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Friday, November 25, 2011

My Gratitude Journal: Mornings After

Today I'm thankful for Thanksgiving leftovers and especially leftover pie. I always know when it's the day after Thanksgiving, or maybe the day after Christmas, because I get to sit down to a slice of pie for breakfast -- the only time in the year I allow myself that privilege.

Since we'll have enough turkey to feed a small army at this year's feast (and it's a good thing, given we will have a small army there to eat it), we will probably also have curried turkey over rice -- our usual day-after dinner.

There will be turkey sandwiches and more sweet pickles than we see the whole rest of the year (my sister says they're a Communist plot, and my daughter pretty much agrees), and then there will be more pie for dessert.

AylaPalooza IV is well underway now and we're into it: enjoying each other, enjoying the food, enjoying watching the little ones play together to carry the family camaraderie into a new generation. We're feeling blessed and lucky and glad to be together, and we're enjoying the post-holiday naps that come with over-indulgence in carbs and turkey.

Here's to holidays, families, and delightful mornings after. May you enjoy yours as well.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

All About Thanksgiving

For most of the time I've had this blog, I've been pretty faithful at sticking to my original five-day plan. Not now. For the rest of November, I'm going to write random thoughts about things that interest me, bother me, or just tweak my imagination. It should be an interesting ride.


Let me tell you all about Thanksgiving as my former students used to explain it to me. In 1492 that Spaniard named Columbus sailed across the ocean, landed at Plymouth Rock, and invited all the Indians to dinner. They all got together, ate turkey and pumpkin pie, sang a few choruses of kumbaya, smoked a peace pipe and went happily on their way.

I won't go into how it horrified me to get this version of history from the future grade-school teachers in my teaching-the-teachers classes. Suffice to say that I tried to keep my cool while pointing out that Columbus wasn't Spanish, he arrived in the Caribbean -- not in what became New England, he landed there a generation or so before the Pilgrims even contemplated coming over, and the whole peaceful Thanksgiving mythology was a short break in the history of antagonism between the settled native peoples and the settling English.

But that's all really beside my point. This year as we gather for Thanksgiving in the middle of our biannual reunion known as AylaPalooza, I'm more thankful than ever to Columbus or the Pilgrims or whoever we feel like thanking for giving us this holiday.

For the Aylworths and associated relatives, the holiday is all about the pie, and this year's holiday is all about being together -- and eating pie.

Son Adam is hosting the Thanksgiving meal and he plans to cook about 80 pounds of turkeys in a variety of ways, but he is assigning out the other items on the holiday table to all the other folks who are coming, and every nuclear family is to bring two pies. When I do the math, I think we're going to have about 20 pies to share among the 52 of us -- and we'll probably bake more during the weekend.

So folks, wherever you are today, however you are enjoying your Thanksgiving holiday and whoever you're with, have some pie and think of us. We'll be thinking of -- and thanking -- you, Columbus, and all those other guys.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wecome, AP IV

For most of the time I've had this blog, I've been pretty faithful at sticking to my original five-day plan. Not now. For the rest of November, I'm going to write random thoughts about things that interest me, bother me, or just tweak my imagination. It should be an interesting ride.


AylaPalooza IV, the biannual family reunion that our whole family discusses, plans, argues over, prepares for and then binges on, begins today. We can hardly wait.

A few things have become staples of our AylaPaloozas. For instance, every one has its own theme and its own t-shirt. (See Monday's column for why I'm afraid of "Be Afraid.") We take turns cooking and cleaning up, and some events replicate from one AylaPalooza to the next.

Still this year has a few entries we have not seen before. For one, this AylaPalooza is hosting the first-ever "Aylapa-Biggest-Looza" competition. At the start of this year, one son challenged the rest of us to see who could be in the best physical condition by reunion time.

Originally intended to pit the brothers against one another, the "Biggest-Looza" competition gathered in almost everybody as sister, sisters-in-law, parents and even kids got involved. I've done just great -- I think I haven't gained more than two or three pounds -- but some have been very serious about their fitness.

For example, daughter-in-law Stephanie has lost 62 pounds, taken up a couple of active sports, and is probably in the best shape of her adulthood. Daughter Rebecca has run a Ragnar Relay within the past year and recently completed a half-marathon in under two hours. Thus the Biggest-Looza competition has served a worthy purpose.

There will be another new feature, as organizer Jared plans to pull family members out of one activity or another throughout the week to videotape scenes from a movie he is planning. He will cut it all together and show the video at the end of the reunion. We can hardly wait!

Of course Thanksgiving is a centerpiece of this holiday, and we won't forget it, either, plus there will be time out for the 49er game -- an old, old family tradition -- whenever it is shown in our neck of the woods.

Whether the activities are old, new or something in between, I'll be lovin' 'em all. Any time I can put my arms around that many of the earth's best people all in a single day is a very good time indeed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Not a Coincidence

For most of the time I've had this blog, I've been pretty faithful at sticking to my original five-day plan. Not now. For the rest of November, I'm going to write random thoughts about things that interest me, bother me, or just tweak my imagination. It should be an interesting ride.


It is not a coincidence that AylaPalooza IV coincides with Thanksgiving Week. (Get that? Coincidence coincides? I should be a writer or something!) No, not a coincidence at all. With 52 family members attending this year's gathering and ten of them age six and under, with another eight or so in the upper grades, we have to work around school schedules as well as work times. Choosing a popular holiday week gives us a shot at getting everyone together.

The timing does have its problems. For one, Thanksgiving Week is among the most expensive times of the year to travel. Want an expensive plane ticket? Decide to fly during Thanksgiving Week. For another, the weather can be iffy -- especially over the mountain passes that lie between our northern California home and our AP IV location in St. George, Utah.

Still this will be cooler than the 112 degrees the "Dixie" part of Utah often sees in the summer, and less expensive than the Caribbean cruise we talked about doing with the family. So it's a done deal; we're doing this!

So the planning and discussing are all behind us now and it's all over but the shouting -- and the hugging, and the laughing, and the eating, and the fun.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Happy AP IV to the family I love.

Monday, November 21, 2011

AylaPalooza: Be Afraid!

For most of the time I've had this blog, I've been pretty faithful at sticking to my original five-day plan. Not now. For the rest of November, I'm going to write random thoughts about things that interest me, bother me, or just tweak my imagination. It should be an interesting ride.


Just about the time this blog appears, I will be organizing my loved ones around me for the fourth-ever Aylworth Family Reunion. We call them AylaPaloozas and they happen every other year. Since the first one was in 2005, this installment will be AylaPalooza IV.

Son Jared is responsible for this one, and Jared, being the unusual person he is, has chosen a slogan that makes sense to all of us who know him. Since we're meeting in the Red Rock territory of southern Utah, the theme is Red Rock Revolution. Then comes the sub-title, a popular Jaredite phrase: "Be afraid."

All of us who know Jared know the sub-text for this phrase and we know there is no reason why anyone should feel afraid. Other people don't know that.

So here we are, planning the largest reunion we've ever had -- huge in that I ordered 52 t-shirts for attendees. The shirts are a lovely dark red color with the AP IV logo on the front. Then, on the back, is the slogan: "Red Rock Revolution: Be Afraid."

If 52 of us go out in these t-shirts around St. George, are we going to start a riot? Will people call the FBI to come surround our compound and check for weapons?

I'm not afraid of the Aylworths. We bluster and bluff, but we're pretty much pussycats when it comes down to it. The FBI, on the other hand, is something to fear. Maybe I'll suggest we be cautious about where we wear those t-shirts.