For the record, I am the grand champion of Monopoly in the Nelson Household. As much as my nephew and his grandfather tried to conspire to take me down, I put a whooping on them … In the end I owned every property and had a hotel on every one of them.
Thanksgiving with the family has been something I have been doing since before I left for college. I’ve made it to Prairie du Chien, WI (aka “The Du”) annually whether I lived in Houghton, MI; Watertown, WI; St Francis, WI; Wichita, KS; and now Anchorage, AK. We had all been busy in one way or another around Christmas, and the other holidays were worse — but we always found a way to get together for Thanksgiving. This year, as far as it was, as much of a challenge as it was, I still made it happen. I had to make it happen, it is what we do.
I would call it a tradition, but the word tradition is thrown around this week every year so much it seems the biggest tradition is calling everything a tradition. Don’t get me wrong, we have loads of traditions during Thanksgiving. There’s the dinner itself, usually well into the early football game; including a nice meal of turkey, stuffing, veggies, wine, and dad’s annual blessing before we dig in. There is the tour through the town to see what’s changed, usually around what Blair Dillman projects were actually worked on in the last 12 months (I don’t expect anyone from outside of “the Du” to get that). But the most consistent is the decoration of the “Charlie Brown Tree”. The actual tree has cycled through over the years (and sometimes became 2 or 3 trees), but for a long time we decorated a single sickly looking evergreen on the St Feriole Island along the Mississippi. It would be an image out of the Charlie Brown Christmas in itself. These days the spruce we decorate is nearly 20ft tall, and took seven or eight strings of lights to cover.
Of course, this year I was challenged by the trip down. For one thing, the overnight flight from Anchorage was made uncomfortable by not so stable seat mates; then the flight to Cedar Rapids was cancelled out of Chicago. So my easy trip in, was longer and more exhausting. So with my time zone difference, I slept in. That and I paniced about Auggie all day since my phone got pretty shoddy reception.
But today is about what we give thanks for. I am thankful for being able to get here and see my parents, my brother, and my nephew. I am thankful for a little furry poopball that is likely creating havoc up in AK. I am thankful for the sunrises over the Chugachs that remind me back home why I moved to Alaska to begin with. I am thankful for the time to appreciate all I am Thankful for.
That being said, y’all should be thankful you weren’t whipped in Monopoly either!!