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Reinstating Thanksgiving Traditions

For the first time since 2016, the Mr. and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house.  It’s something we have done since we lived in Miami, but we had to take a pass when I broke my ankle two years ago.  I’d had surgery the Monday of Thanksgiving week and wasn’t in any shape for company.  In fact, I was pretty sick that day from the painkillers.  So, while the rest of the family went out to dinner in their own city, we sat at home.

Then, last year, the Mr. and I had planned on hosting again, but we’d ordered new couches, sold our old ones the same day we listed them on Facebook Marketplace, and were stuck without seating for the holiday.  So, the family went out by themselves again while we ate very non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

This year, despite the hurricane issues, we were determined to reinstate our traditions, so we invited the family over.

I’d spent Wednesday afternoon preparing four desserts.

The cake on the left was a special request from the Mr.  He follows the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and can’t have most flours and sugars.  This peanut butter cake fits the bill.  He isn’t supposed to eat chocolate, but he was dying for chocolate icing, so I indulged him.

The other three desserts were vegan.

While our crew was kicking off their holiday weekend with a pre-Thanksgiving dinner in Podunk, USA, I was prepping the house, which as anyone knows really means throwing everything that’s out in the open into unused closets and bedrooms.

I got up early Thursday morning and began prepping for my day and listened to the radio as I quietly worked.  Ever since the hurricane hit, it seems as though all of the songs I hear are speaking life into my heart.  I’ll admit that I got teary-eyed as I listened to this bit . . .

Every now and then, I allow myself a tear or two.  But, I couldn’t wallow in my feelings because I had a long to-do list.  I was eager for Chicky to arrive because I had a few dishes to make.  She’s a lot like me (sorry, dear, but you know that you are), so I knew that she’d be a good sous chef.

When she got to the house, we nailed down a game plan for the oven.  I only have one (my next home with have a double oven), so it was going to be tricky.  Then, I put her to work.

She and the Mr. set the table, and then she began making the first of two dishes I needed help with . . . Roasted Butternut Squash with Bacon and Thyme.  It’s a dish I discovered a few months ago for the Mr.

Meanwhile, I got the guacamole deviled eggs ready.  It was a new-to-me recipe and one I thought the Mr. might enjoy.  Super Sis was bringing regular deviled eggs too.

The family arrived as I was finishing these up, so Super Sis jumped in and began drying dishes so I could keep working (I like to wash them as I go).  I prepared a vegan Millet “Cornbread” recipe that was going into the instant pot.  I was worried that it wasn’t done when I pulled it out after the cooking time was over, but it turned out perfectly!

Meanwhile, I prepared the ingredients I’d need for the Hidden Cauliflower Mac ‘n’ Cheese recipe that’s in Megan Gilmore’s new instant pot cookbook.

Chicky kept busy making the Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes, a recipe that had caught my attention after seeing a video on the Blender Girl’s Facebook page.

In between all of the cooking, cleaning, and table setting, I snapped a few photos as did Chicky, who’d borrowed my camera to play with.

Super Sis!

Finally, everything was finished, and we were ready for our traditional pre-eating photo.  We managed to get it in one take; we’ve had years of practice.

Then, it was time to start passing the dishes around, counter-clockwise of course, and fill up our plates. Thank goodness the Mr.’s parents got us the turkey.  We usually order a smoked one from Sonny’s, but our location sustained damage from the storm (as did every single business), so it wasn’t open.  Coupon Queen also made the dressing, which is a family favorite.  Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the turkey and dressing (unless you’re a vegan like me).

Here’s what this vegan ate . . .

The dogs didn’t stray too far.

I’d set up my kitchen table as the dessert niche, so people ventured over there to help themselves.  By far, the most popular dishes were the peanut butter and apple cakes.

While we were sitting around the table, I texted Rooster to see if they’d found their way to a friend’s house for dinner.  He and N had, but they were able to talk, so I set up my laptop and got Facetime going.  It was wonderful to see their faces – to have them be a part of our day. ❤

Afterward, we cleaned up and jumped into two cars.  We wanted to show our family the devastation we’ve been living with since October 10th.  Although I’d seen a lot of it, looking at it through fresh eyes brought tears.  I followed the Mr.  He was driving the other car, and he took us down streets I had not traveled yet.  We saw this, which the homeowner carved out himself and painted.

We drove to the Cove, a neighborhood closer to the water in Panama City.  Pre-storm, it had tree-lined, canopied streets.  Now, almost all of the trees are gone.  The ones still standing are broken at odd angles.  I didn’t take any photos because I was driving, but my breath caught in my throat, and I shed a few tears.

We trekked to our church, and I drove around to the back, which I had not seen with my own eyes.

That’s the back of the sanctuary.  You can see all the way through it.

Look closely and you’ll see the piano.

They say it’s going to be at least a year and a half before we will be able to get back into it.  I was emotional as I drove away.

I know that this seems like a downer of a way to end our day, but it was good for our family to see, with their own eyes, the things we had described and the photos they’d seen online.  It was a reminder of just how much we have to be thankful for in the midst of everything . . .

Quiet moments . . .

Silly moments . . .

Unplanned boot days . . .

Fur babies . . .

Impromptu Thanksgiving decorations

I spy a generator

Most importantly, family . . .

As the crew packed up to go, I was sad (Pele was either curious or hungry or both).

This group I’m blessed to call mine has always had my back . . . has always been there for me in the toughest of times.

They’re always willing to go the extra mile, even when that means carrying home a trunk full of stuff to recycle to help keep me sane (and guilt-free about putting these items in the trash).

I’m so glad that we mustered up the faith to have our crew over.  Despite feeling incredibly overwhelmed these past six weeks, taking a day to share love and laughter with those we are closest to provided a much-needed reprieve from the heavy stuff we call life.

I guess that’s why we depend on traditions so much.  They keep us grounded to what’s most important – the stalwarts that remain when everything else crumbles.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, y’all.

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