I can’t believe we are 9 days out from Christmas and I have yet to share our “Friendsgiving” with you! We’d already enjoyed a fabulous turkey dinner, celebrating Thanksgiving a couple of weeks early when my whole family happened to visit at the same time. It was fabulous! When the actual holiday rolled around, we had a full house with our dear friends, Whit and Lazuli, and their boys, Huck and Ozzie. They arrived with gifts for us- a book and toy for Oden, a cookbook for me (written by one of Lazuli’s closest friends), John’s favorite hot sauce from a restaurant called Soul Food, and a gorgeous piece of pottery made by none other than Whit. He is so talented!
The best thing about their visit was that it SNOWED that week. Those little Cali boys (and their father) were so pumped to get out into the white stuff! Each day of their visit, there was some kind of sledding adventure involved. Some days they found a slope on the golf course in our neighborhood. Some days we drove all the way up to Empire Pass where the snow would be deeper. The boys jumped right out of the truck, ran up the hill, and slid without a sled right into the parking lot. It didn’t seem to matter that there were trees and shrubs poking through the snow here and there. In fact, three of the four plastic sleds got broken on rocks over the course of the weekend. John and Whit acted like 10-year olds, too. Too much fun!
Oden loves lots of activity around him, so a full house is right up his alley. Whit is a bit of a baby whisperer, snatching Oden whenever he had the chance. He only played shy for a little bit and then was just one of the boys. Lazuli and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, prepping and chatting. She made a fabulous stuffing for our feast, drying sourdough slices on the counter overnight, and her famous pumpkin pie using actual baked pumpkin!
Our wonderful nanny came over one evening to watch Oden and the boys so the grownups could have a proper date night. We left the house in a raging snowstorm and had to change our dinner location plans due to the driving conditions! I will admit that, after all of these years living in the mountains, it’s not Christmas for this Cali girl until it snows. It made it feel like the holidays were here! We had a fun dinner and drinks at the Waldorf Astoria bar and the hotel lobby was already festive and twinkling with lights.
Thanksgiving itself started early with Oden. I put on the parade on the TV before switching to football. The boys got out into the fresh snow as quickly as possible. There was obviously a lot of time spent in the kitchen, preparing the scrumptious meal. Whit and John took care of the turkey, from the brining the night before to the stuffing, buttering, basting, gravy-making, and carving. Whit handled the mashed potatoes. I made a new dish, a scrumptious corn pudding recipe from one of John’s mom’s cookbooks. We had a sausage and wild rice stuffing, green bean casserole, the cucumber-dill sauce I grew up with and can’t live without, plus the usual turkey, gravy, stuffing, rolls, pumpkin pie, and a whiskey chocolate walnut pie I bought at a local bakery… way too much food but SO good.
We paused before dinner to attempt a group photo using the camera’s self-timer before Oden’s bedtime. Note to self: getting a baby to look at the camera and be still for a photo is next to impossible!
I used some beautiful hand-painted plates my mom gave me last Christmas for our table setting and we served the turkey on the platter from Whit. Huckleberry requested a turkey leg for his meal and it was almost as big as his head! I adore a dining room table full of love, and that’s what we had. We shared what we were thankful for and clinked glasses to friendship.
Rivaling the feast itself for scrumptiousness were the fabulous turkey sandwiches the next day. It was interesting to see how different people preferred their sandwiches. The day-after sandwich is serious business and it better be right! I prefer mayo, turkey, stuffing, some cranberry sauce, and salt and pepper on toasted buttermilk or white bread. YUM. There was more sledding to be had (read: more broken sleds!).
And let’s not forget about the GOBBLER, the Shepherd’s Pie made with all of the leftovers and topped with cheese that is a tradition in my family. We prepared the Gobbler ahead of time and then rallied the troops to go bowling for a fun activity, not expecting the two-hour wait we were greeted with. So we hit the arcade for a while, which was a fun alternative and got us out of the house, and then headed home to devour delicious leftovers.
Our friends would leave the next day, but not before one last sledding adventure on the golf course. We paused the fun to get a group photo (minus Huck, the photographer). Such a beautiful day! Then we had a few minutes together at home for little more snuggling with Oden.
And then we said our goodbyes. John and I have visited these friends at their home in California often, sometimes even at Thanksgiving, and we always have a magical time. It was special for them to come to us this time, meet Oden, have a taste of Utah wintertime, and make some precious memories. After Whit, Lazuli, and the boys left, I went to the store and found a shard of a sled in my car. I laughed out loud. These are friends who we consider family, and I can’t wait for the next time we’re all together!
A happy Thanksgiving, indeed!
One year ago: Black Russian Cake with Boozy Kahlua Toffee Glaze