Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my dad's favorite holiday.  Every year he proclaims how awesome it is that there is a holiday solely devoted to food and family.  The point is to eat a lot of food with the ones we love (or the ones we put up with, if that's the case, but I hope it's the ones you love!), and a ton of other traditions incorporated in there too.  Some people have a flag football game, some watch the parade, or football all day. Most of my family's traditions involve the food we make.  But we always like to get our workout in for the day, so family holidays mean a workout buddy!  Thanksgiving Day we didn't get as coordinated, but the day after my Dad, Becky and I all rode our bikes to the hardware store to pick up some paint my dad needed.  Woo!  This was the extent of our Black Friday shopping.  I even managed to run 5.25 miles on Thanksgiving day, so I didn't feel super guilty eating so much food :-)  Still got super stuffed though...  Mission accomplished!

This year, we headed to VA to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Though we have some uncles, aunts and cousins in the area that we visited with, our dinner was just the immediate family this year.  And my mom sent around an email asking all of us what our favorites from Thanksgiving dinner are, so that she could make sure she got the ingredients.  Unfortunately, none of our favorites overlapped, so for 5 people, we had 10 requests, not including the turkey and a couple other staples (none of us really requested a green veggie, so we added to the list).  But, we're all definitely capable in the kitchen, so we tried to help Mom out, but she's just so efficient that she still did most of the work ahead of time and in the morning while we went on runs.  Thank you, Mom :-)

Let me back-track a hot second.  Wednesday night, before Thanksgiving, we drove over to my grandparents place (the original house that got us all hooked on the Northern Neck of VA) to see some changes.  Mostly the large tree that dominated the front yard of the house was dying and seriously close to falling on the house.  So my uncle and cousin cut it down.  It makes the yard look so different, but the inside view towards the water now is beautiful!  So Becky and I pretended to be trees (blurry trees) and Matt rocked back and forth on one of the pieces.
Becky at the end of the pier.
And then we went for a walk to the Marina and back, about 2 miles-ish?  And the sky did amazing things.  I kept stopping, taking pictures, then running to catch up with the fam.  Here is a long-shot of the sky:
Then a couple close-ups and I can't decide which ones I like best.  Silhouetted trees, piers and boats, crazy beautiful colors in the sunset, water reflections...  I was in photographer heaven.  These are all untouched too, so nature took over and I simply can't compete with the beauty.
I was running to catch up with the fam and saw more reflections in the standing water along the road.  Normally standing water is not a cause for documentation, but again, the sky was just making everything look so cool!
Dad had stayed behind with me (I guess it was dark, so it was smart to not be off on my own), and we were trying to figure out how far ahead Matt, Mom and Becky were at this point.  Then I caught a glimpse of red jacket, well, more like "that area up there doesn't look quite as dark as the things around it" and I realized they were hiding in plain site.  So I told them to stand extra still and I could capture their hiding place (shutter speed was 1.3 seconds to be able to see them somewhat):
 Then as we got closer to the Marina, I had even more things to photograph!  Sailboats that have been winterized and are out of the water being silhouetted:
Another boat out of the water for the winter:
Something about this picture just feels small town, not eerie to me.  Love this one:
Once we got back home and ate some dinner, I went back outside and got the requisite pictures including the stars.  I love how many stars you can always see down there, not a lot of light pollution.
Then the next day, the cooking and feasting began.  Like I said before, Mom was super on top of things and had everything bought the weekend before, had prepped a couple of the dishes, and generally had us schooled in making Thanksgiving dinner.  But Becky and I helped wherever possible!

Here is a joke gift my parents were given years ago.  A wooden lollipop holder turkey.  Yep.  Glorious, right?  Well, what started as a joke has become a holiday tradition, and is often part of the centerpiece for the meal.  My dad even drilled larger holes for the lollipops once tootsie-pops became part of the mix and had larger sticks than the older dum-dums.  Like for real, we use this thing every year.
 Potatoes baked and ready to become twice-baked potatoes!
Green beans and mushrooms ready to be sliced up to become a better version of green bean casserole.  This version wouldn't end up mush.
Mom making the Mushroom and Artichoke Quiche that Matt loves (with a vegetarian in the family, we have some different side dishes that are much more like main courses)
Stuffing and cranberry sauce already ready, and the turkey in it's brine.  This was the best turkey we have ever had.  Dad was in charge of it, woke up at 5am worried about the timing of cooking it, so was googling things and read that the best way to get a moist turkey was to brine it for 1 hour per pound.  Well, with an 8lb turkey breast that meant he needed to start right then!  So at 5am, his turkey cooking started, lol
 Cranberry and almond pie and it's cool-whip already baked as well.
 Becky setting the table
Cinnamon, brown sugar, and maple syrup- ready to top the diced up sweet potatoes I had prepared (this gave everyone the opportunity to control the sweetness, especially since I just planned on adding a little salt to the sweet potatoes and not adding any other stuff!)

Sliced mushrooms ready for the new version of green bean casserole we were trying!
 Green beans sliced up ready to be blanched.
 The perfectly cooked turkey, courtesy of Dad's research.  He did this on the grill so that we could use the oven for all the sides!
Sweet potatoes and fixin's, twice baked potatoes.
Broccoli-vermicelli casserole, and the mushroom and artichoke quiche from before.
The amazing turkey
Cresent rolls and the green bean casserole- again with the ability to add as much fried onions on top as you wanted.
Stuffing and horseradish carrots.  I did not have either of these, but I heard good things :-)
Table before we covered it in food
My overflowing plate of food!  Had to move my rolls off to the side...
After finishing such a wonderful dinner, we all went for a walk.  We love taking walks at sunset!
 Sisters about to go on a walk.
 Matt climbing a tree at the beginning of the walk.
 End of the road looking onto the water- Matt, Becky, Dad, and Mom
Siblings doing silly poses- Becky in side plank, me in somewhat tree position, and Matt truly in tree position since that was a downed branch he was standing upright and posing with.
And one more sunset to ooh and aah over :-)
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well!

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