Day Trip to the Northwoods

This past weekend, my family took a day trip to Northern Minnesota.  It was the first time we’d been together in six months and wanted to celebrate.  We gathered our belongings, grabbed coffee at the local shop, and drove two hours to the port city of Duluth.  After a brief picnic lunch on some boulders at a little park along the shore of Lake Superior, we continued along the North Shore–enjoying views of the lake through the pine forest.

Our mission?  Hiking.  We did a 6 mile loop on the Superior Hiking Trail along the Split Rock River.  The trail was muddy and nearly impassible at points.  After attempting to skirt around the edges, I gave up and slopped through the mud.  It reminded me of the footpaths in England and wished I had a pair of trusty Wellies.  By the end of the day, my legs were crusted in a layer of slime. Continue reading

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is like the middle child of holidays.  It lives between Halloween and Christmas, not as flashy as its spooky elder and doesn’t make as much money as its younger.  People enjoy it when it comes, but don’t seem to remember it exists.  When they do, it’s only significant because it comes right before the biggest shopping day of the year.  One cell phone provider’s tagline for their sales this year is “Thanks-getting”.  Which, honestly, pisses me off.

Despite the fact that Thanksgiving is based on a mythic story of Native Americans and their soon-to-be white oppressors coming together over turkey and corn, I actually really enjoy this holiday.

To me, Thanksgiving isn’t a stepping stone on the way to Christmas.  It’s not a precursor to Black Friday, although I do enjoy shopping.  It’s a day to gather with the people you love and reflect on all the things you’re thankful for.

This year, my family is spending the holiday at my great aunt and uncle’s house in the cities.  We usually spend it with my entire extended family and I’m really excited for something more low-key.  We also don’t have to cook, which is amazing.

So, dear readers, time for a list.  This year, I am thankful for:

  • The opportunity to live and work at home for the past six months, which has enabled me to spend lots of time with my family.
  • My job.  I know that I complain about it a lot, but having a job is better than unemployment.
  • All my friends, near and far.
  • Being done with college, which means I have a lifetime of pleasure reading that I’m still giddy about.
  • My cats.  Because it’s gotten cold, they’ve all been super cuddly lately, which I love.
  • Direction.  Even if it’s only until the end of March, I love knowing where I’m going to be.
  • The fact that I’m going back to England in a little over a month.
  • This blog and all the lovely people who read it (including you!)

What are some of the things you’re thankful for?

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I found this Thanksgiving theme photo on Google and kind of fell in love with it’s awkwardness

Tis the Season Day 4: Awkward Family Gatherings

Family: the people you are stuck with. You love them, but oh do they drive you crazy.

This time of year is full of family gatherings. People flock from near and far to be together. Sometimes this is a good thing. There’s nothing better than a long conversation with a beloved cousin, aunt, or grandparent whom you haven’t seen in a long time.

But then there’s the other side of the coin.

This afternoon, my parents, brothers, and I are making the trek down to the cities to gather with my Dad’s side of the family. Every year, it’s a dreaded event. You see, all my aunts, uncles, and cousins lived near each other when we were young. The cousins are all close friends and still hang out all the time. All the other parts of the family have lots of money, working white-collar jobs and traveling all over whenever they want. One aunt spent five years working in Paris just because she could.

To say my family doesn’t fit in is an understatement. We have always been treated like the weirdos who live out in the boonies. We live on a farm, go to church, and don’t run after money like it is the most important thing in the world. It’s stupid because we only live an hour away and are just as smart as them. But, for whatever reason, we have always been treated like we are different.

I dread these gatherings. I always feel so awkward around my Barbie doll cousins with their corporate jobs and pretty little pencil skirts. They didn’t even talk to me until I was sixteen. They were the popular girls. I was the shy girl with her head in a book.

Last year, every single cousin brought their significant other. They all sat in couples, talking and flirting and laughing while my brother and I sat alone. I don’t mind being single, but boy. That was awkward.

I used to try really hard to fit in with all of them. After all, they are my family. But now, I’ve given up caring. Christmas gatherings are something to grin and bear.

It’s just for a few hours. I can do this.