Family Thanksgiving 2018

HI, there friends!  I’m sharing our Thanksgiving holiday today, since this is the first time I’ve had a chance to do a family recap lately. Lauren was home with the girls just a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, so some of these pics are from that trip and then her whole family was here for Thanksgiving for a week, so it was a fun time. We went up to Bryson City, NC and spent the night, taking in the Polar Express train ride. We made reservations well in advance and I hear you have to do that to get a ticket.  It was really fun and we all enjoyed the train ride, so this is a little mix of Bryson City and Thanksgiving week.

Thanksgiving week Lauren’s family and Renee and I went up to Bryson City, NC for a couple of days. Mom and Dad met us at Cracker Barrel for breakfast before we left. They are both doing well!

Iris and Iris sitting together.  Little Iris sure loves her Nana.

When we got up to NC, we drove out to Deep Creek, where my sister and I and Lauren when she was little, all went with our relatives to tube down the creek most every summer for several years.  We all have fond memories of Deep Creek and camping there.

This isn’t the best pic, but you can see how peaceful Deep Creek is. They have camping spots on the creek and it’s a wonderful spot for picnics and tubing.  We’ve been down this creek countless times over the years.  It’s freezing cold too, even in the heat of summer, but we didn’t let that stop us.  I’m afraid it would probably deter me now though!

Downtown Bryson City is a lot busier than it used to be.  There were plenty of people there for the Polar Express train ride, just like we were.  This shop had a neat bear statue which made a great photo opp. Lauren’s family is so cute!

We walked around downtown and looked a little bit and had lunch.

It’s definitely grown since we were going there in the 70’s, but still has that small town feel and there are a lot of shops and restaurants now.

Those girls!

Someone had mentioned to me on Instagram that we should eat at The High Test deli and it happened to be right where we were and that’s where we ended up eating.  She had mentioned the delicious homemade ice cream sandwiches and she was right, they were fantastic!

It was so cute inside and they had really good sandwiches.  We couldn’t take our eyes off those ice cream sandwiches.

Here are all of them on the menu and they were outstanding!

I got the Lemon and Blueberry one and it was SO GOOD!  We all got something different and had a taste of many of them.  I would highly recommend going here if you visit Bryson City.

I peeked in this cute soda shop too, so retro!

Finally, it was getting later in the day and it was time for our train ride on the Polar Express. We had our tickets in hand.

The railroad does several different trips during the year and Polar Express is a special one for Christmas.

Lauren and her family all dressed in their pajamas and they were right at home with all the other people in PJ’s too. So cute aren’t they?! Renee and I didn’t feel the need to wear pajamas.

Had to take pics of the cuteness of all of them in their pajamas.

We had First Class tickets in the Cherokee train car.

And with a little misty rain going on, we got on the train and found our reserved seats.

We sat across from each other, side by side at the back of the car.

I couldn’t help but notice that they were getting the hot chocolate ready for us right behind our seats.

And once the train started moving they handed out the hot chocolate, just like the movie along with a Polar Express mug we took home.  It was fun to experience with the Hot Chocolate music from the movie.

They did a little dancing down the aisle, but of course not all the antics of the movie.

We got chocolate candy on a stick and also chocolate chip cookies to go with our hot chocolate.

Some of the characters from the movie were coming up and down the aisles with their parts to share.

Here’s what we saw from the train car, a little village all decorated for Christmas with lights.

We saw Santa out there too and then when the train reversed and we headed back to the station….

Santa came out of the back of the train and Parker was so happy to see him. This isn’t a great picture, but you get the idea of the joy of a child hugging Santa.

We all enjoyed the train ride so much and I’m glad we got to do it.

I will tell you that my adult ticket in the First Class train was $73 total with the fees and all, so I think that’s a pretty steep price for a train ride. It would cost a lot to take a whole family, so just keep that in mind. But they seem to be selling a lot of tickets, so apparently cost isn’t deterring that.  Someone in town told us they had sold 60,000 tickets to the Polar Express train rides this year.  That’s a lot of people! I’m glad we did it, but it’s not something I would do over and over again.

The next day we headed to Cherokee for a little browsing. Lauren remembered feeding the bears when she was little, so we went to the same place to see if it was open and it was.  These big bears loved getting fed and we fed them a lot of lettuce and bread.

You can tell they are well fed.

The girls had fun with that and feeding the goats too.

Lots of hungry goats.

The girls thought that was fun too.

Another stop that weekend was a gem mine.

This is the kind of place where you pay for a bag of dirt and then slosh water all around to see if there are any gemstones in there.  Then you take it inside and let someone look at it.

They found a few little gems, but nothing really outstanding.

Lauren had done this when she was little and wanted her girls to see it too.

They did love the gemstones and rocks that were plentiful.  We all bought little bags of colorful rocks, even me!  Little known fact about me. I loved rocks when I was growing up and had a shoebox filled with unique and colorful rocks I found all over the place, from my own neighborhood to the mountains of NC.  I don’t know what happened to that box of rocks, but it got thrown out at some point.  And I kid you not, Mark has a really pretty rock he’s had since he was about 9 years old and traded something he loved for this rock that one of his friends had found in a creek.  He showed it to me and it is a pretty rock.  So funny that we both had rock collections. Mark still has his rock collection in a cigar box!

Thanksgiving Day was a family day as usual.  It was a wonderful day of feasting and family.  We got our annual picture taken at my cousin, Brenda’s house.  Our annual tradition. One of these days, maybe Mark will get in the picture.  His family has a big gathering on Thanksgiving too, so he couldn’t make both of them.  I ate earlier with my family and then took Dad home and went over to Mark’s family gathering.  I ate so much at mine that I was miserable the rest of the day, but it was SO good!  We have great cooks in our family and we all brought food and it was so much food.

Our family times usually mean putting together a puzzle or two.  Lauren is passing on her love of puzzles to those girls and mom loves puzzles too.  I don’t have the patience for puzzles.  Dad is biding his time until he gets to go back home, his favorite place to be.

When it’s time to say goodbye, the girls know how to give good hugs and kisses.  Look at Parker in the background of this picture.

Iris gives great kisses too!

Saying bye to Nana and Grandaddy. We love having them home and can’t wait until Christmas week when they will be back again and we’ll all spend more time together then. We don’t take any of this for granted and know that each year is a blessing that we still have mom and dad with us. It could change at any moment and we are thankful for them and the legacy they have left for our family.

That’s it for this year, so thank you as always for stopping by. I know you all love to see these family pictures and recaps, so here you go.  Hope you all enjoy your Holidays from here on out until the end of the year. Hard to believe that another year is about to go, isn’t it? They sure go by fast these days!

Before I go, I wanted to share 2 videos that Lauren captured of Daddy singing to the girls, so don’t miss these treasures!

- Rhoda


  1. Andrea G Corley says

    OMG what a fun trip. I just love Bryson’s City and especially Deep Creek. I, like you, have so many memories there. Great blog post!!!

    Your mom and dad look great. I hope you all have a blessed Christmas.

  2. Absolutely beautiful memories to cherish! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Judith H Susia says

    Don’t know how I got on your mailing list, but I really want off. Can you help me?

  4. Wow I can’t believe how GREAT your father looks…looks like he put back that weight he lost when he was doctoring….God Bless him!!!!

  5. Becky in 'Bama says

    LOL… my husband and I and another couple took the Great Smoky Mt. Train ride last September – same train – but the theme on ours was “retro” train ride – with all the workers and servers dressed like the 1800’s. There was even a costumed ‘tracker’ who went from car to car telling yarns about the pioneer days and his adventures on the trails. Our tickets were $100 apiece but we had a full meal, a souvenir mug, dessert, and wine (with a souvenir wine glass) if you wanted it – and all drinks were refillable including the wine. I’d say they are doing well with their train business. And yes we enjoyed Bryson City – lots of quaint shops. We stopped there on our way to the Biltmore. Fun trip.

    • Hey, Becky, that sounds like a fun train ride, I would have probably enjoyed the meal part better. We did get a souvenir mug too (yay!). But I’m glad we did it once, it was a fun family memory.

  6. special times, honestly those children are so adorable! and so is your Dad singing 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  7. It is such a joy to share in your family gatherings! Thank you for posting these for us. The girls are adorable and that train ride sounds wonderful!! Love, love, loved the videos of your Dad singing to the girls. What a wonderful keepsake to have!

  8. We love Bryson City and Cherokee, Sylva, and the other small towns around there! Waynesville too! We have started spending more time on that side of the Smokies with Pigeon Forge changing and growing. We tend to like the slower, quieter side of things! I had a favorite rock growing up! I had bought it at a craft show in about 1966 – why is it your favorite things always end up lost??? My husbands father collected rocks also. Funny thing about us humans, huh? Lol! Your videos made me cry – they are so sweet!!!

  9. Always a pleasure to see pictures of your family. Those girls are growing so fast and their mother looks so much like her aunt Rhoda. Thank you for sharing your parents, every day is a blessing.

    • Thank you, Sue, people tell us that all the time, but we don’t really see it. Must be something to it though, because we keep hearing it.

  10. Debi Padgett says

    Oh Rhoda, thank you so much for sharing this! I am all teared up after watching, but they are good tears. Makes me miss my mom & daddy so& I’d give anything if they could have known my grandkids. My daddy actually did know my granddaughter (passed away when she was 9) & got the biggest kick out of her. These will be such sweet memories for all of you. I have done the Polar Express with my grandkids & it is so fun, but you’re right…so expensive!

    • HI, Debi, I’m so glad to share them with all of you. Family memories are the best and I know we will treasure these videos one day.

  11. Rondi Leslie says

    I think I love your family get together posts the best. So much love and togetherness. Making memories. Worth a milion. Thank you for posting. Blessings to you all and Merry Christmas Rhoda.
    (Over 40 years ago we would vacation at my Aunt and Uncles summer home in Lake Toxaway, NC. We would sift for gems too. )

  12. Such sweet times! Parker and Iris are getting so big. It’s amazing how fast time flies with kids. I love all the memories they are getting to make with the family. The Polar Express train ride was one I wanted to take Hannah on, but never did. Looks like so much fun.
    We used to gloat down the Comal River in New Braunfels Texas when I was a kid and it was freezing too. I’m like you, I don’t think I’d brave the cold water as an adult. Continued blessings to you! xo

  13. I may just have teared up a little, but with a smile on my face. Thank you for sharing your wonderful loving family with us. Love the Polar Express! Y’all are such good sports to participate in the activities. Such wonderful memories. Your Mom and Dad look so well and you know that’s such a blessing. Merry Christmas to you all!

    • Thank you, Catharine, you all are so sweet to care about my parents and family so much! Merry Christmas to you!

  14. Rhoda, my Mom (who would be about your Dad’s age) sang that song to my sister and I , her 3 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. After she passed, in honor of her, we named our small company Bushel and a Peck LLC. My sister and I are hoping we will be around to sing it to our great grand kids. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

  15. Laura Cowman says

    I love seeing your sweet family! I do hate to see those poor bears penned up in a small concrete pen. I quit going to Cherokee years ago because of this.

  16. What a fun post, love seeing all of you . I love that the little girls get to know all of you and enjoy these times.

  17. Thank you for sharing your family and this wonderful trip with us. It brought tears to my eyes; I could feel all your love for each other. I haven’t even seen the movie, “Polar Express,” but after seeing your pictures, I want to come to NC and ride the polar express train too! What wonderful memories you all have from your Bryson City trip. I’m glad your parents are around to relive the cycle of life with their great-grandchildren. I know what you mean by ‘one day at a time’ with older loved ones. May they have many more happy, healthy years.

  18. OMGosh – I so love to see pictures of your family, especially your Mama and Daddy. How amazing they both are. Looks like you had a wonderful , memorable Thanksgiving with your loving family. That last video of your Daddy singing to Iris – bought tears to my eyes ! I remember my sweet Mother singing that song to me, and then to my children. Cherish these moments – I know you do !

  19. So sweet that you get to spend so much special time with your grand nieces! We did the Polar Express last year here in Texas. Like you, I thought it was very pricey, worth doing it once, but not an annual event! Making memories….good times! Hope you and Mark have a very blessed and Merry Christmas!

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