My Family

A Back-look at Thanksgiving

Whoa! I became so busy and so involved with other people and so happy! about everything that I have not posted  for days. Here goes the catch-up.


Andrew had said they would be up on either Tuesday or Wednesday and when Jerry called him a couple of times, only to get his voicemail, and we heard nothing back, I figured they weren’t coming until Wednesday. I had done major shopping on Friday: It took going to three stores to get everything I needed; Costco, WalMart, and Stater’s (a local grocery chain.) Our checking account took a drastic nosedive, but by Friday evening, our larder had been well stocked. We were set. I had done lots of prep–cornbread for the dressing cooked and frozen, giblets cooked and chopped, squash and apple casserole prepared and frozen, cranberries cooked, pumpkin roll baked and frozen, a couple of pie crusts prepared and in the freezer, two bags of cut and seasoned apples from our tree ready to be plopped into a crust, and a couple of loaves of banana bread also in the freezer. The house had been cleaned (again!), and all the silver polished. In a plastic cooking bag, Tom Turkey was wallowing in his briny solution inside a white ice chest out on our back deck. Extra milk and juice were also out there, and it stayed so cold, we began referring to the deck as our walk-in cooler.

I was in the kitchen cleaning up from our lunch when Jerry said, “Andrew’s here.” And so he was…and so began the party. Andrew and Shawnna and their five beautiful youngsters stormed up the stairs, hugging and kissing and shivering. “It’s cold, Granny.” Andrew had brought a trailer full of wood and rather soon the men and boys were unloading and stacking more than a cord of wood, and shortly after that the fireplace was roaring.

Friendly scold to Andrew from Mom: “You didn’t let me know you were coming today, so I don’t have a big meal prepared.” I had given some thought, though, to the need for an extra dinner and we whipped up choriso, eggs, heated up some pinto beans I had cooked the day before, and slapped flour tortillas onto a hot black skillet. Pretty yummy.

In our upstairs area, there is a big closet off the balcony that contains plastic tubs of Legos and other building materials for the youngsters. It also houses stacks of quilts, blankets, inflatable mattresses, mattress pads, sheets and pillows. When we have lots of family visiting, from this closet, the visiting mamas and the children select their bedding material, after which they search for the most appealing floor area, and there plop down their bed. Couches throughout the house are fair game for sleeping places, too, but the youngsters understand the adults have first dibs on beds and couches.


Shawnna and Chloe drove down the hill for some shopping, bringing back Nathaniel and Wes Girt, a young man who attended our Christian school when we pastored in Rialto. We had been communicating with him over the phone and the internet, but this was the first time we had seen him in probably 15 years. Amazing. He is no longer a slight, sweet (and a bit rambunctious) youngster, but was a broad, burley, grown-up with great principles and passion. We had a tremendous visit with him. He brought gifts, his old school jacket, and we laughed together over the yearbooks he lugged in.

Early in the morning I had placed a boneless pork loin roast in a slow cooker, I had snapped and cooked fresh green beans,¬† Shawnna had peeled potatoes to cook with the beans, I had made a great salad, and we had begun bringing out the desserts. Then came the mess, Rebecca arriving right in the middle of it. Mess? Yep, a mess, for suddenly as I turned on the garbage disposal, all it did was whirl about. Nothing would go down. Jerry plunged. Andrew plunged. I fummed. Nothing. Remember, tomorrow would be Thanksgiving, and remember we have many people to feed tonight, including Wes. Finally we determined it was the garbage disposal, after Andrew had turned it on again, and it sounded like clanging metal. Jerry called Ace Hardware, and yes, they had a unit that would work, and they were open until 7:00. Dinner was now on hold. Andrew’s head was under the sink, all the cleaning supplies were spread out on the floor, our sweet guest Wes was now in the kitchen, when suddenly water began pouring all over. I ran to the laundry area and came back with a purple bucket, and now the disposal wouldn’t turn off. The switch did nothing. Andrew pulled out the power cord. Cut to the chase…After Andrew disconnected the pipe under the sink, he began removing rocks and more rocks. We’ll never know exactly, but utility workers had been active out on the street, and Wes conjectured that somehow rocks had got in the pipes and come into our water supply. We all pitched in to clean everything up, the water was draining properly, but now the garbage disposal wouldn’t turn on, even though it had again been connected to power. “Oh, well,” I said. “As long as the sink is draining we can get by.” Strange thing; I believe it was after dinner that someone flipped the switch, and the garbage disposal hummed right along, doing its job perfectly. Hasn’t missed a lick since.

Sometime in the late morning we had received a call from Chris and Joel, our grandsons who live in Carson City, Nevada, and who had planned to be with us for Thanksgiving. Between them they have five children. A fierce storm had blown in, it was 1 below zero, and they would have to drive nearly 200 miles with chains on to get here for Thanksgiving. It would just be too much, so they weren’t able to make it.


It was a wonderful day. In the late morning Andrew, Shawnna, their boys and Nathaniel went for a hike in the woods, and around 4:00 we ate dinner. As has become a tradition, Chloe prepared the mashed potatoes, all the way from the peeling, to mounding them into the bowl, and with a bit of help, Gentry made the yeast rolls. I gave Brady a hand at preparing a delicious coconut-cream pie. He was so proud. Rebecca had brought two pumpkin pies, and now finished up a cherry pie. Included in our 2010 Thanksgiving dinner was a smoked brisket, whisked all the way down from Branks BBQ in Sumner, Washington.

In the evening we played Balderdash, our favorite family game…and then enough time had passed so that we could eat another smidgen of dressing and gravy and pumpkin pie and a heated yeast roll and our incredible cranberry salad.


Andrew, Shawnna, Chloe, Rebecca and Nathaniel trekked down to indulge in Black Friday activities. I dug into the Christmas decorations closet, and Ella and I draped and swatched and wrapped the house in Christmas. By the time everyone returned, Santa was dancing and singing, the shepherds were watching, and snowmen were grinning. Ella loved this. As soon as she would find a place for one thing, she would rush back to the closet for more. At one point, she rounded up several things, and wrapped them in a blanket, carrying them about as a doll.

Somewhere in all this there arose a few checker games. Cole is the acclaimed family champion–poses a challenge to almost any adult.

I’ll close this Thanksgiving ramble with showing Chloe and Pappy engaging in Tinkertoy construction. She is three years old. Her pappy is nearly eighty.

More pictures at my Flickr account.

Rebecca, Nathaniel and Andrew’s Chloe left on Friday. On Sunday afternoon Andrew and his family packed their things, thanked us, kissed us, and hugged us…and then they were gone. Quiet now. Stone quiet. Too quiet.


I have important things to say about families and holidays that I had planned to include here, but this has gone on long enough. I’ll write my heart tomorrow.

(Shawnna is the one who took this delightful picture of Ella-Claire and Pappy.)

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That’s Not Balderdash

Jerry, bless his heart, sat in the living room, at various times through the evening reading the newspaper, studying the Bible, and playing with the grandkids, while we heathen people circled the table in the dining room roaring with such laughter that sometimes speech was impossible and warm tears were loosed. Balderdash was the culprit, surely the most uproarious game ever invented. Jerry, poor thing, is just not into games that much, somehow missing the crucial gene that sets the body to a quiver as someone calls, “Who’s up for a game of Balderdash or a round of Rook?”

“Guess what time I came to bed,” I said to Jerry this morning.

“It was two or three o’clock, Shirley. I know for I was still awake.”

“It was not! It was only 1:30.”

“Well, I couldn’t sleep. Every time I dozed off, your yelping would wake me up.”

“Sorry…” I weakly apologized. For from such a pure and righteous heart as mine, how could I spit out a sincere sorry for having so much fun on a Thanksgiving evening with my grown children as we circled a table, some so overtaken with glee as to fall from their chairs to the floor, the hours punctuated by nibbles of ham sandwiches, pumpkin pie, and buttered yeast rolls.

A couple of years ago, I wrote of our playing the game Balderdash, that I didn’t have a set of my own, and that I was hoping Santa would deliver on my wish. He did, and since we’ve been home in Crestline this week, I have staggered to bed past the 12:00 witching hour three nights in a row, having engaged in hilarious rounds of this wonderful game.

Unique joy and silvered memories are inextricably linked to family holiday games, where for the day or the evening are laid aside mundane chores, wearisome work schedules, seemingly unsolvable problems, and in their places are set laughter and hope and love.

That’s not balderdash!