Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Ghost of Thanksgiving Past

This year we decided to stay home for Thanksgiving and we had a lovely Indian feast.  Our friends/neighbors, Gita and Seth came with their girls and my sister was here, but I'll cover this year tomorrow.  Today I don't feel like uploading pictures and I still have some dishes to do so I'll share last year's Thanksgiving instead.  I never posted about Thanksgiving 2009 because we spent the week in North Carolina visiting Rob's family.  I always feel so busy when we arrive home that I don't get around to blogging about our trips.
Thanksgiving 2009 was very traditional, or at close as we get.  We stayed most of the week with Rob's cousins John and Jamie. They are so incredibly sweet and generous to open up their home to a family of five, especially when they don't have any human children (horses at their country place and dogs and the dogs had to spend most of the time outside because they don't do well with kids).  Not only did we stay several nights, but on Thanksgiving Rob's family, on his mother's side, converged on their house for lunch.  Here is a picture of some of the kids.  My kids only have one first cousin (my brother and sister don't have any children) so they adore getting together with extended family and running around with a hoard of cousins.
One of the nice things about spending Thanksgiving in North Carolina is the weather.  We had beautiful weather so the kids could spend a good portion of the day running around outside and some of us ate outside in John and Jamie's beautiful yard.  What a contrast to Thanksgiving this year in the Midwest.  It was cold and rainy and we even saw the first snow of the season.  As nice as this year's Thanksgiving was, I have to admit looking back at these pictures does make me appreciate this part of our celebration last year.
John and Jamie were gracious with their kitchen and we pretty much had the run of it to cook up our vegan fare.  Rob has been vegan over twenty years, but I fear many in his family still don't quite understand it.  We made collards and when people arrived with collards (as all good Southerns do on Thanksgiving) they questioned why we went to the trouble to make our own.  Our collards were the only ones not "seasoned" with meat, of course.
I also whipped up some Car Crash Casserole and Field Roast Sausage.  Rob's sister-in-law, Stephanie, roasted some squash which rounded everything out nicely.  The food was great and none of us went hungry.  It was hard for the kids to see a turkey being carved, but it was a good time to discuss how to respect our loved ones, even when we don't agree with certain actions.  I feel torn sometimes about how much to suppress or discourage certain questions from the kids.  Dema, especially, feels compelled to ask people about their food choices and bring up the cruelty involved in meat.  While I understand where he is coming from, I think there are times and places for such discussions and our views on the subject are not a secret.  Sigh, I'll save this for another post, but holidays with family are always bittersweet, veganism or no.
Speaking of sweet, we made two Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecakes from Fat Free Vegan and it was divine.  Sadly, pretty much no one else would try it...being a "vegan" dessert and all, but there was a brave soul or two.  More for us! Other sweet parts of our holiday included Dema on cloud nine playing cards with everyone, all the cousins running around laughing and jumping rope, Rob's uncle's wife from Russia teaching Parker new logic games, seeing the newest additions to the family so Josie and I could get our baby fix, watching The Count of Monte Cristo with Rob's nuclear family in the evening after everyone else had gone and our kids and their cousin, Lillian, sneaking down to watch long after they should have been in bed, Josie passing out from exhaustion after playing and laughing for so many hours straight, and all the adults catching up on each others lives.  It makes me miss Rob's mother, although she died from cancer in her early fifties, years before I met him.  It makes me miss Rob's grandparents, whom I did know and love, and how they hosted Thanksgiving every year before his grandmother passed away.  The family is still feeling their way through losing their matriarch, which is understandable.  It was so lovely how everyone made it a priority to get together even without the glue of the Joyce and how new traditions may be able to emerge.
On the long drive home to Illinois from North Carolina, we stopped at Stephanie's parents' cabin in the mountains.  Stephanie and Marc (Rob's brother) and their daughter Lillian are also quite accommodating and generous with their time and space.  Visiting them is always the highlight of any trip south.  The five of us crash for a couple nights at their house nearly every trip.  Stephanie's parents are so sweet to the kids and we all love visiting them.  Their getaway house in the mountains is beautiful and being from the flat Midwest, I completely understand the allure of such a place.
Since Dema was not exactly cooperating in the group picture, I snapped some of him at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.  We've found Indy is a great stop before we make the final leg of our trip and the museum lets the kids get some suppressed energy out.
All three kids love ICM and are happy to spend hours there, but while I love to have a break, I'm usually pretty spent from all the driving and living out of suitcases.  This year it was nice to stay home and cook in our own kitchen.  I would love for Rob's family to come to our place one Thanksgiving, but I know this will probably never happen.  Being the odd ones out, living out of state, the traveling is usually ours to do.  So we enjoy my family and friends when we have holidays at home.  I'll post about our 2010 Thanksgiving feast tomorrow.  I hope all of you in the US had a great Thanksgiving and some rest and relaxation.


The Fearless Freak said...

"Sadly, pretty much no one else would try it...being a "vegan" dessert and all"

I don't understand that. We aren't vegan by any means but that doesn't mean I won't try vegan items. Some of the things I've tried, I haven't been terribly fond of (I live in kind of a rigid food box, generally) but there have been several different things that I've tried that I have really liked. If you don't try it, you won't ever find anything new.

VeganLinda said...

I don't understand either, especially desserts. When I used to teach vegan cooking classes, I would bring in everyday foods for people to snack on which are just naturally vegan. It is funny how some people will avoid a pb and j if you say it is vegan even though most are and they don't even know it.