Sunday, November 25, 2018

One Last Look Back at Thanksgiving

Yesterday, we waited a bit before leaving the North Carolina mountains.  There had been wintry weather overnight, and we wanted to give the system more time to clear out.  By 9:30, we were on the road, descending from the North Carolina mountains.

At the eastern continental divide, the landscape took on a different sort of beauty than I see regularly.  The trees were coated with ice and snow, but the roads were only wet with rain.  My spouse was driving, so I could marvel in the wintry wonderland mixed with final autumn colors.  The sky looked like the clouds had come to down to lend the trees some additional ghostly sparkle.  Some of the trees still had their autumn leaves.  Some of the trees were frosted, while others had been sheltered from the wintry mix.  It was beautiful.  Alas, my camera was packed away.

We drove and drove and drove.  It was a 12 hour drive, which was long, but fairly easy, by which I mean that the traffic wasn't onerous and kept moving.  We saw an electric sign around Savannah that warned of high tides and flooding near the coast--not the usual warning message that one sees on those Highway Department signs.

We got to see the moon rise somewhere on the spine of Florida.  Like the wintry trees, it, too, was ghostly and lovely.  By evening, we enjoyed a glass of wine while watching that moon through the palm trees in 80 degree temperatures.  What a difference a day of travel can make.  The significance of that process as metaphor is not lost on me.

Today comes the great unpacking.  But first, church.  It's the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and we are needed to count the money.  It's a spiritual gift that most people don't consider.  Today will also mark the sadness of the fact that one of my favorite times is over.  Sigh.

So, before I get too far away from this holiday, let me recount the joys:

--I made time for daily journaling and poetry writing.

--I saw grad school friends along the way.  It's been a strange autumn, in that I've seen them twice in 4 weeks; usually, I only see them once a year or less.  What a treat!  I feel lucky to have friends where we reconnect immediately, like no time has passed at all.

--We had a vacation before the vacation.  A week ago, I made my way to Black Mountain, North Carolina.  My mom, dad, and sister had a time apart before the family celebration started on Tuesday.  We had great food, wonderful shopping, and most important:  deep conversation.

--It's always fun being with my larger family.  On Tuesday, my nuclear family joined my aunt and uncle, my cousin and his wife and three children.  My brother-in-law and nephew arrived on Wednesday, and very late Wednesday, my spouse flew in.

--We met at Lutheridge, a Lutheran camp.  It was my 3rd time at Lutheridge this autumn--a treat of a different kind.

--We rent one of the biggest houses--it's hard to find a house that can hold us all, so I'm grateful to Lutheridge for this house.  We've been gathering at this house so regularly since 1993 that it feels like coming home.  It's a house where we can have a meal around a single table (12+), cook a meal, have space to be away if necessary, be in the bathroom knowing that there are 3 other bathrooms, and relax in a space that's so familiar.

--Unlike past years, we stayed at camp more than venturing out.  Sure, there were the occasional Wal-Mart trips.  But we didn't go to a regional park or to see the gingerbread displays or go to a brewery or do any of the wonderful things we might have done.   We took lots of hikes around camp, which was good, since it was so cold that the less hearty amongst us could have a shorter experience.  We played Ga Ga Ball.  We had a great football game.

--We had lots of fun indoor activities too:  games of all sorts, and drawing, and making slime.  Here are some Facebook posts that I want to record more permanently:

"Give me one of your wheat, and I'll give you 3 sheep . . . I'm getting a settlement"--we're not playing Uno anymore! We're playing Catan, a card based, world building kind of game. Philosopher Carl says, "How are we supposed to get along if our communities aren't allowed to connect?"

And now my family has shifted to a different sort of Thanksgiving game: the Thanksgiving "bowl" is underway! We're playing with an underinflated football--the scandal! I believe that the Kentucky contingent is ahead, but I've never really understood this game called football.

Now the next generation is playing "Ark," a video game that's "educational." The seven year old says, "Yeah, you learn how to tame a dinosaur so you can ride it ." "It's a T-Rex. We're dead. We're definitely dead."

I am happy to report that science experiments are still attractive to our younger crowd. Fun with dry ice, beakers, candles, and a balloon.

--We had great food.  We always do.

--Most important, we were together, with very little discord.  Occasionally, chaos erupted, but it was the good kind, with the occasional incident of slime stuck on the ceiling, or everyone wanting the same toy at once.  That, too, seems an important metaphor for larger life.

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