Thursday, November 25, 2010

Give Thanks and Dance

I  feel at home here.  I love the warmth of the fire, the scent of a freshly baked pumpkin pie and the laughter of family around me.  Darin and I decided to pack up and stuff ourselves, our baby and two dogs into our Subaru and make the trek to see my family here in southwest Washington.  It's been almost 5 years since we've all been together for the grand feast that we'll have on this Thanksgiving day.  This, coupled with the fact the my family loves food and knows how to throw a good party, has left me feeling giddy at this very moment.  I love these people and feel so blessed this year to be surrounded by them.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays and has given me some of my fondest memories to date.  When we were little, our grandparents would arrive from San Francisco and the celebrating would begin days before the turkey was on the table.  My parents would bake and prepare while Colleen and I would gather leaves, take bundled-up walks and dance the Irish jig in the living room with Mimi, my Grandma.  We looked forward to this holiday more than others. . . mostly because of the fantastic food my parents would prepare but mainly because of the family with which we were surrounded.  As an adult, I moved away and the holiday has changed a bit for me. . . but this year, I feel it again.  The Thanksgiving of my childhood is back in full force!  Pies are baking, rolls are rising and the cranberry sauce is a-simmerin'.

I love that Colleen writes on her cookbooks.  She often writes how old her babies are and what she and her family are doing when she makes a recipe.  Double click on the image for a look and for the recipe to the Barefoot Contessa's Cranberry conserve.  Yummy.

We are a family that takes comfort in tradition, although some traditions seem more sweet and pack more punch when left for the day of the actual holiday.  So, we set our leaf-gathering and pie-making aside and filled our days leading up to Thanksgiving with a trip to the Oregon Zoo, a treacherous drive midway to the coast, a day in downtown Portland, and plenty of after dinner "dance parties".
Lilly, Colleen and Barrett at the Oregon Zoo

We arrived at the Oregon Zoo with three bundled babes, a pack full of snacks, and our choice of primo parking spots. Note to self: when you don’t want to battle-it-out in the parking lot or in line at the concession stand, head to the zoo when the temperature is just cold enough to freeze your nose hairs and make it a tad bit difficult to form words with your mouth: 34 degrees was a bit cold.  But . . . Lilly and the boys were determined to reunite with their bedtime story friends: “huge hippo”, “big o’ elephant” and "brown bear, brown bear".

I loved this carved piece at the zoo

Bundled up on the "farm" at the zoo

Five layers of clothes, three cups of hot chocolate, a new menagerie of storytelling characters, and one degree warmer on the zoo’s entrance reader board later, we headed back to our conveniently parked cars and drove to Big Reds - a restaurant close to the zoo and one where we ate as kids.

Our nights have been full of laughter and music.  Lilly has been the ring leader and lets us all know when it's time to turn up the music for a "dance party".  After-dinner-rock-out-sessions have been the evening’s highlight each and every night. 

Turns out, Lilly's a big fan of hip-hop
And while Matt's been at work, Uncle Darin has become Lilly's new favorite.  Yes, Auntie Kiki is now a close second to Lilly's Uncle D.  She calls out for him and says, "Where did Darin go?"  What am I, chopped liver? 
Henry and Lilly walking around the table with Darin

We've been able to venture out, although the weather here has been pretty darn cold.  Darin, Henry and I tried to make a side trip to Gearhart, Oregon but turned around after 2 hours due to the snow and temporary closure of the main coastal pass.  So, instead, we opted for a trip to Portland's NW 23rd and the Pearl District.  Found a slice of heaven at Paper Source . . . and gathered a great crafting idea from Kelle Hampton.  Thanks Kelle!
Lilly's hand on the left. . . Barrett's hand on the right

I know that this may sound awfully cliché, but I love that this holiday reminds us to focus on giving "thanks" and allows us to recognize the gifts we've been given (or have given) throughout the year.  I'm so grateful this year, more than any other year, to be among my family to celebrate this holiday.  And although we no longer have my Grandfather here, we can still listen to "Alice's Restaurant", dance 'til we drop and eat the gourmet food that my family will prepare.  I am forever thankful for our son, Henry, and I'm beyond thankful that Lilly is healing and is recovering so remarkably well.  And to top it all off, we're all here, celebrating this feast of thanks, together.  I wish you all good health and the ability to appreciate all that you have in this very moment.  Celebrate with your families and after you gobble your feast, don't forget to dance.

 Happy Thanksgiving!



  1. What a beautiful post that you shared. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your post surgery lives! Lilly has been a champ! It sounds like you have been surrounded by loving friends and family. Merry Christmas and our warmest wishes and prayers for Lilly and family. Jeannie