Thanksgiving weekend, holiday fun, etc.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here…

On Wednesday afternoon, we attempted to get our Christmas tree at the local firehouse, but while the trees were on the lot, the fireman on duty said they weren’t selling them until Friday. So, instead, the five of us who were on that particular excursion stopped at the local grocery store to get wine for Thanksgiving dinner. It has really been nice to have this grocery store a 4-minute drive from home! Not having an ingredient is no longer an issue. It can be procured in less than 15 minutes. I made my cranberry sauce (boiling cranberries in apple cider, adding sugar to taste). My husband and daughter made two pies.

On Thanksgiving morning, I set my alarm relatively early, and then made sure my 16-year-old was up so we could run the YMCA’s Gobble Wobble 5k. It was windy and chilly but we finished, doing 10:30 miles, which was significantly faster than last year. If my son seriously trained for this he would leave me in his dust, but it’s been more of an intermittent thing. Next year, though, he’d like to have more like a 30-minute total time, so I’ll need to work on that too. We celebrated with Starbucks, while the rest of the family was off at the church pancake breakfast, where my daughter was working a shift flipping pancakes.

After she finished, we drove in two cars out to Princeton. Why two cars? So the 16-year-old could get some more supervised driving hours, but without the distraction of many siblings in the car. He and I drove together and chatted most of the way there and back, which was nice. My brother and sister-in-law hosted at their house in Princeton, and my mom and dad were there (they live 10 minutes away from them) and my little brother and his wife (and her mom) came down from upstate New York. My older brother’s three adult children were all there too, plus my niece’s boyfriend, so it was a full house. My little two kids managed to sit at the table for all of three minutes before bolting, but hey.

Since we ate at 1:30 p.m. or so, the rest of the day kept feeling like it should be later than it was. Anyway, on Friday we got up and actually got the tree in the small window of time after the fire house was open and before my husband and 16-year-old left for Michigan. They went to tour the University of Michigan (which my son is interested in) and also to see the Ohio State game, which turned out to be a fairly exciting one. I kept getting dispatches on them being cold…

Meanwhile, my daughter and I did a baking extravaganza, as requested for the Holiday Fun List. We made Christmas cookie dough, and gingerbread cookie dough (all with non-dairy fake butter which is specially formulated for baking), then made the Christmas cookies before driving out to Lancaster for Dutch Wonderland.

She had requested this trip, so it went on the Holiday Fun List but it was…a bit of a bust. Some of our favorite “big kid” rides were closed, so we only went on a few of them (which had longer lines that we’d seen in October, because there were fewer rides open…). It came out in the course of this that the main reason my daughter wanted to go to the amusement park was because of the pizza and pasta buffet restaurant there. So, once we figured we weren’t doing many more rides I was like, hey, at least we’ll rescue this with dinner. We went in the buffet, paid for our tickets and then found out…it was a Thanksgiving spread, special for the day. No pizza and pasta! I’m sure some folks would have been excited about the seasonal fare. My daughter was livid. It was almost comical. Anyway, the kids ate a lot of mac and cheese and then I mollified her with a small squishmellow from the gift shop.

On Saturday I ran with Jane in 28 degree weather. Brr! There was climbing class, more baking (rolling out the gingerbread this time), and tree decorating. Then I took the 8-year-old to a classmate’s bowling birthday party, where he got way, way into the bowling. Who knew?

The Michigan crew came home quite late Saturday night. Unfortunately, I’d been coming down with something, so I wound up not going to church on Sunday morning, lest singing spread my germs in the choir loft. So it was a more relaxed morning at home, with the 14-year-old headed over to a local Dungeons and Dragons game for the afternoon — and then the rest of us leaving at 2:00 to go to see the trains at the Brandywine River Museum and then to Longwood Gardens for our 3:30 p.m. timed tickets. Longwood Christmas tends to sell out, at least on weekends, so you have to reserve ahead of time, when you don’t know the weather and…let’s just say it was not great. Approximately 40 degrees and rainy. We had umbrellas and rain jackets but still got pretty soaked. Nonetheless, the greenhouse Christmas trees are always beautiful, and then we waited in the restaurant for about 30 minutes (with pretzels and hot chocolate) for it to get dark. Then we walked around seeing the lights, and made it home before 7 p.m. (the 14-year-old had not been terribly sad about missing out on the family bonding…).

Anyway, a pretty full weekend, though still a reasonable amount of down time. I’m feeling better today, despite walking around in weather which in a Victorian novel might induce an illness, so I’m happy about that. I’m also happy about a somewhat bizarre discovery — I have written on here a few times about this leg pain I would get (right leg only) while walking around or standing for long periods of time. In the course of doing my series of back stretches every day for the past three weeks, I realized that when the leg pain starts flaring up, if I bend over and touch my toes for 30 seconds or so I can make it stop. I am guessing that the mechanism is relieving pressure on my lower back (and associated nerves going down the leg) but regardless of the mechanics, it seems to work, both in general (doing some stretching every day makes it better overall) and in the moment (short-circuiting it when I feel it coming on). I’m really quite happy about figuring this out! As with my silent reflux + dairy intolerance, aging seems to be about sleuthing your bizarre symptoms and figuring out what “one weird trick” will make them better…

Now on to the week. I bought one thing at a cyber Monday sale this AM since one of the kids likes the particular store. I have ideas for everyone but haven’t done that much shopping. But it’s still almost a month until Christmas, so hey. I’m looking at getting an artificial “fancy” tree for my living room, so that is the next quest…

8 thoughts on “Thanksgiving weekend, holiday fun, etc.

  1. Sounds like an action packed weekend. Hope you are back to 100% soon, and I am going to try to channel your chill “there’s still a month left” energy…

    1. @Lori C – I did have a panicked “I haven’t bought much yet!” feeling. Then I reminded myself that there are four weeks to Christmas. It will be fine.

  2. Yes, Ms. Laura Vanderkam, I can see that you are decorating for Christmas right now. I rarely decorate for Christmas in my residence – But my parents live in the same city as I do, and I think that they’ll ask me to help them decorate for Christmas in their residence.
    I’m living in Canada right now, and Thanksgiving actually took place in October in Canada.
    And no, Ms. Laura Vanderkam, I didn’t expect you to have a pain in the leg either.
    I can see that it is the norm that while your children are doing their activities, you are also doing your activities.
    I think that there is generally nothing special about this Christmas – except that in the last 3 years, I’ve remained in working mode in all Christmases. I was never in holiday mode in those Christmases. In this year’s Christmas, though, I think I can be in holiday mode again.

    1. @Yukun – it’s good to be in holiday mode for at least a few days! I hope you make it happen this year.

  3. I am so impressed you could chat with your son while driving. It takes all my energy to stay calm and patient when I am with my teen driver (and he is a good driver!) I mean I guess I can chat about very very basic things or pretend that I am listening to him and say hmm at the right places. Something to improve on in 2024.

    1. @Jessica – I’m a little nervous for sure, and definitely paying a lot of attention. It is far more relaxing to drive myself. But hey, I figure I can do a little talking. And he talks! So I listen (and make sure he’s watching the road, but like your son he’s a fairly cautious driver).

  4. We, too, spent Black Friday evening at Dutch Wonderland and was disappointed. We spent the rest of the weekend mostly at home decorating and online shopping. Although I would have liked to do one more family excursion, it was nice to have extra quiet time before the busy work week. I had recently renegotiated how to divide and conquer family responsibilities with my spouse. My new job is more mentally challenging. I asked husband if I could do more day-to-day – taking back over the laundry and dishes which are mindless while enjoying a podcast. He will now be the “special projects manager”. He had already been in charge of Catholic sacrament prep and helping our 14-year old apply to high schools. Now he will also be in charge of scheduling doctor’s appointments, vacations, and deciding if and how we will be celebrating an 8th grade graduation. The Dutch Wonderland debacle reminded me that my plans don’t always work out; he can’t do any worse. Maybe we’ll have the most fun 2024. Wish us luck!

    1. @LN- oh dear, we were both there with unhappy troops together! Sounds like a good division of labor if you do not have the bandwidth for special projects. Having dealt with a number of program applications, I would say I probably prefer laundry…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *