We’re lucky to be able to get away for the Thanksgiving holiday, retreating to my late father’s house in East Texas. It’s right on the edge of the Davy Crockett National Forest, and, surrounded by tall pines, it feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere. (We typically only see these giant trees when around here, so Rory calls them “family trees,” as he knows their presence means we are close to our home away from home, Grandpa’s house.)

In recent years, we’ve come here for Thanksgiving and often around Christmas, too, when the boys love to see their cousins. I used to hate cooking here, but, over time, we’ve been able to put together enough equipment, and perhaps I’ve become more accustomed to it. (A meat thermometer would be nice, though, I must say.) It helps that I’m only cooking for our own little family, even if the number of dishes and quantity of food is much more than would feed us — at least for a single meal.

That puts this whole endeavor more in the category of recreational cooking, and I don’t feel the pressure to make everything perfectly presented, nor do I bother with making it all come out at the same time. It’s actually quite relaxing, especially when I’ve got the music playing and the doors wide open (it’s not all that cold here). When we checked the forecast before leaving, Alexa told us we were in for steady rain for the entire visit, but so far it’s been sunny and nice.

I do miss my family and good friends on days like this. I’ve got a lot of memories of holidays in this house with my Dad and family members that are no longer with us — notably, my cousin Philip and his wife, Doris. And, of course, I think of my Mom and all the cooking I did with her for family get-togethers over the years. (This year, I’ve made her Pumpkin Cheesecake.)

I also hosted two campouts for the Hash House Harriers here — the Space City and the OTR Texas Interhash — before the house was built. So, often when I’m up here, I think about scouting trail (and getting lost scouting trail), as well as about running in the woods and having lots of fun.

But this Thanksgiving, someday, will be a memory, as well, of a time when my boys were 7 and 10 and fought constantly. Yet, when they managed to play together, it was beautiful and delightful.

On the way here, the boys dozed now and then, but, between naps, we listened to an audiobook in the truck — the first book from the The 39 Clues series. It’s the most effective way we’ve found to keep the road-trip chaos to a minimum. Shorty sat on my lap nearly the whole ride, and Michael did the driving via a completely novel route recommended by Google Maps as a way to avoid holiday traffic and accidents.

Well, better get back to cooking and relaxing. Here’s how things were looking a few minutes ago:

The turkey


The beginnings of the dressing.


Pumpkin Cheesecake, My Mom’s recipe

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, wherever you may be!


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