Thanksgiving 4.0

My first Thanksgiving ever was in 2002, in Maryland. I spent it with Sara and Gary Rubloff, my foster family for three summers. Their daughter and some friends were there too, along with my friend Debo. Now that I think of it, it just seems right that my first Thanksgiving was with them, since they were the ones that introduced me to American culture. Doesn’t seem like they did a bad job.

The year after that I wasn’t in the US so I didn’t get to celebrate Thanksgiving, but I felt extremely grateful that weekend, as I spent it in Paris with Brent after not seeing each other for over two months. I was so happy during those short three days that I think it somehow enchanted my view of Paris, and now the city feels so special and magic.

2004 was my first Thanksgiving in Florida with my new family. I remember Brent and I had just got engaged a month before, and everybody was drinking to our future together. It was everything Thanksgiving is supposed to be: lots of delicious food, lots of good times with your family. I felt really lucky to have arrived to such a fun, welcoming, amazing clan.

Last year we were also in Florida, but the scenery changed a bit. Brent’s parents (all of them) had just moved to the East Coast of Florida, and they were still getting used to the new town. Our wedding was in sight, and we drank to it. We were engaged for two Thanksgivings, huh! We just liked getting all the toasts to us. Just kidding.

Mary and I and Brent with Grandma RitaThis Thanksgiving wasn’t as warm as it would have been in Florida, but we didn’t miss out in family warmth. We took the train up to Syracuse on Wednesday. The ride was great, the train was so spacious, and even though we couldn’t enjoy the view out the window since it was pitch black pretty much right after we left Manhattan, it didn’t feel long at all and we had a good time. I kept thinking how if I could take a train all the way to Spain I would totally do it, rather than flying. It’s not such a crazy distance – they have the Transiberian in Russia which is probably a good amount longer. It could be pretty fun too if you could see outside underwater. The funniest thing is that not only I seriously think this, but I told my mom and she agreed completely, and said she would come along on the train with me.

As we stepped out of the train, I got a little scared cause I could see my breath in the air, and that wasn’t happening in Brooklyn (yet). I had heard so many things about how cold it gets in Syracuse, I thought it might be -20º or something, but it was actually pretty nice the whole time we were there, not too cold and unusually sunny. We stayed with Mike and Mary at a very interesting hotel, with lots of wooden bears in the lobby and champagne that was announced but never found.

Mike's house. Would the hole still be there?On Thursday morning we went to see Grandma Rita at her new place, and then we headed out for the historical tour of Syracuse. We saw the house were Nancy and Mike lived, which Mike and Mary decided it was the one that was looking the best. We saw the house where Mike lived and were the kids started a hole that would have taken them (without a question) to China. We also saw the house were Mike and Mary lived for many years before moving to Florida. And of course we saw a lot of other landmarks that brought them a lot of memories, among them Byrne Dairy which seemed to have a big spot on Brent’s heart (“Byrne Dairy!! That’s were we went to get candy!!”).

That's where we got candy!!We had Thanksgiving dinner at Mary’s brother Dave’s place, and I got to meet everybody on Mary’s side that I had already heard a lot about. There was lots of great food, and we got to sit at the kids table with Matt, Suzanne and her husband Mike. Big collection of Mikes in this family. If you forget somebody’s name, try Mike, your chances are pretty high. We had a really good time, and we ended up playing Apples to Apples, which is a game that allowed Mike to make one of the most memorable moments of the night, when as an example of “Quiet” he threw in the card that had “baked potatoes”. To me, it was an absolute winner.

cutouts!!The day after we had the long awaited lesson on how to make Grandma’s famous cutout cookies. Brent had been talking about them for years. We went through the whole process with Grandma and Mary, and it was a lot of fun. We mixed and rolled the dough, sent the cookies out to bake, spread the frosting and decorated. It went by really easy with four people working on them, but I don’t know how we’ll do on our own. I am munching on a star cookie as I write this, and it makes me really motivated. After the manicotti, this is another one of Grandma’s great cooking classes. You could tell that this was an all time family favorite, because we took some to Dave’s when we went there for dinner and not too long after everybody went “Cutout cookies!”, they were all gone.

We left on saturday a few pounds heavier. We had a really good time, and it was nice to take a break from work too. The train was a little slow on the way back, but on the positive side that gave me enough time to finish the hat I was making for my mom, so now it’s ready for shipping! I’m taking international orders now! Nothing can stop me!

Last night we ventured into Manhattan and saw our friends Jair and Ana, who were in town for just a few days. We went to this place in the West Village were they scanned our IDs and they took our picture. Jeez, Homeland Security is following us around now to the bars! We had a very late dinner at our favorite Japanese restaurant, Lan, which keeps changing toward a more upscale vibe but still remains unbeatable.

Today we were lazy. Oh yeah, very lazy. We did take a long walk through the park and around town, it ended up being such a long walk that we had to make a tea stop. We did a little Christmas shopping, got some swordfish for dinner… A very nice and relaxed Sunday, just they way they’re supposed to be!

So let’s see, if on New Year’s you think about your resolutions, I guess in Thanksgiving you should think about what am you’re thankful for. Here’s my top 10, in no particular order:

– Having a wonderful family on both sides of the Atlantic, in places warm and / or fun.
– Having married the most amazing, good-hearted, smartest and oh yeah hottest man on planet Earth, in the wedding of my dreams.
– My parents being able to build their dream home in the country, and setting us up in a room there that is probably bigger that our place in Brooklyn.
– I am very grateful for the way things our going with our business. Having your own business can be a little scary, but this year has turned really good for us, and I’m knocking on all our Ikea wood so that it stays that way.
– Our honeymoon. I can’t be grateful enough to my dad for that.
– Having found a freelance gig that is fun, interesting, pays well, and is flexible enough so I can keep working from home a few days a week.
– My friends in Spain, for staying just as close 4000 miles away.
– Having a beautiful pocket sized home in one of the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and having been able to become extremely organized to keep the place clutter-free.
– Online shopping, my hairdresser in Manhattan, knitting and stir-fries.
– Air Plus (the airline that takes us to Spain for very cheap), Dr. Sabrkesh (the doctor that pokes my arms 4 times every monday), and the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road, they took us to the beach all summer).

You can tell that I got tired after the first five. But hey, I can’t always be at the top of my brightness. The greatest thing about Thanksgiving is that, not only it brings the whole family together, but it brings together families across the country that are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or non-religious. It doesn’t matter, they all celebrate the same thing and feel the same way. If only we were giving thanks the rest of the year just the same.

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Our Life in Brooklyn keeps you updated on what Brent and Teresa Lagerman are up to. Looking at most of the posts you’d think we didn’t spend much time in Brooklyn, we do love to travel, so we’ll take you along as we visit Stuart, Madrid, Syracuse, TX, Washington, and of course we’ll always end up back in Brooklyn.