thankful

I know it’s late for a thanksgiving post.  A week late, to be exact.  But I’m still feeling pretty thankful for the wonderful holiday we enjoyed together last Sunday.

Last year the farm was new to us, but even then I knew this place was designed for celebrating Thanksgiving.  Since we’re in Canada, we do Thanksgiving the second week of October- so most years it’s incredibly beautiful outside.  The leaves are changing and it’s the perfect amount of crisp outside.  Plus, I believe that Thanksgiving is far superior to Christmas.  Think about it – family and fun, but no gifts to fret over, buy and wrap.  Great food, no pressure or fatigue from baking 15 dozen cookies.

I pitched hosting our extended family up here last year but couldn’t sell the idea.  This year I began my campaign earlier.  Immediately after last Thanksgiving, in fact.  I figured that I had better make the day something special if I wanted to drag all of those people to the farm, and then get them to come back each year.  So was born the Northbrook Farm Olympics.

We were 17 people in all this year, with a special guest appearance by Howard and Val, my dad’s oldest friends, visiting North America from their native Australia.  Our crew ranged from 2 years old to nearly 70.  The weather cooperated well.  I had thought at one point that I could set up lunch outside if it were warm enough, and it often is on Thanksgiving, but not this year.  However, it was dry and cool, with the leaves putting on a spectacular show.

We raced, pulled muscles, competed in trivia and paper airplane throwing, and finished off with a soccer game on the front lawn.  The teams were a little uneven and may require some adjustment next year, but no one really minded what the final score was.  This year’s spot on the trophy went to the Wild Turkeys, with a triumphant comeback by the Roos expected next year!

What really delighted me about the whole thing was that it had occurred to me that we had never really played together as a family before.  Here’s the abridged back story: After a lot of years of not getting along very well, about 10 years ago we all pulled it together and started really enjoying each other.  Since then, we’ve had tons of meals together, shared life cycle celebrations and cousin sleepovers, but we’ve never gotten up from the table and done anything together.  I’m not suggesting that we’ll all be taking weekly Zumba classes together going forward or anything, but it’s satisfying to think that once a year we can shake it up a little and have some fun outdoors.

The drawback of all the pre-lunch fun was that I wasn’t all that focused on the food.  I overcooked the turkey.  I was underwhelmed by the whole brine thing – but since so many people swear by it I’ll try it again.  The turkey was fine, I didn’t suck every ounce of moisture out of it in the overcooking, but I didn’t do it any favours either.  Also on deck were sweet potato soup, my favourite make-ahead mashed potatoes, roasted rainbow carrots from the garden and green beans sauteed in garlic.  The Master Gardener came to the rescue with stuffing, perfect pumpkin pie and berry crumble. My sisters in law brought veggies and salad, and a friend brought more stuffing, since there is never, ever enough.  Magically, 17 people fit in the dining room, and we fulfilled the worldwide Thanksgiving tradition of eating far too much.

I’m pretty sure it was the best Thanksgiving ever.  As a family, we created a new tradition, which always takes an open heart and a decent amount of work.  It was worth it.  I can’t wait for next year.

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