Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Costs $157.88 is is Truly Priceless?

The answer, spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my cousin, her two children and her husband's family.

The total cost of driving to Chappaqua, NY to spend Thanksgiving with my cousin and her family was $157.88.  This breaks down as follows:
  • Gasoline $72.53
  • Tolls $52.10
  • Wine $26.50
  • Bread $6.75
Before I get too far into this, let me say her husband was an outstanding host and as always very kind.  He is from Holland and so is his family. More on that later.  Her kids are 16 months old and 3 years old.

Thanksgiving Dinner

I left early in the morning on November 24th.  I arrived about 4 hours before the dinner was to be served. So I got to spend considerable time with her before the guests arrived. My cousin already finished much of the cooking.  I helped where I could.

It was a long and relaxing dinner.  In fact, it was a grand event. My cousin prepared a four course meal.  First was cheese and crackers and some of the cheese was from Holland.  Next was pumpkin soup. Third was the main meal. Finally, desert.  Since I consumed so much during the first three courses, I had coffee for desert.  And of course wine.

I posted four pics on my Facebook page. My cousin is a very good cook and she bought a fresh turkey.  It was outstanding. Her cranberry sauce was homemade and delicious.  Her stuffing was quite tasty. Her mother-in-law bought brussel sprouts cooked with bacon (to my daughter I remind her to read this part). The only setback was the mashed potatoes and that is the fault of the potato masher (me).

As I said earlier, my cousin's husband is from Holland. I enjoyed talking to his family. The accent is beautiful. Sometimes Dutch was spoken at the table.  It is a lovely language. I learned alot about Dutch cuisine.  Among the guests was a young lady from Holland. Her English was very good.  My cousin explained to her the Thanksgiving holiday and the typical food served. 

Black Friday

On Black Friday we took the train to New York City. As typical, my cousin's husband insisted that I sit by the window so I could see the scenery.  We arrived in Grand Central Station and it was just as spectacular as I remembered. 

First we had lunch, and just like when my kids were very young, you have to find a restaurant that the kids will like. Boy, I cannot begin to count the number of times my wife and I had to think about that.  In one respect, my wife and I appreciated food chains for their consistency, it almost never mattered where you are.

Our first stop was the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza.  It is not lit, you can find a pic on my Facebook page. It is sure big, and I think wider this year.

I taught my niece how to window shop. She certainly has fine taste in clothes.  We saw horse drawn carriages.

We only went in one store. You will see some of the stores we walked by on my Facebook page, 12 pics total. If you have not been to New York City during the Christmas season, you should. The window displays are true works of art.

Fond Memories

As I wrote earlier, my cousin has two adorable kids, one 3 years old and one 16 months old.  I watched as the kids took great delight in discovering something new, playing with their cousins and disagreeing with mom and dad.  It sure brought back memories now over a decade old. I sure remember my kids finding out something new and how much fun it was to share in that joy. I also recall the disagreements and how loud kids can be.  When it was my kids, I thought everybody was looking and thinking what a bad parent I am. Fortunately, I do not think my cousin or her husband have that belief. No doubt that I do not miss that phase, but it also reminded me how challenging parenting can be. 


I spent most of my time with my cousin in the kitchen. You know me, any chance to taste something cooking, and talk to my cousin.  

A brief description about my cousin.  She is a delight and interesting.  She worked for CBS News for many years as a journalist.  She is highly intelligent and creative (her whole family is).  We grew up in Midland, Texas.  Her mother was my father's sister.  In addition to several holidays, we spent alot of time together.  Her family and ours were very close.

After everything was done and the kids in bed, we were able to talk about current issues, family and other things. This time was priceless. The family discussions were so refreshing.  We had so many shared memories and it was just fun to relive those days with her.  Some of the memories were about Midland, our grandfathers' farm in Stephenville, TX or the occasional family trip.  Every night I went to bed, I was happier than when I woke up that same morning.

In all honesty, we just scratched the surface of all the great times our families spent over several decades.  Driving back my head was filled with so many more that neither of us brought up. Just to have that opportunity with a cousin I dearly love was priceless.

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