Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Over the River and Through the Woods" 2012

It will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who has ever known me that I am big on tradition.  And as might be expected from a traditionalist, I'm not fond of change.  In fact, I resist and drag my feet over every occasion when change is forced upon me.  From that you could justifiably assume that holidays around my house are filled with a lot of  "But we've always done it that way..."  And Thanksgiving is second only to Christmas for following the same traditions year after year.  The meal is generally the same:  Turkey, mashed and sweet potatoes, gravy, apple/onion stuffing, a green vegetable (sometimes 2), pickles and olives, cranberry sauce (the gelled kind),  plus the family favorites -- Creamed Leek and  Cinnamon Jello.  And of course, homemade pumpkin, pecan, and sometimes peach pies.

After dinner and dishes but before dessert, we play a couple of board games (depending on the age of any children in attendance.)  That generally deteriorates into reminiscing on family stories about relatives that are no longer with us.  For instance the Mom and whipped cream story, the Dad and the mashed potatoes story, the Aunt Marilynn mashed potato story (we like mashed potatoes in our family), the year it was like -30F in Chicago, the year the dog ate the leftover turkey while we all sat not 10 feet away playing Monopoly!  We add new stories as they occur, but mostly our stories are about years gone by and the people we miss.

What it boils down to is that I have celebrated Thanksgiving pretty much exactly the same way for all of my life.  That's a lot of Thanksgivings....a lot of turkey....a lot of tradition!  Up until my Dad died, dinner was always at my Mom and Dad's place.  It switched to our house after that and since coming to Austin some years we do the dinner and some years it's at Rachlet's.  Other than the actual venue however, it's the same dinner with whatever variety of relatives might be in the vicinity.

I expected the holiday to stay pretty much the same for all of my remaining Thanksgivings as well.  It is what we did.  It was TRADITION.

But this year, out of the blue, we changed!

Because of TA and Ratchlet's work and social schedules, this year's holiday just wouldn't neatly fit into the calendar as it usually did.  As we were talking about it, I rather jokingly said that we could go out to eat, so no one would have to cook a huge dinner.  Somehow, the little joke seemed a lot less of an travesty as it had at other times when the response was a resounding NO! from everyone!  This year it seem like it might be a good alternative.  Ratchlet volunteered to find out what was available, just on the off chance there was something we could all live with.

Guess what?  She found the perfect solution....she found paradise!  So we went!

Just outside of Bastrop, TX, a small town about 46 min. southeast of Austin, there is the Lost Pines, Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa, and they offered a Thanksgiving brunch/dinner fit for kings!  Although a bit pricey, it was worth every single penny!  The dinner was held in their Grand Ballroom (huge room) which was beautifully decorated, each family group had a private table configuring in a comfortable arrangement for the size of the group.  We only had a group of 5, still 2 waitstaff were assigned our table and they were very skilled and attentive throughout our meal.  The food was perfect!  I kid you not!!  Everything was delicious, nothing weird or odd, very traditional, plus hot (or cold), plentiful, with great variety, and attractively presented.  The carving station offered turkey, ham, prime rib, all of the traditional potatoes, gravy, stuffing, veggies.  In addition there were oysters on the half-shell, shrimp cocktail, salads, antipasti, Ahi Tuna, lox and bagels, fresh made omelets, a full range of breakfast offerings.  There was also the largest selection of desserts I have every seen at an event of this type.  Cobblers, pies, cakes, bread pudding, and brownies, cookies, and other small dessert offerings.  There was a separate buffet for young kids with mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, turkey and PB&J. It was a big hit with the 3-9 year olds!  They had a bouncy house for the kids, ping pong, and were showing movies just down the hall as well.

There was live music that was pleasant and unobtrusive.  There were six chefs manning just the carving stations!  Every single staff person was friendly, helpful, greatly attentive to detail, and genuinely glad that we were enjoying ourselves.  It was truly perfect!

The resort is on beautiful grounds and we strolled around after dinner to see all it offered.  Geared for families, there were many activities available, several places to eat, several bars, an ice cream shop, a gift shop, a huge pool, canoeing, horses, spa, and supervised games for the whole family.  We were impressed and may actually plan a stay at some point.

The entry to the property was actually "Over the river and through the woods", but the final destination was a whole lot nicer than just any old 'grandmother's house"!

We had a great time, a great meal, and a great Thanksgiving!  Rumor has it that we might never have a Thanksgiving at home ever again!  I vote Yes!


  1. Sounds like a great time was had by all My family all drove 150 miles (each way) to cousins for a rockin' good time. Great family time, great food and even the drive, which was mostly interstate highway was nice because we had an unseasonably warm, sunny Thanksgiving Day. The only problem was that I ate too much!!

  2. Gosh...I may join you next year...LOL...sounds wonderful. Never be afraid of traditions may just found.

  3. That sounds awesome!! We have had a couple of Thanksgivings at Maggianos and loved the experience. So nice not to spend all day in the kitchen!


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