Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving A Little Bit Different

Thanksgiving has always been pretty much the same for me. Lovable, wonderful, traditional. The same foods, the same customs, and always spent with people we love. And we've never traveled for Thanksgiving. I remember the Thanksgiving when I was 13. Our family was taking a few months of retreat from the world. We stopped school, stopped church, and stopped going anywhere. Because we were homeschooled, we had the freedom to do this. My vaulting and our 4-H activities are the only things we went to during a 4-month period. In those few months, we spent time getting our home in order. We deep cleaned and purged. We spent more time with our animals. We took long walks in the redwoods. We did a lot of reading. We took naps in the afternoon. And we spent large quantities of focused time as a family. I did not love it at the time. But as an adult, I can look back and see the purpose, and how our relationships were strengthened because of it. That Thanksgiving we didn't even spend the day with family. Instead, we smoked a turkey, made a few pies, and took our Thanksgiving dinner camping. We camped in a very primitive cabin for 3 days at Big Basin State Park in California. We did some cool things like hiking and bike riding. But Thanksgiving was a flop. I didn't like the turkey, and cherry pie doesn't heat up well over a campfire. It felt like Thanksgiving never happened because of the absence of our traditions and the people we usually spent the day with. I said I never wanted a different Thanksgiving again.

That was 19 years ago, and this year I finally caved. When our friends Brad and Kathy invited us to go away with them to their friend's beach house for Thanksgiving weekend, I instantly agreed. The beautiful house is on an island not too far from Fort Myers, Florida, on the Gulf Coast. We had to pre-cook Thanksgiving dinner and take it with us due to lack of oven space in the beach house. We carried all our food and water with us because the only water supply on the island is rain caught in large cisterns. We had to take a water taxi to get to the house. And it was pure bliss. The house backs up to a state park, so our section of beach was very private. Every morning Matt and I got up at sunrise, took cups of coffee, and walked the beach together looking for shells. During the day, we took the kids down to the beach to play. We also had use of a kayak, a jet ski, and two golf carts. Oh, and I made great use of the hammock. The water was 75 degrees, and the air ranged from 76-81. Total perfection. Though the food was different than past years and I was not in my own home, we were able to carry some traditions with us and we spent the day with people we love dearly. Our Thanksgiving weekend was a complete success! Here are photos. In a few the sky looks grainy. That's because I saved them very low resolution for the web.

The house faces the intercoastal waterway. This was our house for the weekend!

Thanksgiving dinner with wonderful friends.

A different--yet delightful--way to spend Thanksgiving weekend!

We found this gopher tortoise just cruising along the beach.

Matt and Pepper built a shell garden. The shells were plentiful on this beach.

A relaxing afternoon on the porch.

Matt spent much of his weekend underwater, looking for bigger shells. He was rewarded with this one!

We did Snapper's 9-year portraits at the beach. This is one of my favorites.

This one is my very favorite.


And this is me. Hee hee!

Headed home after a very restful, refreshing weekend. Now I can enjoy Christmas!


Stef said...

WOW! What an experience! I would've said yes right away too :)
The house is gorgeous and the beach... you can't beat that. What an amazing place to spend Thanksgiving!

You've always taken great pictures, but lately I feel like you've reached a whole new level. Your pictures are breath taking and amazing. Especially the shots of the sun set + Matt + Pepper. Wow.
The family picture is awesome!

Stef said...

oh, also... I have to say I would've felt the same way when I was younger, but yes, as an adult, I can totally see your parent's wisdom in doing that. Sometimes Jason and I will talk about just cutting ourselves off from everything (for only a week though) just to enjoy life, the 5 of us.
We'll be going on vacation this weekend and plan to leave all electronics at home and focus only on us and our kids. Should be fun!

Tara said...

Nope, doesn't look like our Thanksgiving but rejuvenating for sure! I don't think I would have turned that down either. You def. captured some great photos (aka memories)!

Lori said...

Really awesome pictures, Em! Fun times!