As we made the drive down to Valdez to visit some of our "Alaskan Family" David & I discussed how we really hadn't established our own family Thanksgiving traditions. For the nine years we spent in Teller, we always joined the community Potluck dinner, which has a very interesting story of it's own...... I'll save for another time. Then in Koyuk we celebrated with just our family, which since we're social people...... it was a little lonely. Last year we enjoyed catching up with some frined in North Pole, but this year we decided that driving to Valdez to spend time with the Shidner's was a MUST on our TO DO LIST!! And we are SO grateful we did!!!!
Our journey began Wednesday after school was out, and of course we were running on "Eskimo Time" as folks in the village would say, not really getting in a hurry to get there. That's why Robert greeted us at 1:00 AM with "Finally, we wondered if you would EVER get here". You know the Shidner's HAVE TO BE like family 'cause who else would welcome guests into their home at that ridiculous hour!!! Lucky for us, our friends were still glad to see us even if they were yawning and rubbing their eyes. The road was a little hairy at Summit Lake and then again at Thompson Pass. Of course I was telling David to slow down when he was only going 40MPH...., but the kids stayed occupied with movies for most of the trip and I thought ahead and purchased a book LED light so that I could knit during the entire drive, while David and I listened to The Last Lecture on CD.
Thanksgiving was a causal affair for us, which was SO relaxing....we threw in the turkey, whipped up a couple of side dishes, Cynthia kneaded some of her Grandmother's rolls, we sucked down some coffee and headed for the hills to ski, snowboard, and sled at 37 degrees!!!!! It felt like a heat wave....since we had just come from -10!!! We were all shedding layers of outerwear while taking in the beautiful surroundings.
After some fun in the snow we headed back to have our meal "Happy Belly Commune" style (that is what Cynthia and I dubbed the shared apartments where we lived together in Teller, Ak for 4 years & it holds true for all of our gatherings). Everything was yummy and tasty..... but the company...... well it was nothing short of superb. In Alaska you aren't always able to gather together with your immediate family during the holidays, because most of them live so far away, so you create your own family with friends. After dinner we let things settle for a while and then headed over to the neighbors for dessert, tea, and great conversation.
Friday & Saturday brought more fun times: Talking during short walks with Cynthia on the well groomed trails, popping over to check out their local library, David & Andy tried to catch up with a friend, but missed him, so they enjoyed some cocktails instead, playing ping-pong at the rec center next of Cynthia's office,(felt like old times, we had a make-shift table set up in Teller in the basement of our apartment, but we always lost the balls in the pipe fittings), teaching Robert to knit an icord, checking out a new bakery, making music on the xylophone & keyboard, computer time, lots of board & card games, many laughs, shared memories, wine and great food.