November 20 – 28th
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
What a stunning sunset we witnessed over the prairie.
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!
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…
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.
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.
The evening was topped off with a drive to Paris to see the Christmas lights and watch the parade.
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.
Still more special get togethers included time with Nancy’s brother, Uncle Richard.
And the final outing was to meet Betty and Eldon for dinner Monday evening.
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.