For me, this year has provided a bumper crop of reasons to be thankful.  The most important sources of gratitude stem from family and friend relationships.  I hope my family and friends know how much they all mean to me.  Showing up is part of showing how much people means to me and I can’t seem to get around to seeing everyone I would like to.

We left for St. Louis Tuesday afternoon.   The San Antonio airport wasn’t nearly as busy as I expected for the day before the day before Thanksgiving.  Our Southwest flight was delayed leaving by some odd sounding mechanical problem.  We landed in St. Louis ½ hour late.  Leaving the plane we walked into the St. Louis airport terminal and there it was, a full blown Thanksgiving travel experience.  Fortunately, we didn’t have any checked luggage so we hustled outside to wait for our ride.

Outside, Linda was on the phone to her youngest sister who was stuck in a traffic jam that started before the airport exit and wouldn’t end until we were well clear of the airport on the way to our St. Louis home.

On Wednesday, while waiting for Lowe’s to deliver a washer and dryer, we setup our desks in the basement and unpacked a few boxes.  Lowe’s delivery has a leadership opportunity to get workers to solve problems instead of Pointing Fingers at other employees.

Wednesday night, Linda’s youngest sister and her husband invited Linda and I out to dinner.  We drove over to their house.  On the way to the restaurant, we picked up Linda’s Dad as well.   Arriving at Fergie’s Bar and Restaurant  I observed that parking would be a bit of a challenge.  My brother-in-law got lucky and found a spot with easy access.  Opening the door, I was surprised that such a small place could be so noisy.

Fergie's Thanksgiving Calendar
Fergie’s Thanksgiving Calendar

The Wednesday special entree was Polish Sausage & Sauerkraut which came with two sides.  Four of us got the special.  After dinner, we all agreed that the Polish sausage was excellent.   I got potato salad and slaw for sides.

Special Entree With Two Sides - Polish Sausage and Sauerkraut with Slaw and Potato Salad
Special Entree With Two Sides – Polish Sausage and Sauerkraut with Slaw and Potato Salad

Linda’s sister got the Deluxe Hamburger with Swiss cheese and french fries.  For the money, the ½ pound hamburger with bacon and cheese is also a great deal.

What a pleasant evening.  Not only had we found a neighborhood bar with decent inexpensive food but we spent an adult evening hanging out with family, telling lies about ourselves and laughing ourselves silly.

Thanksgiving day, Linda’s Dad, Linda and I rode together up to Linda’s youngest brother’s house.  The two hour drive toward Hannibal Missouri was uneventful as the weather was beautiful and traffic light.  We arrived at the large rural log cabin on 40 acres just before noon.  A perfect place for the perfect country Thanksgiving dinner.  Linda’s brother and his wife put on the most amazing Thanksgiving spreads.  Linda’s closest sister and her husband drove from Indiana arrived after noon and we sat down to the best feast.  Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, dinner rolls, veggies, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake.  All made from scratch.  Amazing mouthwatering stomach filling goodness.

Something else to be thankful for.  Family Holiday feasts!

I got to have a long talk with my nephew who is a senior at Mizzou (University of Missouri).  He is studying Electrical Engineering and we share a passion for software engineering.  He is currently working on consensus algorithms, something that is critical in modern large scale distributed computer systems like those commonly found at Internet giants like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Netflix.  Consensus is an area of computer science that most programmers are unfamiliar with.  I found it refreshing to finally find someone in the family who I can talk about software with.

Something else to be thankful for.  Family geek fellowship!

We left the log cabin after dark.  Saw a few deer on the rural roads.  Kept the car under the speed limit just be be safe.  Traffic was considerably heavier than on the way up.  After dropping Linda’s Dad off, we made it home by nine.

Friday morning, we got up early to attend to our ongoing Lowe’s drama.  After that we setup our guest bedroom and unpacked some more boxes.

Friday night, we met Linda’s youngest sister, her husband, their two college aged kids and Linda’s Dad at Fergie’s Bar and Restaurant.   The seven of us claimed a table in the corner by the Frosty The Beer Man Themed Christmas Tree.

Fergie's Bar and Restaurant Frosty The Beer Man Themed Christmas Tree.
Fergie’s Bar and Restaurant Frosty The Beer Man Themed Christmas Tree

Fergie’s was even louder Friday night than Wednesday night.  This time around I didn’t get the special.  Instead, I got Alaskan Cod with slaw and potato salad.  It was all good.  Twice during dinner, this guy stands up out of nowhere pulls a trumpet out of his pocket, stands by the door and starts playing When The Saints Go Marching In.

Buzzed Trumpeter Playing When The Saints Go Marching In
Buzzed Trumpeter Playing When The Saints Go Marching In

Obviously well oiled, the guy handled his trumpet like a pro.  It wasn’t until the second time playing at the door that I realized the trumpeter was celebrating Mizzou’s football victory blowout over Arkansas earlier in the day.

I asked my niece if she was having fun with her student teaching.  She laughed and then described a lesson she led where the kids made butter.  They poured cream into glass mason jars and each kid shook the jar until the cream turned into butter.  I asked her if any of the kids tried the butter.  I laughed when she said they told the kids to take the butter jars home with them and to ask their parents if it was OK to try the butter.

On the way to Fergie’s on Wednesday, we passed a music store.  My sister-in-law pointed out the music store and told us that her son had spent HUGE amounts of money in that store.  With that in mind, I asked my nephew what he bought there that cost so much money.  He bought a saxophone.  Alto or tenor I asked.  Alto he said.  Then I asked if he ever played Ravel’s Bolero.  He hadn’t heard of Ravel’s Bolero.  I had to find a recording on YouTube and play it for him.

Something else to be thankful for.   Connecting with the next generation.

On the way out of the bar, my brother-in-law pulls me aside and says, “I have some cookies for you.”  I follow him over to his car and he pulls a sack out of the trunk.

Peppermint and Candy Cane Themed Cookies From Trader Joe's
Peppermint and Candy Cane Themed Cookies From Trader Joe’s

Something else to be thankful for.  Thoughtful gifts.

Saturday morning,  my father-in-law drove us to the airport.  Thankfully, there weren’t any traffic jams getting into the airport.  We said our goodbyes at the departure drop off area.  The St. Louis airport, while hopping, wasn’t crazy busy.

St. Louis Airport Terminal
St. Louis Airport Terminal

We arrived in San Antonio after an uneventful flight.  The airport was a total cram packed chaotic crush of crazed holiday travelers.  We got out of there quick.  After picking up the dogs at the kennel, we pulled our rig out of storage and made our way back to the San Antonio KOA.

Something else to be thankful for.  So much to be thankful for.  We are all truly blessed.  Thank you dear reader.

Hope to see you on the road ahead!

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