Posts in "Thanksgiving"
Home for Thanksgiving
Home for Thanksgiving | Freckled Italian

Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember—for me it was all about a chilly morning on Smith Mountain Lake; a hazy fog floating above the surface of the water. We’d wake up early and drink coffee as we rummaged through old bags of winter running gear for gloves and headbands and lace up our shoes to go downtown and run a 5K with thousands of other Roanokers who also put their turkey in the oven before they left and have mimosa supplies locked and loaded in the fridge for when they return.

I haven’t been to Roanoke for the holidays in a few years because my parents broke up and moved out of our house on the lake. At first I didn’t go back because I was mad and a little passive aggressive, and even though I lived only a few hours away I decided to just stay put in Charlotte with Rob and drink beers and eat tacos outside by the fire at Sycamore Brewery, which we could walk to from our South End apartment. Charlotte didn’t feel like home yet but I could see it for us on the horizon.

We also haven’t gone anywhere for Thanksgiving since we moved to California in 2016—that first year we had just gotten settled and didn’t want to leave, and then last year Sophie was born and we were in the hospital and got discharged on Thanksgiving. We nervously buckled her tiny body into the infant carseat and I sat in the back staring at her as Rob drove extra slowly and carefully down University Avenue in Palo Alto, stopping to pop into Starbucks for salted caramel mochas. As we drove across the Dumbarton I looked out the window and across the bay—one hand on our sleepy daughter’s chest—and made a mental note to never forget this moment or that feeling. The chilly morning, the hazy fog floating above the surface of the water.

My perception of home (and comfort) was so rooted in that house at the lake and now it’s so many different places (mostly friends’ houses along the East Coast), but especially our own house here in California—where the coffee is abundant and Ender is curled up and Sophie says “uh oh!” as she tosses her sippy cup onto the ground for the fifteenth time. And if I have a weird day I can drink a cup of tea as I season chicken legs with lots of salt and put them in a dish with olive oil and a ton of garlic and roast them while I play with my daughter who is going to be walking any day now. Rob will come home from work smelling like the evening autumn air and Acqua di Gio, and we’ll give the baby a bath and read her a story before putting her down in her crib, and then we pour two glasses of wine and re-watch Gilmore Girls for the third or fourth time because it’s cold outside and Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

A few months ago we went to Berkeley for a Death Cab for Cutie show with my brother and his girlfriend, and we were late so they were already well into their set when we arrived. The venue was packed and the stars twinkled overhead and as we climbed the stairs to get to the top of the amphitheater I was struck by the sensation of hearing familiar music in a new place. We stopped on a big landing to catch our breath and decide where to go next (getting from the pit to the lawn at The Greek is a serious hike), but I didn’t want to move from that spot yet. Maybe it was because I hadn’t been out without Sophie in months, or because fall mornings and nights always make me weepy in the best way, but suddenly the world was still and all I could hear was Ben Gibbard’s voice echoing I’m thinking of what Sarah said—watching the lights flash across the stage, marijuana smoke rising from the crowd—standing in a sea of strangers with tears rolling down my face, once again making a mental note to remember this moment and that feeling.

And then we were back in the car, scarves loosened and seat warmers on, reliving the show already through Spotify, deciding if we should get late-night In N Out or not. We drove home to a dreaming baby and hot tea and comfy beds and the kind of rest you get when so many people you love are under the same roof.

Next week Rob, Sophie, and I will pack our bags and fly across the country, and on Thanksgiving morning we’ll buckle her into the jogging stroller for her first Roanoke 5K. We won’t wake up to that fog on the lake but we’ll be cozy and warm and all under one roof as we lace up our shoes and search for matching gloves. We’ll introduce Sophie to friends she hasn’t met yet and celebrate her first birthday and tell her the story of how when she was just a newborn, we brought her home for the first time on a chilly Thanksgiving just like this one.

Thankful for more moments; more memories, everywhere we go.

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A List of Things I'm Thankful For This Year
A List of Things I'm Thankful For This Year | Freckled Italian

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers and friends! We're staying put this year and will be running the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot this morning before heading to my aunt's house in Half Moon Bay. When I was a little kid I used to love spending holidays like the 4th of July in Half Moon Bay, and I'm excited to be here with Rob and Ender for some new holiday family time and memories. 

I know it sounds cheesy, but I like to take this time every year to really think about the things I have to be thankful for. Gratitude is something I try to practice every day, but it can be easy to forget. So, without further ado, here's my list--I'd love to hear yours!

  • For a husband who loves me and a marriage that feels like a partnership.
  • For a truly wonderful year career-wise: a new job for Rob, and a successful first book for me.
  • For my health, and for access to great doctors and regular imaging that will allow me to hopefully stay cancer-free until I'm ready for surgery.
  • For the opportunity to explore a new home in a new state on a new side of the country.
  • For a sweet pup who curls up with me on the couch every afternoon while I work on my computer and drink a cup of tea.
  • For really good memories of past Thanksgivings at Smith Mountain Lake with my family and our neighbors. 

And finally, I'm thankful for this blog, and for all of you who read it. My life wouldn't be the same without you guys. 

What are your plans this Thanksgiving?

I'd love to hear something on your list of things to be grateful for this year.

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On High School and Being Back in Your Hometown
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The night before Thanksgiving in Roanoke, Virginia (as I am sure it is in other cities as suggested by this article in The Onion) is often a bit of a high school reunion. You run into a pretty large number of people who look familiar to you even though you don't know their name, but if you arm yourself with a couple close friends you've stayed in contact with, it's usually a really good experience.

I write a lot about college and how much it made me into who I am today, but I tend to skip over high school. I really loved my time growing up and going to school where I did, but for some reason going back and and seeing old friends that I've lost touch with sometimes makes me feel a little melancholy. We met up with friends of mine on three occasions this weekend and had the best time, but on Saturday afternoon I found myself flipping through old yearbooks and feeling a little bit sad. Part of it is because almost a decade has passed since I graduated and it doesn't even feel a little bit like that length of time, and the other part is that I don't feel at all like the person I used to be and I wonder if I'm the only one.

Lena Dunham said she missed her high school reunion because, first of all, she was at a diner enjoying some delicious rice pudding when she should have been on her way over, but also because she wanted to avoid past incarnations of herself. "Everyone's nice!" she said about her classmates, but she still didn't make it to see them after ten years. I'm actually looking forward to our ten year reunion, but I kind of identify with what she's saying.

High School Megan was a bit of a goodie goodie and thought nothing looked cuter than a polo shirt with the collar popped. She had little to no anxiety, but she lacked a lot of experiences. She drove a Volkswagen Jetta with a license plate that said MEG JET and put a lot of sugar in her coffee. I love her, but she kind of embarrasses me sometimes. Nostalgia usually feels so good on me, but when I reminisce on high school days I sometimes feel like I'm shrinking. 

College and grad school and Minneapolis all played huge roles in shaping me into the person that I am today, but high school laid that foundation and gave me some wonderful friends along the way; and I forget about that sometimes. E.E. Cummings said "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are," and he was right, but I don't think you have to venture out and never look back.

I hope this weekend brought you exactly what you needed.

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