Saturday, December 22, 2012

No Place Like Home

Wow, December has FLOWN by!  It seems like just a week or two ago we were flying home to Texas to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families.  Because of our work schedules, we hadn't been home in 3 months.  I was getting seriously homesick, and luckily, we had the good fortune to be able to travel home during the week of Thanksgiving.  It was so good getting to see our family and friends again! We drove to Indianapolis the night before we left (my first time ever in Indiana!) then caught an early morning flight to Dallas!  

Robert's mom and grandfather were waiting for us when we arrived to pick us up and take us to Robert's parents' house to celebrate an early Thanksgiving.  Since I had to work on Black Friday, we decided to fly in on Sunday and leave on Thursday.  Yes, we flew back on Thanksgiving day.  Less fun than stuffing our faces and watching football.  Oh well.
I loved being home where it's still warm, the landscapes and skylines are familiar, and I know more than a handful of people in the state.  Where everyone drinks their tea sweet, seeing a Baylor bumper sticker's not a shocker and cowboy boots don't warrant a double take.  Yep.  Home.

 Once we got to the in-law's house, we got to spend a whole day with Robert's parents, grandparents, uncle, brother and sister-in-law, and little sister.  This was my fifth year to be with Robert, but it was only the third Thanksgiving I had celebrated with the Scotts.  And we've always taken family pictures at every single one of them. Robert's not a huge fan of group photos.  You should have seen him at our wedding.  But every year he sucks it up (to an extent) and goes along with the family pictures because he knows how much it means to his mom.

We also got to enjoy a delicious Mexican style Thanksgiving feast of homemade fajitas!  It was great to have authentic Tex Mex again (as contradictory as that may seem).  Catching up with all of the family was great.  Robert's sister is a sophomore in college, his brother and sister-in-law were expecting their first child (she arrived a week after we left!) and his parents and grandparents wanted to hear all about our Midwestern life.

The next day most of the family had to return to their lives, so we spent the day with Robert's mom and dad doing some shopping and Dallas and having some amazing Texas barbecue!
Early the next morning my grandfather picked us up and drove us to my hometown in East Texas.  The leaves were all changing colors (except for the pine trees, of course) and the weather was gorgeous.  It felt so good to be back among the rolling hills and piney woods of my home.

Since we were traveling on Thanksgiving, we decided to have our family meal on Tuesday night, because that's when we were all available.  My dad came to town and my grandfather was there, but unfortunately, his new wife was still recovering from surgery and did not feel well enough to come.

My mother did all the cooking, and of course, everything tasted delicious.  It was a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving meal with all of the dishes I remember eating during the holidays when I was growing up.  We had a Greenburg smoked turkey, which is an East Texas local favorite, cornbread dressing, broccoli rice casserole, green bean bacon wraps, sweet potato soufflĂ©, pineapple au gratin and cranberry orange relish.  It was amazing.

I loved that we got to dress up and eat in our dining room (which is under-utilized and usually reserved for special occasions). My mom made sure to make a lovely fall-themed presentation, and it was great.  We never really have Thanksgiving at home because growing up, we almost always celebrated at my aunt's house with my dad's side of the family.  Occasionally we would spend it with my maternal grandparents and that side of my family, but they usually got Christmas.

And of course, our little doll Paisley was a blast to spend time with.  She is so grown up now!  I remember when she could barely roll over and giving her a bottle and burping her, but now she's running all over the place, eating turkey and repeating (or trying to repeat) everything we say!  She reminds me so much of my sister at that age.  Since we are 6 years apart, I helped care for her when we were young, and I vividly remember her as a child.
In keeping with tradition, we visited my aunts, uncles and cousins on my dad's side on Wednesday night.  We hadn't seen most of them since the wedding, and it was fun to catch up with everyone.  The little kiddos played together, the adults chatted and we had another Mexican style meal: homemade quesadillas!  Yep.  Texas.

After the visit there, we had a few drinks with a couple of friends from high school.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to see all the people I had hoped to see.  Some high school friends had other plans, my older siblings have kids and families of their own which makes getting together more difficult, and my best friends from college all live in other towns and states!  That's the hard part a about living so far away and only having short visits home every now and then.  We just can't find time to squeeze in everything we want to do and everyone we want to see.

It was very hard getting ready to fly back to Illinois this time.  We would be back in about 6 weeks, but it still tore me up inside having to leave me family again.  I guess I'm still getting used to this whole "adult" thing.  I'm happy that we are where we are, but there are still some painful moments.  I hate not being able to take weekend trips to see my family.  I hate not being able to go home for Christmas.  I hate missing out on so much of Paisley's life after being such a big part of it before I was married.

I have to be grateful though.  Robert is getting a top of the line education that is going to make him infinitely more sought-after than he would otherwise.  I may not be living my dream (yet), but we are spreading our wings.  We are seeing what life is like outside of Texas and the South, we are exploring a part of the country that was unfamiliar to us, we are meeting new people and making new connections.  The world is our oyster.

Dinner time with Dad, Hannah and Paisley Anne!
As much as it hurts to be away from my family and friends, I know that we are where we are meant to be.  As homesick as I may get for my familiar home, falling in love with a new place is exciting.  As lonely as I sometimes am for my best friends who know me better than I know myself, I know that I carry them with me in my heart wherever I am.

So, now I am back in the Land of Lincoln, trudging through the tedious work days and savoring the special moments with new friends and my dear husband.  But no matter how far I may be from my family, I know that our love reaches all the way to the Lone Star State and back.  Only a week and a half left and we will be back home for a few days, like sheep returning to the fold.  Then as 2013 gets underway, we'll move on to greener pastures, anxious to see where our adventures take us next.

Our first Thanksgiving as husband and wife!

Uncle Robert playing piano with Paisley before bed

Paisley with her grandpa blowing on a dandelion
Picking wildflowers at our family ranch

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