The holidays are officially here. I spent yesterday putting up the tree, realizing we've misplaced all our ornaments, making origami paper cranes from old Anthropologie catalogs to fill the branches with instead, baking french and zucchini breads, shelling pecans that we brought back home from the Carolinas, listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas Story, drinking hot chocolate, and jogging in the humidity-free crisp air.
We just got back home from spending Thanksgiving with my family in North and South Carolina...each year there is a big family reunion during this week, and it's been three years since we've been back. The last time was the year before we moved to Italy, and even though it doesn't feel like so long ago, it was great to see dozens of my extended family members again.
It's always like stepping through a time (and culture) warp when we head up there, and in many ways, a great way to get away from the day-to-day. Plus, as I've gotten older I've grown more interested in my heritage and learning about my family's past. Last time we were up there we went to one of my family's gravesite plots dating from the Revolutionary War with some of the the first family members who came from France. This time, my dad took us to another small gravesite in a section of forest which has some of the first settlers from another branch of my family. There was even a plaque stone with the inscription that this block of land was granted and conveyed to that English side of the family by King George III in 1767. One of my great aunts is full of stories and knowledge of my genealogy and I hope to learn more from her when I'm up there again.
With the Thanksgiving festivities always comes lots of traditions, lots of food, and lots of people...and this year was no different, as we had about 80 people there for lunch and several more people showed up for the BBQ the next day. Some of the fun included: barn exploring, saw-mill walking, kitten finding, piano and guitar and fiddle playing, bluegrass singing, pecan gathering, fire pit warming, rocking chair napping, stew stirring, pork roasting, turkey frying, horse riding, frisbee throwing, collards and turnips and field peas and macaroni and sweet potato and coconut cake and brownie and pumpkin pie eating.
Now it's on to a few more interim weeks of normal days mixed with a seasoning of Sufjan and Nat singing songs in my ear, holiday cookies baking in the oven, and Charlie Brown dancing around a stick, before heading north once again for more family and Christmas!