It was three long months since I’d seen my Boo (daughter Jessie). At twenty years old and in her third year of education, she’s a senior in college at a small school in Ohio. She’s on the fast track to break into her adult life.
I haven’t spent much time in the Midwest, other than a summer at sixteen when I visited my newly married sisters, one in Cincinnati and the other in Iowa City, and the few random trips to Findlay to visit Jessie at college.
But, here Matt (my son) and I made the journey to Ohio to spend Thanksgiving with Jessie and her boyfriend Dusty’s family in the small town of West Mansfield.
The first stop, however, was out hitching post in Columbus where we spent one night in the “big” city at the Hyatt Regency Columbus. We checked in with great efficiency then headed out for a night on the town for dinner and an “Improv Comedy War” at The Funny Bone in Easton. Such a blast to sneak my under age children into the club and get by the doorman by indicating that we were from California (yes, I played up the dumb blond mantra) and they didn’t have their ID. Really? How the heck did we get past TSA without passports or drivers’ licenses?
Onto the purpose of the trip…to spend the holiday in Midwestern tradition.
After a one-hour drive from Columbus, we were greeted in Logan County’s West Mansfield by Dusty’s gracious family…after cruising through their small town with a downtown of no more than 2 blocks. Very charming, yet very foreign.
Their homestead was nearly 700 acres of land with a grand home, two barns and a “combine” that appeared to me to be the biggest land vehicle I’d ever seen. Impressive!
It was Thanksgiving Eve and since Dusty’s immediate family wasn’t hosting the holiday dinner, his Mom, siblings and us Californians headed out for a great small town adventure.
(Sidebar: In this world of “biggest,” “best,” “most expensive,” it was a pleasure to be in a place where the little things mattered most)
On our journey through Dusty’s hometown and Logan County, we ventured through the amazing, natural local wonder of the Ohio Caverns, sat for a mere second along the “Shortest Street in the World (McKinley),” drove along the “First paved street in America (Court Avenue),” and shopped at the unlikely and surprising supple Amish store where we discovered sugarplums, cheesecake dip and the finest of craftsmanship.
Upon our return to our gracious homestead, I was in for a treat when Dusty’s mother, Robin, took me out to observe the (truly) amazing county recycling center, which resides on their property aboard a John Deere Four wheeler. It was dusk, all the children were outside playing knock out on the family’s backyard basketball court, while Robin whisked me around a sampling of the hundreds of acres of land they own. I was impressed! I’ve never even lived on an acre before and couldn’t quite tell you what that might even feel like. The beautiful sunset bid us farewell on the Ohio horizon.
Fast forward to the Thanksgiving holiday. We all awakened late morning, and instead of dressing up in my traditional holiday lady’s attire, it was suggested I just throw on some jeans and layers as we were spending the 1pm meal in a three-car/tractor garage with fifty others (people that is), along with livestock that included the largest pigs we’ve ever seen alongside steers, (a) bull and cows all prepping for their eventual mating ritual.
Upon arrival in the garage, we were once again greeted with the simple, yet gracious, Midwestern charm for which my children and I truly appreciate and have grown to love. Introductions made: siblings; in-laws; children…we were “The Californians” and everyone knew it. All fifty of them, including the livestock. But, that didn’t stop us from enjoying the tradition, a completely different, small-town, authentic experience for which my children and I will be forever blessed.