Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Thanksgiving that Almost Wasn't

 My little family has established a lovely tradition over the last 10 or so years.  There was a time when the holiday was a struggle to figure out, with no grandparents, and just one child, and we tried various alternatives to make it special.  But then came the big idea, that has become the best of traditions.
Our dock.  Time to get it out of the water!
 If you've read this blog a while, you know we own what we call a 'camp', the Adirondack terminology for a vacation retreat, a cottage, a cabin, usually in the woods, or by a lake (or both, like ours).  And the wonderful tradition that we've developed is holding our Thanksgiving dinner at the camp.  We have to crank up the heat, turn the fridge back on, because otherwise we've essentially put the camp to sleep for the winter.  But it's worth it.  We've got no TV (not a problem, since we are not football watchers), and no internet.  But we have public radio, a record player and lots of old vinyl, plenty of board games and puzzles.  And family. 
Oops.  Our kayaks weren't expecting snow.
So, in the past few years, the routine has settled into this:  my husband heads up to the camp (40 minutes from home, and just maybe 5 miles from the school where I taught) on Wednesday, gets the camp ready, and spends the night alone.  I send all the dinner ingredients that do not need to be refrigerated with him.
Looking across our lake.
Thursday morning, bright and early, my (now adult) son and I pack the car with the turkey and any other refrigerated ingredients.  As soon as we arrive at the camp, I stuff the turkey and get it in the oven, and we have the rest of the day for everything else.  My stepdaughter, her husband, and her two young boys join us in the late afternoon.  The boys especially love my son 'Uncle Ben'.  After dinner, and dessert, and some board games and the annual silly family photos, they eventually go home, my son and I play a competitive game of Bananagrams or Scrabble, my husband relaxes and stokes the fire, and we all get a good night's sleep.  On Friday we  usually head back home, though in some years past, my son's best friend would join him for a hike in the Adirondacks.   Some years the weather has even been nice enough to take the kayaks out on the lake. 
Yet another view.
So this year, the basic plan was unchanged.  The weather called for snow, but this doesn't faze us.  Remember, I drove that road to work back and forth every day for 27 years, in every kind of weather imaginable!  Snow doesn't bother me or my car.  Hubby went off to camp, and all seemed fine.  That is, it was fine until he called me, at about 9pm, to tell me that the private road that leads to our camp (down a rather steep hill) had not been plowed.  And there was a foot of fresh snow, and he could no longer get the car up the hill.  He was stranded.  And alone.  And he had the stuffing ingredients, the roasting pan, the sweet potatoes, the boxes of chocolate pudding and the vanilla wafers. (I'm quite sure that chocolate pudding pie with a vanilla wafer crust was served by the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving.  Don't argue.)  And he had the wine.

Panic set in.  We devised a plan.  My son would drive up in the morning in my trusty Subaru to rescue my husband and the food.  He'd have to walk the 1/2 mile or so down the snowy hill and would then walk back out with my husband and the food, which would be dragged on a sled I suppose.  (Of course there was the problem that my son had left his boots home in Boston, but hey, he's an eagle scout, he'd figure it out somehow.)  Meanwhile, at home, I'd pace and worry, and start frantically cleaning, figuring we'd have to have the dinner there.  They'd come home in my car, leaving my husband's car behind to rescue in a day or two.  And when they got home, I'd have to frantically start cooking.  It just didn't seem right to any of us.  The Loon Lake Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday.
The picnic table.  Perhaps we should have eaten Thanksgiving dinner on it?
The kitchen door
The plowed road!
But we didn't need to worry.  At 8am my husband called to tell me the road had just been plowed.  Yay!!!  I woke my son and he shoveled out our home while I packed the cooler and fed, watered, and scooped the cat.   We got to the camp quite a bit later than planned, and I hustled to get the turkey stuffed and in the oven.  I cranked the oven up higher than recommended and prayed it wouldn't ruin the turkey.  And you know what?  It was the moistest, most delicious turkey, ever!!  And once it was in the oven, I got to put on my boots and tromp around outside taking the photos you see on this post, which are NOT black and white photos.  I swear.  Look in them to find hints of color! 
 We had the loveliest of Thanksgivings, and I hope that you did, too!
My footsteps on our camp driveway, Black Friday (a little more fresh snow).  No shopping. 
  Below, the annual ridiculous family photos, all taken by my photographer son.  That's him in black.
 Yeah, we had to get one 'serious' one.  Here it is, below. 
From my family to you and your family, best wishes for a delightful holiday season! 


  1. Thank you for sharing, What a wonderful family tradition.

    1. Thanks. We all need to have some great traditions, right?

  2. The snow reflecting on the lake....magnificent! Your Thanksgiving sounds heavenly!

    1. Yup! It's perfect! Even when it snows!

  3. Thanks for sharing Phyl! I love seeing pictures from your neck of the woods. It's nice to be reminded what seasons look like. :)

  4. So happy everything worked out! Your small, un-plugged, camp-Thanksgiving is Indy's dream! With a holiday that easily becomes huge, over-done and at times quite stressful, you've found a way to keep it all about family. Super sweet!

    1. Thanks. The biggest 'testimonial' of its success, is the fact that this is the one holiday that my son never wants to miss. I presume this could be an issue down the road. This year we invited his girlfriend, and she invited him to her family, and they both went home in the end! I predict some problems if there's a wedding someday.

  5. glad it all worked out in the end, phyl!