Every year when I think back about previous Thanksgivings, there is one that always comes to mind. I was telling my boys about it the other day and thought I would tell it here too! But it's gonna be a long one!
I think I was in the 10Th grade, which means it was 20 years ago this Thanksgiving! It was the first year we were having Thanksgiving at home with just our immediate family. Mom, Dad, Rach and me. We weren't excited about it, to say the least. I don't remember why we had not planned on going anywhere because we always went somewhere or someone came here. Anyway, we helped mom cook, even dad helped, while watching the Macy's Day Parade. We watched that every year. We sat down to the table full of food. WAY too much food for the four of us, but that is how mom operates.
"It's better to have too much, than not enough!", she always tells us.
We ate quietly. I know I was fighting back tears and I think Rachael and mom were, too. We started talking about how this was the first time we had ever eaten Thanksgiving dinner all by ourselves. We talked about what the rest of our families were doing. We knew who all was together. It got more and more depressing as the time passed. We were done eating, so then what were we going to do the rest of the day?
Dad looked at us and said, "If we can get all this food put away, clean up the kitchen, and pack for 3 days, we will leave in 30 minutes."
I don't think we have ever moved that fast. Including my mom and dad! We did it. Food put away, kitchen cleaned up and bags packed for 3 days, and of course a little extra in case we ran into bad weather. We were in the car in a record 30 minutes! I don't know how we did it with 2 teenage girls and a mom, but that just goes to show how miserable we were eating Thanksgiving dinner by ourselves. We were on the road in 30 minutes and drove all day. I don't remember where we stopped to eat but we did make it all the way to Lansing, Michigan before we stopped for the night. It was late when we got to Lansing but we knew we had to get up early the next morning to drive a couple more hours to Watson and Wanda's house. Let me explain who that is. Pay attention now....this is going to get confusing.
My mom's older sister, Sue, married Uncle Fred. At their wedding, Mom's younger sister, Vicki, met Uncle Fred's younger brother, Donnie. They married awhile later so my mom's 2 sisters married 2 brothers. So I guess that makes some of us double cousins? Anyway, Watson and Wanda are my 2 uncles parents. So we got to see double the family! Back to the story....
Watson and Wanda had moved, I think. That is how I remember this anyway. So dad wasn't sure where we were going, we just knew that all of that family plus more family that really isn't our family but their family were all eating on Friday together. So we get up early that morning, get showered and packed back up and load up the car. We called Watson's house and my cousin Stephen answered the phone. We told him what we were up to and got directions. We told him not to tell anybody we were coming. My mom and her sisters always call each other on holidays when they aren't together so they didn't think anything about it. They didn't realize we were calling from a hotel in Lansing. So we hit the road again for another hour or two. We got there just in time. We walked up to the door and peaked into the kitchen. Wanda was taking food out of the oven. I don't think we even knocked. She looked up and saw us and we walked right in and surprised everyone! We helped with the last minute preparations. I have never seen that many pies or bowls of mashed potatoes in one place in my life! There are some big boys in that family (as in over 6 foot big) and it really was like feeding a small army.
We finished eating and cleaned up. It was the last weekend for deer hunting so of course all the men had big beards and had been out already that morning. My cousins Stephen and Shawn asked me if I wanted to go back out with them and, of course, I did! I think they were kidding and didn't expect me to want to come, but I did. I had to wear their clothes to go. Now remember I was in the 10Th grade and probably didn't weigh 100 pounds yet and these guys are all over 6 ft. So we stuffed socks in the ends of my boots and layered me up in a bunch of clothes.
There was snow on the ground but not a lot. We tromped out of the house, the three of us. We walked a little ways and Shawn split off from us, and me and Stephen headed to a blind. Stephen started mouthing off about how he couldn't believe he was taking me out hunting after I had showered that morning. He asked me if I had brushed my teeth. When I answered yes, he proceeded to tell me how we weren't gonna get anything now cause I was "too clean" and they were gonna smell us coming. Then he almost fell over when he realized I was chewing gum so I had to spit that out, too. That's when he told me they all hadn't showered for like 3 days.
We walked and walked. It started snowing and it was so pretty. He was griping and telling me to hurry....it was gonna be dark before we got there. I reminded him I was wearing clown shoes and 400 layers of clothes. We got to the blind and got situated. I was instructed not to move, not to talk, and watch for deer. So I sat quietly in the cold watching for deer....nothing. I look over at Stephen and he was asleep. It didn't take long before I was really bored. Which means I wasn't looking for deer very well. Stephen woke up and there was a deer standing right in front of us. He shot it and hit it. Then griped at me for not watching and then I griped at him for falling asleep with the gun. It ran after we shot it (yes I said "we" since I was in the blind too) so we left the blind to track it down. Shawn showed up soon after that since he heard the shot. Then they decided they would try to gross me out and make me watch them gut the deer. They were disappointed when it didn't :) I don't remember how they got the deer back with us but I guess they did.
We stayed at Fred and Sue's house. I think this was when they were living in an old school house. There was a bunch of us there and I remember sleeping on a mattress in the floor with my cousin Jennifer and my sister Rachael. Julie may have been with us, too. My mom, Aunt Sue, and Aunt Vicki were on another mattress and when those 3 get together they start talking and it turns into giggling and then that turns into their own little jibberish language that we all tease them about. I remember Shawn and Tammy were on the the couch and Tammy was pregnant with Abe. And she forgot all her socks that year. I know, I remember the weirdest things. My dad and Uncles were asleep in the room, too. It was a fairly good sized room. That next morning all the guys got up before dawn and headed back out to hunt. I stayed in that time. We didn't even hear them leave. When I woke up Uncle Donnie was sitting in a chair with a bag of potato chips and holding his rifle in the other hand. The butt of the gun was on the ground and he was holding it kind of like a cane. Just a visual for ya. So anyway, Uncle Donnie starts eating from this bag of chips while all of us are sleeping all over the living room floor. He was trying to be quiet, which made it even worse. He would reach in the potato chip bag, real slow...pull his hand out real slow....then crunch....crunch......crunch. I thought I was the only one awake and noticing it. It was about to drive me crazy.
This went on for awhile and all of a sudden my mom yells, "Donnie, if you stick your hand in that bag one more time I'm gonna shoot you with your own gun!!!" We all died laughing and then got up to start breakfast. We had all been laying there awake trying not to wake up each other.
I don't remember if we left that day or Sunday. I guess we left Sunday and drove all the way back in one day since we could have made it home in one day if we left that morning. Anyway, we have lots of good memories with our extended family. Lots of Monopoly games and a lot of snowmobile rides through the woods. And a lot of giggling! I will save those for another day.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving weekend with their families and friends!