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Thanksgiving 2022

Started: 2022-12-30 16:04:03

Submitted: 2022-12-30 16:26:58

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Spending Thanksgiving with my family in Santa Cruz

For as long as I can remember, for Thanksgiving every even year my extended Logan family, the descendants of my great-grandparents and including my second cousins, gathered for a family reunion on the holiday. This tradition was interrupted in 2020, for obvious reasons, and was suspended again this year when our venue of choice, the Adventist camp Leoni Meadows, suffered a direct hit from the Caldor Fire in 2021.

The fire started a few miles from the camp, and as soon as I heard the name I recognized "Caldor" as a nearby landmark. The camp was relatively lucky to be as close as it was to the start of the mega-fire in that the fire was relatively small when it tore through the camp, allowing more fire-fighting resources to focus on the camp. The camp had been thinning trees and creating room for structure defense, and the largest buildings survived with only minor damage, but in the end the craft building (where we prepared and ate all our meals, and where Calvin drew with Uncle Willy in 2014) and the nature center (featuring a Foucault pendulum, which appears to be my only picture from inside or outside the building) were destroyed by the fire. The camp wanted more time to rebuild and recover from the fire so it wasn't available to us this year, and ultimately none of the alternatives satisfied enough of the family. (There was also some drama around the appropriate level of COVID caution in the third year of the pandemic, which didn't help.) So we fell back to our own family groups, and my family decided to come visit us in Santa Cruz.

In preparation for my family to visit, I wrote up some suggestions about What to do in Santa Cruz to share my suggestions about what we might do to get out of the house every day. This was a sort-of follow-up to my Subjective Guide to San Francisco from Christmas 2017, but as I was writing the doc I couldn't help but remember that we moved away from San Francisco just six months after I wrote the guide. I can only hope we don't follow the same pattern this time. (After several years of transition I think we're finally more stable: we've lived in the same state for more than two years, and this fall — for the first time since 2015 — I celebrated my birthday in the same house two years in a row.)

My family arrived on Wednesday night, the day before Thanksgiving, driving into Santa Cruz from various places. My parents drove from Walla Walla; my sister Bethany and her husband Josh drove in from golfing in Pebble Beach earlier in the week, and my brother Willy and his wife Vero drove from a brief trip to the Inland Empire. I made what I thought was a last-minute trip to Whole Foods to pick up cheese-board cheeses for Thanksgiving Dinner, then I went back out again to our other nearest grocery store, Shopper's Corner, to pick up sugar so we could make pie and whipped cream.

Julian slept in a tent in the upstairs family room to make his room available for our guests, which he thought was amusing.

Thanksgiving Day

For breakfast on Thanksgiving, Kiesa made scrambled tofu and cardamom rolls. I made potatoes and coffee and warmed up veg breakfast sausage.

Logan family sits down to Thanksgiving breakfast (feat. Julian and Calvin)
Logan family sits down to Thanksgiving breakfast (feat. Julian and Calvin)

(Also pictured here are our new dishes. After nearly twenty-five years Kisea decided it was time to retire the Corelle ivy dishes she went to college with, but it took us some time to come up with the dishes we really liked. We think this set is beach-adjacent; it evokes the blue of the ocean without being obviously beach-themed.)

After brunch we drove across town to Natural Bridges State Park, one of the approved outings suggested in my guide, to see the monarch butterflies spending the winter in the eucalyptus groves. We dropped by the visitor's center to get some context for the annual migration of the monarch butterflies, then walked down the boardwalk into the grove to see the butterflies clinging to the branches in great clumps, occasionally fluttering their wings in the sun.

When we finished looking at the butterflies in the eucalyptus grove we went down to the beach and sat on the rocks to watch the birds perch on the one surviving natural bridge and dive into the water. The tide was high so we didn't get to see anything in the tide pools on the rocks to the right of the beach (though I haven't been impressed by the tide pools on prior visits when the tide was lower). Our out-of-town visitors, who are not used to warm and sunny beach days in November, took advantage of the weather to get their feet wet in the ocean waves.

Thanksgiving dinner cheese boards
Thanksgiving dinner cheese boards

We returned home and set to work on supper. I cooked Brussels sprouts, which we bought from the grocery store but I assert are probably local because most of the Brussels sprouts sold in the US are grown along the Pacific coast in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties. Bethany and I put together a pair of cheese boards with a large selection of cheeses, crackers, and dried fruits. Then we sat down to eat and enjoyed the meal and the company of family.

Logan family sits down to Thanksgiving dinner (feat. Julian and Calvin)
Logan family sits down to Thanksgiving dinner (feat. Julian and Calvin)