Kel and Paula have an annual tradition of hosting a huge Thanksgiving meal for a large assortment of friends on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We’d attended in our Virginia days, but hadn’t been back for years. This year the stars aligned and we made the trek north.

We had planned to drive up on Thursday, but an incoming winter storm in Northern Virginia convinced us that heading out on Wednesday night was a better solution.

We arrived around midnight, tucked ourselves into bed, and awoke to cancelled school for the girls and fluffy snow all around.

There was hot chocolate thanks to Paula, Della the dog had her first play in the snow, and her first fire, and much play and laughter all around.

The kids and I had our outing to Udvar-Hazy on Friday, then on Saturday, we trekked to Reston to revisit the town center, enjoy a Panera breakfast, and take Christmas card photos like we did in the old days.

Full disclosure, the youngsters on the sides are kneeling on chairs to ensure their big sister looks taller. We were going for a remake of this beloved photo:

Christmas 2008

Thanks to the kind security guard who took our photo.

Monkey got time with best buddy Lu, which always brings many giggles for both of them.

After we dropped off Monkey, we headed back for the rest of the chosen family and we headed out to celebrate Yessa’s birthday with a sushi outing. Buster’s not a sushi fan, so he opted out.

Ice cream birthday celebration.

While Monkey continued giggling at the S-R house, the rest of us headed to our old church for a “Banding Together” event with multiple bands playing. K and B sang in the first group, and Buds and I enjoyed seeing many friends, some we hadn’t seen in years. It was a delightful evening.

Saturday night began the preparations for Friendsgiving, with time to visit, tell stories, and watch a movie.

Watching The Hunger Games.

Sunday the real preparation began. Paula has the spreadsheet planned out and keeps notes from year to year about what was popular. She makes all the Thanksgiving favorites, and there’s a story behind each food. The crab dip was a special revelation this year, and all the food is fantastic.

It was so fun to help with the preparations, including being sent out to the store, rearranging furniture, a little bit of cooking, and being together.

The snow was gone and it was a crisp, beautiful Fall day.

What a joy it was to meet folks we had heard about for years, be re-introduced to folks we had met before, and have some fascinating conversations. Frankly, it was also a relief to be back in Northern Virginia with people we could be pretty sure shared our perspective of the world.

We covered a lot of ground with our many conversations, but there’s always more to talk about, more bourbon to sample (Paula), more movies to watch, and more adventures to have together.

Happy Friendsgiving. Thanks for letting us share in the joy, Dear Ones.