Going Home for Thanksgiving

They say you can’t go home again. Well, I did for Thanksgiving, spending my first two nights away from my condo. I don’t live far from my parents—about 15 minutes across town—but I wanted to go home for a few days to spend time with everyone. I left my condo Wednesday afternoon, and packing felt like when I’d come home from college for Thanksgiving break. The plan was for me to stay until Friday, so I had to bring my air mattress—more on that below—along with anything else I’d need.

Here are the most important players to know when it comes to me going home: the pets. From left to right: Maggie, age 9, German Shepherd mix and a rescue, sweetest dog you’ll meet; Lucy, age 6 months, Golden Retriever, actual terror; Stella, age 4, gray tiger, has thumbs.

The baby gates are up in the house solely for Lucy because she can’t be trusted to have the entire run of the house. Both pups were excited to see me, but Lucy is still getting used to me coming home every couple of weeks. Maggie is obviously familiar with me, so she’s just regular excited to see me, but Lucy gets super, super excited to see me. Thankfully by the time I left on Friday, she was a bit more relaxed around me.

After I got home, I helped my mom make two things for Thanksgiving.

The picture on the left is of The Dip, something we’ve been making for 22 years now. When I was five, my grandmother passed away shortly before Thanksgiving, so we had a modified Thanksgiving that year. My mom found this recipe for a cheese dip in a magazine and made it for the dinner, and five-year-old me was like, “This is the best thing I’ve ever had.” It’s made with cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, red and green peppers, and Worcestershire sauce; it’s nothing fancy but I love it. And now I only have it at Thanksgiving. I have to eat it with Sociable crackers—I won’t use any other cracker—and I’ll break it out after 10:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving day as I watch the Macy’s parade.

The pie on the right is made of layers of Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies and Cool Whip in a graham cracker pie crust. I don’t like regular pie crust—it’s a texture thing—so any pie I’ll eat usually has the graham cracker crust. The pie is super easy to make: you dip each cookie in milk to soften it a bit, put down a layer, then a layer of Cool Whip, and repeat. I shredded some chocolate on top to finish it off.

For dinner that night, we got a salad and pizza out from a local pizza place we’ve been going to for years. My mom and I watched a Lifetime movie later on before I went to bed.

So this is when the air mattress comes into play. When I moved out in July, the exact same day I left, my dad moved his work from home set-up from the basement to my old room. The Boflex is a recent addition to the room, which was also in the basement. There’s no bed in the room, and I don’t even think one could fit comfortably in there, so I had to bring my air mattress and bed pillow with me.

It was a weird set-up for me, considering that was my bedroom for the first 27 years of my life. (Although I bet my dad’s glad I re-painted it last winter from the bright coral to the gray.) I slept okay Wednesday night into Thursday; the room still felt like it did when it was my bedroom but also weird because I was sleeping on the floor in my old bedroom.

I woke up after 8:00 a.m. on Thursday and was greeted by Lucy at the gate in the kitchen (that’s the picture above). I made myself a cup of coffee and got two cinnamon buns—a typical Thanksgiving day breakfast for myself—before sitting in my old spot on the loveseat in the living room to watch the Macy’s parade.

I broke out The Dip a little before 11:00 a.m., and when the parade was over at 12:00 p.m., I watched some of the dog show before flipping to the first NFL game of the day.

A tradition for myself for about the last four years is drinking an entire bottle of wine on Thanksgiving. I figure that I space it out over at least six hours, I’m eating a ton of food throughout the day, and I’m not going anywhere. This year’s bottle of choice was Pendleton from Black Birch, which I got back in October when Josh and I had our fun fall weekend. I was almost defeated by getting the cork out of the bottle; it was still half stuck inside so I had to get out the pliers to pull the cork out without breaking it. And I hadn’t even started drinking yet.

We eat our dinner at dinner time; I know some people eat earlier, but we do 5:00 p.m.

Here’s your cliché Thanksgiving plate picture. My favorite food is stuffing, followed closely by the roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Later on after dinner, we had the pie for dessert. My mom and I watched part of a Hallmark Christmas movie that night, and while we were doing that, Lucy was collecting shoes from my room. That’s her thing. She’ll gather sneakers, boots, dish towels, really anything she can find around the house and bring them to her bed. She doesn’t chew on or destroy anything, she just likes to collect stuff. And she is so proud when she brings you what she has that you can’t be mad at her.

It took me until around 10:00 p.m. to finally finish the bottle of wine. I definitely slept better Thursday night into Friday, due to me adding more air to the mattress and the wine.

On Friday, the plan was for me to help decorate the tree for Christmas. My parents aren’t doing a real tree this year because of Lucy, so my mom has a pencil tree she keeps up year-round in the living room that we decided to decorate for this year.

I left after lunch to head back to my condo; I needed to shower, do laundry, and put everything away. It was nice to go home for a few days, especially since I hadn’t stayed over that long since I moved out. Seeing the pets was a definite perk along with having home-cooked meals from my mom. I’ll be heading back for Christmas time, air matress and all.

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