Thanksgiving in Illinois

November 20 – 28th

Courthouse in the town square in Mattoon, Illinois

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate family ties and long-time friends. My roots were in Oregon and Tim grew up in the heart of the country where soy bean and corn fields can be seen for miles. The rich dark soil makes this ideal farming country. It has been three years since we were last here and a visit to Illinois was long overdue. 

When I started coming back here over 25 years ago to learn about and share where Tim got his foundation, he proudly introduced me to many who had helped shape the man he was to become. Sadly, we have lost too many of these treasured family members and friends over the last few years.

I’m well aware that showing off dozens of family portraits will not mean anything to those of you who do not know them from Adam. BUT, these are our moments, filled with special memories, a lot of love, and times that I will always treasure.

It has been quite a few years since our son Dane played basketball in school. It was such a treat to attend an 8th grade game where our niece’s son played his heart out.

Fox is number 15 in red

This time of the year is ideal for getting crisp, juicy apples from the orchard. We took a drive to the Silver Leaf area and picked up a peck of Fuji and Pink Lady apples that had just been picked.

Apple sorting and sacking

What a treat to come across two magnificent bald eagles. They were not too far from the road so we pulled over and watched them for a few minutes. I’m guessing that they may be a mated pair. My little camera lens does not do very well from a distance and when I have zoomed in and cropped that shot, the quality is poor. But we did get to see then and this is my proof 🙂

Two white-headed bald eagles!

We spent a day talking up a storm, going out for lunch and a bit of shopping with Tim’s mom, Shirley. It is wonderful seeing her in such good health. Sadly, Tim’s sister, Kim was not feeling well and we were not able to get together with her.

Tim and his mom, Shirley

What a stunning sunset we witnessed over the prairie.

The contrast between sky and the bare hedgerow.

Thanksgiving day was spent with more family in Paris, Illinois. Tim’s niece Sarah and her boyfriend Josh hosted us to a fantastic meal that included turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, two kinds of home-made noodles (regular and gluten-free), sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping, green bean casserole, corn, stuffing, fresh fruit salad, apple salad, snicker doodle salad, and several kinds of pie including blueberry, pumpkin, lemon and coconut creme!

Our hosts – Sarah (Tim’s niece) and her boyfriend Josh

Nancy (Tim’s stepmom) and Tim

Some of our side of the family

Most of Josh’s family members had already taken off before I managed to get my camera out of my purse. They might not have understood my photo obsession, and probably escaped just in the nick of time…

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Later in the afternoon we drove to Danville to see another branch of the family. I failed to get my camera out. This was Tim’s Aunt Mickey and Uncle Melvin’s family with some of their children and grandchildren. What a warm, fun group who made us feel at home where we played some games, shared pictures and devoured one more piece of pie!

On Saturday we had a full agenda that included checking out a couple of apartment buildings near Mattoon. The real estate prices are so much friendlier here than in California. Although they pencil out, some of the smaller towns are shrinking and there is a higher vacancy factor that we were comfortable with.

One of several full wall murals we admired

A loop back north to Danville to see Tim’s Aunt Mickey and Uncle Melvin who recently moved into a senior complex. It is a well cared for center and reminded me of the one that my mother lived in briefly in 2012/2013.

Nancy, Aunt Mickey, Uncle Melvin, Tim

Aunt Mickey and Uncle Melvin

The evening was topped off with a drive to Paris to see the Christmas lights and watch the parade.

Santa and his reindeer

Sunday we were treated to a wonderful dinner in Dana, Indiana by Tim’s brother Larry, sister-in-law Marie and niece Ashley. We finally got to meet her long-time boyfriend, Will.

L to R: Larry, Shirley, Marie, Ashley, Will, Joanne, Tim

Still more special get togethers included time with Nancy’s brother, Uncle Richard.

Nancy and her brother, Uncle Richard

And the final outing was to meet Betty and Eldon for dinner Monday evening.

Eldon and Betty

Whew, it was a bit of a whirlwind making the rounds, but I am so happy that we managed to see so many family members while there.

We flew back to California Tuesday evening, departing out of the small airport in Champaign. It was so much more convenient and I believe we will do that again the next time we fly to Illinois.

One short moment where the hair stood up on the back of my neck occurred just before we were to land in Chicago for our change of planes. We were on final approach, literally seconds before touchdown when the captain suddenly gave it full throttle, pulled up, and we aborted our landing. That is the first time that has happened on a flight I have been on in a very long time.

We waited for what seemed like an eternity until he finally came on the PA system to let us know that there was too much traffic and it was decided last-minute that we may be cutting it a bit close.

Our connection in Chicago otherwise was uneventful and we arrived safely back in Los Angeles before midnight. It was wonderful having our son meet us at the Van Nuys Flyaway terminal with open arms!

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that we got to spend some quality time with those we hold dear. I pray that each and every one of you have some special people in your lives with whom you share history, memories, and/or DNA and that the holidays did or will bring you together. May you know joy and find many reasons to celebrate your blessings.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
This entry was posted in Illinois, Photography, United States and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Thanksgiving in Illinois

  1. Sounds like a wonderful time. We currently live in a suburb of Chicago and Illinois is a beautiful place. I love the rich, dark soil still found in so many places. Those apples sound wonderful, too.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. We had much the same kind of Thanksgiving, visiting an old homeplace and distant relatives, but I do believe you packed more in than we did and we packed in a lot! Love, love, love Thanksgiving.


  3. ospreyshire says:

    You actually visited my home state! Nice! I’ve actually been to Mattoon before when I was in my university’s choir where we toured through there. I also have an old friend who’s from Danville. That’s such a small world.


    • HaHa, it is wonderful finding someone who knows where we were! These are pretty small rural communities that my husband grew up in. It feels a bit like Mayberry when we arrive, with love, friendliness and open arms to greet us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ospreyshire says:

        Sure thing. I haven’t been to Central Illinois in a long time, but I’ve been in that part of the state before. I’ve noticed that people in Central and Southern Illinois can be more hospitable than those up North most of the time and this is coming from someone who lives in the Northern part of the state. Hahaha! There are some nice places down there that are far away from urban and suburban life. Even the other major cities downstate like Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, or Decatur have farmlands and cornfields once you go right out of the city limits. I’m glad you had a great time there.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Linda says:

    It seems that you made the most out of time with family.


  5. Looks like a great Thanksgiving, Joanne. A while back I attended a family reunion of fifth cousins of mine in Danville. They really piled on the food. 🙂 Earlier this evening I was trying to persuade a bald eagle to come closer. All I had along was my Canon Powershot, so I am in full empathy with your challenge! –Curt


    • Curt, it was a very special time for us and our visit “Home” was long overdue. We rarely travel with Tim’s good Nikon and long lens anymore, but sure would have loved to have had it when we spotted those eagles. Regardless, it was a wonderful sighting. I hope that you and Peggy also had a memorable Thanksgiving.


  6. Jane Sturgeon says:

    ❤ pours from your post ❤


  7. Paul Finnell says:

    Thanksgiving, holidays, home and family can have very different meanings for different people dependent upon how and where you were raised, what your traditions are and your particular beliefs. For me, the particular Thanksgiving experience that you showed so beautifully in your post captures everything that Thanksgiving, family values, and Americana means to me. It was beautifully portrayed, beautifully written, and I enjoyed reading and seeing it so much! I’m so glad that you and Tim did this, and it is experiences like these that stay with us for a lifetime. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on time so well spent!


  8. Fran says:

    It sounds like wonderful memories were made! On your next visit through Chicago we should meet up for a quick meal.


  9. joylennick says:

    Hi folks, We don’t have Thanksgiving, as such, here in Spain – although we are thankful for all our many blessings. It was an enjoyable experience travelling with you to see your families and friends.. May you have a heart-warming Christmas and a healthy, happy New Year.Best wishes. Joy xx
    PS If you’re looking for a stocking filler…MO and I have just published THE MOON IS WEARING A TUTU, guaranteed to make you smile and hopefully laugh. (Humouress poems, limericks and silly jokes. Amazon/Kindle/CreateSpace. etc.,)


  10. John Tuttle says:

    Hey, there. I live near Rockford, Illinois. Glad to hear you too had a great Thanksgiving. I hope you made some genuine memories here in the “land of Lincoln.”


  11. Brenda Thompson says:

    I loved seeing all of Tim’s family you posted. along with your comments. I didn’t realized he has such a large family in Illinois. I’m sure you were the highlight of their Thanksgiving holiday, and Tim’s heart must have been so full to be with them all again. I’m also certain he is so proud to bring you “home” again and again, so pleased to have chosen such a lovely, intelligent lady to have by his side, enjoying these treasured moments together.


    • Brenda, they do have LARGE families back there. Tim’s dad was one of around a dozen kids and most of his aunts and uncles had large families as well. It always feels good to be so warmly welcomed each time we return.


  12. Brenda Thompson says:



  13. tippysmom2 says:

    I am so glad that you had such a wonderful Thanksgiving! It’s always nice to visit family you haven’t seen in a while. I loved the mural, sunset, and all of the family photos!


  14. Widdershins says:

    Sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping – the epitome of decadence! 😀


  15. Aunt Beulah says:

    To me, this blog summed up the wonder of Thanksgiving: family, family, family, food, fun and more family. I, too married a good man from Illinois and when we return we have the same busy, family-filled visit you had. It’s wonderful, isn’t it?


  16. curvyroads says:

    So nice to see your post, albeit belatedly. 🙂 It is so important to visit with family and dear friends while we still can. That seems to become more apparent every year, sadly. But enjoy every sweet moment!


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