Saturday, December 20, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 - At the Jersey Shore

For those of you who are recent additions to the Prieto Family reading contingent, welcome to our Thanksgiving edition!  Many years ago (7 precisely) when we moved to the East Coast, we decided to make Thanksgiving in New Jersey with my dad and Emili a tradition, and each year it is a highlight of our holiday season.  We started many years ago celebrating with my Dad, Emili and her extended family, and at the beginning we were a small enough group to break bread on Thanksgiving night in the small Greenhouse in the yard behind my Dad and Emili's home.  We put twinkle lights all around and decorated the cozy space for our family, and we have lovely memories from that enchanted space.  Now, our two children have joined us, and more of Emili's family has started coming, and my Dad's friend from high school and his family have been coming up from DC, and this year a Chinese exchange student named Lavendar...  and so this year found us at a rental beach house in Spring Lake, at the Jersey Shore.  Four years ago we rented this very same house for Thanksgiving, and here we were again!  This time our group had grown to 21 people, so even on slow afternoons there was always someone up for a game or a good conversation.

We were only a block away from the Spring Lake boardwalk, and on Wednesday most of us bundled up and braved the cold weather and the wind for a refreshing afternoon walk on the beach.  Some jumped on bikes and rode ahead, and some broke off into walking groups, and we brought up the rear with our short-legged friends.  The kids loved collecting treasures at the shore line - their pockets were filled with big shells, and crab legs, and strands of seaweed.

Here is our little walking group: Sandra (my deceased Grandpa Jack's widow) who flew in from Austin, TX, my Dad, Lavendar the Chinese exchange student, and Monique, Evelyn and Mike, who came up from DC.  Mike and my dad met in high school in Hong Kong and are still close friends.

I don't actually have a lot of photos from this trip, but I am so glad that I took my camera to the beach when we went walking.  I think some of these are such classics.  Especially these few that capture the bond between Marcos and the kids.  They are lucky ducks to have such an amazing father.

My mom and Gigi, just about frozen at the end of our walk, in front of the beach house.  

And here is our crew right before we ate Thanksgiving dinner!  The kids and I are out of the photo, but otherwise everyone is included.  For the first time in... I think ever, the meat eaters might have outnumbered the vegetarians at the feast.  We always have tofurkey and celebration roasts, but this year I actually made two turkey breast pairs to make sure that we had enough meat.  I'm usually assigned turkey duty, but grumble because in my mind turkey is so miss and miss.  Always dry and always tasteless.  But not this year.  I used this recipe for crockpot turkey breasts with gravy (thanks to my friend Courtney Lieng who suggested it), and it received rave reviews.  My mom's kale salad, Mike's New York Times skillet cornbread recipe, Carol's spanakopita and Nathan's new from-scratch cherry pie were also hot topics during this year's Thanksgiving feast.  I am so hungry just thinking about how delicious the food was...

Other fun highlights of the trip?  Walking at dusk around Spring Lake with all of its beautiful lit bridges and exploring the village, the night five of us drove a half hour to the nearest Y and Emili's sister Carol and I jumped into a boxing class, all of the comments about what wonderful children we have ("oh stop, stop...  okay don't stop!"), 11-year old Evelyn teaching Gigi ballet in the kitchen, Sandra's stories about Grandpa Jack and her travels around the world, a guys day out to see the movie Interstellar in the theater, sweet toasts offered at Thanksgiving Dinner, and all of the down time we spent talking, eating and playing games.  With such a loving bunch, being thankful comes very easily!

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