When preparing to write this blog post, all I could think of was the quote from a Tale of Two Cities “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.  This was a Thanksgiving full of firsts and lasts… new people, and old traditions. It was clear that this Thanksgiving was going to be different from the start – from the moment that Dad woke me up at 7:30 Thanksgiving morning with the words “Mom just tripped over a fishbowl in the garage and broke her foot”. I was sure he was joking as I slowly gained consciousness. “No, really”. He said.  As his face came into focus, I recognized the nerve pulsing in his forehead (the same one that appeared in Colorado when we were “not a group”) (sorry if you didn’t understand that last reference – sometimes, it just pays to be a part of this family).  (now, back to the story) I pulled on a sweatshirt and followed him downstairs, grabbing a notebook and pen on my way -> mom was in the van, foot in a boot and setting on the dashboard in a very unhealthy-looking position.  Between winces of pain, she gave me a quick rundown of what needed to happen for our Thanksgiving, both brunch and dinner.  I wrote as feverishly and quickly as possible before Dad started the van and started out for the hospital.

Deep breath.

Within an hour, the rest of our family had arrived, and I scrambled to prepare brunch for 26 people. I had never been so thankful for my dear sisters and my mother (who had prepared a lot in advance) until then.  All 15 of the grandchildren (plus 5 spouses and 1 fiancée) made an appearance (for which we were all exceedingly thankful)

Brunch turned into turkey preparation as the family laughed and talked in the dining room – not just one turkey, two turkeys.  Yes – I can now bake a turkey. I’m putting it on my resume.  Yes – I basted it every half hour, and yes, it was very moist. Score.  A phone call from dad revealed that mom’s foot was broken in three places and her ankle had been dislocated.  Poor mom.

Thanksgiving dinner (though stressful and probably shortened my life by about 6 months) turned out very well.  Mom was home in time, Uncle Randy cut the birds, and we only forgot to put out the $2 jello and cranberry sauce. As always, the Turkey cookies were a big hit, as was the gift exchange and the many puzzles that were rapidly assembled and disassembled. The family singalong to “Night Before Christmas” was fabulous (yes, mom (broken foot and all) played the piano), and then the “real” singers serenaded us with an hour of Christmas carols (in almost perfect harmony, accompanied by Grammy’s fancy fingers tickling the ivories).

In case you were about to ask – NO. We did not kill a pig (unlike the past few years).  The men (and a few of the ladies) did shoot 500 clay pigeons out of the sky with all of the guns we could get our hands on.  More shooting, less blood… very much a good idea. (However, I hear we will probably be killing a pig next year, if you were wondering. Thanksgiving just isn’t the same without fresh bacon smoking in the back yard and a fresh pig skin sitting in the driveway).

Black Friday shopping has always been quite the event, here at the Carter Thanksgiving Celebration – but this year, it was remembered by only a hand full of the most dedicated shoppers. (I’m not ashamed to admit: I slept in. Until 8.) They did score some pretty good deals, though.

A freezing plunge into the lake by those most crazy out of our group (yes, I did attend this) was followed by a nice long soak in the hot tub (beautiful).  I do believe this will be a new tradition. We hammered on the peppermint pig (yes, it is actually a pig made out of peppermint) as we voiced some of the many things that we are thankful for (both as a family, and as individuals).

Most of the family left by 1 this afternoon, and then we cleaned for about an hour before collapsing in an exhausted heap of Chase bodies in the living room, as Dad read “Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent” to us aloud (complete with a lisp, of course).

Thanks, Lord, for family (both new in-laws, and those who have been around as long as I have), for turkey, for a warm house, for bones that heal, and for Thyrus the Thea Therpent.