When I was 13 or 14, my parents asked my brother and I if we would be willing to skimp on some of our Christmas presents and instead use the money to spend Christmas in Louisiana with our beloved Granddaddy and the rest of my dad’s family. It was a no brainer. We wouldn’t have cared if we didn’t get a single thing to spend Christmas with them. And although we ran into one of the worst ice storms in recent history on the way there, that Christmas was one of the best ones ever. Memories always amaze me. You never realize when you’re making them. For me, the South will always be a magical, special place for me. It’s where I feel the closest to my Granny and Granddaddy. And I don’t mean just geographically speaking since they’ve both been gone for years now. 

My cousin Angela and her husband Mike just moved into a beautiful home in Jackson, Mississippi so we decided to take our first thanksgiving road trip. Jake has been so excited about going. He kept telling me “I can’t wait for my first southern Thanksgiving.”  I told Matt I wasn’t sure what he was expecting. He acted like we were gonna film a Paula Deen holiday special or something. 

 We left early Wednesday morning. 

  Piper, in her new holiday sweater, ready to head south. 

  Crossing the Mississippi bridge in Cairo, Illinois. As kids, this was a highlight of our many car trips to Louisiana. I used to think this was probably the largest bridge in the world. 
  Had to stop at Boomland. Boomland is a gas station/restaurant/gift shop/fireworks superstore in Missouri. My family has been stopping here for 30 years now. Nothing beats filling up the car and then grabbing enough bottle rockets to last for the next six years.  Jake, who has more pyromaniac tendencies than what I would like, goes nuts over the fireworks.

  Jake teaching Piper to skateboard during one of our rest stops on the way down. Silly dog actually liked it. Or was just not smart enough to jump off. 

  The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Sunny. Low humidity (very important for the hair) and in the 70’s. 
  Angela and I prepping for Thanksgiving dinner. 

 Jake enjoying some time with Tess. Piper decided to try to pick a fight with her first thing so we spent the next 3 days trying to keep Tess from eating Piper. 

  Relaxing after our delicious Thanksgiving meal. 
  Jake and I soaking in the sunshine on the backyard trampoline. I decided to see what I could still do. The good news is that I could still do toe touches, spread eagles and one handed round off’s. I scoffed when Angela warned me that the last time she jumped on the trampoline she missed a week of work because she couldn’t walk. 

Pssssh. Amateur. Old amateur actually. She obviously had forgotten I took 2 months of gymnastics in second grade and had the whole Mary Lou Retton athletic wear line from JC Penney’s. 

 I’m quite certain my inability to walk and stand upright the next day had little to do with any of that. 

  Thank goodness for this little contraption.  The electrical impulses soothed the muscle spasms and I was able to retain my ability to use the restroom independently. 
  We ended Thanksgiving Day playing Spoons with everyone. It was a pretty tame game. I remember some especially vicious ones at Granny and Granddaddy’s house back in the day. 
  Jake was brave and went Black Friday shopping with Angela. She said he was a good sport picking out the latest princess toys for the girls.  
The next day while I tried to dress myself without using my spine, Jake, Mike, Mia and Matt went snagging for Asian Carp on the Yazhoo River.  

  Asian carp are those fish that jump out of the water and they aren’t native. They have rapidly reproduced and have wreaked havoc on the ecosystem. It’s legal to snag them and then you can just leave them in piles on the bank. 
  Mike and the 22 lb catfish another fisherman caught. 
  Jake and Mia were inseparable. They spent the whole time skateboarding and jumping on the trampoline. I loved seeing them get along. 
  Jake and Mia. 
  Me and the kids. Miss Madden, Miss Mia and Jake. 
  Angela, Mike and me. 
  Enjoying Thanksgiving in shorts! 
 We had a wonderful time and hated to leave.  

  Northbound and down. 

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