Thanksgiving has long been one of my favorite holidays. I think it remains one of the more pure, least commercialized holidays. There is nothing as real as a family of multiple generations gathering around a table and enjoying favorite foods and company together.
Uncle Rick and Aunt Mary Lee have raved about Spider Lake Lodge all year. It's the kind of place that they sneak off to any chance they get. So when Rick came up with the idea to book the entire seven-room lodge for our family, it sounded like a plan.
On Thanksgiving, we awoke in this peaceful and scenic setting. Our tradition is to take a morning walk. It was actually warm—well, warm by "November in Wisconsin" standards, at about 43 degrees. So we bundled up and marched down the road.
The woods were quiet and peaceful. Most of the cabin owners in this area and shut up their cabins and were spending their holiday elsewhere. All the leaves had fallen off the trees, and there was a bare feeling to the woods. We spotted two young does running in front of us. It was hunting season here, and deer somehow know during this time of year to flee from people and leave quickly. The lake just had a thin coat of ice over it and was beautiful. The ice was too thick to boat on, but too thin to walk on. The boys quickly discovered, however, that when you threw a piece of ice over the flat surface of the lake, it would make an echo, and the reverberating sound could be heard across the lake. We enjoyed our walk; the air was fresh and clean and the woods so quiet. We were caught off-guard when we encountered another family coming down the road taking their Thanksgiving walk.
The only thing more communal than sharing a meal with friends and family is making a meal with friends and family. We were thrilled that Jim and Craig (our lodge hosts) allowed us full use of the marvelous lodge kitchen. Normally, the kitchen is off-limits to guests, but as we had the whole lodge, rules were dropped. It was the type of kitchen a cook dreams about. It was huge, with a big industrial stove, lots of counter space, and a big sink.
We all pitched in and had the luxury of all being in the kitchen at once. Everyone was chopping, slicing, stirring, and mixing. We all laughed, told stories, and helped the youngest generation learn the secrets of old family recipes. It was a moment I will never forget. I loved the fact that we could all help and there was room for everyone. Whether it was peeling a potato or mixing the pumpkin pie, everyone had a job, and everyone pitched in.
The table was set—Jim and Craig had lined up the breakfast tables to one long table along the back window of one of the great rooms. We had a wonderful view of Spider Lake, which seemed so still, calm, and peaceful. We served our meal buffet-style from the kitchen counter. There was plenty of food for everyone. Everyone had brought up one favorite recipe to make, and this year, we had the biggest turkey I could remember. We laughed, told stories, and everyone told what they were most thankful for in the world. Then, of course, everyone went back for seconds. The meal lasted almost two hours and seemed like a lot less. We were all full, happy, and thankful.
While the rest of us let our food settle, the boys wanted to play a round of football in the front. They moved outside, and Jim started a fire in the fireplace. Suddenly, Patrick came rushing in with the news of the day: "It's snowing!" Sure enough, right on cue, the first snowfall of the season was starting. We all came to the door and watched big, thick flakes fall from the heavens. We teased Jim and Craig that everything was so perfect, but arranging a Thanksgiving night snowfall was just over the top.
We came back in and ate our pies around the fire. It wasn't long before a game of Texas Hold ‘Em got started, and everyone joined in. Yes, Thanksgiving Wisconsin-style was perfect.