Last week the North American continent celebrated Thanksgiving and I thoroughly it! In case you don’t know, Thanksgiving occurs on the fourth Thursday of November and is traditionally “a day set aside (except for those poor souls who have to work) for families to be together, break bread together and to be thankful for all of the blessings we have.” (Thanks Paula Perry for the background knowledge).The event is celebrated with a turkey dinner and marks the start of Christmas celebrations. In preparation for moving to the USA, Thanksgiving was something we were all eagerly excited to celebrate. It’s so American. It’s so different. It’s ALL ABOUT THE FOOD! Hypothyroidism aside, putting my inner pig on display and wolfing SO much homemade food was quite simply, FAB-U-LOUS!
For The First Time.
Truth be told, I had my first Thanksgiving meal at the Chi Alpha house on Sunday 23rd November with Elizabeth and Jana. We all made a point of trying just about everything that was on offer. It’s not often I can eat such a huge quantity and not feel guilty about it. I went “cray cray” for the meat that night. It’d been so long since I’d had home cooked ham! It was beautiful, delicious and devoured. I enjoyed all the different casseroles too, it was vastly different to anything I had ever tried in England before and I embraced it. I’m not a vegetable fan in the slightest. I don’t mind eating greens when I can’t taste them for what they actually are so I got my “vitamins” this holiday! My mum would be so proud. I can’t tell you the agonising tradition of my childhood of Sunday dinners that involved me crying and not wanting to eat vegetables I loathed and the meat my baby teeth struggled to chew. I eat meat now but my sweet tooth is so strong that I don’t think I’ll ever love veg; as much as health and fitness has become a feature in my life I’m a carb addict for life babes. Sorry not sorry. “The struggle is real” as these ‘Muricans say! It will come as no surprise to you that the dessert was my overall favourite part. I’m a foodie. I’m a foreigner. I’m a fatty. Cake is the metaphor of my life, my happiness, my one true weakness. The pecan and pumpkin pies, wowwwww! Sugary heaven. Sugary cloud nine. Sugary happiness. Thank goodness it’s an annual holiday or my buttocks would well and truly be the size of Texas and that’s the last thing I need. However I did go to the gym and burn it all off! I love it when I taste a cake and it’s so good that it feels worth every damn calorie. To be fair (I say this phrase a lot as a ‘Murican pointed out) my “love” of working out stems from my love of food. I have no shame.
All The Small Things.
The actual Thanksgiving holiday I got to leave Hattiesburg and travel to Moss Point, Mississippi; courtesy of the wonderful Perry family. Alvaro and I stayed at their house for a three nights and we had a really superb time. After a two hour drive we arrived at our destination and I realised how much I missed the simple suburban setting. We were greeted by the family’s dogs and cats and my heart was overjoyed. I personally think a pet makes a huge difference to a home and I’ve missed placing all my affections into my needy Springer Spaniel Pixie and cute German Shepherd Max. The coolest thing though, was that Paula has a pet squirrel. I can honestly say I’ve never known anyone with a pet squirrel before. [My best friend, the famous weird and wonderful character of Katie Malin has a pet snake and I have yet to visit her house in Birmingham, England to this date. I jokingly said to Katie “if you don’t want me to visit you just say. You don’t have to buy my worst fear/Satan and keep it as a pet!”] Anyway, Alvaro and I got to try Eggnog, a Christmas tradition in the American Christmas films we’ve all been bombarded with over the years. It was actually very nice and sweet. Wednesday was a pretty chilled day of eating and napping and hanging out with Kati’s childhood friend Emma. Kati had just got back from a conference in Georgia and Alvaro and I had been out the night before. Alvaro is a really cool guy. He is very easy to talk to and has a very likeable personality. I don’t joke when I say he is the best thing to come out of Spain. He’s a “keeper,” pardon the football/soccer pun. This Spanish lad told me that leggings were “not appropriate” for the Thanksgiving meal with Kati’s family so the next day I dressed like a girl (I actually do enjoy dressing up and feeling pretty though to be fair) with a yellow dress, black tights and hoop earrings.
Round two- eat your heart out!
If you know me you’ll know that in conversation and in writing I like to (pardon the pun) “waffle.” This is an English term for rambling. But hey I did previously say that I could talk for England (depending on how comfortable I am, of course). I got to meet Kati’s family and they were all very welcoming and took an interest in the lives of Alvaro and myself. The food again was heaven on a wooden table. This time I actually made a point of writing down what we had to eat and not just wolfing it. It’s a bit like Christmas in a sense that you’re so eager to open the present that you don’t read the label attached to the wrapper until you realise how selfish that act was and you quietly go back and read it; partly because your mum taught you manners and you know you should “exercise” them. (Unintentional pun). So for our meal we had Cajun stuffing, normal stuffing, mash potatoes, squash casserole, green beans, corn, rolls, turkey, pickled red cabbage and apples. I THINK that’s everything… You’ll never know– I ate the evidence hahahaha. (I’m a bit of a joker, by the way). And then dessert was my beloved pecan pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate cake, pumpkin bread… oh the privilege and luxury of choice. After a couple hours of resting we watched the sunset from the jetty across the road from Kati’s house and it was really beautiful. Quite spectacular. Quite something. Quite unique. (MY American Dream is actually something simple– a house with a porch and a swing). We (Alvaro, C.J and Kati) went to the beach later that night and strolled around. I’d forgotten what it was like to just not worry about anything. “To be fair” it might have been the first time I felt myself relax since I came here. I’m a natural big thinker but over here it’s something else! So many people, so many places, so many stories. It can be draining but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Furthermore, Friday consisted of a trip to a cute town called Ocean Springs and we got to meet another one of Kati’s friend, Jamie. Another cool and collected character, as is Kati’s younger brother C.J. We strolled around the cute little town, watched the sunset again and then visited the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. We walked around the foyer and took photos- me being 19 spoils the fun over here. Later that night after the homemade meal of fried halibut, cod [a very touching act of thoughtfulness from Paula since cod is an element of the infamous Brit dish fish and chips] and shrimp so we chilled at Kati’s house with drinks and board games before falling asleep in front of the TV watching a film.
Back to December.
Saturday afternoon we drove back to Hattiesburg, relaxed and ready to blitz finals and enjoy our lengthy Christmas break. I love being in the car, whether driver or passenger. As the driver I feel content, independent and in control. As the passenger, I love to look out the window and let my thoughts run away with themselves (and more often than not, nap). Paula packed us off with plenty of leftover food so it meant I could avoid the cafeteria for a few days!
Locked Out of Heaven.
On reflection, I really enjoyed my Thanksgiving experience(s). It was a much needed break– being a full time student is exhausting! I’m so thankful that Kati invited us and that her family were so hospitable to two virtual strangers. I’m thankful for a friend like Kati. I’m thankful to have experienced Southern hospitality. I’m thankful for the opportunity to study in the USA. I’m thankful that people are so lovable. The world needs more of this. The world needs to actually say thank you for what it has. The world needs more people like the Perry family.