Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thanksgiving at the Beach

So we took the kids to the beach for the long weekend and naturally we now have about a million pictures of kids, kids in sand, kids in sand with shells, kids in sand with shells and buckets, kids in sand with shells and buckets and waves etc. I am seriously starting to wonder what the hell I ever did at the beach before I had kids to take pictures of.

Oh that's right, I strolled peacefully along the beach and then relaxed near a roaring fire with a good book and a bottle of wine. Those were the days.

It was your average trip to the Oregon coast in November: cold, rainy, windy, with the occasional episode of blue skies. But that's how we like it. Doug and Mary joined us on Thursday and we all kept cozy and warm by the wood fire with a few rounds of Go Fish (FYI, Jack is a TOTAL cheater- who knew?).

Nick and Mishaun came for Thanksgiving dinner. We have a Mitchell family tradition of spoiling every single shared holiday meal by consuming a gigantic pot of cheese fondue right before dinner. Tradition also seems to dictate that one person (Nick!) must closely monitor who is eating the most fondue so that he can ridicule the piggiest pig when he/she (okay, it is always a she!) complains about being too full after dinner while simultaneously gorging him/her (her!) self on dessert. Holidays are all about family traditions, right?

I think Sawyer won piggiest pig this year. That kid can really put away the fondue. He stationed himself front and center and didn't stop until the pot was near empty. A quick aside: the French call the browned and crispy bottom part of the fondue pot la religieuse. I love the French.

Dinner was.... well, it really wasn't Thanksgiving dinner at all. We decided to skip turkey this year and went for a plate of lemony steelhead, garlicky mashed potatoes, ciabatta bread (yes, more bread, even after all of that fondue. We are hardcore), an epic salad, and the obligatory pumpkin pie served with Mary's homemade ice cream.

I'm hoping that we started a new tradition here. I really hate turkey. In fact, I've never even really liked Thanksgiving dinner, which I know is totally unpatriotic and probably sacrilegious and in some parts of the country I might get tarred and feathered for admitting this publicly. Thanksgiving's just not my thing. Come to think of it, I'm just not much of a November person. Let's try a breakfast analogy here: if October is pumpkin pancakes and December is cinnamon rolls, November is soggy Corn Flakes. So, yeah, I'm usually not a fan. But if we're switching to fondue and fish at the beach for Thanksgiving, I just might come around.

Steady rain showers and stir crazy kids led us to the aquarium in Newport. We walked off some of that fondue while the kids ran amok in a totally contained environment where kids are allowed to run amok.

Those poor sea anemones. At least the starfish don't seem to notice that they are being poked at and harassed by little people all day long. I hope they rotate them around or something.

Back to the beach house where Brent was in caffeine heaven thanks to Doug's espresso machine. (Yes, Doug brought his espresso machine to the beach. I brought my Kitchen Aid mixer...). Brent has many loves in his life, and right up there at the top alongside fishi-- I mean ME, his WIFE, is coffee. He's actually a connoisseur (OMG I SPELLED THAT RIGHT ON THE FIRST TRY?! Totally freaking out! See, that degree in French has helped me TWICE tonight!) and an addict. He totally cracks out on Americanos and gets really (really!) grouchy around 2pm if there's no coffee in sight. Someday when we are rich I will buy Brent an espresso machine. Don't tell.

Let's recap what we've had so far: kids playing on the beach, fondue, a non-turkey dinner, a trip to the aquarium, on demand coffee... I know what you're thinking- could this weekend get any better? Yes, yes it can!

We were descended upon by a pack of relatives who invaded the beach house bringing song, drink, and the kind of enthusiasm that keeps you up until 4am despite the fact that you know your kids will be up by 7. My dad's brother, Winston, arrived with his daughters, Stacy and Nicole, from California. Our cousin (? it's complicated- grandma's brother's grandson, dad's cousin's son, something like that) Andrew showed up as well, stopping though on a roadtrip from Canada to Tahoe. I've known Andrew since Christmas of 2002, when Nick and I arrived on his family's doorstep in Northern Ireland, but we hadn't seen him since. But there he was, ready to represent the Scottish side of our family. And you know my thoughts on being Scottish and how much it totally rocks...

You know, there's just something about being with family. You get a big old bunch of relatives together and some funny things start to happen. Of course it all began with a few jokes that quickly became future inside jokes and next thing you know someone is handing you another beer and you're expected to show your "parlor trick". What was my talent? What impressive trick could I teach the group? Shakespeare had already been recited, Doug plays guitar and harmonica simultaneously, and Nicole and Stacy had stolen the show with their touching-nose-with-tongue trick. And then I remembered: I can HUSTLE! So yes, the fam learned to Hustle and this time it's on video and I have actually seen it with my own eyes. I am so happy to report that we TOTALLY ROCKED IT (especially Brent- I think he might have disco fever)! Who knew that the Mitchells could dance?

Doug and Winston were providing us with some musical entertainment while we played ping pong, gawked over Andrew's travel pictures, and I marveled over the fact that the kids were still sound asleep. At some point we all gathered around the table and the evening turned into a family sing along, which is maybe just as corny as it sounds. But, it was one of those nights that you know you'll always remember, and as I sat there surrounded by my family as we joined together, eyes shining and glasses full, to sing song after song after song until the wee hours of the morning, I was feeling the love. Damn, these are some really amazing people that I get to be related to.

Wait a sec! Where are the pictures of the family? The Hustle? Pingpong? Nicole and Stacy's parlor tricks?

Can you believe that our camera battery died that night? (Yes, I know, fifty million pictures of the kids on the beach later...) But then again, maybe that's okay. The things I will remember the most about that night couldn't have been captured in a picture anyway.

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