Friday, November 23, 2012

Don't Mess With Tradition

Sound advice, really, yet this year all of our usual Thanksgiving guests had other obligations for the big feast--even the Grandmas. Once I realized it would be just the five of us, all kinds of nontraditional holiday options swirled through my mind. We could go for a hike, take in a movie, and even EAT OUT for our festive meal.

Perhaps I could have a real day of rest? No rising at the "crack of dawn" to chop onions and celery for stuffing, no peeling of potatoes, and no raw bird to primp and prepare--such holiday luxury! Surprisingly, the kids actually agreed to something different as long as my homemade stuffing and King's Arms Tavern Sweet Potatoes were prepared and consumed at some point during the week. 

A few days before Thanksgiving (at our customary Sunday dinner with the Grandmas) we had our pseudo Thanksgiving feast. Grandma S. brought her heavenly potato rolls (my personal Thanksgiving favorite) and Grandma W. brought her delicious chiffon pumpkin pie. A Costco roasted chicken was our nod to poultry.
The plan for Thanksgiving day was to go out to lunch at one of our favorite local restaurants, take in a movie, and enjoy our other two must-have pies later in the evening.

Even the best laid plans tend to go awry, and they certainly did for us. All of our favorite restaurants were CLOSED on Thanksgiving day and those that were open were only serving a "special turkey buffet." However, we simply wanted to enjoy the establishment's usual fare because our taste buds had already been satisfied with our own familial holiday food.

Nix the idea of going out for Thanksgiving dinner.
Instead, I tried a brand new recipe--Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala. Ooh, it was delicious, but suddenly our holiday meal became just like any other weeknight dinner.

While the chicken and spices were melding in the crockpot we did take in a movie--Wreck-It Ralph. We let Abby choose. The other two weren't super excited about this kid movie, but it really was quite good.

What did we do when we got home?
Watched football, of course, in our almost finished and remodeled basement. According to Travis, "watching three games of football is the most American way to spend Thanksgiving."

Luckily, the day did end in a more traditional way with Kellie's freshly baked pecan and apple pies. For the first time in years every bite of that fabulous pecan pie was savored and relished because I wasn't so stuffed when I ate it.
Sure, it was a relaxing day. We even played some games as a family, but retrospection (that wise old friend) visited as I was preparing for bed. At least one of my offspring was obviously NOT happy with the day. The other two seemed fine, but some how Thanksgiving wasn't an exceptional day. Without that extra effort in food preparation, without those special friends and family guests, it seemed like any other day of the year.

Certainly, it was more relaxing for me, but is that what Thanksgiving is all about? Perhaps the sacrifices involved in a traditional celebration are a way of expressing my gratitude and my love for all that I have and for all that surrounds me?

This year I learned a lesson and I made a resolution. No matter how few of us are left at home, Thanksgiving will be celebrated in our family's traditional way. We will invite lonely neighbors, coworkers, roommates, and distant relatives--whomever it takes--to fill our home and table. It will involve days of hard work, but it will definitely be worth it.

After all, one does not mess with tradition!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Provo Places: Our Library

Whenever I drive by this impressive structure or enter its literary walls, my feelings are a jumble of pride, joy, nostalgia, and simple pleasure. The Provo Library at Academy Square is housed in the former Brigham Young Academy building that my grandmother, mother, and parents-in-law frequented as students decades ago.
When I was a student myself at BYU, the building was a mess--abandoned, vandalized, and broken. My heart ached whenever I drove down University Avenue during the 1980s. Joyfully, the former Academy was eventually rescued, restored, and resurrected as Provo's new public library.
Two-year-old Abby and I were one of its first patrons as the refurbished doors were opened in early September 2001. Our picture was published in the Deseret News the next morning.
The public library saved my sanity many times as a mother of young children--be it in Albany, CA; Fairfax, VA; Buena Vista, VA; or Provo, UT. These libraries were NOT all created equal. Nevertheless, they were often my outing of choice. I was a happy mom at the library, and story time was a lifesaver to my sometimes monotonous stay-at-home mom duties.
Toddler Abby routinely had to stop and hug this statue as we entered the children's section of the Provo  Library, and to this day, I often see her 13-year-old self glancing at it with continued affection.
Just across the street from the library is BYU's former women's gymnasium. My mom remembers taking the required PE class "Activities of Fitness" in this building in 1961. It is currently home to a trendy boutique, but I'm so glad the facade remains.
I do love the Provo Library at Academy Square and the unique and historic building that envelopes it.