Summertime

And the Family is Crazy

This has been an EXUBERANT summer. That’s my positive way of saying it’s been loud at Casa Campillo. My girl is home on break, my son and I are off, my husband is now retired, and we’ve redefined together time. Did I mention it was loud? I do love having a full nest, but you know what they say about too much of a good thing. No one holds their tongue in this house, and when we’re together 24/7, it can be . . . energetic. But I’ve learned a few tricks I thought I’d share:

  • When the world’s about to blow, get in some water. Even the most 18cantankerous person turns into a fun kid when they’re playing in the pool/lake/ocean. (BTW, the crazy/scary waves of the Pacific Ocean are especially effective). I’m seriously considering moving to a house boat.
  • Same holds true for Game of Thrones. This epic fantasy has enough drama, violence, romance and majesty to enthrall/quiet the masses. (Mature folks only. It is HBO). There’s even the after-show, when we debate whether it’s sexual chemistry or respect flashing between John Snow and Daenerys.jon-daenerys
  • Accept your kid’s inherent skills when assigning chores. I know, I know, I’m the mom and they should do what I say, but eventually you gotta face the facts – my daughter did not catch my yard work gene. A twenty-minute, weed-whacking job turns into a two-hour ordeal with multiple breaks for dramatic moaning and curses. Now give that gal toilet duty, and she puts Mr. Clean to shame.
  • When renting a car for a road trip, get a car two times larger than you think you need. At 5 foot 8 inches, I’m the shortest in the family. When I got us a full-size car, thinking I’d splurge, I soon found out my mistake. After two hours of driving through the beautiful, Scream Cartoon Paintingserene mountains east of Seattle, we had argued so volatilely that that I think Lucifer would’ve begged to get out. Trust me, get a bus.

Sorry I’m sharing these tips so late in the summer. It took me this long to figure some of them out. Please share any tips you have. It takes a village, you know. (Just not all in the same house.)

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Thanksgiving

Thanks for the Memories

file0001510816847I’m thrilled that this year we’re celebrating Thanksgiving with thirty-some friends and family. I’m especially thrilled that my sister is hosting. (Yeah! No mopping or dusting for me.) I’m not thrilled—in fact, I’m terrified—that I volunteered to cook the turkey. Two weeks ago, when we were drinking wine and divvying up the menu, it seemed like a worthy challenge. But now, as I wrestle a 25 lb. turkey that is still frozen (dinner to be served in 31 hours), I’m wondering why the hell I thought this was a doable option. And better yet, I’m wondering why my mom and sister, who both know my culinary talents consist of doing the dishes, allowed me to take on the center piece of the Thanksgiving feast.

But this morning at 5 am, while I lay in bed, worrying over the fowl beast, I had an epiphany. I thought back to the Thanksgivings of my past and realized I don’t remember the turkeys. I do remember the fellowship.

The years my mom’s family gathered were the definition of bounty. Four sisters and my file000541128033
grandmother, all great southern cooks, would bring homemade dishes, somehow preserved, from Tennessee to Illinois. Those holidays were spent around the table, morning and night. When we weren’t eating, we were playing cards. Tripoley.

When my dad’s family gathered, it was always at my grandmother’s. She often stored extra dishes on her back porch, yet we never got sick. There was only one TV, and that was in the living room where the adults gathered (and smoked). The kids would hang on her front porch. No iPads. Not even checkers. We’d use our imagination, granted it was tough. Playing house consisted of “cooking,” with our dishes being ashtrays and our food being berries (probably poisonous) picked off the bushes. Strange, but these memories warm my heart.

I’ll never forget Thanksgiving 1985. My dad was in the hospital losing his battle with cancer. We all got the call to come immediately, “it was happening.” Miraculously, it didn’t. Not then. But each of us, his mom and siblings included, had a chance to spend time with him and say our goodbyes. And for whatever weird reason, we put on a play. Yes, a Pilgrims and Indians play, with costumes, right in the middle of the oncology ward of Decatur Memorial Hospital. We took poetic license and my very pregnant aunt wore an “A” on her chest. In the midst of sorrow, we laughed.

emxuwn6eSo my turkey may suck. I’m not even sure it will fit in the Reynold’s baking bag everyone swears by. But it’ll be okay. We’ll break bread with friends and family and there will be love. And for that, I am thankful.





Wooden Turkey Photo by taliesin

Cards Photo by chelle

Turkey Photo by Seemann