Monday, December 8, 2008

An American Thanksgiving - with an English twist!

The men siitting around after Thanksgiving Dinner - Donald, JP, Ben, Ken

Cleaning up after dinner - Hanna, Roma, Adam, Jo

Christmas in Bourton-on-the-water

We have just spent a wonderful two weeks with our daughter, Brooke, and her family here in England. It was a whirlwind two weeks, but so exciting. What a great time we had with the sweet little girls, Ady and Emma. We saw so many marvelous sites in England and spent so much time together. It is always a little bit of a let down when it is all overwith. Oh well, now we have only about 6 more months to go until we return to the good old US of A!

We had a very American Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, November 29, at my cousin, Judy's, home in Lechlade-on Thames with all of the traditional foods, many of which were foreign to our English cousins. We had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams and apples, fruit salad, rolls, cranberry sauce, veggies, jello salad, and pumpkin ice cream dessert. We set the date six months ago with all of my cousins for this Thanksgiving feast day. They were all there and with anticipation we enjoyed the morning cooking, visiting, and reminiscing about our families and memories of the past. Before the dinner began, we held a beautiful family prayer and Kenneth explained the reason behind the Thanksgiving feast each year in America. They knew a little about the story of the pilgrims coming to America in 1620, but not all of it. They were very interested and impressed with the significance of this very American holiday. I then had to explain a little about how the foods worked together. They were very intrigued by the fact that we eat fruit salad with the main part of the meal. Everyone ate and ate and by the end of the day not one scrap of food was left for leftovers even though we explained that the best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers that everyone can eat for the next few days, making it so that Mom does not have to cook again for several days.

We then went to a small Cotswold Village and did a little Christmas shopping. The small village is called Bourton-on-the-Water and there is a miniature village there that is exactly built to the specificatons of the real village. It is amazing. We had fun visiting and shopping at the many and very popular Christmas shops there. We found some amazing Nativity Scenes that we all like to collect so much.

It was a magical time for us and I know that my mom must be very pleased. These long lost cousins just feel like family. They are so pleasant and have many of the same likes and dislikes that we have. We truly do have a grand time when we all get together.

We also visited Dover Castle on the Southeast coast of England while Brooke and her family were here. It is here that you can look across the English Channel for just about 20 miles and see France on a clear night. We could truly do that from the hotel that we stayed in there. It had a sea side view and you could see the lights of France right across the channel. My mom actually lived in a house on the castle grounds as a young girl as her father was a Major in the British Army over the artillery guns at the castle. We were able to visit the church where she went as a child and saw the area where the home she lived in once stood. It is no longer there, but the foundation still exists. I could just imagine what it must have been like to have lived in a place such as this as a young child. We were also able to tour the Secret Wartime Tunnels that exist under the castle. There are 6 levels of tunnels that were used by the English during World Wars I and II and some were even used for surveillance and secret operations as far back as the Napoleonic Era. There was a fully staffed and equipped hospital, radio equipment, telephone switchboard, facilities to house over 2000 men, etc. down there in the dark dank tunnels.
It truly has been an exciting two weeks and now we wait with anticipation for the Angel Moroni to go up on the top of the temple. That should happen any day now. The Christmas lights are all turned on here on the temple grounds and the Visitors' Centre is decorated with poinsettias and red garland to commemorate this remarkable season. Life is good and we are very busy and involved here. Hope you are all well and happy this holiday season. We think of you and home often. We will miss all of you this Christmas time, but will have warm memories in our hearts of all of the good times we have had through the years at this most special time of the year.