New wrinkle to Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving week got off to its usual start a week ago Saturday. Our son Joe and I lugged the boxes of Christmas decorations off the garage shelves and put together the artificial tree.

It’s not my favorite job, but we try to get the Christmas tree up before we drive to my sister’s house in the Kansas City suburbs for Thanksgiving.
Jenny is excused from the tree assembly because something about the smell from the boxed up tree limbs bothers her asthma. She joins in for the decorating.
All in all it was a successful tree decorating year with only a minor argument about whether the lights were evenly spaced on the tree.  Joe takes light spacing seriously; I follow the rule that if all the lights are on the tree, it’s fine.
At least it was successful for an hour or so until we went looking for our cat, Ziggy. He was sprawled out in the branches about two-thirds of the way up the tree, looking out the window. He chewed up about a dozen of the plastic covered LED lights and knocked off several ornaments last year. Some things never change. Sigh.
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Thanksgiving changed though. My sister Donna was spared the usual two-day cooking ordeal. We saw the James Bond movie, “Skyfall,” on Wednesday afternoon instead of getting an early-start on cooking. On Thanksgiving, I cooked my traditional scrambled eggs and bacon breakfast and then in the afternoon, we went to a restaurant for our Thanksgiving meal.
It all started because Donna’s husband, Homer, a retired economist with the Army Corps of Engineers, was called back to work to help out with the aftermath from Hurricane Sandy. He was in New York on Thanksgiving, and likely will be there two or three more months. That left the three of us, Donna, and her son and his wife. We all voted to go out for dinner. The restaurant was packed, the food was good (maybe not quite as good as Donna’s) and the cost not outrageous.
It was sooooo relaxing. We may never cook on Thanksgiving again.
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The other new wrinkle in our Thanksgiving routine occurred during the 10-hour drive back to New Albany. My sister suggested we pass up the quick McDonald’s lunch with a little longer out-of-the-car break in Hardy, Ark. She and Homer had discovered a small British-themed restaurant called the “Pig ‘N Whistle.”
It was easy to find on the town’s Main Street because of a large British flag flying out front.  As we stepped through the front door, we were met by the queen. At least, a life sized cardboard cutout of Queen Elizabeth II.
What is a bit of England doing in a small town in Arkansas? We learned the owners, Philip and Rebecca Ashcroft, met while working for Disney Cruise Line. They were married in England in 2004. He’s from England, but in 2010 they decided to give up cruise life and settle in her hometown. You guessed it. Hardy.
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As I write this on Sunday afternoon, life has returned to normal. Part of a string of Christmas lights is hanging off the tree on the floor, and Ziggy is curled up on the Christmas tree skirt, which he has drug into a corner of the room.
Only another month until we get to put the tree back in the box.

T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at