Our holiday rotation is an "every other" one.  What I mean is that typically if we celebrate Thanksgiving with Tim's family, we celebrate Christmas with my family.  Often we've had the great fortune to celebrate with both families combined, and we don't ALWAYS stick to a rigid's pretty flexible which is very nice.  Every other year we celebrate Thanksgiving with Tim's family in a little town north of us with his mom's side of the family.  There are usually well over 100 of us, at times, upwards of 150 that gather to give thanks for all of the blessings in our lives. 
I remember my first Thanksgiving like was the year before we were married and I was incredibly overwhelmed when we walked in the doors of a school gymnasium for Thanksgiving dinner with all of these strangers.  It was not the holiday dinner around an extended dining table that I was used to.  Now, I love it and very much look forward to it!  Sometimes if we don't travel west, we have gone three years back to back.

This was our year to travel north.  It has become tradition to start our morning with Mass and then head out of town from there, spend several hours with extended family and then late in the afternoon head to Tim's parents for a few more hours before coming home.  The kids have gotten to the point that even though they don't see these cousins often, it only takes a fraction of a minute to get reacquainted and spend the entire day playing.  The weather has been fabulous lately, and today, the forecast was in the upper 60s, so a football game was very eagerly anticipated. 

Short sleeves and shorts in NOVEMBER!!!!
 Oh, how plans can so quickly change when there are nine of us!  Upon waking everyone up this morning, there were several moans and groans about not feeling well, but everyone determined that they may just be tired, not sick.  We hesitated, but decided to proceed and reevaluate after Mass.  It didn't get better and by the time church was over, we were making the dreaded decision to return home rather than head for a big family gathering.  This did not necessarily go over very well.  We had kids trying to convince us that they were all better, however, we knew better!  We were all disappointed to say the very least. 

We needed a plan...something to salvage the day. "Let's stop at the grocery store and get a turkey and stuff to make a big Thanksgiving dinner." My first thought was "ewwwww", as I was one of the "sick" people. HOWEVER, as the mom, I felt it was my DUTY to turn this disappointment into delight, so I agreed and we made a pit stop at the grocery store on the way home. After all, no one was threatening to throw up just yet!

We had a lot of convincing to do to get these kids to turn their frowns upside down!  By the time we got home, I think we generated a little bit of excitement about the possibilities that the day could hold, so not everyone was pouting.  Everyone pitched in and literally threw together a wonderful holiday meal.

 I prepared the ham and potatoes, Tim took care of the beans and stuffing and Jakob made crustless pumpkin pie.  (We ate the most delicious and beautiful pie that a friend gave us last night since we anticipated being gone today!  Is it wrong that we didn't want to share it??)  :) You would have never known that someone...anyone...wasn't feeling well based on the execution of recipes going on in the kitchen.  It was fun, even though no one really felt 100%.  The benefit to being at home though was that the couch was always nearby (and so was the toilet...and that's all I'll say about that!)  Now, if only someone would come clean up the kitchen!  I think I just don't feel well enough to do it.  Ha ha!

The evironment was plans, no structure, no expectations.  We had no idea what the day would have in store, because it just unfolded in front of us and we let it.  Dinner was fabulous...I'm not sure we've ever had Thanksgiving dinner with only our family.

The menu included Shirley Temples...7UP to sooth the stomachs.  :)

We definitely aren't thinking about giving up the big gatherings, but we certainly enjoyed the small scene today.  As we went about preparing things, we collected some things that everyone is thankful for and included them on the table with our bounty.

Our table is in the kitchen right now rather than the dining room because we had to move the barnwood table inside to get it finished due to the cold weather.  (Maybe the polyurethane is why we're all sick??--hope not!)  It's almost done!!!!

We played games, scoured the "Black Friday" ads, took naps, played more games, ate our pumpkin "pie" and cider and the kids even took advantage of the amazing weather and played outside for a while.

The kids were amazed what a fun time we all had and we didn't even turn any electronics on.  How unconventional!!  Who knew that you could have fun without being plugged in????  I am being very sarcastic of course!!!   As the day wound down and the TV eventually was turned on, we were pleased to have lots of great flicks to choose from...I'm not sure we watched a full episode of anything as we hopped from one classic to the next. 

The sale ads all lost their luster...I made a list, but I just don't think I'm going to muster up the desire to go navigate crowded parking lots, stand in long lines and hope to beat someone to the doorbuster deals.  Just the thought made my stomach turn a little! 
We did manage to produce smiles...

We were so disappointed to miss the family fun we've come to look forward to, but despite the circumstances of the day, we still recognized that we have SOO much to be thankful for...especially the gift of each other as family, and we really got to take advantage of our unplanned day with only each other.

Thank you God for all you have given us... For upset I am thankful.  :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!