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November 20-27
Written November 23+
Dear Friends, Family and Diary,

This year we were treated to two family Thanksgiving celebrations.  The first was on Sunday, in Fresno, at Mamo's house.  Gabby made the pre-holiday drive, bringing Ava, Sam, and Charli Ann.  All were warmly welcomed at Magdalena's. 

Dinner was a new-tradition: turkey-en-croute, courtesy of Trader Joe's.  Maybe not a real tradition, but certainly easy and that's what we need!

d181120_06_game.jpgAfter dinner, we had a round or two of "Cool Ice" the board game we learned from Brian, Jen, and Rich on one of our last trips.  When we introduced it to Ava and Sam, they were hooked.  It's a good combination of (a little) strategy and plenty of action.  Mamo didn't take part, but enjoyed looking on and hearing the excitement.
After games, it was movie time. The feature was "Magdalena's Chapters, Chapter 6".   The show was new for Gigi and the visitors, even if not for the producer (me) and the star (Mamo).  For the two of us, the fun was observing others' interest in the story.  YOU have watched, right?
Marianne and I stayed with the crowd overnight and enjoyed a nice, slow morning with them.  (It was so slow, I even forgot to take any pictures to illustrate our activities.  A rare oversight.)  We had the required breakfast-with-Gigi: Hungarian crepes (palascintas).  Another tradition.  Then, some artwork by the kids.  Traditional turkeys. 

Sooner than we wanted, the little family headed back home, leaving Mamo's house much quieter.  We all prefer the noise.
The beginning of the week was spent recovering from colds (me, especially) and looking forward to rain.  It has been six months or so since water came from Fresno skies.  Every Fall, the local air accumulates even more unhealthy particulate, dust stirred up by harvest activity throughout the San Joaquin Valley.  This year, the smoke from horrendous fires hundreds of miles away added to the haze.  So, when light rain starts to fall, we all rejoice, even if it means the leaves will need extra cleanup.

Thursday morning, we headed on our drive over to Monte Sereno and the family Thanksgiving gathering.  Contrary to our worries, traffic was light!

When we arrived, the Rahimi crew was in final throws of party set up.  The pool house would hold the three-dozen guests with ease (at least it was easy for guests).
The guest of honor was Gabby's father-in-law, Manoucheher.  He had been in heart surgery just a couple days before and it was wonderful that he could make it.  Trust me, there was hardly a dry eye in the place.
Pretty soon, the active part of family Thanksgiving started.  The boys began with football catch and I was impressed.  These little guys are getting bigger and more coordinated every year.  It's easy to imagine more serious touch football games as they age over the next decade and more.
The kids also warmed up the tennis court. Actually, it's a pickelball court, but a good size for kids and a motley crew of moms, dads, aunts, and uncles. 
Warm up was successful (meaning, no tears or injuries) and soon the (so-called) grownups were working on rules and regulations for the First Annual Rahimi Turkey Open (FARTO).  Remember guys, it's Mamal's court so he makes the rules.

Competition was intense.  Teammates encouraged each other.  Fans went wild.  Gigi tried to stare down her opponent, as did Mamal and Sam.  But, in the end, the FARTO trophy went to Ava and Gabby.  Legitimately, not just because it was their house, their, court, their tennis balls, etc.

By now, everyone was getting hungry, even those of us who did not actually do any of that exercise stuff.  There were plenty of chefs in the kitchen, including Ali, the carver-in-chief.
Kids were well-behaved and patient.  (Really - my story.)  Manou hung in there with us for hours of eating, drinking, and chatting. Just like holiday gatherings should be.
After all this, the cousins were treated to a Christmas movie, not that they needed help to get in a holiday spirit.  Gigi and I joined them and appreciated the break from all the eating (and drinking!)  Besides, it was a cute show (but don't ask me the name.)
Gigi and I were among the first to leave, just after Manou.  He is in his eighties and in heart-surgery recovery.  We just barely managed to out-last him.  Congratulations and we wish him and everyone else a good holiday season.

No more activities planned, but we will add anything worthy of note. 

John and Marianne

And indeed something did come up!  On Saturday, our neighbor-three-houses-away Vern Selland invited us over for his birthday, his 90th! 

The walk down Cambridge was particularly colorful.  This may not be New England, but some Fresno neighborhoods do have enough non-native trees to add the proper amount of color to Fall.

In the Selland house, the Christmas spirit had already arrived, thanks to next week's "Christmas Open House".  This is an annual event where some of the nicest homes in the city are decorated for Christmas and opened up for tours.  On Cambridge Avenue, both the Towerys and the Sellands are stops on the house tour.  But, of course, we get to see them all the time!  Nice street.

The house was also busy with special birthday food preparations.  Marianne's favorites were the fresh oysters Vern's son Randal brought down from special Sacramento restaurants.  He also brought fixings and recipes for clam chowder and Crab Louie.  All wondd181124_22_cake.jpgerful.d181124_20_partyperson.jpg

Granddaughter Allie brought a special cake and the guest of honor could not pass mugging a bit.  It is his birthday, after all.

Meanwhile, other seniors were sharing grandkid pictures on their screens.  It's what grandparents do nowadays.
Out in back, the patio could still be put to use for chatting, drinking, and more eating.  Even though it is the end of November, it was still shirtsleeves weather in Fresno. 

Vern and some of the family had to leave the party before it was all over because Fresno State University was ALSO celebrating his birthday.  (He serves up jazz every Tuesday and Wednesday on FSU's radio station, KFSR 90.7)


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