Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving Recap

Mr. Handsom and I were so fortunate this year. We went to visit my family for Thanksgiving this year. We were able to fly out of the Portland International Jetport instead of going to Boston Logan and we flew out on Tuesday! The last time we spent Thanksgiving at my parents' house they picked us up on the airport Thursday morning on the way to my Grandma's house. I was so happy to spend the extra time with my family and my friends from high school.

L to R: ET, Me!, and JR when we were in College

On Wednesday we spent the day resting. I invited my high school friend over for Giordano's. I finally got to see my BFF JR! She had been teaching English in Korea for years and years and she finally came home. But she's headed to Zambia before the end of the year and she wants to teach English in the Czech Republic next. It was good to see ET and JR. We don't do a great job staying in touch while we're away--at most we send an occasional snap chat or text. But when we're all back together it's like we're 17 again but smarter and more cynical. I am so thankful that I have friends who are so consistent.

My little sister, E3, decided that she wanted Pumpkin Pie for TGive. So I had Mr. H call his mom to get her pumpkin pie recipe. It is the best and you should give it a try if you don't think you like pumpkin pie. E3 and my dad went to the grocery store to get the pie ingredients and other last minute things. They came home with a graham cracker pie shell and fat free sweetened condensed milk. I gave her a ribbing for her choices and I stayed up after my friends left and made a real pie crust.

The pie in the auxiliary oven at Grandma's

Thursday was Thanksgiving Day! We woke up early and headed to my Grandma's house in Rockford. My sister mixed up the pumpkin pie and my mom and grandma made the corn pudding (also called scalloped corn or simply corn). After the pie and the corn were done we packed up and headed to my Aunt and Uncle's for dinner. We got there right before my Aunt took the turkey out of the oven. My job has always been to make the gravy so I did but this time I accidentally made dumplings in the gravy. My grandma helped me sort that out and the gravy turned out perfectly.

The Buffet Table at my Aunt and Uncle's
with Rainbow Jello Salad, Green Bean Casserole, Corn Pudding,
Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing or Dressing (I don't know if this was
from in the bird or the extra that was just baked), Turkey, Rolls,
Cinnamon Bread (a new item), and Vegetables.

We sat down to say grace and I am thankful because we skipped going around and saying what we were thankful for. I was so worried that Mr. H would say something flippant. But he told me later he would have said he was thankful for all the opportunities he had in life. I probably would have said I was thankful for the support of my family. During dinner we got to listen to my cousin and stepfather talk about how horrible patent lawyers are. Apparently they are money grubbing vultures. I told everyone about my trial and about how I was a good lawyer.

The View from my Seat at the Table

I learned that my young cousin had bought a house. He and his wife are graduating from college this month. My mom and my uncle told me all about the how this was a good time to buy a house and how we probably could afford to buy one now. I am so full of envy right now. It seems like everyone is buying houses but I am unemployed and Mr. H is a public school teacher so we cannot join in in the home buying frenzy. And, since we'd like for Mr. H to stay home with the children when they are young we probably won't be able to afford a house even after I get a job since there will be a time when only one of us it working.

The Sunset on the Way Home

After dinner we headed home. I convinced E2 to play Christmas music in my mom's car on the way home! My dad had a work thanksgiving at our house for his coworkers who don't have family in the country. He did not give them food poising despite our fears. While taking one of his coworkers home and he took Mr. H and me to our friends' apartment in the city. JS and AT got married this summer and we helped them move from Massachusetts to Chicago! (Read about it here.) They had hosted our dear friend AH in their new home for their first Thanksgiving together. We joined them for a friendsgiving desert. JS made apple pie. I also had some of the delicious cranberry sauce AT made.

Friendsgiving Breakfast!
Top L to R: JS, AT, AH, and Mr. H.
Bottom L to R: AT, AH, Mr. H, and JS

We stayed over night and it was like a giant sleep over. The next day JS made us pancakes and even the buckwheat ones tasted great. Then the five of us walked along the lake and to Lincoln Park Zoo. I was surprised by how many people were there! We saw lots of animals--including a very cold looking zebra but no polar bears (apparently it was too cold for the bears outside). At the end of the day I had over 17,000 steps on my pedometer most days when I don't go for a run I top out around 4,000 steps. When we got back we made snowflakes to help AT decorate their apartment. Until my sister came to pick us up and bring us home because I didn't want to take my mom's air mattress and my garbage bag full of dirty sheets on the L.

Birds at the Zoo

My mom got to bang a gong because it was her birthday.

We went to dinner at Kegon, a Japanese steakhouse, to celebrate my mom's birthday (it fell on Thanksgiving this year) so we celebrated as a family on Friday. Dinner was delicious. Mr. H and I stopped by the grocery store to buy some Krispy Kreme doughnuts before meeting the rest of my family at home. After dinner we gave Mom our presents. She really liked the Alex and Ani bracelets I picked out for her and they fit her. (I blogged about them earlier, read more here.)

We tried to figure out why there was a
soju ad in Spanish at Kegon, a Japanese
 restaurant. I think the owners are Korean but
that doesn't explain why the ad is in Spanish.

All the steps I took on Friday.

On Saturday, I started trying to fix the lights in my parent's sunroom. Mr. H and I took them apart and relized that we didn't have the right bulbs in the house for them. So my mom and I went to the hardware store to get lights bulbs and pull chains. Then we went to Carson's for a little bit of holiday shopping (we got nothing) but I did get a carmel brûlée latte from Starbucks, my first of the season. Then we went to Giordano's and I picked up the frozen pizzas I had ordered to take back with me. When we got back I fixed the lights (kind of since I replaced the lights on one of the fans and the lights still wouldn't turn on) and installed the pull chains to make it easier to turn them on and off.

The pizzas made it back safe and sound and frozen.

Saturday Evening, AT and JS stopped by my parents' house after dropping AH off at O'Hare. We took them to Epic Burger at Old Orchard (the outdoor mall) for dinner. The milkshakes there are the best and the burgers are great too. The service was wonderful. After dinner we wandered around the mall and went to the mall and went to Marbles the Brain Store. We played a fun game called Anomia where you shout words out with the friendly store clerk.

I do not remember how many times this cup was filled up.

Then I went to a Korean bar to sing karaoke with my high school friends. We ended up up not singing. I just got slightly tipsy drinking a kiwi and soju cocktail and spilled wings on myself and my dry clean only shirt. (For the record it is hard to eat wings with chopsticks when you're not sober.) We had such a good time remembering the past. Except for a horrible incident at one of my birthday party slumber parties which involved nudity and candy being stuck up sleeping people's noises. (I was asleep and apparently spared because it was my birthday my dear friend ET was not so lucky.) AT and JS played pool in my parents' basement with Mr. H while I was away.

I went home, packed up, and went to bed so that Mr. Handsome and I could fly out the next morning. AT and JS took us to O'Hare since my parents had to take E3 to Midway for her 6 am flight back to Princeton. I was so happy to visit at home.

My Plate at Thanksgiving Dinner

Now for the not so happy. This Thanksgiving was a hard one.

The last Thanksgiving I spent at home was the last time I saw my cousin Chase alive. So I reflected on this when I was home and there's no way to get around how sad this is. I'm not over come with grief but especially at holidays and family gatherings it's hard not to think about how he's not with us.

Also, this was the first Thanksgiving that my grandma did not cook. She has dementia. It is not bad yet but last Christmas she almost gave us all food poisoning (the turkey was not cooked enough). My mom was worried that preparing dinner and having everyone over would be too over whelming for her. When my mom was making the corn, neither of them could remember the recipe and I had to look it up. It's hard knowing that I'm making my last memories with her.

My parents have been having trouble. They almost got a divorce this year. My dad moved out sometime last winter. (He bought a house for his secretary. He is not having an affair but it doesn't look that way.)  Also, he made a mistake on his taxes and the IRS has been threatening to seize the house I grew up in to make up for the unpaid taxes. My parents are doing a lot better than they were when I was home over the summer but I am not sure if my dad has moved back home yet. (He fired his secretary since it turned out she was stealing from him.) But, because my mom thought they would divorce and the house would be sold (or in the alternative seized by the IRS) she emptied it. She's taken most of the pictures off the wall. She packed up most of my childhood knickknacks that decorated my bedroom. For some reason she replaced my bed with a new one. It is bigger but there is no place for me to put my glasses at night. I have a very hard time with change.

Also, the internet at my parents' house is horrible! Which only compounds my misery.

So, though the holidays are usually happy. Sometimes they are very hard for people. I hope that everyone who reads will have some compassion for those of us who get anxious at times around the holidays since that's when we might have to remember the less than joyous things that have happened in our lives.

How were your holidays? What does your family eat for Thanksgiving? (My favorite thing is the jello salad my Aunt makes.) If you celebrate Hanukkah did your family do anything different for Thanksgiving this year because the holidays overlapped?


  1. I'm so glad that you were able to get back home to visit for Thanksgiving. The holidays are always fully of mixed emotions, aren't they? I'm sorry to hear that your parents have been through a rough patch, but I really hope that things will get better soon.

    Regarding the house thing...it's tough to be right out of law school. I promise that things will get better. But it's terrible when you first get out because everyone just assumes that you're making tons of money when in fact you're struggling to pay down your student loans. In my late 20s, I felt like I was so behind my college friends. So, giant hugs to you, but hang in there and continue working hard! It will pay off eventually.

  2. It look like you had a great Thanksgiving! I had to fly through OHare and it was a nightmare! I almost missed my connection and literally was sprinting from one terminal to the other.

    Regarding the house thing. I had to save for three years before I could get a house. I was literally working and trying to save every penny I could while paying down debt. Hang in there, it will come!

    1. O'Hare is never a problem for me since it's Home! I've never had a "connecting" flight going through there.

      Right now it just looks like we won't be able to make a mortgage payment that's much more than our rent, even after Mr. H's student loans are forgive (yeah for teaching math in a rural area). So we can't really afford more than $90,000 of house. There aren't many houses selling for that little in Southern Maine.

  3. I have never had corn pudding before, but I have heard that it is delicious (and that it takes forever to make!). My grandmother is in a similar situation. Things just aren't as they use to be. I hope that things start to go more smoothly for you and your family over the next few months. Seems like it might be a tough road ahead, but hopefully it will all work out in the end. Good luck!

    jess | Quaintrelle

    1. Corn pudding is delicious and pretty easy. You just mix cracker crumbs, milk, butter, and canned creamed corn together and bake.

      I expect that I'll be able to make a few more good memories with my grandma before her time comes. So I am thankful for that.


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