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Art&Seek Jr: 4 Fun Things To Do With Out Of Town Family This Thanksgiving

by Therese Powell 18 Nov 2014 4:30 PM

The family is coming to visit! Here are some ideas from the Junior for what to do once the turkey is all gone.


Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself.  Impossible you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.

This past weekend as I was standing in a grocery line 15 people deep, it occurred to me that this is the week when all the preparation for out of town family happens. When I was a kid it was never “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go.” Nope. Thanksgiving was the holiday when the relatives came to our house. For my mother this meant days of preparation that involved sleeping arrangements (there never seemed to be enough beds or pillows to go around), cleaning, and especially cooking. As in a lot of households, the Thanksgiving meal was a huge source of angst for my mother. She wasn’t a confident cook, so in the days leading up to the big meal there was always a lot of hand wringing and dithering about the menu and whether she could pull it off.

One particularly angst-ridden Thanksgiving that comes to mind happened when I was 17. About 15 people were expected for dinner and my mother was busily stuffing a 20 pound bird with grandma’s famous cornbread dressing. She was up to her armpits in dressing when I called her to help me get my junker car started. It was a two-person job that required one person to jiggle the battery terminals, while the other person tried to start it. Mom wiped her hands, left the turkey on the counter and came to my rescue in true mom fashion. While we were outside jiggling cables we heard the kitchen phone ring and as we bounded inside to answer it we saw a sight no one who’s expecting 15 for dinner wants to see–the family cat  inside the cavity of the turkey eating grandma’s famous cornbread stuffing. As we extracted the cat from the bird, my mother looked me square in the eye and said, “Not. One. Word.”

As I recall, that was the year mom finally threw in the towel and passed her Thanksgiving apron on to us.

Planning for out of town guests can be stressful, especially when trying to figure out what to do once everyone’s done eating. Here are some fun events that even great Aunt Jane will enjoy.

Start a new family tradition at the Dallas Arboretum. photo: Therese Powell

Start a new family tradition with The 12 Days of Christmas display at the Dallas Arboretum. photo: Therese Powell

Take the family for a stroll through the Dallas Arboretum. The beautiful ornamental gardens will help everyone relax and forget the Thanksgiving drama. Those who love fall in all its glory will have to hurry, this is the last weekend to catch Autumn at the Arboretum.  The gardens are filled with 150,000 blooming fall flowers, autumnal plants, and pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins. If you’ve got a family that’s ready for the yuletide season to begin you’re also in luck because the elaborate The 12 Days of Christmas exhibition is also on display. The exhibit features a collection of life-size Victorian gazebos–12 to be exact–that are filled with costumed characters and scenery made in the theme of the famous Christmas carol. The kids will have fun spying the small details–our favorites were the sleeping kitties in the Eight Maids-a-Milking gazebo–and it will remind grandma and grandpa of fancy decorated store windows from Christmases past.

Speaking of Christmas, if you want to skip the dog-o-rama of a visit to the mall to see Santa, head to the Perry Homestead Museum in Carrollton this Saturday for Photos with Santa.  The tiny tykes can take their time to visit (and get their picture snapped) with the jolly old elf, while the adults tour the historic home and the beautiful 10 acre park. There will also be hand-on activities and crafts for the whole family. Don’t dilly-dally though, pre-registration is required by Friday, Nov. 20.

Don't worry. There's more room to skate this year. Photo: Panther Island Ice

Everyone hand on tight. There’s lots of room to skate this year. Photo: Panther Island Ice

If it’s a bigger house your family would like to tour, then take them to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum for the All Creatures Great and Small: Christmas at the White House 2002 exhibit. The exhibition is a look back at Christmas at the White House in 2002 when the theme celebrated the important role animals played in the White House. Highlights include bird ornaments designed by an artist from each of the 50 states and replicas of First Family pets that were displayed throughout the White House.

Feeling logy after that big meal? Work it off with a little exercise at Panther Island Ice , Fort Worth’s only outside ice skating rink. The popular rink opens this Friday and is back for another year of holiday skating at Panther Island Pavilion. It was so successful last year that it has expanded  by 50%. Now you and the family have plenty of room to skate side by side without the worry of bumping into anyone. You and the family can skate to your hearts content until Jan. 19. Admission is $11, which includes skate rental.

Therese Powell is an Art&Seek calendar coordinator and KERA-TV producer.  She spends most of her free time seeking out adventures for her 9-year-old daughter, Rose.  Tell us about your quirky kid adventures by leaving a comment. Or e-mail Therese at [email protected].