I promised my own thankful post would be forthcoming. So before we get too far into the advent season, I thought I'd reflect (as I did last year) on our thanksgiving trip and all the blessings we encountered during it.
First was simply the blessing of being able to go. Given how little we have been able to travel in recent years, that was no small thing. Being able to afford the trip and to get the time off from various jobs (D's heavy workload in two places makes this especially tricky) was a blessing all by itself. Because we work part-time and via self-employment, we've had no "paid vacation" in years. Any days off, we really feel like we have to earn, usually by finessing schedules and working more hours before and after to be able to do it. Everything coming together the way it did was a gift.
We left later than we intended on the day we headed down to Virginia. I'm thankful we were able to simply relax about that and not "stress" that we couldn't get there faster. In fact, we relaxed a bit more than usual, stopping several times...once at our favorite rest stop (where there are lots of trees and hills and a place for the sweet girl to run around). It was heading toward twilight by the time we got there, and I got a lovely shot of the moon right on the cusp of evening, looking so beautiful with the darkening sky and the bare almost-winter branches next to it.
Our time in Virginia was precious. I missed all of my siblings something fierce this year, but it was also wonderful for the sweet girl to get so much grandparent time. At my parents' (where we spent thanksgiving day - Saturday morning) she had a lot of fun making pumpkin bread with Grandma Eva. Watching them measure the spices and stir up the batter was a delight and brought back some wonderful kitchen memories with my Mom. And speaking of the kitchen, my parents have been re-doing their kitchen, completely on their own. I wanted to post a photo, but for some reason blogger is not allowing me a second one in this post. Hmm.
Anyway, the leaves in Richmond were beautiful, colorful and around their peak. My Dad apologized because a strong wind the day before had brought down scads of yellow maple leaves all over the yard, but we loved it. I especially loved it because those are "my maples" -- the trees I spent hours of my childhood climbing.
Thanksgiving dinner was delicious, with Mom out-doing herself as usual. She was scandalized by my Dad's suggestion that since there were so few of us this year (just the five of us) that she not make sweet potatoes, since mashed potatoes would suffice. I'm relieved she didn't give into the one-potato pressure. :-) I love Mom's sweet potato casserole made with pineapple!
The sweet girl ate fairly well at thanksgiving dinner. When it was all over, we asked her what her favorite food had been. "The pickles," she said promptly. A girl after my own heart.
Time at Grandma Ona's from Saturday-Monday morning was also good. We had planned to spend as much as Sunday as we could, following church, in Washington D.C., so that necessitated our finding a slightly earlier church service. We visited the Falls Church for the first time ever and were blessed to hear Bishop Martyn Minns preach and celebrate. It's a huge building (and we were in only one of their sancutaries, the "main" one, not the "historic" one) and we arrived about four minutes late. The friendly ushers put us on the second row which had me in a slight tizzy for the first half hour, as I waited for the sweet girl to squirm, fuss or otherwise disobey in front of this large and strange congregation. I knew she wasn't feeling entirely comfortable (nor was I) given how much larger and "grander" looking the place was than our tiny basement sanctuary. But I think the beauty of the place and the majesty of the organ overwhelmed her into almost-silence. It was also her first time using a kneeler to pray during a church service, and I was amazed at how quickly she caught on (with no coaching from either of us). When we got back from the communion rail, she actually dropped to her knees again without any prompting (and most people in the congregation weren't even doing that). I felt very tender watching that little curved back and bowed head.
We had perfect fall weather, crisp, clear and colorful, for our day-long trek into D.C. It was S' first trip on the Metro and she loved it, holding her doll Jane up to the window so she could look out. D's Aunt Cindy came with us and was a trooper to traipse all over creation and back (well okay, just to the Lincoln Monument and back, but it was a LOT of walking). Besides the Lincoln, we spent time at the WWII Memorial (a first for us, and very meaningful since Cindy's Dad/Dana's Granddad fought with Patton). We also got time at the Museum of Natural History and the National Gallery.
We love the National Gallery. Once upon a time, when we lived closer to D.C. and visited it more often, we knew it well. We were slightly disoriented this time both because it had been so long since we'd been there, and because they are undergoing some major renovations and had moved part of the collection. Thankfully, we found D's favorite Thomas Cole paintings! I loved watching him hold S. right up to each one and talk to her about the pictures as they progressed through all four. And I loved the way his face lit up when her own little face, piqued with interest, lit up too, and she asked "Can we go back and look at the first one?"
S. loved spending time with Grandma Ona, of course. The two of them did a little dancing and a lot of chatting and hugging. I think S. is already counting the days till Christmas when we hope, Lord willing, to be going back.
This feels like a whirlwind version, but at least it gives you a glimpse of all we had to be thankful for. Safe travels, beautiful weather, loving times with parents/grandparents. Another thanksgiving I will treasure long in my memory!