My brain is struggling to wake up this morning, so I'll ease it back into alertness by posting about my Thanksgiving weekend, which was absolutely wonderful.
Matt picked me up after work on Wednesday, and we fought holiday rush hour traffic to get out to the suburbs in time for a quick bite of dinner with my family before Thanksgiving Eve worship. There was a surprisingly large crowd of people at church, who brought an amazing amount of food to donate to local food pantries, who heartily sang all the Thanksgiving hymns. I'm usually ambivalent about Thanksgiving worship - often it feels as if the church is just trying to keep up with the holiday rather than being truly connected to it - but this year, the service really set up the faith foundation of thanksgiving, and we worshiped in such a way that we exhibited and experienced the thanksgiving that we would be celebrating the next day. After eating some pie and catching up with church friends, we all headed home, and Steph, Beth, Matt, Nick (Beth's boyfriend), and I spent the rest of the evening relaxing together, playing the piano and playing lots of MarioKart and Guitar Hero.
On Thursday, we all got up early to help cook and clean up before more family came over - my mom's sister and husband, and one of my cousins. My whole family loves to cook, and so Thanksgiving is enormously fun for us! For us, the cooking is as much fun as the eating. Early in the afternoon, the Egan clan stopped by on their way to Patrick's parents' house so that my aunt and uncle could see the girls and meet new baby Cameron! Of particular amusement was the picture taken of Matt and Nick admiring the baby...turns out they look more like a couple in that picture than we had intended....
After the Egans continued onto their next destination, we all sat down and ate and ate and ate and ate. Yummy! Stuffed with food, we all spent the rest of the afternoon chatting and napping and watching football and doing homework (Matt). At one point, all of us "kids" settled in for a few rounds of Apples to Apples before dessert time. Later that night, after the rest of the family had gone, we piled into the van and drove downtown, to walk Michigan Avenue and enjoy the lights and the holiday feel. We were like little kids in the car, putting in a movie to watch on the way there (Horton Hears a Who, the cartoon version) and on the way back (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the cartoon version). We didn't do much except wander around while we were there, enjoying the beauty and the walk and each others' company.
On Friday, Matt and I got up and met friends of mine from high school for breakfast. I can't believe that none of us remembered to bring a camera! But we talked about everything under the sun - weddings and church politics and durian (it seems we ALWAYS talk about durian when we're together) and Christmas trees and knitting. I am blessed to have these people in my life!
After breakfast, my sisters and I went on a brief excursion to get new cell phones (exciting, I know...) and then went home, where we spent the rest of the day with all of the Egans. The girls were enamored with Wii bowling, and Cameron was good-natured about being passed around all afternoon by adoring aunts and uncles and grandparents. Later in the afternoon, we pooled our efforts to build one amazing gingerbread house, and then after dinner, we all cozied up together to watch Elf (one of Steph's and Kristin's absolutely favorite movies).
Saturday morning, Beth and Nick headed back to Minnesota. The rest of us took the opportunity to sleep in a bit! Early in the afternoon, my parents and I headed over to church, where a few people were getting together to make advent wreaths. My mom and I ended up going with a couple other ladies from church to a bazaar at the mosque in our area. We spent a couple hours looking at the most amazing garments and jewelry and scarves - my mom and I bought some beautiful scarves and marveled at all of the traditional costumes. It is humbling to share someone's culture like that - entering a place of worship foreign to me and then ending up in a basement that felt like every other church basement I've ever been in, looking at garments and accessories that are new and interesting to me but commonplace to most everyone around me, knowing that my blond hair and blue eyes make me stick out like a sore thumb, but also experiencing the kindness and graciousness of a culture different than mine that so often gets pigeonholed and stereotyped and accused.
That night, we indulged the holiday spirit by making a fire and watching White Christmas after eating a whole bunch of Thanksgiving leftovers (still yummy!). Sunday was spent recovering from the holiday weekend - church and lunch, naps and football, coffee with Stephanie and pizza for dinner. To cap off this wonderful weekend, it snowed overnight (and is still snowing now!). I look back at last year and remember how I thought it had been the perfect Thanksgiving that could never be topped. Perhaps I was wrong. This year certainly fits the bill for a perfect holiday, and I can only hope that my Thanksgivings continue to be times filled with the same spirit of joy and family, food and simple pleasures.