I’m not sure what has been my favorite holiday, but I think Thanksgiving has now taken over the top rung on the ladder. I think it may be the fact that big business hasn’t yet figured out a way to commercialize it. Or perhaps it is the fact that food plays a big role. I like the focus on the act of being thankful for all we have in a country that’s been abundantly blessed. Then again, maybe it is just that we’ve figured out how to get together with people we really enjoy and have a very relaxing time. Whatever the reason, it is my new favorite holiday.
Candice and I have always enjoyed Thanksgiving. For many years we traveled over the mountain from Staunton to a wonderful inn, Prospect Hill, for a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner. It was especially meaningful to us because we honeymooned at Prospect Hill while we were very poor graduate students. Little did we realize that just a year after our wedding we’d move to Virginia and be an hour away.
With the coming of twins it became more difficult to pack up and go to a great restaurant/inn that was 2+ hours away for Thanksgiving (even though we gave it a try one year). That’s when our wonderful friends Margaret and Oakley invited us to join their extended “family” for Thanksgiving in Staunton…and we made the first steps to Thanksgiving becoming my new favorite. Random thoughts on why I have come to enjoy Thanksgiving:
I love the slow pace of a Thanksgiving meal. You talk, eat, drink, play a little music, eat some more, drink some more wine – and all of a sudden it is 11 p.m. The pace gives you time to digest (and I’m talking about more than just food).
The friends we share with Margaret and Oakley are neat people. And, of course, Margaret and Oakley are the neatest of all! They moved from the Mount Pleasant neighborhood in DC to Staunton a number of years ago, and have this great urban/rural/Minnesota/Dylan/gourmet/ natural foods/spiritual vibe that’s great to share. I’m sure you see all of that in the picture.
When we go back to Staunton, it is like we never left. We can begin conversations that began 15 years ago and that are ongoing.
One of the great things about community is that people accept each other EVEN though they know all the faults. One of mine is that I hear better music in my head than what comes out when I play. But guess what? The good musicians in our group still let me play and have a good time, even when I can’t remember the lyrics or get the chords right. That’s cool.
We love the small town of Staunton, where we lived for 15 years. It is always great to spend 4 hours wandering through the downtown to visit new shops and run into old friends. We did a lot of both this past weekend. This year it was even better because there’s this terrific new bass shop in town, called Fretwell Bass. When I walked into a store with 25 or so upright basses for sale, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. My dream of playing an upright bass just came into focus!
Staunton’s restaurant scene is also improving. On Friday Margaret and Oakley joined us for dinner at the Staunton Grocery, a wonderful restaurant where we enjoyed the food and company. Candice and Margaret – the former catering partners – sat opposite the picture window looking into the kitchen and kept up a running commentary on the dishes as they were prepared and served. How can you beat two nights in a row of great food, wine, and conversation?
So Thanksgiving is now my new favorite holiday. During our music making on Thursday evening, I was reminded of the great Stephen Foster song Slumber My Darling. Our friend Constance has a beautiful voice which mesmerized us all as she sang this tune. Since I was playing guitar at the time and not filming the performance, I’ve instead posted this wonderful video of Alison Krauss. And while Constance didn’t quite have the backup band of Edgar Meyer, Mark O’Connor, and Yo Yo Ma that Alison enjoys, I’ll remember this highlight from Thanksgiving 2008.
Sleep well darlings.
More to come…