Our Jacobson-Borenstine-Becker family Thanksgiving week in Florida went very smoothly, and we all acknowledged - one way or another - that we had a lot to be thankful for! This is the third year we have celebrated this holiday together, four generations of my family in a rental house big enough for us to spread out in, and spend a few winter days in the sun and relatively warm air on the beach. By the time we left, we all had agreed - we want to do it again in 2013.

Although the kitchen arrangement in our rental house was better suited to cooking for 14 people, we didn't do my traditional thing, which was to make it ALL about food. As last year, we got smoked turkeys from Nancy's Barbeque, so our Thanksgiving day preparations were all about filling in the sides. It was more important to me this year to spend time relaxing and schmoozing with my family. Our eldest generation included my mother, Elinor; her sister, Gloria; and our cousin Ann. In addition to Robert and me, we had my sisters, Paula and Elisa, and Paula's husband, Ted, as well as Robert's sister Judy. Next came our daughters, Allison and Loren, and daughter-in-law, Stephanie. For the most part the highlights were our grandchildren, Ana and Gabriel.

I think each of us "had our moments," so to speak, but from my perspective we got along better - and perhaps that's because there wasn't so much pressure in the kitchen. As the photos below show, we spent a great deal of time relaxing, doing puzzles and reading, and walking on Venice Beach and in the neighborhood.

I spent as much time as I could walking with Gabriel. Here we are looking at shells, typically used in Florida for driveways and walkways. Gabriel was fascinated by them - he is accustomed to picking up rocks when we walk together in Asheville or D.C., but in Florida he has other choices.

looking at shells

The beach is his favorite place! On this trip we collected as much flotsam and jetsam as Gabriel could get me to carry. Our take included a coconut shell, some dried out coral and seaweed, a shell or two, and the stick you see in the photo below. (Yes, that is a stick by his hands, not a snake!)

Gabriel at the beach

Most of us spent some time working on jigsaw puzzles. Robert stayed clear of our puzzle table. Ted "helped" by asking us repeatedly if we had finished that puzzle yet...

In the next two photos you'll see Loren working with my sister Paula and Robert's sister Judy:

Paula and Loren puzzling

Judy and Loren at the puzzle table

Most of our needlework was crocheting. (Paula did a bit of quilting.) Here you see Mom (right) helping Ann figure out a pattern.

Ann and Elinor

Other favorite activities were reading and ... resting, as these photos of Robert and Ted show.



On Saturday Allison, Stephanie, and Loren took Gabriel and Ana to Jungle gardens. I think the flamingoes were their favorite attraction there.

Ana at Jungle Gardens

Allison spent a lot of time studying, but here she is listening to something that was on Gabriel's mind. There is ALWAYS something on Gabriel's mind ...

For the most part, our travel went smoothly. I think for all but Allison it was a pretty relaxing vacation. Although we were not obsessed with cooking, we ate very well, and the rental did well for our "Thanksgiving house." Pretty good, for this crew - pretty good!