"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanks and Thanks and Thanks and Thanks!

This is the first Thanksgiving I've ever spent away from my family.  In my whole life.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, because gratitude is my favorite emotion.  Being grateful is just good stuff, ya know?

Growing up, we always spent Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family.  Before my grandparents died when I was 14, the gathering was always at their country cottage in rural, northern Pennsylvania.  My aunts and uncles would come, along with my eight cousins.  We all camped out in the tiny house for two or three days.  There was much card-playing, movie-watching, backyard football, and tree-climbing.  (And midnight stealing ice cream from the extra freezer in the hallway.  It's time I come clean about that one, actually.  Sorry grandpa.)

My favorite tradition was the butcher paper.  Before the table was set, my grandfather covered the whole thing (which spanned the length of his entire living and dining room) with brown butcher paper. The tablecloth and all the dishes were then set on top.  After dinner, the dirty dishes and nice tablecloth were removed to reveal that brown butcher paper.

All the kids would descend on it with our crayons, markers, and colored pencils until no blank spot was left.  There were many turkey hands, of course, and poorly-drawn pilgrims, among other Thanksgiving paraphernalia.  What I didn't realize until I was older was that this was all a scheme to keep "those crazy kids" out of the kitchen and from asking "when are we having pie?" while the grown-ups cleaned up.  Brilliant.

This year, I found a place to share the joy on Thanksgiving, albeit not with my own blood.  SwingTime Cafe in downtown Watsonville served a free meal in the outdoor park, and I volunteered to serve food.  I must say it was the sunniest, warmest Thanksgiving day I've ever spent!  The food was smashingly delicious, and everyone I met was quite friendly.  An elderly couple whom I served next to even invited me to stay at their home should I need a place when I'm done housesitting!

The line


Notice my lack of apron.  Get it together.  Sheesh.

Sunny California Thanksgiving

The other thing I am feeling very grateful for this year is YOU, my blog readers.  This blog has really taken off in recent months, and it is entirely due to your encouragement and support.  After all, this wouldn't be much of a blog without anyone to read it!  I think it's just called a secret diary then. . .

Earlier this week, I sent personal messages to a bunch of folks who I know read my blog, but hadn't yet become "official" followers, asking them to please consider joining.  The response was overwhelming, and my followers jumped from 28 to 61 in just one day!  THANK YOU!

It is very important that when potential publishers visit my blog, they see that I have a large, loyal following.  They will think ooh look at all of these people who already read her writing, I'm sure if we paid her to write for us she'd draw a large following, we should start her with a million dollar contract. . .

But seriously, I have one more favor to ask.  If you read an entry and are inspired to comment, I would so greatly appreciate if you did so here, right on the blog.  Most of my entries get several comments on Facebook, which I LOVE reading, but it helps the whole publisher/appearance thang if they also see that people are actively commenting here on the blog.

Because I'm a teacher at heart, let's practice together, shall we?  I'd love to hear your favorite Thanksgiving tradition, like the butcher paper one I mentioned above.  Just drop a line or two as a comment on this post.

Thank you all for being a part of my life!  I never feel alone on my travels because you are all in my pocket.  These pants are getting heavy. . .


  1. In my family, we always used to go to the movies on Thanksgiving because it was one of only five days a year that our restaurant was closed. Also, we started having smoked salmon spread as a way to remember the funny year that mom was so busy she forgot to buy the turkey and we only had apps and sides. Oh, and party potatoes (mashed potatoes with sour cream and cream cheese and butter).

  2. Haha! I think the apps and sides are the best part, anyway. Also, I'd like to pre-order some party potatoes for next time I'm at your house. Also, I've been making your coconut quinoa recipe all over the country for my hosts, because it is one thing I now know how to make that is guaranteed to please!

  3. Melanie, I love reading your blog. You are having such an interesting time in your life. Wishing you many interesting travels. Happy Thanksgiving. Your FSC family is thinking of you.

  4. So that's where you got the coconut quinoa recipe from! Thank you "k80"! We make it that way now too, since Melanie was home for awhile this past summer, only I can't put too much ginger in as Melanie's dad isn't crazy about that flavor.
    Melanie we missed you being with us this Thanksgiving. I did have one of those butcher paper masterpieces, but think I may have thrown it away not too long ago. You finally figured out our motive for keeping you kiddos busy! It was a good idea, for sure.

    1. Yes mom, I thought I told you it was from Katie. You can assume that most of my yummy cooking ideas have come from her at some point. :)

  5. I love the butcher paper story! A great holiday tradition.

  6. I liked the part when you took the ice cream out of the extra freezer in the hall. My grandma had a room off of the kitchen where she had a fridge full of food and where she kept the M&M's...that was my favorite part of going to her house. I knew that jar would be full of M&M's!

  7. My favorite Thanksgivings were the ones in Sayre - the weekend after - when all the guys used to try on their hunting gear the night before the big first day of buck season - seems that even with the dress rehersal one of my brothers still managed to leave the house without his rifle :)

    Love your blog, Melanie, and look forward to following your adventures.

  8. The first anonymous commenter - I can only assume you are an FCS student, right? Is it Sophia V. again or someone new? Thanks for your kind words! I miss my FCS family very much and hope I can come visit before the end of the school year.

    To the second anonymous commenter - I can only assume you are my Aunt Carol, and that the brothers you speak of are none other than my father and Uncle Carl. Right? Who left without his rifle??

    Starlett - I can only assume that I don't know you, at least not yet in the flesh. Thanks for reading! Welcome!