Thanksgiving: All the Food - and a Trip to Arizona

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This year, I spent my very first Thanksgiving in the U.S. Besides a few other holidays, this is a big deal. Most people have three to four days off, reunite with their beloved ones and eat until their bellies are about to burst. It is a highly valued holiday here in the U.S. and I am thankful for the opportunity to experience it. 

Actual Thanksgiving day was Thursday, November 24. I was very much looking forward to a long weekend and thus had 10-hour days at the office before to get everything done so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. I simply wanted to immerse myself in the spirit of this holiday. 

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I don’t really know what it was but something was in the air, something that made me look forward to this holiday so very much, probably mainly because everyone started wishing each other a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend days before – and the festive spirit got a good grip on me. I believe it is also because  fall decoration was very prominent, and partially, Christmas music was playing in stores already. Whatever it was, I felt like a little child again, excited to have a holiday coming up. 

They say that Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the cozy holiday season; the end of fall, the beginning of Christmas time. 

There’s a few things that were certainly new to me and are unique to this very special holiday. I learned by doing, so to speak. 

Everything About the Turkey

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The turkey is king that holiday. Well, at least in the oven and on the plate. I am not a big meat lover, and so I was not one to be super excited about the bird on my plate. Yet, I got to taste three different versions: the more or less originally stuffed and oven-made turkey, the fried one, as well as a smoked turkey - and all in three different locations. What a party. I personally liked the fried one the most, the little I ate of it. 

A typical turkey dinner - so I’ve been told - consists of…guess what…the turkey itself (duh!), stuffing, sweet potatoes, something called (sweet potato) casserole (and is amazing!), mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce (cranberry everything for me), and gravy. Of course, this can vary a little. Pumpkin pie is for dessert – and loads more sweets – but pumpkin pie is definitely the most common. 

And Basically All About the Food at Large

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I would always choose the side dishes over the bird, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to after my first Thanksgiving. There’s some awfully good ones (as mentioned above). I think the one dish that completely blew me away was the sweet potato casserole. All I can say is that it absolutely tastes like holidays, with all the spices, specifically cinnamon etc. You ought to try it whenever you get a chance.  

Gobble, Gobble - Turkey Run

Turkey runs (or walks) are very common. Before you start stuffing your face, you grab your family and run (walk) a 5 k. Let’s call it: pre-burning a few calories. Well, quite a number of people don’t even bother and skip the run before the turkey. Oh well. 

Food Coma (aka Stuffed Like a Turkey)

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There is so much food on the table. Naturally, you eat (because no one has self control that day – or even weekend – and even if there was something called ‘self control’, this would be non-existent on Thanksgiving). Turkey, sides, dessert…I didn’t even know where to start.

Black Friday Madness – and Cyber Monday Deals

The afternoon of Thanksgiving day, the malls open their doors and you find deals like there is no tomorrow. Black Friday officially marks the beginning of Christmas shopping. For the fun of it: watch a few videos on YouTube – the madness is real (and absolutely hilarious). People race to the stores and try to get the best deals out there. A little hectic, if you ask me. Spending some time in a cozy, warm environment is certainly what I preferred. Because, you know, there’s also Cyber Monday, which is basically the same as Black Friday, but chances to get injured while hunting for deals are basically zero. I prefer that. 

Reunion & Merry Times

Families, friends, lovers - they all usually reunite this very special holiday. America is “moving”. Sharing stories, eating together, laughing together, cozying up together - it’s all part of the Thanksgiving fun. I had the feeling that this holiday is about spending time with family like no other. Correct me, please, if I am wrong. 

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So, you might maybe wonder where and how I spent my very first Thanksgiving. It was an adventurous 5 days, I can tell ya. I was lucky enough to get the Monday after also off, which left a little more time to actually venture around different places and use this holiday not only to hang out with great people, but also gave me the opportunity to explore another destination in the U.S.: Sedona, in Arizona

I spent Thanksgiving day in San Diego, surrounded by my usual group of people. Workout at 8 am (for guilt-free feasting or so), and reunion at noon with the gym fam for food (food, food), drinks, talks, and laughs. 

A few hours later, I found myself in the car driving out to El Cajon where I was invited for another turkey feast. We hung out, drank wine, listened to music, goofed around and what not. Good times.

Overall, a great first Thanksgiving Day spent in the U.S., as it allowed me to get to know the customs and understand a little better, first-hand, what this day means to people. 

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On Friday morning, we jumped in the car and drove to Phoenix to visit friends, where we had a nice couple days, relaxed hours and good food (maaan, those mashed potatoes…). 

Then we were off to Sedona! 

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I never thought the desert (high desert), would be this cold. Not “San Diego cold” but actually freezing. Jeep tour, horseback riding, hot chocolate by the fire - the whole fall/winter time package and I loved it. 

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Baby…it is cold outside. All bundled up and ready to roll!

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Blankets needed (although the ride was so bumpy, they fell off us).

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In the middle of (it felt like) nowhere with the jeep crew.

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Half of the crew; the other half behind the lens. 

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And then the jeep tour turned into a trail tour on absolutely chill four-legged friends. Two of the trail riders still smiling (although freezing their bums off).

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All in line!

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And a smile for the books, please, and thank you. I was a happy girl being on a horse’s back again. It’s been a fairly long time.

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…and then it got so cold that is started hailing. 

Certainly, I was sad when the weekend - again - flew by and before I knew it, we stopped in Phoenix, again, picked up another  friend, and embarked on the long ride back to sunny San Diego. I basically was in three different temperature zones in five days. Ooonly in Ameeericaaahaa…

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Thanksgiving is a time of giving thanks (naturally). I am thankful for a whole lot. A lot. But most of all I am thankful for the path I have chosen in my life and continue to walk – without knowing where it might eventually really lead me. 

Take a minute and think about it: What are you thankful for – not just this holiday season, but always?