Halloween arrived with much anticipation extreme garden-decorating, costume-making and candy-buying. Entire aisles of every supermarket dedicated to pumpkins pumpkin-coffee, pumpkin-beer, pumpkin-chocolate (you name it, I'll ship it).
On the night itself, families we're out and about, trick or treating, before the grown-up fun began. Flatmate Claire went to great lengths to dress up as a crazy cat lady, leaving my all-black 'ninja' outfit looking somewhat insufficient. With Halloween being such a strong tradition, it's perhaps unsurprising that people don't limit themselves to the usual ghosts, witches and black cat costumes there's a limit to how many times anyone can muster the enthusiasm to don a pair of black ears and some hand painted whiskers.
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Less than a fortnight afterwards, Veterans Day provided another 'experience' I'm unlikely to forget. 80,000 people descended on the Mall for a star-spangled concert, featuring the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Metallica and Jessie J. The acts we're interspersed with videos (introduced by yet more celebrities) celebrating the work of the US military. Not one to miss out on anything free, I scampered out of work, sussed out the shortest security queue, and secured a spot on grass and in sight of the stage (too far to actually be able to see anything without the aid of the video monitor, but this still felt like an achievement given that some people had been queuing all day). What followed got me dancing, singing and, at times, feeling a little uneasy. I expected the show to be patriotic this was Veterans Day after all but the depth of feeling was a shock to the system. This isn't the time nor the place to start a political discussion, but given the complexities of war and intervention, is it not a bit simplistic (arguably even dangerous) to start chanting about overcoming enemies and celebrating freedom? The Americans gathered around me certainly didn't think so (or weren't about to let this worry them).
And then to the most quintessential American celebration of them all Thanksgiving. Basically Christmas, with all of the food and drink, but none of the songs or the stress. It was only a couple of days beforehand, seeing pictures of roads blocked amid the holiday rush, that it dawned on me quite how big a deal this was in a multi-faith nation, not everyone celebrates Christmas, everyone celebrates Thanksgiving.
On my first ever Thanksgiving weekend, I was lucky enough to go to not one, but two Thanksgiving dinners (thanks Cassi). The first was on a farm in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania and the second in Morgantown, West Virginia (ticking off two states along the way!). Both we're very relaxed full of food, friendship and (American) football.
Food-wise this was Christmas, with an American twist turkey, cranberries and lots of veggies, but with cornbread stuffing, sweet potato with pecans (up there with the most delicious foods ever), and not one, not two, but three different types of pie for dessert yum. On the friendship front, #saythanks really says it all families and neighbors to come together and celebrate just that being together. And football, well, I still don't understand
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Posted in Recreation and leisure Post Date 02/07/2017