Gallery: The Thanksgiving Routine


It’s hard to believe with Christmas bearing down on us how our minds have already blown past Thanksgiving and are wrapped around presents, plans, and more. But my family is famous for … ummm, an active Thanksgiving weekend schedule (call it overdoing?) Here’s the way it works with a review of last year’s schedule…

I’ll do this chronologically as best I can…


It kicked off with the Thursday AM deer hunt with my son…(click here for more of the story!). The remarkable backdrop: the marshes in front of Alligator Hall….reminiscent of the Serengetti. Call it an unusual deer stand to say the least. My son had never been to this stand — made it even cooler.



No, no deer that morning. No problem. He’s spoiled after he shot two in one weekend a couple of weeks ago. He’s finally learning it’s not so easy sometimes.


The next stage of the day is a wonderful tradition we started as kids. My dad wanted us to see the “hidden corners” of Alligator Hall, so every Thanksgiving day, we’d hike out to a remote part of the farm. With 89 year old mom with us, this was a cushier picnic than normal…but still just as fun.


We all had to get there somehow...

We all had to get there somehow…      The dogs chose the “scenic” route.



On the way home to get to work on Thanksgiving dinner, we found an injured baby woodpecker.  Welcome Woody, the newest member of the family…



And then on to cooking, setting, arranging, planning — Thanksgiving Dinner.



Notice there’s positively no counter space…!


Although he’s not a setter, he’s a good help at table setting. (OK, that was weak, but I had to write it.)


Then on to dinner — 30 people, three turkeys, oyster stuffing, sausage stuffing, gravy, bisucits…I could go on and on.  If you really want to know what we had and the recipes to make it, click here.


No rest for the weary…up at 5 for the annual duck hunt.  The whole story is in an other post, so click here to see that. Suffice to say, it was a huge hit. All the kids (16 kids), adults, friends — who ever was able to pull themselves out of bed after a late night at Thanksgiving dinner…


Duck hunting, lowcountry duck hunt, Sarah Sanford, Alligator Hall's duck hunt

Interestingly, nobody misses the big hunt breakfast…



Yes, that’s diet coke in the background. Somebody moved the aspirin…



The fruits of our labors this AM —


Did I mention we’re having 300 for dinner tonight?


Since 1960, our family has thrown a party in our barn the day after Thanksgiving every year. The only real change…the SIZE OF THE GROUP! As the family grows…ummm….well, the party grows proportionally.  Soooo, we decorate the barn, build big fires, move stuff around, hang lights in the trees, prepare for oysters, BBQ and plenty of traffic…



Nothing like having to move a port-a-john to make you feel glamorous.


Tiki Torches line the drive in


Seating is only the finest: Alligator Hall hay!


That’s the bar. It’s the old tack room. The kid will NOT be the bar tender.


The oyster tables are old electrical spools.


This crew just got stuck in the truck and had to walk back about 2 miles. Oops. That’ll teach their fearless leader not to forget her phone next time…

Nearly dark…that means we’ve got a party to throw!



Every party has a crisis moment…ours was when we were told we couldn’t get enough oysters. Well, when life gives you lemons, order crabs! Steamed there on the fire.


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The party always carrys on for hours around the fire long after the bulk of people leave.

But things were somehow wrong. I sensed it during the party that my lab wasn’t well. My fear was that he had somehow twisted his intestines playing with another puppy that day. Every large breed dog owners great fear. A sleepless night later, we were up at dawn heading to the vet.

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Home again. He’s going to be OK.


Turns out he had a condition known in these parts as “Cold Tail” — go figure. It’s a nerve condition that makes them miserable pups for 4-5 days. It’s a result of his using his tail too much (seriously?!) and being in the freezing water off and on for a few days. The good news, he’s just fine.


Hey, it’s just Saturday AM, we’ve got a ton to do!

Like clean up.



Like the trail ride.

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Like fish!


All before the afternoon quail hunt with neighbors.


After a lovely dinner with our neighbor (where I was nothing short of absolutely boring. Guess I’m a little sleepier than I thought), we’re up again for another duck hunt. No, seriously.

Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Hunting, Duck Hunting, Ducks, Duck, Cold Hunt

No “selfie” this morning. It’s not a pretty sight at this point. I could go on…

Pulled together for church (Dear Lord, please forgive me for falling asleep.) and then the final big event…the annual pheasant shoot given by wonderful friends who write on the invitation that you have to dress like you’re headed into the moors of Scotland! It’s a ton of fun (until you’re pulled by a local SC highway patrolman who thinks you look like a pompous nutcase. But that’s another story for another time.) The weather was perfect, my dog was back to being his old self, my son didn’t miss a bird, and all my boys were looking sharp.

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The perfect end to yet another amazing Thanksgiving weekend.  It’ll take a year to recover.

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