Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Swedish Thanksgiving

My family’s Thanksgiving tradition goes back to the mid 70’s when my mom’s family lived in south Florida. Her family began taking a week vacation to Salt Springs National Park located in the Ocala National Forest. Since then, my family has been going camping there for Thanksgiving week every year. Despite living in FL, SC, AL, and 4 years in college, there were only two years that my family has had to change from this routine. In the early 2000’s the camp was being renovated, and we had to stay at Silver Springs (located a few miles away from Salt Springs). The 2nd year was my sophomore year of college; the only year my University of Tampa volleyball squad did not make it to the elite eight, so our season ended before Thanksgiving week. That year we celebrated two Thanksgivings: one in Boca Raton with my mom’s best friend’s family, and the second at my dad’s mom’s house. My cousins and I wanted to boycott this time out of the woods by wearing all black, but in the end our parents and grandparents were able to win us over by providing extra delicious food, a pool, and a television.
It’s amazing how many other Thanksgiving traditions there are in America that my sister and I have missed out on by spending our week in the woods. I had no idea about this whole Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, Black Friday, or that NFL games were on TV. Generally, this week is a time where we can do a whole lot of nothing. I usually spend my week sleeping in, going swimming, riding bikes, hiking, fishing, and telling my great-aunt Mary that I have a twin so I need double helpings on EVERYTHING. She’s known me since before I was born and still allows me to pull this over on her. The best part is that when my sister tried this sneak-move, Aunt Mary scoffed at her.
I’ve been away from home for almost 3 full months now, and it’s around that time that you really start missing the luxuries and comforts that America brings. Luckily for me, my dad has been here this whole week! Having him here is definitely helping me get through the Thanksgiving holiday and made me feel not so distant from my life back in the States. I have so many great memories of Thanksgiving, yet they tend to make being away much harder; in the end, this is just another story to add to my life’s already rather impressive collection (if I say so myself).
It was at first difficult for me to pinpoint exactly why it is that Americans celebrate this day, more specifically this week. According to Wikipedia, Thanksgiving is a combination of European and Native American traditions where individuals celebrate a fall harvest by giving thanks. After the long voyage to the new world, American settlers celebrated a safe voyage, peace and good harvest. Unfortunately, this is only a North American holiday, so in Sweden, Jo and I are left to forage on our own. Luckily, my dad is here to visit this week and will be able to help us with the food preparations. Before Dad came over to Sweden, Jo and I had to do some recon work at the grocery store to make sure that all our necessary food supplies would be available. Luckily, some of the girls on the team were able to help us out, and for those few missing items, my dad was able to bring them over in his luggage. The menu would consist of stuffing (brought from home), green bean casserole, corn casserole (Jo’s family tradition), and of course turkey. They had a 13-pound turkey (bones and all) that we almost bought, but then reconsidered at the last minute since there would only be three of us eating. We opted for a 1.1-kilo turkey breast instead. Waste not want not. Our practice on Thursdays runs until 9:30 whereas Friday practice ends at 6, so we made an executive decision to have a Swedish Thanksgiving on Friday.
I am so thankful to be able to have the opportunity to continue playing the sport I love. Volleyball has managed to open so many doors in my life, and I know that there is no way I would ever be able to live in another country if it had not been for all the coaches and teachers who put up with me being a royal-PITA during my adolescent years.
Mom, Kamryn, Dad, and I at Kam's high school graduation
I am ever thankful for my two overwhelmingly supportive parents; I can’t possibly imagine my life without the two of them, and technically I wouldn’t exist, so “yay” mom and dad!I am so grateful that my little sister has the ability to forgive and forget all the cruel things I did to her when we were younger. She’s truly a better person than I am.Huge thanks to the three best friends that anyone could have; trying to make rational sense of my desire to “find equilibrium” is beyond impressive. I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am for my boyfriend’s unbelievably high-tolerance level; I’m pretty sure that I test his patience every day and he’s managed to suffer through in silence.
I love you all!!
Marion and me at my UTVB Senior night
Erica and I in Walgreens
Me and Sam at the Dallas Bull
Phil and I in St Augustine
To all my friends and family both at home and around the world, thank you for making my 22 years so memorable. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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