Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving Tapas

Holidays.  Some people look forward to them all year, some dread them.  Some holiday gatherings go off without a hitch, some not.  Sometimes you have everyone together, sometimes not.  Sometimes people are missing. Sometimes you wish they were (ha ha.  But we all know it's true!)

When it comes to family gatherings, I have it easier than Neil.  My parents are here, my sister is 2 1/2 hours away, my aunt is 1 1/2 hours away and my uncle is about 45 minutes away.  We do have Neil's dad and Glenda (his long-time sweetie who I consider my mother-in-law) here in Columbia, but his brother is in Minnesota, and his younger brother and sister are in Florida.  Sadly, Neil's mom, Mimi, died about 2 weeks after we were engaged and his step-dad died just a few years ago.  

I think we all grow up with that "cool" aunt, uncle or cousin that is special and influential in our lives.  Well, that's where Aunt Kathy comes in!  Kathy is Mimi's younger sister and is the 2nd family member (after Mimi) that I was ever introduced to.  She is Neil's "Cool Aunt Kathy."  

Neil & his cool Aunt Kathy
Even before we met, I heard many stories about her and it was clear that she made a huge difference in Neil's life.  I couldn't wait to meet her.  (That was 1997.)  We've had many opportunities to spend time together since that initial meeting, but since the Wunderkind landed on Planet Earth, none.  So, this Thanksgiving, it was off to Aunt Kathy's we went!

Me and Marisa
The synopsis is this:  Neil and I both were ecstatic to spend time with Kathy and her daughter (Neil's cousin, Marisa) but even more to introduce them to Viv.  We are so proud of her, as you can imagine, but just to share more family with her was priceless.  She's only 5, but she was so interested and intrigued about learning more about her family and hearing the stories and getting to know more on her own.  It was truly a great holiday on so many levels.  

Okay, so you're wondering if I'm ever going to talk about food, right? Well, yes, yes I am.  We did the usual suspects for T-Day.  Neil was turkey maestro, I made Aunt Jennie's sweet potatoes, Marisa made green bean casserole and Kathy introduced me and Viv to Nana's "stewed corn."  It was a wonderful much so it sent Neil to an early slumber!  But my favorite part was the next day.

We indulged in leftovers for lunch but when evening rolled around, we went my favorite route of all time...SNACKS!  I'm not talking about Bugles and french onion dip.  No, no.  Real snackin' Akre style!  Aunt Kathy grilled the most amazing sweet peppers, apple/chicken sausages, smoked venison sausage, asparagus and scallions.  We dipped into spicy hummus, speared black pepper/white cheddar with picks and scooped up hunks of beautiful blue cheese.  

This is the smoked venison sausage

Chicken/apple sausage & beautiful pepper in background

Check the color...and these peppers were actually sweet!

Jalapenos, spicy hummus & blue cheese...oh my!
Of course, we had all of this accompanied by the appropriate wines, mixed concoctions and Viv's special "kid cocktails" which were various fruit juices with club soda in fancy glasses.  
Uh huh...I'm in Kindergarten now. I deserve a "kid cocktail"

Who said club soda was boring?

Our trip was fantastic for so many reasons.  Neil was able to show off Gainesville and some of its attractions and places of memory to his little one. We had a great Thanksgiving feast.  But most of all, we spent several days with family who we don't get to see often enough, teach our baby about more of her heritage and enjoy each other's company.  I hope your holiday was as fulfilling and rich as ours.  Time and family are both so precious.

Two beautiful ladies!

So happy to see these girls for Thanksgiving!

Me and Aunt Kathy
My little family unit

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