Reflections on Thanksgiving...Just In Time For Christmas

photo cred to David Byars
Ahhhh, the holidays! What joyous and crazy times. The last post I wrote was pre-Thanksgiving, and we have been going non-stop since then. I just finished all of my holiday baking to take home to Augusta for Christmas...Sweet Potato & Rosemary Soup for lunches, The Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls, Kappa Muffins & Pumpkin Bread for breakfasts, and Twice Baked Potatoes for Christmas Eve...I had such a blast this morning in the kitchen! I am in pretty good shape this holiday season, which is honestly a first. I have two more gifts to purchase, some wrapping to do, some goodies to deliver, but all in all, I am feeling pretty calm. Let's return, however, to the last time I was feeling at peace about a holiday: Thanksgiving!
photo cred to Erin Bonsall

Our Thanksgiving was delightful. My brother and I got up early and did the Turkey Strut in the rain with some friends. It was cold and wet the whole time, but it was SO much fun. We contemplated not running, but we were both really happy we made the decision to brave the elements. We came home to everyone getting showered and ready for Thanksgiving dinner rather than scurrying around cooking, making last minute trips to the store, going on a hunt for more peanut oil...the usual hecticness my family experiences on Thanksgiving morn.

We all left the house for dinner a little after eleven and showed up to a beautiful table right next to a roaring fire out on the patio. The Thanksgiving dinner spread was incredible. They had all the traditional Thanksgiving fare such as turkey, cornbread dressing, oyster dressing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, rolls, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and tons of desserts. They also had pork tenderloin, halibut, beef tenderloin, a variety of salads, and a seafood station with steamed shrimp and crab claws. Oh, and they had an entire kids buffet with chicken nuggets, carrots, fruit, and macaroni and cheese. Don't think that some of the adults weren't trying to steal the macaroni...I may have been one of them!

We all got our hem...we all got our first course plates and ordered a couple of bottles of wine. We continued with our second and third courses during which all plates were swiftly cleared, our wine was refreshed, and our children actually ATE their Thanksgiving meals. An hour and a half later...yep, you read that correctly...we have never lasted more than forty-five minutes in a restauarant with our hour and a half later, we all waddled to the cars and headed home for nap time. I mean, let's be honest, getting dressed up and eating dinner is truly exhausting ;)!

Earlier that morning, I had put some Chicken & Black Bean Soup in the crockpot, so everyone was able to eat at their leisure that evening between happy hour, football, and playing with the children. We played a hilarious game of pictionary that night and all went to bed with our bellies and our hearts full.

The next day, the bliss continued as everyone ate their breakfast by the fire and enjoyed the coffee bar that was set up in the living room, Hampton Inn style. We actually ENJOYED a morning of Black Friday shopping. Y'all, the traffic wasn't even bad!!! We went and played some paddle tennis and soaked in the beautiful sunshine. We got our tree and decorated the house. The only things missing were my sister and her family; otherwise, the weekend was perfect...until it wasn't.

Christmas Elves hard at work
After we had finished decking our halls, Meme (my mama) went to grab the baby when she woke up from her nap. I heard a very calm but loud, "Amy, I need you." Well, the you know what had literally hit the fan. The baby had been a little cranky and not eating well, but we thought that maybe her stomach was just upset...oh if that had only been the case...the stomach bug was upon us, and it was just a matter of time until it came for its next victim.

DISCLAIMER: Take this timeframe with a grain of salt. It has taken me this long to be able to write and relive everything, and I honestly can't remember exactly when and how everything hit.

I will spare you the details, but let's just say that the next couple of days were less than blissful. I got hit at a less than opportune time when there was really nowhere but woods to answer nature's call, my husband was hit later that night, and we were basically tapping in and out the entire next day. Thankfully my brother was still here and had been spared the bug (or he brought it with him...details, details). Duncle David literally took over all parenting duties and saved us. I scurried my parents out of here faster than my mom could finish her cup of coffee. My grandmother didn't even get to say goodbye because we made them high tail it out of here and back to Augusta...where they were hit a day later.

We thought that we were in the clear by Monday morning. The boys remained symptom free, and it had been 36 hours since our last incident. We had made it through, and my brother and I had a morning o' fun planned for his last full day in town. Welp, that was not in the cards. We had gotten my oldest off to school, and we were all upstairs getting the two littles dressed. All of a sudden, we hear a CRASH! We knew immediately what it was...the Christmas tree. My brother and husband had spent the day before perfecting the lights on the tree, and I mustered enough energy to help the boys decorate it...and it all came down in a flash.

photo cred to David Byars

our first house in Nashville was spared
the damage
So, my brother and I got the kids to school and came home to ressurect the tree. We literally spent TWO HOURS taking ornaments and lights off, cleaning up glass, making sure the tree was PERFECTLY straight and secure, re-lighting the tree, and placing the unbroken ornaments in their special spots. I posted a picture of the wreckage, and so many people were so kind with their "oh nos!" and "I am sitting here crying for yous!"...honestly, I was so happy to be over the stomach flu that it didn't even occur to me to cry...any other day and I probably would've been a heap on the floor...silver linings?

After we patted ourselves on the back, we decided that we'd go hit some tennis balls to get some energy and frustration out before we picked up the kids. It was bro was on fire! We got everyone home and settled and were just waiting on my oldest to arrive on the bus, when suddenly my phone rang. It was his school. My poor little guy had gotten on the bus and thrown up :( He made it through the entire day without anything happening and got onto the bus and just couldn't help himself. I raced to school to pick him up feeling like the worst mama in the world for sending him to school and for exposing his classmates to the gift that keeps on giving. It was awful. He was so upset. That's when I just wanted to cry. We got home and to add insult to injury, he realized that he was going to miss his first basketball practice that night. He was beside himself...those of you who know my child know that I am not exaggerating not even a little bit when I say that he was devastated.

I missed a big Christmas party that I was supposed to host the next morning, but it allowed me to take my brother to the airport and to spend the morning snuggling with my first born who never lets me do that. I spent my last morning with my brother disinfecting the entire house rather than spending time doing something fun together...but oh did we laugh! We got to start making Christmas plans and ordering gifts and got to relax a little bit after a few days of crazy. In the end, it was all good. My motto for our family is, "It's nothing major, but it's always something." That proved to be true this Thanksgiving for sure!
tree take 2
Now, I am on to Christmas planning. I am thankful that everyone in my house is well for the moment and that my brother, sister, brother-in-law, and niece will be arriving at my house in a few days and that we will all convene at our parents house in Augusta as we have every single year of our lives.

It's a crazy time of year, but I think it is so important to keep myself from "being crazy" because I never know what's around the could be an awesome opportunity I don't want to miss out on, it may be coffee with a friend who I haven't seen in too long, it may be a spur of the moment night out with friends to celebrate the holidays, it may be the flu, it may be the stomach bug, it may be strep throat, it may be our heat going out, it may be flights being delayed or worse being cancelled, it may be unexpected news, it may be the gift of time to sit and write. I want to have a calm heart and leave enough margin that none of these things gets missed or sends me over the edge. I'm working on it...stay tuned for the next installment.

In the meatime, have a VERY Merry Christmas, and enjoy some of our holiday favorites linked below:

Cranberry Brie Tartlets
Shepherd's Loaf
Squash Casserole
Taddy's Macaroni & Cheese
Kappa Muffins
Filet Mignon
Nana's Lasagne (or close to it)
Kentucky Derby Pie

Happy Cooking!

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