More from Grits & Gravy

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Olivia & Morgee
I have many things to be thankful for this year. I have settled into my life in Arkansas, developed great friendships, and am able to work with phenomenal students. The year brought celebration with the births of Olivia, Heath, and Connor. My brother Dustin completed his degree from Lake City Community College and married his long-time love Erika. Baby brother Kyle got a great new job doing something he enjoys while his girlfriend began her studies at the local community college. To top the year off, Momma and Doug made the move back to Florida.
Dustin's Graduation

One of the things that I appreciate most about my family is that we have some real grit to us. With all of the great things happening, the distance I live from my family was a bit difficult this year as my availability to travel home was less than in past years. As always, the Morgan/Bell clan is supporting me and sacrificing time so that I may do work that I enjoy. We took a hit this year when we lost Pops Morgan and Aunt Donna but we are pulling through okay and rallying together through the difficult moments.

Kyle & Rachel
My family structure is anything but typical and sometimes worlds apart but it is unique and exactly what I needed to become who I am. As I grow older, my awareness of how hard my parents worked to provide for me grows more apparent. I appreciate their sacrifices every day.

A fun thing about my family is that I get to be an only child with Momma and Doug and one of four with Daddy and Rhonda. I spend Thanksgiving with the Bells and Christmas with the Morgans. Sometimes we travel for Thanksgiving but this year we chose to stay home and spend the holiday with my Paw Paw and Donna. This holiday seemed to continue my theme of the year which is to reconnect by spending quality time with family and friends.

The down time allowed me to have an extensive BBM convo with Mel, plan my next visit with Morg, Send out invite for Cheerleader Reunion, plan a sleepover with the Rodriguez fam, catch up with Blake, and spend some long overdue time with my Paw Paw. Momma, Doug, and I had a great couple of low key days watching movies and whipping up delicious meals. Normally when I am in the Tampa area I attempt to see all of my college buddies but I resisted the temptation this time to decompress and focus on family. Don't worry TPA friends, I'll be back after Christmas and ready to socialize!

Tampa is always a breath of fresh air for me. Going to college in such a great city really gave me the opportunity to explore and develop a life all of my own. When I was a young thing, my friends and I loved Bahama Breeze - great patio, tasty drinks, and yummy food. My mother being the excellent fun coordinator that she is let this restaurant be our first stop. I enjoyed sangria and grouper tacos with black beans and yellow rice. Grouper is my absolute favorite fish and I pretty much crave it constantly.

After a busy day shopping, Momma and Doug whipped together a delicious arugula (from my Paw Paw's garden) and steak salad with shaved parmesan cheese and roasted red bell pepper. This salad is a lot of my favorite things and I appreciate that my Momma always puts together great, fresh dishes that I adore when I am home. Over the next couple of days, I got a massage and did a little mother/daughter shopping. To walk into a Crate & Barrel was like a piece of heaven. Some people need clothes, I need housewares items. While at the International Mall, we tried out this great new hot spot called The Pub. The meal was stellar! We enjoyed a glass of white wine (it's vacation!), goat cheese dip with warm pitas, and split an order of fish tacos. I literally could have eaten myself sick on the goat cheese, it was like nothing I have ever tasted and I cannot wait until the next time we meet.

Goat Cheese & Pita

Fish Tacos
We wrapped up the week with a Thanksgiving celebration in Ocala, home of Paw Paw and Donna. It has been about three years since I have been to their house so it was great to see the new chickens and plentiful garden. My family rocks any Starbucks within site so naturally we hit the local joint on the downtown square and enjoyed the beautifully decorated park. Keeping with tradition, we went and saw Morning Glory and it was a great little holiday movie. Friday we stuffed ourselves at Cracker Barrel and spent a few more hours with my grandparents before heading home. Saturday, I successfully avoided being violated in the airport and away I went back home to Arkansas.

It was a great, refreshing trip and I am thankful for the time I am able to spend with my family. I am looking forward to the holiday season and having some more good ole fashion family fun!

1 comment:

Big Apple Angie said...

Great post! It's hard being away from family at the holidays, but I like how you guys make it work!