On Friday, I said, "Everything I brought with me stinks--either like frying bacon or frying onions or a campfire or sweat. It's gonna be a long car trip tomorrow."
In short, it was a great Thanksgiving. And yes, the car trip on either side was long, but the chance to spend 3 days with my extended family made it worth it.
And I compose a lot in my head in the car. I have come home with an idea for a new linked short story collection. It's tied to the idea I explored in this blog post: "I have a vision of a novel with 3 characters, all female, all who have gone to the same, small liberal arts college and respond in different ways. In my writing, I have transformed my undergraduate school, Newberry College in Newberry, South Carolina, to Crabapple College in Crabapple, South Carolina."
On Tuesday, as I drove through north, the season speeding up, I thought of expanding this vision to 8 characters, the Crabapple 8, who were student activists in the 80's, who responded to those times in different ways, and who are living very different lives today. The short story I've been working on is part of that idea. More on this project as it evolves--if I say too much now, I worry that I won't actually write anything.
Let me reflect on some ways that Thanksgiving 2015 was especially wonderful. Having an idea for a short story collection would be wonderful enough, but here are some other elements too:
--On our way up, we left very early, at 3:35 a.m. The moon was almost full, and I loved driving along the almost empty highway watching the moon make its slow progress across the sky. Yesterday, on the way back, we saw a wonderful sunrise across the mountains of North Carolina.
--Everyone was in a good mood. Some years, some of us are irritable, and admittedly, there's a lot to make someone irritable: rambunctious children, meal prep, meal clean up, whiney children, irritable family members, whiney family members, differing political and religious views, and did I mention how rambunctious the children can be? But this year, our good moods persisted well into Friday.
--Instead of going to a movie, we set up movie night with a projector. We watched Inside Out, which was as good as I had heard it was. It was so much fun that we had another movie night on Friday.
--We had a campfire with s'mores. No one got burned, no one got too sticky, the fire burned brightly but was easy to have die down when we were through.
--We had an active time: lots of walks/runs, lots of playground time, lots of football games and one soccer game--we didn't have enough people for soccer to work, and one of the kids is a soccer expert, so it was less fun. But football seemed doable from the smallest 3 year old to the older folks like me. Even if we didn't understand the rules (me), we could follow directions and have fun.
--I had fun times with my cousin's 6 year old girl--tea parties and crafts of all sorts and trying to teach her to crochet and quilt. It's still a bit early, but the interest is there--note to self for future!
--We were able to keep the meals simple. We ate variations of turkey and ham dinners, and we didn't go to great efforts to have different meals, which would have required more prep work and more clean up. We rent a house at a church camp with an adequate kitchen, but it has no dishwasher and a small oven and a temperamental microwave. It was nice to agree to being a bit more laid back about food.
--The house hasn't been updated much since about 1968, which makes it perfect for kids and crafts and rambunctiousness.
--This is our fourth Thanksgiving after my grandmother's death. I had always worried that we might not make the effort to get together when she wasn't there to motivate us. But we have been more determined than ever. I have this vision of gathering into our elderly years, with a hope that the grown up little ones will be joining us with their little ones.
--And to sum up: words that you wouldn't have heard at the Pilgrims' feast centuries ago: "These are the veggie sticks that I put up my nose." We all laughed. No one got chastised.
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