Thanksgiving break: turkey, family, pumpkin pie, and football. Those were the things that I came to associate with Thanksgiving, and they appeared to be pretty accurate. Over the last couple of days, I celebrated a rather untraditional Thanksgiving break. It was inspiring and new – it was my first Thanksgiving break of my life, and the best one for that too.
Wednesday was our first day off – and this also happened to be my 21st birthday. Myself and some of the exchange students who stayed in DC went to visit Annapolis, the capital of Maryland. An extremely pretty town, with a lot of colonial history (and corresponding landscape architecture), and host to the United States Naval Academy. This was very interesting, and with a healthy dose of American propaganda in our minds, we left this picturesque place after a full day of sightseeing.
The real fun, more closely related to Thanksgiving, started on Thursday afternoon. For the occasion, two friends and myself were invited to spend Thanksgiving with an American family. I cannot express the gratitude and the admiration I have for this family: they invited us into our home and made us feel like we were part of the family, if only for one day. One thing I have not really written about on this blog, is how homesick I get sometimes, wishing nothing less than to go home. Luckily these moments pass very quickly, but nevertheless, the family experience on Thursday reminded me of home and how important family is. The food they had prepared is indescribable: amongst other things there was turkey, ham, duck (impressively prepared by the sixteen-year old son), roasted sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, stuffing, cranberry sauce, a wonderful salad, home-made bread, cheese, wine, and as a special finale two magnificent pies for desert. Now, we were only with 7 people in total, so one can imagine how long we sat at the table trying to devour as much of this delicious food as we could. I truly needed the next Friday to mend, and I am not sure my body has entirely recovered even by today. More important than the great food, we had the most wonderful time, getting to know each other and sharing our different backgrounds.
I encountered another very interesting experience on Friday, something which I am fairly sure does not correspond with Thanksgiving traditions, but deserves a mention nonetheless. Via some friends, I found myself going to a sauna event organized by some people working for the Finnish embassy. The Finnish, as some might know, take a lot of pride in their saunas, and I found out this is completely justified. It was interesting to see how soon one feels comfortable in the direct approximation of a bunch of naked strangers, and how relaxing it can be to find yourself in temperatures higher than 175 degrees. The rest of the weekend I used to catch up on work and digest all the new impressions and experiences from the last couple of days. This week was amazing, and Thanksgiving comes dangerously close to my top-3 favorite holiday traditions.