Friday, November 28, 2008

San Antonio Thanksgiving

I put Jessica on a plane this morning. We had a perfect holiday...just the three of us, no schedule, doing what moved us.

I spent the rest of my morning doing some internet Christmas shopping. We made modest purchases for the young people in our lives. Other than that, we will be honoring our far away family and friends with a donation to the Fisher House, homes built adjacent to military hospitals similar to the concept of the Ronald McDonald House. Last year, I put together pasta dinners and hummus appetizers for our local friends. I will likely do something like that again.

Jessica arrived Monday, and even though we had just a few plans, the short visit was a whirlwind. We had homemade meatloaf and spinach salad. On Tuesday, she and Doug picked me up from my studio and we headed down to the Riverwalk. We had dinner at Acenar. They have fresh lime margaritas and guacamole made table side. After dinner, we enjoyed a stroll along the Riverwalk, which has a lighting ceremony and carolers floating down the river starting this weekend. Definitely gets you in the holiday spirit.

Wednesday was more homework for Jessica and grocery shopping for Doug and me. We treated Doug to the action adventure, Transporter 3. It was such a challenge to have to sit through Jason Stratham without his shirt on. Dinner was at home, homemade potato soup and salad.

Thursday found us pretty proud of ourselves. Jessica recommended we only cook a turkey breast to cut down on the prep and cooking time. And the rest of our menu was minimal. It was also her idea to go to the movies before dinner, when we usually go after along with the rest of San Antonio. We had a hearty breakfast of a sausage strata and sweet potato biscuits and watch the Macy's parade. We went to a noon viewing of Four Christmases. We enjoyed belly laughs while we watched the painful, dysfunctional relationships on screen. Upon returning home, I cut a basket full of rosemary from the backyard and stuffed it, stem and all, under the turkey's skin with whole garlic cloves. We roasted the breast (and a few legs), made broccoli gratin, stuffing and a pumpkin gooey butter cake. Before dinner, it was Pom-Cranberry Bellinis (Giada's recipe) under R Muhl's beautiful art and shared our dreams for the new year. We said a prayer of thanksgiving and remembered our soldiers. After dinner, we had the cake together in bed, watching recorded episodes of Law and Order (Jessica's all time favorite) and Criminal Minds (all our new favorite).

Doug and I spent the rest of the day quietly, just the two of us. We played a game of Scrabble and watched our lastest nexflix, Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed. We've munched on leftovers. Tommorrow, it's back to the studio (thank goodness for Pilates) for me early in the am. Doug and I are grateful to have each other's company to look forward to for the rest of the evening.

Our holiday was uncomplicated. It is so easy to be with my immediate family. There is time to be all together. There is time for us to have one on one time with each other, which everyone recognizes the need for and makes space for. It is perfectly okay for someone to retreat to their room to study or take a nap, all without any fuss. Our food preferences are similar. Our political, religious and world views are close enough make a safe atmosphere but individual enough to spark engaging conversation. There is nice balance of being at home and having experiences outside our doors.

Like in Four Christmases, it can feel necessary to have a 'holiday survival plan" when we get around all the extended family. There's something about big groups of family getting together to help one forget how to behave. People forget to keep conversation polite, mind their manners or avoid imprisoning the company of others.

In my early twenties, I happened on a tactic that has now become a tradition to give me a bit of sanity. At some point on Thanksgiving, I would retreat from the madness to my Mom's room. Eventually, the kids would come looking for me. One day, I packed them up and took them to a movie. I got to get away from it all, do something nice for the kids and enjoy a couple of hours of peace while watching movie.

I couldn't imagine a Thanksgiving holiday without that movie all these years later. In the last few years, I have adopted the 5 Hour Rule, which is to disallow being in the company of others/the group for more than five hours at a time. In the last year, it has worked out that we've seen extended family outside of the holidays and focused on ourselves and the spirit of the occasion in ways that are most meaningful to us, without familial obligations or accomodations.

I had my picture perfect Thanksgiving. I hope you all did as well.

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