Although the summer season is my favorite time of year, nothing tops that holiday feeling. There is something magical about the days just before Thanksgiving that has me anxiously waiting in anticipation for Christmas. Whether it is the crisp fall air, or the store fronts painted with bright orange pumpkins and pilgrim turkeys that are quickly washed away and repainted with abnormally large snowflakes, red and gold ornaments, and snow dusted pine trees, I begin to remember the joys of the holiday season.

Of course it all starts with Thanksgiving, which growing up was a HUGE ordeal between the cousins and aunt and uncles and grandparents from both sides of my family. I specifically remember the horrid smell of boiling chicken bones the day before Thanksgiving when my mom would make an enormous pot of chicken stock (seriously enormous – she would make enough to last her into next year, then freeze it) just to make the gravy everyone raved about. It was not until I had my first taste of canned gravy that I came to appreciate how deliciously wonderful it was!

In an attempt to escape the smell I would play outside all day, trying not to get too annoyed with how “static-y” my hair became from the crisp, dry fall air. And when I did finally get annoyed with how “static-y” my hair became, I resorted to hanging out in the garage with my dad, helping to fix up the blue and white Valvoline go-cart “race car” that he brought out for all the kids (and grownups) to drive on special occasions.

As for food….I remember it all:  My Aunt Laura’s addicting 7-layer bean dip that tended to fill me up before the feasting even began, my Auntie Ann’s infamous baked sweet potatoes drizzled with butter and brown sugar that simply fell apart in my mouth (and do not forget her freshly homemade cranberry sauce!), my mother’s English trifle that I later came to understand was a huge hit with the adults (she put extra Sherry in for them), etc…but the best part was getting to see the whole family – a slightly dysfunctional family, but one that loved each other regardless.

I think the toughest part about Thanksgiving for me this year will be missing my family since I will be spending it with my husband’s side. But this got me thinking about something someone very close once told me: “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” In reflecting on the things this year has brought upon me whilst keeping in mind that which I have to be thankful for, I realized I have nothing to gripe about. Although I will not be spending Thanksgiving with my family, I am fortunate to have wonderful in-laws with whom I get along with fantastically!! I am definitely blessed to have such fun-loving people in my life.

In fact, I am excited to start our own traditions: be it a family touch football game in the backyard to get our appetites going, or a rowdy game inside watching the San Francisco 49ers versus the Baltimore Ravens; or, replicating my Auntie Yvonne’s pumpkin pie, or coming up with my own recipe; there is no telling what this Thanksgiving will bring!

This holiday season, we hope you enjoy that extra time with family and friends as well. And when it is all said and done…after Mom’s famous holiday ham, Aunt Edna’s delicious green bean and almond salad, or the deep friend turkey your Papa Joe decided to cook with his new deep fryer…we hope you take some time for yourself with a cookie (or two) to reflect on all that this year has brought and for everything you have to be thankful for.

Thank again for being loyal Pacific Cookie fans. We truly wish you the happiest holiday season!

Oh, and P.S. – I  got a new dog! I’m the proud Mama of Oliver, a 1-year old Terrier x King Spaniel.

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