to Grandma's house we have come. Most years, we spend Thanksgiving with John's family in Indianapolis, and here we are again. Due to some unusual circumstances within the family, the kids are scattered from relative to relative, and John and I are at his parents' house, where Thanksgiving dinner was also held this afternoon. Thanksgiving dinner is a big, happy, crowded gathering with feasting, football-watching and game-playing until one by one, relatives reluctantly begin heading back home, leaving John, his dad, and his brother Mike to enjoy chess and perhaps a cigar together. It's tradition.
I always enjoy coming to Indiana for Thanksgiving; it has lots of happy memories for me. John brought me here the first Thanksgiving after we met so that I could meet his family. They were all highly intrigued to meet the crazy person who had fallen in love with him, and I was highly excited. He bought plane tickets for the two of us to fly in from Baton Rouge, and his parents met us at the airport to take us back to the home on Carol Drive where he had lived since he was four years old. I was enthralled with every aspect of his life, from the neighborhood where he had delivered papers since middle school, to his old room, which still held a good bit of his boyhood junk, to the huge drawer full of family photos. We stayed up late into the night while he dutifully showed me the photos which chronicled the story of his life. I was finally meeting the people who had made him into the man I had fallen in love with, and I was enchanted.
In the days before kids, Thanksgiving was a low-key affair, but the prep work was always an event. I padded into the kitchen that first Thanksgiving morning to find every fan in the house going at full speed and John's dad standing over dozens of slices of bread with a hair dryer because he had forgotten to dry the bread for the stuffing. John comes by his personality quirks quite honestly. We had dinner at his Aunt Gayle's that year, and everyone was on their very best behavior, lest they scare this poor girl away. But they shouldn't have worried- John already had me reeled in.
The day after Thanksgiving, we joined the Black Friday crowds at the mall, where he took me to all the jewelry stores! We had discussed marriage, but this was my first real sign that this was all "for real." I was beyond excited at this unexpected turn of events, and I'm sure my fiancee-to-be was relieved that my tastes in jewelry are simple. I floated throughout the day, and then that evening, we drove downtown for dinner at Union Station, an old train station which had been converted into shops and restaurants. We ate fabulous seafood, listened to the brass quintet playing Christmas carols, enjoyed the shops all decorated for the season, and took a carriage ride together while we watched the lighting of the giant Christmas tree in the Circle. Our first Thanksgiving together was wonderful, magical, romantic, perfect. We flew back home on Sunday with an armful of bridal magazines, totally in love and full of anticipation for the visit to my family at Christmas.
That was five children and seventeen years ago. Trips to Indiana are now more likely to focus on activities for the kids, get-togethers with the aunts and uncles, and perhaps a Colts or a Pacers game rather than romantic adventures for just the two of us, but the memories are still magical. I love coming "home" to Indiana.