November 29, 2004

Almost Halfway There

Thanksgiving with the family was everything it could have been.

First, we celebrated on Friday instead of Thursday, which meant that I got an extra half day of studying before the feast and was able to drive from 3 PM 'til 6:30 PM on Thanksgiving day. Talk about no traffic.

Second, my cousin from Washington flew in, I also got to see my other cousin, niece, brother, sister, father, aunt, uncle, and brother's in-laws. It was a big, full, long table with my father at one end and my 3-year-old niece at the other, each ably commanding the appropriate level of respect that is due to the head of the table.

Third, the turkey turned out perfectly, which is important since I was the designated cook (getting up after a night of drinking with my brother the construction worker to put the 22 lb. bird in the oven by 9 AM was fun...)

Fourth, the entire event was merely a 4 on the drama/annoyance scale of 10, which may be a family record low. Furthermore, in a shocking display of maturity, my parents both contributed very little to the things about which I could complain. Wisdom may very well come with age. How great to like them more as they grow older. I'm certain this has nothing to do with me maturing past the oh-so-pleasant ages of 14-23. Thankfully, I have cousins and siblings in this age range (not to mention fellow law students) to remind me that perhaps some of my earlier annoyance with my 'rents stemmed from my youthful idiocy instead of their unreasonableness...Nahh...Not me.

Fifth, and most importantly, after the 1.5 days of family crap, I was ready for a break. And I got one, in the form of a trip to Amador Wine Country with E on Saturday. Tasting good wine and buying multiple cases to stock the house for finals and the holidays was an excellent way to escape from the trauma of repetitive childhood patterns and remind me that I'm an adult with a wonderful life, an excellent partner, and overall, a million things to be thankful for, including my wonderful family (through wine-induced rose-colored-goggles they are perfect). E and I agreed that the Amador trip will be a regular addendum to Thanksgiving or Christmas with my family. I couldn't be happier with this plan.

Sixth, the freezer is now full. While most people leave Thanksgiving weekend with leftovers of mashed potatoes, yams, turkey, stuffing, and pies, I left those things with the local family. Instead, my father and brother, who are straight out of the hunting and fishing channel filled my trunk with 3 pheasants (thank goodness my father pays to have those birds cleaned by professionals now that he doesn't have children at home), 8 pounds of elk meat (the brown butcher paper helpfully labeled in sharpe pen "dead elk stew"), and about 20 pounds of alaskan salmon. We could have had venison as well, but we opted out, which just means I'll be looking for a good venison recipe to prepare for the whole family back in the homeland over Christmas week. Anyone know of any good recipes for backstrap?

Looking back, I see that I really couldn't have grown up to be anything but a food and wine geek. I was raised on freshly killed game, 4-H raised pork, beef and rabbit (raised 'em myself--that'll teach you about the value of life and where meat comes from, I'm an unapologetic carnivore, thank you very much!), and fish caught and cleaned by family members. My grandparents had a farm that my grandfather worked himself until I was in my mid-teens (and even in his later years he had a strong influence with the people who leased the acreage), so we ate home-grown persimmons (hate them), walnuts, sugar peas, lettuce, and more. When you've gone that route, just about anything farmed or raised in a mass-produced manner won't cut it. See... I really didn't have a choice.

After a reluctant return to my real life today, where I spent 8 hours studying and dealing with the faulty plumbing in our house, I had to focus on the positive, which is this:

I have too much to be thankful for to enumerate. Not the least of those things is that in a few short weeks, I will be halfway through law school. Half. Way. Done. Wow.

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