This Thanksgiving brought a pretty special treat: Brad didn’t have to work! For the first time in years, he was able to spend the entire day with us.
For years now, we have spent the holiday at our home and celebrated with our little family. It started due to us living far away from all of our extended family, Brad working, and us providing warm holiday meals to the local officers who couldn’t be with their own families on the holidays. Now, it’s a pretty comfortable and loved tradition.
I usually wake up while the house is still quiet and dark. I dutifully chop and prep, getting the turkey in and cooking while the rest of the family sleeps. This year Vi was my alarm, waking me up at four am coughing so bad I had to hold her upright, patting her back to try to break up the congestion. All she wanted was my hand on her cheek for comfort. I was grateful we weren’t planning on going anywhere; not wanting to expose anyone else but also not wanting to wear her any thinner.
She finally fell asleep and I handed her off to Brad to cuddle in bed. I started my work in the kitchen, smiling as I remembered our first Thanksgiving in Missouri.
It wasn’t my first thanksgiving preparing the meal, no, I was already a seasoned pro at that point; having made the feast for my dad and sisters. But it was special and sweet because it truly marked our first “adult” thanksgiving. Deep into wedding planning, living states away from all family, just Brad and I in our cozy townhouse and still dressed to impress. Even for just the two of us, Brad bought a 20+ lb turkey. By the time I was done cooking, I had quite a few glasses of wine and was steadily more tipsy.
Fast forward seven Thanksgivings and now I’m in my third trimester, no alcohol in sight, waddling more than this turkey I’m prepping probably ever did. And we are just as happy and celebratory as ever for this day. Things have changed so much, holidays really seem to remind of that, but there is always a new spark that each season brings.
Marshall woke up and joined me in the kitchen, telling me all about turkeys and singing the stuffing song he learned at school. Eventually Brad and Vi woke up as well, all signs of Vi’s cough now faded. Because of course it would be worse at four in the morning instead of a more reasonable seven.
Together as a family we made our Thanksgiving thankful Tom turkey craft. Quickly cutting a rough turkey out of construction paper and then writing down what we are all thankful for on his feathers.
I know, pretty perfect right? “How do you get such nice pictures of such little kids?” I constantly get asked. Well, they are usually little hams for the camera, but a lot of patience and a little luck never hurt either.
Then it was time for the obligatory holiday picture. Even though we stay home, we always still dress the kids up. They both really like nice clothing, so they were excited to wear the new fashionable items.
Pictures next year with a six year old, two year old, and not-quite-one year old will be interesting I’m sure. Brad and I got the pictures we wanted (plus some to save to tease future Vi with, always a bonus) we moved on to appetizers.
This year we didn’t make as many options as we have in past years. For one, we weren’t expecting the crew of officers that we once hosted in Missouri and secondly I’m in my third trimester and we didn’t want to push it too much with the cooking and have me in the kitchen on my feet all day. So we went with tried and true favorites: veggie platter, shrimp done three ways (homemade BBQ breaded with BBQ sauce for dipping, garlic butter sautéed with a butter reduction sauce, and bacon wrapped with sweet and sour sauce), and deviled eggs.Marshall opted for a granola bar instead, we have a holiday policy of not fighting over food. Every other day we are strict with eating and working on oral sensory issues. Holidays he can eat whatever he wants because he should enjoy his holiday. Just as Brad and I deserve a brief break from the food fight and enjoy the holiday as well. Vi is our foodie though. She tried everything and quickly decided that while the shrimp was good, that deviled eggs and carrots with veggie dip were her favorites. That girl will cut you for a deviled egg.
Next we pulled out one of our seasonal toys. I love having seasonal/ sometimes toys that are packed away and only pulled out on occasion. It keeps the house less cluttered and the kids get so excited over “new” toys to play with. We have the Fischer Price Little People Thanksgiving set. Now, I know the heavily one-sided story of the pilgrims and Native Americans isn’t exactly kosher. Instead of focusing so much on the romanticized story, we focus on the general theme. On how it is good and right to help your struggling neighbor, how everyone deserves to be sheltered and fed, how we should be thankful for what we have- no matter how much or how little, and how we should always be the kindest version of ourselves.
We went around the table saying what we were thankful for. Marshall said he was thankful for family (and then reminded us that we couldn’t repeat what he says, the stinker), being safe, and his trucks. I was pretty impressed, “being safe”. Something so many of us take for granted, something all of us deserve. I cheated and said family (Marshall instantly protested), having a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby, and just for our family’s overall health. Never take health for granted, especially that of your children. Brad again repeated family over Marshall reciting the rules, and that he was thankful to be home with us and celebrate with his wife & three children. We toasted (with sparkling grape juice for Marshall & I, water for Vi) and started our meal.
I returned to the kitchen as Brad took over with the kids. Pro tip: make a schedule of when to make what. I’m not an organized person by any means, but when it comes to holiday cooking, I find that it has always kept me on track with finishing all the various dishes at the same time and it makes things so much less stressful.
We ate entirely too much, laughed, and had such a nice relaxing meal. Marshall gorged on rolls and Vi on stuffing. Then Brad had me go lay down with the kids and insisted on cleaning up since I did the cooking. That’s a man to be thankful for.
All four of us ended up piled together in bed for a nap, waking up just to dive back into eating dessert which was pumpkin cheesecake.
It was an amazing day that each one of us truly enjoyed. I hope each one of you had an equally relaxing and peaceful holiday. Happy thanksgiving!
If you would like to join us in celebrating the theme of Thanksgiving, I encourage you to donate to UNICEF to help with the crisis in Syria. Also check out how to help refugees local to you, in Minnesota that would be contacting the International Institute of Minnesota.
Everyone deserves to be safe. Everyone deserves shelter and food. Always be the kindest version of yourself.