The Paez's and Maycocks: Friends Like Family, Thanksgiving 2010. From left to right, back: Wylie, Carol, "Cool Guy", Audrey, Me. Front: "Big Sister", Fredo, the Feller, Babs, Keisha. Only Tito, the oldest of the children, is missing. He's still living in Saipan.
Last year our gathering at Carol's house was a carryover of our traditional Saipan Thanksgiving. This year it was less about holding on to treasured memories of the past, and more about strengthening a bond that will last for years to come. After all, friendships come and go, often ebbing with passage of time and distance, but your family is your family, no matter how rarely or briefly you see eachother.
It's nice to spend Thanksgiving with family. Granted Carol and her kids are not flesh and blood relatives. We've only known them for about 12 years, but in that time they've grown to become like family. Indeed, for the youngest members of the Paez family, we have been a part of their lives as long as they can remember. Going out to Oregon for the Thanksgiving holiday reminds me of our trips back to the states to see our families when we lived in Saipan--precious time we never took for granted because it was so short. And it was a short trip: We arrived in Portland on Thanksgiving Day, in the early afternoon, and departed a mere three days later, early Sunday morning. But it was worth the time and expense to spend some quality time with our dear friends. There was an agenda of fun things to do during our short stay, but we ended up skipping most of it. And that was more than okay. It was such a joy to simply relax in Carol's cozy little apartment, cooking food together, staying up late sharing funny stories and memories of Saipan, just simply being together basking in the warmth of shared love. The Feller ran around the house as perfectly at ease as if. . .well, as if he were home. And in a way, he was.
It was mostly Paezes and Maycocks this year, but there were a few others that joined the gathering for this year's Thanksgiving feast.
Carol and Wylie. Wylie, the second oldest of the Paez clan, is working in Portland and living at home.
The Feller and "Big Sister"
"Big Sister" was formerly known on this blog as "Little Sister." Her old nickname was based on her relationship to older sister Keisha, when they were both apart of REAL Christian Theater. Now she is defined by her relationship to our Little Feller. She really is a like a big sister to him--she looks out for him, teaches him new things (like the "peace sign" in the picture above), and loves him with all her heart. "Big Sister" is one of the Feller's favorite people in the world and he'd been talking about this trip to see her for months. Hopefully we'll be able to swing another visit to our house from her this summer.
Fredo, on right with his boyfriend, Tommy.
It was nice getting to know Tommy. He was in and out of the house all weekend long and seemed like one of the family.
Me n' Babs. I love this picture of us.
Audrey and "Little Sister"
Audrey is both one of the oldest and newest members of the Paez Tribe. She was adopted by her parents not long after she was born in Saipan and reconnected with Carol, her birth mom, more than twenty years later, not long before we all moved to the States. Now she's a regular visitor, and very much a part of the family. She's in college in New York and since her parents are missionaries in the Ukraine, Thanksgiving with the Paezes worked out best for such a short vacation.
Though we didn't know Audrey well, having only met her once briefly on Saipan, we got to know her a lot better this past weekend, particularly on Friday morning when she went out with Babs and me to brave the Black Friday crowds. All of us were jet lagged, so that 5:00 in the morning felt like 8:00, so we decided to go bargain hunting. We were especially appreciative of Audrey's generosity in driving us over to Best Buy (where I bought the new laptop I'm typing this blog on), Target, and a few other stores. We were touched by her willingness to take the time to help us out, at the risk of losing some of the best of the early morning bargains at the mall. Audrey, you're an angel. Thank you! We look forward to getting to know you better in the years to come.
"Cool Guy" and Keisha
Judith and Mai.
Mai arrived Friday night just before dinner and spent the weekend with us. It was so great to get caught up with her again. Judith stopped by for lunch on Sabbath and visited with us for the afternoon. It was so nice to be with our Saipan people again.
We may have moved the feast to Friday rather than Thanksgiving day itself, but the food was still central. It was a classic Thanksgiving menu--turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, apple and pumpkin pie; some of our unique traditions--corn casserole and Special K Loaf; and a few new twists on old favorites--a new, fake bacon, dried apple, chestnut, and cornbread stuffing and a new forest fruit pie.
Rolling out the crust for the forest fruit pie.
Audrey and I in the kitchen.
The tables. The one above was the "kids" table, the one below was for the "adults".
Space was a a premium in the Paezes small apartment. Next year we'll likely be able to all sit at one table again. Carol bought a new house a few days after we left.
Tommy and the Turkey.
Fredo carving the turkey with frightening zeal.
Ready to eat!
At the table. Eating is serious business as far as the Feller is concerned.
The Tribe: Family Photos 2010.
The Honorary Paez. He even looks like them!
"Cool Guy" with his video games.
The Paez Women
Friends Like Family
Sunday morning came all too soon, and before we knew it we were winging our way back East. It will be at most another year before we see the Paez Tribe again, but in the meantime we'll stay in touch by phone, Facebook, and maybe even Skype until next Thanksgiving when the family gathers once again.
We all carry Saipan in our hearts; Keisha carries Saipan on her back as well. Look closely at her tattoo and see if you can find our island home.
Click on the following links to see entries of Thanksgiving with the Maycocks and Paezes from the past four years:
An Old Fashioned Saipan Thanksgiving (2009)
Thanksgiving in Saipan: Dinner at the Maycocks (2008)
Thanksgiving at the Maycocks 2007
The Annual Thanksgiving Feast (2006)
Also, there are more pictures from the weekend in Oregon at Elijah's blog.
I've also posted photos from our early Thanksgiving at the Leens at his blog as well.
A little home video from Thanksgiving 2010