue my goals. I’m also going to start looking for another job once this semester ends. 🙂

  5. What a beautiful, and very large!, family you have. These are gorgeous pictures.

    So sorry your sister wouldn’t fly out but what a nice excuse to visit LA! Too bad I’m not there anymore – would love to meet you C!

    A belated Happy Thanksgiving to you. 🙂

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