That's what Thanksgiving has always been about for us. Food is fine, but we haven't always had a turkey. Mostly, it's about spending time with family.
The fact that we had pot roast on the table on Thursday evening, since we were waiting for turkey until Saturday with my mom's family, was completely irrelevant compared to the fact that my little girls were sitting with their grandparents, that my husband was next to my grandmother, and the uncle who lived with us for a while when he was in college was across the table with his wife and son.
My sister and her husband had their Thanksgiving meal with his family, but before they left, Uncle D went outside with Joy and they built a snowman together, followed by a tramp through the fields. Uncle D is my littles' favorite person in the entire world.
Although I think Great-Uncle C might be close in Grace's eyes - she snuggled on his lap most of Thanksgiving Day when we weren't eating, rubbing Shiloh's (the dog) head and sucking her thumb. She was in a state of bliss most of the day.
This photo slays me. Mom peeling carrots; D chopping them; Joy eating blueberries and casting her eyes to heaven in disgust that the adults are not taking her excellent advice on the proper preparation of glazed carrots. Every time any one of us did anything that weekend, a little voice chirped, "I can help!" and a little shadow followed behind. My sister says that when Mom was washing dishes and she (sister) was cooking, Joy stood on a stool between them and directed them with waves of her hands, like a conductor of a symphony orchestra.
This is A, my cousin's youngest boy. He's just a month and a half older than Grace. The kids weren't at all sure what to make of each other at first on Saturday, at GG's, but after playing outside with the bigger boys (Carl, D, and my cousin C), they warmed up to each other. Grace still likes Shiloh the best, but she asked about A all day on Sunday. In this picture, they are reading stories and listening to songs and all three of them humming along. Joy was in her element with two younger ones to boss. Usually we hang out with older kids or babies, so this was great for her.
My memories of Thanksgiving all center around family - grumping about having to sit at the kids' table at Dad's parents', eating caramels and divinity and Mom's AH-MAZING Tollhouse Pie and choking at all the cigarette smoke at Mom's parents'. Somehow, even the smoke, that made my sister and me horribly ill every year, doesn't seem so bad in memory, now. It's all just part of what makes up the family - loud, laughter, and smoke. At Dad's family, it was loud, laughter, and my cousins getting into trouble.
The constant, through every holiday, no matter which family was hosting it? Laughter and love.
And that's what we had this year. That's the heritage my children have been born into. Nothing could make me happier than to see that particular tradition handed down another generation.
I can't wait to see what the second-cousins group photos look like in ten years!