Peeking into my Thanksgiving weekend looks something like this: a heart jam packed with gratitude for the blessings of a generational legacy filled with strong family ties, solidified with unconditional love, and knotted with fun traditions that span 17 years.

It’s a blessing I don’t take for granted, nor do I minimize how rare of a gift it is.

Yet as I rode that hay wagon (minus the hay they had already cleaned out for the day) up the side of the mountain,

I kept thinking, “How am I here in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains amidst a forest of Christmas trees when one week ago I was smack dab in the middle of a South American desert area in Peru visiting with women who have nothing?”

The timing of my Compassion Trip has been a bit surreal. I never realized just how difficult the re-entry would be personally, and never calculated the fact that Thanksgiving fell one week earlier this year. I landed back in the US, only to dive back into one of the busiest weeks of the year with meal planning, recipe creating,  family organizing, schedules, basketball, holiday decorating, phone calls returning and the list goes on.

I wasn’t prepared for the “Mom, what’s for dinner?” question literally hours after my plan landed on US soil (sad, but true.) Life continued on back at home, but a bit of my heart was left on the dirt floor of Bridget’s home, and I’ve had to just kind of compartmentalize the emotions, as I found myself tearing up over things like flour and laundry.

Our December schedules may be packed, but I encourage all of us to step back and savor these moments. Breathe!!

Our Thanksgiving looks quite different from most. Our extended family heads to a hotel in the mountains for two days and we actually have our Thanksgiving day meal at a restaurant. Then we come home late Friday night, cook all day Saturday, and culminate the weekend with our homemade family feast that evening. (Trust me, finding Fresh Organic Turkeys for pennies on the dollar the day AFTER Thanksgiving is a GREAT benefit of being in charge of the Saturday Thanksgiving turkey.)

After much urging from my daughters, I put aside just a bit of our 20 pounds of gourmet mashed potatoes. With my family, if I bring 20 pounds, we’ll eat 20 pounds, and after all the peeling our girls did, they deserved just a little yumminess heated up the next day. Well, after a finishing a great round of Catch Phrase, (we’re a highly competitive bunch,) the midnight bell rang and we went on home, which is just next door on our homestead.

Peering into the fridge, I realized it was much too packed for the left over turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes, so brilliance struck at nearly 1:00 am. I already had a cooler on the back deck that I used to put some soda in earlier, so why not just put my left overs in there for the night? It was plenty cold. Yes, a perfect solution.

No worries that our yellow lab, known for its keen nose and hunting abilities, slumbered only a few feet away from that cooler, the lid was closed.

I slept well that evening, rose early for church and ran errands afterwards, including our visit to Sam’s Club where I passed up on that noted “Hotdog Combo special” my children love.

“NO thanks, I am saving my tummy room for some left overs. I can’t wait to dive in.”

It’s been 36 hours since that blond moment occurred, and I am still mourning the loss of an entire cooler full of Thanksgiving goodies. Do you know how many meals that would have fed my darlings?


Yellow labs + Turkey Dinner in easy, accessible access = dogs singing the Halleluiah chorus.

Yes, my family has re-instated my blond status, and I whole heartedly concur. I’m wearing that badge for awhile.

I haven’t been able to bring myself to cook since then. I need a few days to regroup, so I’m going for easy meals before I slip into high meal making gear again for the Christmas season. I’ve been on the go since my plane landed and we’ve had more meals in the car and in basketball gyms and standing around our island than I care to admit.

Traditional Black Friday photo: I’ve taken this same exact picture, on these same Mass General Store steps for 17 years.

I hope you take some moments to breathe, enjoy and regroup after Thanksgiving, just like I am. 😉 This time of year, I’m savoring every opportunity.

How was your Thanksgiving? Are your activities  keeping you on the go just like me?

So what are you cooking up for Tasty Tuesday? I can’t wait to see.
(Don’t forget to link back so everyone can join in on the fun.)

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Tyson. The opinions and text are all mine.