Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving, Roswell style

Every Thanksgiving growing up my family would drive this long road to Roswell, NM, home to my grandparents, and the town where my dad was raised.

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In the younger years, we would spend the 8 to 12 to 15 hour car ride taking bathroom breaks beside the road and waiting for our next "hourly treat". These included listening to tapes (Adventures in Odyssey, GT and the Halo Express, Peter Lowe, or Zig Ziglar), watching movies, reading, stopping for DQ Blizzards, and eating beef jerky and corn nuts- much to my Mom's dismay.

I have great memories of the car rides. Yes, there was always plenty of arguing about who had to sit in the back with Valentine (poor Julie), who's feet were in who's way, and the junior high pouting because Dad wouldn't let us keep our headphones on for the entire time as we would have preferred so that we might engage in family conversation.

But even those arguing memories are good memories in a way... all part of being a family.
We would also laugh... a LOT. And I have more memories of that.

Valentine would jump out at every stop and run through the open fields. I know she loved her home in Richardson, but I think Roswell trips were her paradise.

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It was usually midnight when we arrived in Roswell, because let's face it- the Hennighausen's prefer to show up fashionably late. We would drive between the two huge hills that looked down over the little town, bright with the nighttime lights, and we would get SO excited.

Thanksgiving week in Roswell has been very much delightfully the same since we were little... relaxing, eating tons of food, sitting in the outdoor hot tub, star gazing, bike riding, going to the zoo, doing a little Christmas shopping at the one town mall, drinking hot chocolate down town, hitting up all three of the antique stores, and playing on the computer.

Roswell days begin waking to the smell of sausage and eggs and cheese grits. Granddad and my Dad make the BEST breakfasts!
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In the evenings we all gather around the table for delicious homemade meals and usually linger there a couple hours playing Password or 20 Questions. And of course there is always dessert.

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After dinner we like to catch a glimpse out the kitchen window of the sunset over the wide open field, and then we all sit around in the living room. When we were little we would do talent shows for my grandparents. How my parents actually got me to play the recorder, clarinet, and preform dances and songs for my grandparents, I will never know. I'm embarrassed just thinking about it!

And often times we watch old black and white movies. Nana has probably hundreds of them on VHS that she has taped over the years and we are always up for an old Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, or Judy Garland.

One of my favorite things to do is sit and listen to old stories my grandparents tell about their childhood and early marriage.

Thanksgiving is always a special week there because we celebrate Christmas with that side of the family as well. So the old- timey holiday tunes are always on and we spend one afternoon/ evening exchanging gifts.

But the Thanksgiving dinner is always one of the high points of the week. I'm sure it's similar to many family's Thanksgivings... the typical dishes (don't most people have pickled watermelon rinds?), everyone around the table sharing what they are thankful for, and absolutely stuffed bellies. One difference from other families may be that all the men wear Bolo ties.
I don't know why... they just do. (however, apparently two years ago when this was taken Granddad deviated and wore a bow tie!)
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And after dinner we have the annual family picture.
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And a silly one of course.
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Oh, so many precious memories! I am so grateful to my parents and grandparents for putting forth such effort all these years to create a safe, fun, and loving space for us.

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I am certainly sad not to be in Roswell this year. Only a small part of the family was able to make it. To me, Thanksgiving will partly always be Roswell with Nana and Granddad, my aunt and uncle, cousins, mom and dad, and sisters.

Times of course do change though and there will be new traditions made. I am exceedingly grateful for the amazing Thanksgiving memories I have there, and plan on carrying many of the same traditions on in our own family.

But I am still really holding out for another Roswell Thanksgiving sometime in the next year or two!

So Happy Thanksgiving to Granddad, Nana, Aunt Anne, Uncle Jerry, Austin, Amy, Spencer, Andy, Dad, Mom, Anne, and Julie.

Happy Thanksgiving to my most amazing husband, and our little baby who will be with us next year.

And Happy Thanksgiving to all of our other wonderful family and friends.

Though it may sound cliche, I am so very thankful for you all!

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