Thanksgiving Wrap Up: Fun with Friends & Family

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Does anyone else get through Thanksgiving week and then need a solid 2, maybe 3 days to recover? I don’t even know as we were as busy during the week as we have been in years past, but I was exhausted! Mostly in a good way though.  I think it’s just that there is so much that goes into a holiday week, from prep work & activities to the emotional toll they take on you.  Holidays bring out the whole range of emotions: happy, sad, stress, you name it! As I’ve spent the last week reflecting on all we did and didn’t do, I’ve found an underlying trend in our week that made my heart so happy, and that’s how much our friends mean to us.

The Casey-DuBois Family
The Casey-DuBois Family

The week started a bit rough. My dad’s father passed away, so my parents had gone to Michigan for the funeral, missing Grandparents day at the kiddos school (my mom’s first miss in 6 years). I attended in their stead and had a very small window in which to leave 1st grade and make it to 5th for their performances. Naturally, Luke would wrap up the 1st-grade performance by throwing up all over his classroom. So mom of the year dumps him off in the nurse’s office and sprints toward 5th grade catching the end of Landry’s skit.

1st Grade Grandparents Day
1st Grade Grandparents Day

A few years ago I would have lost my cool completely. But it’s moments like these when my amazing mom friends ban together and help out in a pinch.  As I was ushering Luke down the hall (still throwing up), I looked and saw some moms getting paper towels out for my kids puke like it was nothing! The Principal & Assistant Principals were one the walkie-talkies coming down the hall, knew I had Landry I needed to watch, and told me to go lay Luke down in the nurse’s office, something I felt horrible about until I saw another mom friend volunteering in the office. I knew if he started to cry or feel bad she had it covered.

5th Grade Grandparents Day Skit
5th Grade Grandparents Day Skit

The school had done a great job of spreading the kids’ songs & skits out but what we didn’t know was that the classes were doing other things with their loved ones during the times the other classes were singing which meant 5th grade started with their loved ones while I was down in 1st grade, something I had not prepared Landry for. Luckily, my mom friends had my back again and someone let him know that Luke was singing and I’d be there asap before he could freak out.  I was late, the skit had already started, something a mom who also had a 5th and 1st grader recognized and knew something was up.  I whispered to her what had happened and that I needed to get Landry out as soon as his skit was over. The problem was that the kids had moved every table in the room to the back to make room for all the guests, but blocking all the backpacks. As soon as the skit was done, mom friend scaled over the top of the tables, pulled Landry’s stuff out, and had us out the door before I was finished explaining what happened to his teacher! Mom friends yall! If you don’t have any, get some asap!

Making Homemade Donuts
Making Homemade Donuts

We decided to take it easy over the weekend! With family coming in town, we needed everyone well.  We spent Saturday lounging around (honestly my favorite way to spend a Saturday) and made homemade donuts! Luke got to bust out his Pampered Chef donut pan and kids baking set and absolutely loved it!

Homemade Donuts
Homemade Donuts

The donuts did come out super yummy! It seemed like having a day with very little to do was just what the doctor ordered! You forget how much getting into the grind of the school year really wears the kiddos out! Downtime is so good for them!

Mom’s Night Out

That night, I had a rare night out with some of the moms in our neighborhood. I had not laughed so hard in a very long time! We had not had a Moms Night Out since before school started, and just as much as the kids were feeling the effects of the daily grind, so were we! We definitely stayed out way too late, but it was so worth it!

at home strep test
At Home Strep Test

Monday we were hoping to get out and run errands but Landry wasn’t feeling well. I prayed it wasn’t the tummy flu. It wasn’t that but one look down his throat confirmed it was strep! Ugh! Thankfully, I keep a package of at home Strep Throat Tests handy (we get it that much). These babies have been a lifesaver over the last year. When I know it is strep, I test myself or the kids, then video call into Doctors on Demand, show them the results, and meds are called into the pharmacy right away! So much better than hoping to get into our doctor or waiting at urgent care if our doctor is full!

at home strep test
at home strep test

They read just like a pregnancy test! One line negative, two lines positive. Poor Landry! When I said “Oh it’s positive!” he said “that’s good then right? That means I don’t have it?” Yeah, buddy, I thought that the first time I took a pregnancy test too, just kidding!

Watching the Grinch
Watching the Grinch

Tuesday, at exactly 24 hours after Landry starting meds, and having been in the house for 3 full days straight, we went to the movies with my mom and saw the Grinch. We loved it! I know I’m part of a small minority, but the live-action Grinch just wasn’t my jam. I was worried this new remake wouldn’t do the classic Grinch justice, but yall it was so cute! We loved it! It was a whole new side of the Grinch we hadn’t seen before.

cousins coloring
Cousins Coloring

Wednesday, my brother and his family plus my grandma from Michigan arrived. To say my mom had a full house was an understatement. We don’t get to see my brother & niece or my grandma that often, so, in the case of my brother, when they’re here we cram every waking hour full of activity!

I also build myself up into a stressed out disaster when they come to visit. Does anyone else do this? We love my brother and his family dearly, but just like any family, when in-laws combine, there are always growing pains. The unfortunate part of not seeing them enough is that there really isn’t enough interaction between visits to really clear the awkwardness that follows a time of tension. I feel like I spend the first part of their visits on eggshells a little bit, not wanting to say or do the wrong thing, silently begging the rest of my family to fall in line too.

football on Thanksgiving
Football on Thanksgiving

My niece is two, almost 3, and a wild child! I would be lying if I said I didn’t take great pleasure in watching her run circles around everyone, knowing my brother has to recognize now that parenting is not nearly as easy as he thought it was when I was being given unsolicited advice for years! LOL! She’s the most adorable wild thing I’ve ever seen though.

Football on Thanksgiving
Football on Thanksgiving

We had my brother, sister-in-law, and niece over to our house Thursday morning for breakfast (and to give my mom a little quiet time in the kitchen) and the boys were thrilled to play some football out front with their uncle. I found myself noticing that we actually had some fall colors this year which is totally out of the norm for our area!  They were with us until around noon, then went off to visit some of Mike’s friends while we finished up making our side dishes and got cleaned up.

hide & seek
You can’t see me!

We headed over to my parents’ house around 3:00, just in time for the Cowboys Game because we have to plan dinner around Cowboys football. My sister-in-law and niece were both napping, so we left Landry to watch the game with my dad and my mom, brother, and I took my wild thing (Luke) down to the park so he could burn some energy and not wake his cousin up.  He had a blast having everyone’s attention just on him for hide-and-seek!

so much food
So much food!

It never fails, every year my mom and I have the same conversation about Thanksgiving. She starts to tell me the menu she is planning to make, and what she would like us to help with.  It always includes a bird way too large for all of us, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, bread, several sides, at least 2 pies and 2 other desserts, and of course snacks to put out before we eat dinner.

thanksgiving table set
Out Thanksgiving Table has a place for everyone, even those who can’t be here.

For families that have a lot of out of town guests, this probably sounds pretty normal, but most of the time Thanksgiving consists of the 4 of us plus my parents and maybe 1 other close family friend. My brother and his wife live out of state, and his military duties had him away from us every year since they were married (this was the first Thanksgiving we have had them since they got married), travel for my Grandma is getting harder and harder, and my mom is an only child. But the food is never just about making way more food than we’ll ever it.

Mama's Turkey & Stuffing
Mama’s Turkey & Stuffing Recipe

The food is “Mama’s Stuffing” which happens to be my brothers favorite and we make regardless if he is here or not, “Pop’s Mashed Potatoes” that he taught me to make as a little girl and remind me of him every year, “Dad’s Green Been Casserole” that only he will eat, “Matt’s Sweet Potatoes” which are my husband’s favorite recipe, and on down the list. When we have other friends or family, then we add something that’s their favorite or make a second stuffing side without mushrooms. It’s excessive!

Pops
A sign of a good Thanksgiving meal!

But the food isn’t just the food, it’s a memory. It’s a memory of a special time in life, or of a person who is no longer with us. My mom’s parents, Mama & Pops, we with us every holiday until they passed away. Holding on to their recipes allows us to hold on to them, to hold their place at the table. We laugh now when we cannot finish our plates because it didn’t matter how high his plate was piled, Pops finished it every year then promptly fell asleep at the table, making us all laugh with a deep snore!

burning turkey
When the turkey comes out raw but smoking!

The meal this year didn’t come without a few kinks! My Grandma questions everything, especially if it’s something my mom is doing. She reminds us a lot of Marie from “Everybody Loves Raymond.” So when she wasn’t quite on board with how my mom was defrosting the turkey, back into the freezer he went. He continued to go in and out of the freezer all day Wednesday, and never fully defrosted. Once he finally made it into the oven, the temperature mysteriously kept going down to 275 all day! So we ended up with a bird that was very brown on top and very raw on the bottom. We were able to get enough off the top for everyone to have some, and the rest became soup!

Elf on the Shelf
Elf on the Shelf Arrived!

Our Elves on the Shelf always arrives Thanksgiving night and brings a new ornament for the tree and a few books. Black Friday is not a shopping day in our family. We all despise crowds in a store, and frankly, there is absolutely nothing we need that is worth dealing with people rushing, pushing, & fighting. Instead, we usually stay home and decorate our house for Christmas. We met my brother and his family on Main Street to enjoy some Christmas decorations and play just a little bit before they headed back to Utah then we went home and started getting everything out of the attic.

Decorating the Tree
Decorating the Tree

We spent most of the day getting all of our decorations put up but didn’t quite get finished because Matt had a little surprise in store for the boys. He had tickets to their very first Dallas Stars Game.

Dallas Stars Game
Dallas Stars Game

They were so excited!!! They’ve just recently taken up an interest in hockey, and are loving it! Matt had been able to get 4 box tickets from his company, so we were really spoiled with a fun night! We were super close to the ice and had really comfy seats too.

lunch
Lunch & tic-tac-toe with Gammer

Saturday was another full day and I was already running on empty! Matt’s family had always gotten together on the day after Thanksgiving at his grandmother’s house (Gammer) for enchiladas and to help decorate her house, but she had to move to an assisted living facility this year, so there was no house to decorate. Instead, we all opted to meet for lunch at a Mexican restaurant that Sat. It was so nice to have just a fun, stress-free lunch with his aunts, uncles, cousins, and Gammer and best of all, no one had to worry about bringing anything.

Alex & Dave
Alex & Dave

That afternoon I attended a funeral of one of my oldest friends’ fathers. My friend Dave, another guy Alex, and I were all really close all through high school and lived together for a while after we graduated college. Dave owned the house we lived in, and once we all were dating the people we ended up marrying, Alex and I both moved out, giving Dave and his wife the space to be newlyweds.  A few years into parenting and we all sort of drifted apart. I had Landry way before anyone else had kids, so I learned first how parenting turns you into a really crappy friend. Dave followed a couple years later, then Alex. Now they get why I disappeared off the radar! LOL!

Band uniforms & butterfly clips
Band Uniforms & Butterfly Clips

I had texted Alex when it happened and we both knew we needed to show up, so we went together. Dave being the amazing person he is, immediately came over and gave us huge Dave hugs as if he had just seen us the day before and nothing had changed! Well, that’s not entirely true, our dialogue has certainly changed from what our Saturday night plans were to talking mostly about kids and how we’re getting old! As much as I hate the circumstances that brought us back together. Dave’s father passing allowed us the opportunity to realize how long it had been since we had all been together, and has hopefully opened the door for us all to remember to communicate more and get together more than once every 7 years! We live in the same area for goodness sakes! In my book, 25 years of friendship makes you family!

Getting ready for Christmas

With as exhausting as Thanksgiving week is, year after year, I can’t help but look around and be so thankful for all that we have. The family we have created isn’t just in the relatives that bond us together, but also in the friendships that we have formed over the years, which never cease to leave me in awe of just how far love can reach. Whether it’s someone you haven’t seen in years or people who are in the daily parenting grind helping you, our friends have become our family and some of the greatest cornerstones of our lives. And, of course, the greatest part of the Thanksgiving week is how it prepares us to go into the Christmas season with a greatful, and happy heart!

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Junell

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1 COMMENT

  1. Sally casey | 5th Dec 18

    Family island life time friends, memories, life’s great blessings

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