Thanksgiving in Ashland, Oregon
Holidays with adult children are very different from holidays with babies, toddlers, school-age children, or college students.
Keith, Patrick, and I live in Olympia, Washington and our daughter Hilary lives in Fresno, California. We have a family tradition of traveling for holidays; London, Rome, Washington D.C., New York, and with family in the Bay Area of California.
This year, we chose to drive six hours south while Hilary drove eight hours north to meet up in Ashland, Oregon for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
Ashland, Oregon is the home of a world-renowned Shakespeare Festival, and the community is well suited for visitors. The downtown is a real town center with Lithia Park, many well-rated diverse food options, and a pedestrian-friendly shopping area. The city core is surrounded by gentrified Victorian homes and re-modeled craftsman bungalows, many now bed and breakfast inns or vacation rentals. Each house is unique with an individual personality. Ashland isn't a cliche; it is genuinely cute.
We wanted a comfortable but traditional Thanksgiving where we could spend time together inside or outside. Airbnb is our go-to for a home-away-from-home, and we rented a small cottage that would fit our holiday plans.
An old bungalow with a backyard garden featuring a koi pond and an herb garden, wood floors, oak furniture, quilted bedcovers, and handcrafted stoneware dishes welcomed us as our new holiday hang out. Located on a quiet side street, we were able to walk to downtown and enjoy the neighboring homes along the way.
An afternoon fitness walk through a new neighborhood allowed for the survey and critique of the various yard landscapes and home remodeling projects. "I could live in that house." "If I won the lottery, I would buy that house." "This house is my favorite," and "That place is just waiting for someone to renovate it."
A healthy four-point buck deer walked down the street with us, then jumped a neighbor's fence. Six wild turkeys didn't even acknowledge us as we entered Lithia Park. A handful of big leaf maple trees hung on to a few final golden leaves, and there was a light dusting of snow on the ridge across the valley.
Black Friday was the start of the holiday festivities in town with local businesses open and decorated with Christmas lights. Downtown was busy but not crowded with holiday shoppers. Even as adults, we enjoyed the unique chance to go ice skating together. All four of us gave it a few laps and no-one was hurt! For dinner, an old favorite, take-out pizza from a cardboard box.
And together we shared a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
To keep things simple, we pre-ordered a complete Thanksgiving dinner from the Ashland Co-op. At our designated time, Keith and I drove up to the curbside pick-up location and a friendly young lady handed us a whole, already cooked, ready to re-heat, traditional Thanksgiving dinner. No messy kitchen. No grumpy faces because the gravy is lumpy. No second guessing or threats of overcooking. No dinner drama. It was easy, tasty, and we enjoyed it together without stress or anxiety.
It wasn't our home, but it was. We were home together as a family for Thanksgiving. I don't need a large place so my children can come and stay with me; I have a place where we can all meet and be comfortable in our unique adult style.
We learned that a home can be anywhere where we can get together. It can be Christmas in Barcelona, or Thanksgiving in Oregon. I know we won’t be together for every holiday, but we have learned how to be at home with ourselves. Home may be where we live, or where we want to live, or wherever we can get together.