Since moving to the Northwest almost eight years ago, I've learned to spend holidays in an entirely new way. Growing up, my family always got together for the holidays. We typically spent them all with my dad's parents, and we had a Christmas Eve tradition with my mom's brother and his family.
So, when you move away from everything and your husband works a swing shift, the holidays can turn blue. The very first Thanksgiving I spent out here was actually before Seth and I were married, and I was just visiting. He had to work that evening, so I snuggled up on the couch with a frozen dinner. Pathetic, huh? Since then, my holidays have (slowly) progressed into our own traditions. There was the year I cooked one tiny game hen for myself and enjoyed a bottle of wine. Bad idea.
But as jobs changed and life moved on, we began to create traditions of our own. We enjoy quiche on holiday mornings and Lamb Popsicles on Christmas. We've roasted turkeys with friends and had many wonderful meals around our table. But this year was different. With the recent addition to our family, I can barely plan humdrum weekday dinners, so thinking about Thanksgiving was a little overwhelming. We'd let our friends know they were welcome to come over, but everyone was headed out of town or to a family function.
Then I got a call from cousin Nathan who recently moved to Oregon via Dallas; Togo, Africa; Boston; New Zealand; the French countryside; and, most recently, Northern California. Our dads are brothers and we grew up about three hours apart -- he in Dallas, and I outside of Oklahoma City. We played together as kids during holidays and summer visits, but as we got older, we saw each other less. Then after college he joined the Peace Corps and started a journey that would take him around the globe. He's an organic farmer, winemaker, carpenter and generally all-around-going-to-make-it-anywhere kind of guy.
Somehow or another, we've both now landed fairly close to each other. He just bought some land and an old farmhouse that's about an hour from our home, and he plans on starting his own farm.
This year, it was Nathan who completed our holiday. He called the Friday beforeand said he wanted to come for dinner, and he also had a nine-pound turkey he'd raised that he wanted us to roast.
The extent of my meal planning was a trip to the farmer's market to pick up whatever veggies looked good. Then I ran by Julia Bakery to pick up their delicious challah to make a pumpkin bread pudding (which I served warm with some yummy homemade maple ice cream).
Thanksgiving afternoon, Nathan, Seth and I took turns entertaining Jasper, and we all helped with the cooking. It was a small gathering but one that won't soon be forgotten. We had great company, ate good food and drank good wine.
Of course this year we have plenty to be thankful for, but the opportunity to share a holiday with family who lives close was an added treat. Not to mention the fun of having the farmer and the winemaker at the table with us.