Brrrr – do you feel that??? Fall is here in Northern Virginia – in fact it has brought with it temps in the 40s – so it is REALLY here! Which means these Thanksgiving posts gotta get live before its time for a new one!
Thanksgiving has turned into the big Heppes holiday. It is the one time of year all of my siblings are home and it is the Flaherty gathering my parents host every year. As you know it has always been an important part of our holiday season (Danny couldn’t miss risking it even for the potential new lungs), and 2017 was extra special.
Starting the week off with my cousin’s Sunday night wedding, we had the whole week to hang out together and that is exactly what we did. We planned adventures and fun meals – but most importantly we just laughed.
First up for the new activities was an evening of Monster Golf. You see Grant and Kelly our city family (they have been living in New York and just moved to Chicago this summer), always bring out the adventurous side. Instead of some of our tried and true activities (take out and cards), they did some searching around only to find indoor Monster Mini-Golf! Yup, we had a night of mini-golf that was glow and dark and included a great arcade.
Besides just something funny to do – it was really fun to take my Ganmommy. See growing up she had been an extremely talented golfer – “scratch golfer” is how they referred to her (yes, I know my golfing knowledge astounds you), so clearly it was not just a passion but something she gave a lot of time to in her day. But when she came home to her wealthy Italian family with notions of marrying a middle class solider Irishman, her parents attempted to persuade her reconsideration with the threatening of her beloved past time. No poor Irish solider would have the money for her to waste on golf. So just to prove her love, ever since her wedding day she has never played again. Sure she will enjoy a put or two with my Dad’s clubs or happily coach my mom from the golf cart, but never a full round. He has been gone from us since 2002 and still she has never played again. Luckily Monster Mini-Golf and her favorite – wack a minion- did not count.
As the week rolled on we got more creative with our fun ideas and the rumblings of a beer pong tournament came up. Dad and Mom’s first thought…. “ummmm, no” – lets maybe try and do something a little more family wholesome. But being the good sports they are – and let’s be honest they love a good party too – they couldn’t stop the train! There was talk of a creating a whole table – trip to Home Depot included – and then teams. Trash talking had started at the wedding and continued throughout the week. So finally on Wednesday night – we all descended for the beer pong tournament. My sister and her husband to be and Lola even spent the night so as not to have to drive the 45+ minutes home and Danny and I took an Uber over. This night was gonna be big ….. and you know what? It was a blast!
As the night rolled on the family stories, inside jokes, and completely new jokes had us all laughing non-stop.
Teams picked names…. like Danny and Ganmommy’s team was “The Claws” – my Ganmommy’s hands due to 90+ years old and majority of those years playing tennis are perpetually in the claw like shape and Danny never misses a chance to hang with her. So there you had it – they were a pair (and she even made a few shots).
Then a costume contest of sorts broke out – with the only rule being it had to come from the garage where all my mom’s treasures lurk…..
(Sign someone created from her garden pile…. not my Mother’s 🙂 )
But the favorite of all had to be when Grant found our old roller blades, threw them on and skated around the whole middle level to the music we used to blare and skate to around the unfinished basement as kids. We all howled. Only Grant could be so funny that the potential damage to the hardwood flooring was completely ignored.
We lasted well into the early AM of Thanksgiving day – where there was even slap the bag contests….. not anyone’s finest moments. But I will say we had a blast just gathering in our childhood home and laughing.
Only difficult part? Come Thanksgiving morning, everyone was pretty worn out! We spent most of the morning cuddled up on the couch with our Bessette tradition: watching all the Friends’ Thanksgiving episodes, coffee and yummy breakfast.
Normally we are preparing for the BIG Flaherty gathering, but this year it was mostly just Heppes since everyone had just seen each other at the wedding.
So we enjoyed a more intimate family holiday and although we all were a little quieter compared to the first half of the week…. it was a great day, because it was just us Heppes family!
This holiday was really special for a few reasons. Our family has been through some stuff over the last few years. Delicate situations, family strife, health challenges, accident recovery, – just seasons of worry and hurt that can leave holidays feeling heavy and hard. This holiday wasn’t that way…. it was just happy. We all gelled nicely, laughed a lot and enjoyed each other’s company. It’s normal for life to be bumpy and go through difficult seasons- so we all appreciated this time of calm. What we did not know was this would be the last family gathering before my parents house fire. We didn’t know the events of 2018 that were to come … what a blessing to have this quiet, family centered holiday to remember that we do have each other – always. And the true blessing, those would be the people that would stand shoulder to shoulder to face what the fates had in store! As my parents moved home last month, we welcomed little Millie this summer, Grant and Kelly moved early summer, Danny is going full time back to work this fall, and we have all been healing from growing pains – now we find another fall season we are still here and united – even if a little bumped and bruised. This Thanksgiving we won’t all be together…. but I am confident the future holds more of these fun family days and I am so grateful for the beautiful time of Thanksgiving 2017!
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!