Thanksgiving 2011

Norman Rockwell's vision of America
Thanksgiving by Norman Rockwell

On Wednesday, 23 November 2011, Janice and I drove down to my parents’ home in Virginia. We passed through heavy rain, but the traffic wasn’t too bad. We stopped for lunch at Boston Market, and my mother had a good dinner waiting for us. We watched Jeopardy and talked about politics, history, and travel.

On Thanksgiving, my brother Peter, his wife Kelly, their two daughters, and his mother-in-law Maureen joined us for the traditional holiday feast. I’ll to spend the weeks before Christmas trying to work off the turkey, potatoes, and desserts.

In response to one of my nieces, I’m thankful to live in a country where there is still freedom and opportunity, despite political squabbles and economic stress, and to be able to spend time with family and good food.

The weather was warm and pleasant, so we got to play badminton and horseshoes with my energetic nieces. The next day, Peter returned to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and we did some yard work, played volleyball in shirtsleeves, and of course, ate some more.

On Saturday, Janice and I visited her grandmother in Pennsylvania. We ate another all-American meal at Saville’s Diner before returning to the road. Even with heavy traffic, a detour, and stopping for dinner at Cracker Barrel, we made better time than in many other years.

Since then, I’ve been catching up on reading (R.I.P. “Pern” author Anne McCaffrey), genre TV (including the end of the fun Batman and the Brave and the Bold, as well as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movie marathons on cable), and role-playing games (updates and reviews to come).

Tuesday, 25 August 2009: Virginia vacation

UVA

On Saturday, 8 August 2009, Janice and I ran errands in Norwood, Massachusetts,
and had lunch at Minerva Indian Restaurant. The next day, we began the long drive south to see my family. We stayed the night in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

On Monday, Aug. 10, Janice and I visited her grandmother before continuing on our way to Virginia. We arrived in the town of “Little” Washington that afternoon and were treated to my mother’s cooking. After a restful Tuesday, we all went to Charlottesville. My father took us to the pleasant campus of the University of Virginia, where he teaches, and we enjoyed a classy buffet lunch at the Boar’s Head Inn and a cheese tray for dinner from Feast.

On Thursday, Aug. 13, we went to Monticello, the estate of President Thomas Jefferson. I had been there before, most recently a decade ago for the swearing in of my
mother
as a U.S. citizen, but Janice had not. I thought the new visitor center was a model of modern museum exhibits, and the tour of the mansion and grounds provided an interesting glimpse into the talents and contradictions of the drafter of the Declaration of Independence, architect, and slave owner.

That afternoon, Janice and I drove from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the suburban sprawl of Northern Virginia. We met my brother Peter, his wife Kelly, and their daughters before heading to the home of Corbin A.Y. & Andria K.Y. and their new arrival, Maia. Steve M.R. & Aleece Z.R. and their children, Connor and Lauren, joined us for a fun fajita dinner.

On Friday, Peter, Kelly, Ava, Lili, and Janice and I took the Metro into Washington, D.C., where we checked out the Smithsonian Institute‘s Museum of Natural History
and the newly renovated National Museum of American History. As always, there were many interesting exhibits. The girls behaved well, despite missing a nap and dealing with the summer heat and crowds on the Mall.

Later that night, the adults watched Confessions of a Shopaholic on TV. It was a frothy, forgettable comedy that wasn’t as good as, say, The Devil Wears Prada. Not my usual genre fare (science fiction, fantasy, comic book superheroes, mystery, etc.), but I look forward to the English-dubbed version of Ponyo, among other autumn movies.

On Saturday, Aug. 15, my parents joined us for a barbeque lunch to belatedly celebrate their birthdays. Janice and I left by midafternoon, grabbing dinner in the Palisades Center shopping mall and stopping for the night at the Spring Hill Suites by Marriott in Tarrytown, New York. By breaking up our travel, we managed to avoid most of the usual end-of-weekend traffic jams in New Jersey and Connecticut.

Since returning to the regular routine, I’ve also been catching up on recorded genre television, e-mails, and gaming. I hope to blog about work, movies such as District 9,
and more in the coming weeks.