As we are moving into winter, I am finally finding time to wrap up my stories from the fall. I suppose I have already told most of them (I did leave out the apple picking excursion that Michael and I went on, but really the best story from that is the delicious apple butter and caramel apple muffins that resulted from it :]). The noteworthy fall tale that hasn’t yet been told , of course, is Thanksgiving. I’ve always gone home to Albany for Thanksgiving…so it was definitely a new experience to have my family come up to me this year. We spent Thursday with Michael and his family, then went to the other end of town and spent Friday with Chris and Julia and her family. And then, I got my family all to myself on Saturday. It was a wonderful weekend….I’m so blessed to have such incredible people in my life.
It’s rather amazing how different the three days were, however…the Fenners, the Meeks, and the Purcells are three very different families, lol. Our afternoon with the Meeks was mostly spent playing games – after eating, of course. It was a big potluck dinner – everyone was responsible for a different portion of the Thanksgiving meal. That meant that we ended with a much larger variety and quantity of food than we would have otherwise had – not that I’m complaining, mind you. My coconut pie and my mom’s chocolate pecan pie were big hits :). But anyway, as I was saying….all of the Meeks love games – as do most of the people in my family – so we were all perfectly content to play word games and strategy games and party games and….well, you get the idea.
Chris and Julia and the Purcells, however, are not game people, so that did not even factor into the equation on Friday. Mom and dad had bought Chris a turkey fryer for Christmas last year, and he’s been putting it to good use since then. He fried 3 turkeys for us for Thanksgiving – one for the Purcells, one for my parents, and one for us all to eat. We were all somewhat mesmerized by the bubbling oil and sizzling turkey skin from the fryer. After dinner, Julia’s mom took out a box full of questions. Some were silly, some were serious, some were long conversation starters and some elicited very quick responses. Cindy passed the box around the table and we all pulled out 2 slips of paper. We then took turns answering the questions that we had drawn. It was a great way to foster conversation and learn more about the people around me. I heard stories from my parents that I had never heard before, and was surprised by the depth and insight that some of my younger siblings showed in answering their questions
My day spent with just my family was marked by little in the way of specific activity except for just enjoying each other’s company. Of course that could have more to do with them being tired than us actually not wanting to do anything per se :). We did go shopping with Julia at IKEA for a little bit, which was fun. And then in the evening dad took us all to a movie together, a rare treat with our busy schedules and the rising cost of movie admissions. But mostly we just enjoyed each other, and it was so lovely. I am trying to develop my gift of hospitality, so getting to practice on my beloved family just made it all that much better. I bought a bed the week before Christmas to put in the spare room for my parents (and other guests) when they came, and put up a Christmas tree just a few days before Thanksgiving, so it was a very cozy, homey environment by the time my parents and little siblings showed up. I am blessed and grateful that I am able to offer such a comfortable, welcoming place to people to come to my home.
I’m going somewhat out of order here, but I did also want to mention the fall camping trip that I went on a few weeks ago with some friends from house church. The idea was to “camp” in my parents’ unfinished cabin in the northeast Georgia mountains – we were going to head up there after work on Friday, have a campfire dinner, and then bundle up for the evening and go on a hike the next day. But, as I’m sure you all know, life doesn’t always go according to the plan. We all left later on Friday night than we had wanted to…and then hit lots of Friday afternoon traffic…so by the time we got up to the cabin it was nearly 8:00 pm. With lots to do – we still had to start a fire, get dinner started, warm the house up, yada yada yada – I was in a hurry to get to the cabin. So we finally get there, and….my key didn’t work. It was even worse because there is no cell phone service at the cabin.
So I drove away a few miles until I could make a call, and called the only people I knew to call – my great aunt and uncle, who live about 15 minutes from the cabin. After explaining the situation, they very simply offered all of us to come stay with them for the evening. They let me and 5 of my friends whom they had never met before come stay with them at a moments’ notice…I was floored by their generosity. When one of my friends thanked them for letting us come over, Uncle Bill very simply said, “well of course. Lauren’s family.” Their simple and enduring love for me nearly brought me to tears. Although I don’t get to see them very often, it’s amazing knowing that they are always there for me if I need them. And it ended up (in my opinion, at least) working out much better than if we had stayed at the cabin. I got to see Aunt Rose and Uncle Bill some in the evening, and much more the next day – Michael and Amy and I stayed and had lunch with them while everyone else headed back to Atlanta. And I still got to go on a hike, and didn’t even have to freeze on Friday night! Now if only I can learn to actually not freak out when things don’t go according to plan…