Eleven months ago when we left on our big westerly loop of the United States, the only thing scheduled for sure was that we would be back in Oklahoma for Thanksgiving. We are blessed that our entire family got to be together for the holiday. We had beautiful weather, allowing us to snap some pictures outside. One of those snaps should be part of a Christmas letter.
Thanksgiving is a great holiday to spend in Beaver, Oklahoma, where many of the Engelmans gather at the ranch where Mark was raised.
Mark's 89-year-old Mother spear-headed the Thanksgiving feast that 33 of us enjoyed together. That evening we enjoyed a 3-hour family sing-a-long led by some of the most talented musicians we know.
It's a goose-bump experience to be in the circle of Engelmans when the Doxology is sung as the prayer before a meal! We love spending this family time with people we don't get to see often since we are on the road. Another family tradition is spending some time playing in the hay. We climbed to the top of the square bales stacked under the hay shed.
But the real fun is climbing onto the round bales. That's Mark and our youngest son, Blake, on the right of the picture below. The picture also includes parts of three generations climbing on the bales today.
This year the round bales were placed with spaces between the rows. Some members of the family didn't seem to have any problem jumping over that space.
Even though Denisa is pretty brave around mountains and ledges, she isn't good with jumping over chasms. She's older and wiser than some of the bale-jumpers, and it is taking some coaching and coaxing to get her to jump over this abyss.
She finally made the jump. But you might notice that her foot barely made it onto the bale. It wasn't pretty, but she got lots of encouragement.
Most of the group was racing along the rows and leaping over those giant gaps in a raucous game of tag. You might notice that Denisa is standing on the right, refereeing the game because she clearly is not agile enough to participate in this wild game. On the other hand, Mark and Blake are in the middle of it.
Clearly, the safest place to watch this game is from the ground. After falling off the bales in a wild chase, Mark's brother is watching from the four-wheeler. Also watching is Mark's Mother--the fourth generation enjoying the beautiful weather out at the bales.
Another fun activity is feeding the two bottle-calves living in the pens close to the barn. One was orphaned when her mother died, but the other calf was a twin. We found that cows aren't good at raising two calves, so one of the twins has to be raised at the barn.
We are thankful for this time to enjoy our family. We have many blessings, and we are glad for a day to be reminded of how good it is to have quality family time. We have wandered into another version of God's wonders!