Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010.... the last in Louisiana?

While I can't imagine the Christmas stockings hanging anywhere other than from our mantel, I don't feel a strong need to be here in Louisiana cooking a turkey at Thanksgiving.  I suppose that's because we've had relatively few Thanksgiving holidays at the house.  Our early years as a couple and family were spent at my parents and then we began our years at Petit Jean Mountain State Park in Arkansas.

Beginning in 1992 shortly after buying the travel trailer, we spent seven years at Petit Jean camping and hiking the trails for the week of the school holiday.  Though it's been 11 years since our last visit, when I  picture a traditional Thanksgiving day for our family, it involves hiking in the Arkansas mountains.  

On that first Thanksgiving morning hike in 1992, Clark was only 3 1/2 years old and we were very proud (and relieved) that even on the steep parts of the Cedar Falls trail, he didn't need any help being lifted or carried.  

We began the 2 mile trail at the stone Mather Lodge built by the CCC back in the 30's.  Steps and bridges along the way were also CCC construction.

The trail descends quickly to the floor of the canyon and then follows along Cedar Creek until it reaches the 95 foot waterfall.  We would snap photos, sit on the rocks, hope that no one fell in the cold water and then begin the hike back up.  

For some reason on that first Thanksgiving morning there, we brought only 7 month old Mercy along for the hike and left Nanny and Aravis at the travel trailer.  

What a Technicolor crew!  

After the hike, we put Mercy in the Suburban and went into the Lodge for a home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner overlooking the canyon through the big glass windows in the dining room of the old CCC lodge.  I baked a pecan pie later at the trailer but that was the extent of Thanksgiving day cooking.  

Thus 7 years of tradition was born:  the Cedar Falls trail was reserved for the Thanksgiving morning hike, Mercy was the lone dog that we brought along, we ate in the Lodge immediately after the hike and pecan pie was baked to be eaten later around the campfire.

Each year I came home refreshed and ready for Christmas.  

All things change and when Carter was a Sr in high school, the trips to Petit Jean stopped.  That year was his 18th birthday, which he wanted to celebrate in Baton Rouge, and there was also a swim team state meet that went into the holidays. Then we began the college years when everyone understandably wanted to be home for the holidays and not crammed in the travel trailer on their break from the dorms!   

The 2000's have been a hodgepodge of years with no real "traditions".  Mostly being a time and place for the college age sons to come home,  relax and do laundry for a week with the added bonus of a huge feast of a meal on Thursday.  

With only four mouths to feed this year I gave some thought to eating out, but in the end decided that relaxing at home in our jeans was preferable! 

The "traditional" star cutter (a bread tube) that we use at Thanksgiving and Christmas for the canned cranberry sauce was packed away in the storage pod in Lexington.  What to do??  

Clark dug around in the cookie cutters bin and found a star shaped cutter... this seemed like a good solution until he realized that there was a reason that the long tube was such a good device.... after one inch, the cookie cutter was stuck.  Nevertheless he persevered.  

Notice Raeanna staying well out of the cranberry sauce cutting drama..... despite the fact that she appears not to care about the need for star shaped discs of cranberry sauce, she has been indoctrinated into and seems to be fully onboard with the family Wizard card game tradition!

We toasted the day (and hopes for the future) with a bottle of sparkling hard cider from Albermarle Ciderworks in Virginia.  

I'm still searching for that crystal ball that can tell the future.  Will we still be here next year with the house under construction in Virginia?  In a rental in Lexington?  Eating with new friends in Lexington?  We might be closer to NYC; California would be a fun change; Arkansas would be a drive, but we could go to Petit Jean for the day; who knows where Clark will be next year? 

But the constant is that I have a family that I love... and for that I'm thankful.    Very thankful.....

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