Minnie and Pa-pa Dawson — Bonnie and Sam Dawson to our Camp Alleghany friends — just celebrated a lovely Thanksgiving holiday with the Dawson clan (and Shreckhise when it comes to our daughter Elizabeth’s husband and children).
This was my year to host all of our children and their families for five days over the Thanksgiving weekend. It was a “camp” all of our own in a way! And while I am exhausted, it’s the thankful and joyous form of exhaustion!
Food and more food
Elizabeth was charged with Wednesday night’s dinner, our son Cooper Dawson (husband to Office Manager Louise) with Friday night’s, and Saturday was leftovers. But everyone had a task for Thursday.
I don’t think my oven was turned off all day on Thanksgiving itself until after we finished dinner. Elizabeth’s pecan/chocolate chip pie was the last thing baked in it.
We had all of the traditional dishes: turkey, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, peas & carrots, and rolls. And then there was Elizabeth’s pie, plus a homemade apple pie (a gift), and whipped cream. Whew!
Needless to say everyone enjoyed being together, eating together, and then they loosened their belts a notch or two!
Of course, there are never enough storage bowls nor space in the fridge for the left overs — the dishwasher ran at least twice a day, sometimes three times, and getting everything into the fridge was like playing Tetris!
We managed, however, to get everything stored and the left overs were enjoyed the rest of the weekend.
Fun and more fun
We took time to write some Christmas cards to soldiers who can’t make it home this Christmas, and the grandchildren colored them. I hope the cards are enjoyed as much as the little children enjoyed coloring them (and as much as we enjoyed watching them color them)!
We also managed to play board games, made-up games, and watched some football games on TV: The University of Virginia (go Wahoos!) game versus my son-in-law Matt Shreckhise’s alma mater Virginia Tech is always a great intra-family rivalry, and then we also watched the East Carolina University (my son Cooper’s alma mater) vs Cincinnati game.
And of course we took the obligatory family Thanksgiving photos. It’s hard to get a 5 year old, a 2 ½ year old, and a 19 month old to understand that when they are 29, 26, & 25 years old they will appreciate these photos. But we persevere just the same. As you can see in the photo above we captured them being themselves, and that is a treasure in itself!
I’m undaunted by the preparations and the joyous confusion of family holiday get-togethers. I’m reminded of my own childhood and the wonderful noise and happy chaos the holidays brought.
And while most people may think it would make me miss my deceased family members or my sisters who live 200 miles away, it doesn’t. It actually makes me feel closer to them all, and to revive happy memories, when the timeless traditions continue into the next generation.
My children and their families will all be back in three weeks for an early Christmas that gives us all an opportunity to get together as a family and do it all over again. This time, however, there are fewer meals and there will be gifts — which means lots more trash!
Last year, I tried to change the dinner menu, and received some complaints, so I’m going back the menu I served for nearly 40 years— Cornish hens, peas, and wild rice. And the traditional dessert of Christmas cookies made by the grandchildren with chocolate fudge made by me.
So bring on the cooking, the silver polishing, the noise, the confusion, the trash, the crumbs, photo complaints, and all the joy the weekend will bring. I’m ready and happy to have everyone here!
Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to you all from your camp family and friends!
— Bonnie Dawson, Director of Special Events, Camp Alleghany for Girls